I love composting all the kitchen scraps I can but when I fill up my compost bin or run low on some vegetables in the garden using kitchen scraps to grow plants is a great activity. I love using kitchen scraps to start new plants as a fun gardening activity with my son, everyday we check and see how the plants are progressing. It’s a great way to come full circle on produce we bout at the market together and cooked together. Starting your own plants from kitchen scraps is really easy and for a gardening nerd like me!
If You are going to attempt this I suggest making sure the scraps you start with are good quality, I like to use organic produce grown locally when I start plants from kitchen scraps.
GROWING SWEET POTATOES
When you plant sweet potatoes you want to use the ‘eyes’ just like you do with a regular potato. You can bury the entire potato or pieces like you did with regular potatoes under a thin layer of topsoil in a damp and sunny place. Soon you will have new shoots beginning to appear from the soil. When the shoots begin to reach a height of four inches you will replant your pieces giving them around 12 inches between one another. Generally it take somewhere around 4 months to grow sweet potatoes like this. Keep a watchful eye out for slugs, they will be trying to eat your crop before you can.
When your growing your own sweet potatoes you want to be sure and use an organic soil as most commercial growers use chemicals to keep them from shooting.
For the most part I’ve focused on plants that are pretty easy to grow, propagating mushrooms is not included in that. If you’re going to try to propagate mushrooms you’ll be competing with the other fungi space. Mushroom spores enjoy warm humidity and nutrient rich soil, cooler temperatures will give your mushrooms a higher likelihood of success against other fungi
To get your mushrooms to propagate take off the head and place the stalk into your topsoil, making sure to expose the top to the air. If you have the right conditions for your mushroom you will have a new head grow from your base. You should have some very clear feedback if your mushroom has taken or not very quickly.You want to grow mushrooms in a pot, trying to grow them in your garden would have too much competition from other mushrooms. Growing mushrooms inside of a container also allow you to mow the container around and provide different conditions for the mushrooms, which will help them propagate faster. I’ve experience the greatest success by providing a warm filtered light during the day and cool temperatures at night.
Rather than tossing your avocado seed when you’re getting the fleshy fruit for your cooking use it to grow your own avocado plant. Warning this one is going to take even longer to fruit then the pineapple if ever. House grown avocado plants rarely fruit and if you can grow it outdoors it could be 5 to 13 years before your eating your own avocados. People who farm avocados grown them off grafts (maybe a good idea for another article?!).
Take your seed and wash in the sink, with your cleaned seed stick in three or four toothpicks and suspend it above a glass of water. You want to place the seed broad end down and cover the seed with around an inch of water. Place your container into a warm area in an area with filtered sunlight and add water as needed. Within 2 – 6 weeks you will see roots and a stem begin to sprout. Once your avocado has a stem that is 7 inches long cut it back to 3 inches, this will focus the seeds back in to growing a strong root system. When your roots are thick and the stem has re-leafed take out the toothpicks and place the plant into a rich humus soil. I suggest using a 10 inch diameter pot. Leave the seed half exposed when you plant it into the soil.
Now that your plant is in the soil you want to supply it with a continual supply of light watering with an occasional deep soak. Avocados prefer a soil kept moist but you want to avoid saturating it too much and drowning the roots. If your leaves begin to turn yellow you are watering it too much, give the plant a few days of from watering. Now that the plant is established you want to begin to give it as much sunlight as you can. If you notice that your leaves are beginning to brown at the tips you have a salt build up in your soil and you will need to water the soil thoroughly and let it drain. Once your stem reaches 12 inches in height you will want to cut it back to 6 inches to help new shoots grow.
To start growing pineapple you will need to take the leafy green top and remove all the fruit (yellow parts). To harvest a starting piece form a pineapple take a good grip of the leaves and twist the crown off of the fruit. If the brut force tactic isn’t for you can take a good chef’s knife and slice of the top of the pineapple and scrap off the flesh of the fruit with a spoon. Take a sharp knife and begin to slice small horizontal pieces off of the bottom of the crown till you can see root buds (picture left). Peel off a few layers of the leaves from the base of your pineapple cutting.
With your prepped pineapple cutting prepare a container of warm water and place it cut side into the container. When the cutting begins to root replant it into a container with soil and be sure to water once a week. This kitchen scrap recycle is a long game, you won’t have a pineapple worth harvesting for 2-3 years.
Taking potatoes from produce back to growing is a great way to keep more waste out of the garbage. You can grow any variety of potato you like, it should just make sure the scrap has ‘eyes’ growing on it. With a potato that has a strong presence of eyes you can chop it up into 2 inch square pieces. Make sure each piece has 1 – 2 eyes. After you’ve cut your potato into pieces leave them out in room temperature for a couple of days. Leaving the pieces out allow the cut surface area to dry out and become callous which will prevent the pieces from rotting in the ground.