Compost bins and piles are worth every minute they take to create and maintain. Putting your kitchen scraps to good use will take a small amount of time in the beginning, but gathering them for composting really takes no additional time at all. Most kitchen scraps are compostable and biodegradable, meaning they are ideal for garden use and growth. Using kitchen scraps in the garden is beneficial for both the environment as well as your garden’s overall health. Continue reading to discover how to get started in the ‘compost pile life’!
We’re sure you’ve noticed by now how much we love eggshells. We built a chicken coop on our farm recently to house a bunch of hens that produce organic eggs. Another option is to purchase eggs from local producers, ensuring they are organic, fair-trade and GMO-free. With so many eggshells lying around, we have found many ways to use eggshells in the garden. For a comprehensive list of ways to utilize your eggshells specifically, check out our eggshell post here.
Here’s another one you’ve probably never heard of. The main use for orange peels is for the aroma and pest deterrent properties. Easily ward off those annoying neighborhood cats when you scatter small orange peel pieces throughout your garden’s soil. Also, aphids and ants really do not like the scent of oranges, so you can bury the peels shallowly in your garden soil, or shred pieces of it and scatter that across your garden.
Additionally, similar to one of the many uses of eggshells, you can use half of an orange peel to plant a seed! Simply keep the peel intact and poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill with soil and place your seeds in the soil. Water and place in a well-lit area until the seedling sprouts. The peel is biodegradable so the entire “pot” can be planted once the seedling is large enough to transplant. The peel will provide nutrition to the seedling during growth.
Banana peels are also capable of repelling aphids when you bury small pieces in the garden. Avoid burying large or whole pieces, or you’ll end up attracting other pests. When you bury them, they’ll also fertilize and add nutrients to your soil as they decay.
Have you had a meal with hot peppers lately? Keep the pepper seeds, tops and scraps and blend and strain the mixture into a new spray bottle. Spray plants with this mixture to ward off pests whenever needed.
After boiling your vegetables – or eggs – don’t throw the leftover water down the drain. Allow the water to cool and use it to water your plants! The nutrients that have leached out of the vegetables or eggs will be contained in the water and will nourish your plants instead of being tossed away.
All variety of nut shells – except for black walnut hulls, which contain toxic amounts of the chemical juglone in large quantities – can be added on top of the soil around plants as a mulch. Nutshells are an excellent mulch because they do not break down as quickly as many other materials, and their larger size helps to provide aeration throughout the soil.
Here’s my favorite. As an avid coffee drinker and coffee enthusiast, I have a bunch of coffee grounds lying around. Mixing coffee grounds with your soil is an excellent way to nourish your plants. As a note, fresh coffee grounds are acidic but rinsed, used coffee grounds will have a neutral pH of around 6.5 and will not affect the alkalinity of your soil.
Used coffee grounds can be also used as a form of mulch. You can use it in the way you would traditional mulch, or you can spread it around your garden to ward off any large pests such as squirrels, cats, etc. Beware, however, used coffee grounds in the garden may also end up repelling you, as it is noted to have a garbage-y smell after a while of sitting there. To avoid this, you can dig the coffee grounds further into the soil instead.
Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which can provide a healthy garden. Add your coffee grounds into some water and let them dissolve. They won’t dissolve completely, but the solution will be much easier to spray than if you had used it right away. Let it sit overnight and come back in the morning to add the nitrogen-rich solution to a spray bottle. Spray this fertilizer on your plants to give them a bit of a boost.
To Repel Slugs…
If you have an annoying slug problem in your garden, you can create a barrier for them using coffee grounds. (Oh, and you can do this with eggshells too.)
Paper Towel Rolls
Paper towel rolls – or toilet paper rolls – are often used in the garden for a few common quick-fixes. To begin, paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls may be placed around the base of leafy seedlings to help protect them from crawling insects or slugs. The bugs will not trespass over the cardboard and the delicate plants will benefit from the increased layer of protection. You can also use these rolls to help blanch leeks and green onions by cutting through the side of the roll and tying it back around the vegetable to block out sunlight.
Using kitchen scraps in the garden doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be creating a time-consuming compost pile. Even if you think you don’t have the time or space for an entire compost pile at this time, there is always a way to make your kitchen scraps useful.