How to Turn Vegetable Scraps into Plant Food: Your Complete Guide
If you love your garden, one of the best things you may learn is how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food.
We live in a throwaway society, so when you throw away your vegetable peelings and food scraps, do something positive with them and turn the waste into garden gold. It is one of the most satisfying transformations a gardener may achieve by making something so valuable out of garbage.
Organic waste forms at least 21.4 percent of landfills per year in America and much of that organic waste derives from discarded food and peelings. Imagine what you can achieve if you turn that unwanted organic matter into fertilizer for your garden.
Consequently, if you want to help save the planet, learn how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food and transform your plants and soil’s health.
How to Turn Vegetable Scraps into Plant Food
Sadly, America leads the way with food waste as we discard nearly 40 million tons of food waste every year. That equates to approximately 161 billion dollars thrown away each year.
When you put it into such a harsh perspective, that’s a lot of money thrown away and a lot of landfill space used unnecessarily.
With a little forward-thinking, you can transform your household waste into garden gold to feed your plants and improve your soil condition. A compost bin quickly reduces vegetable peelings and organic waste into rich, valuable nutrients for your soil.
Simultaneously, a worm farm may reward you with black gold to feed your plants and improve your vegetable crops.
A little ingenuity
If you don’t have any room for larger composting facilities, then digging a hole in the ground and filling it with your scraps can quickly reward you with a rich planting area for the next growing season.
Alternatively, soaking the vegetable matter in a bucket of water helps produce a rich watering solution full of vital nutrients to keep your plants healthy.
Learning how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food may prove one of the most beneficial lessons you learn to improve your garden. It also helps you save the planet.
Why Is Organic Matter Good for the Garden?
Organic matter helps bind soil particles together, which makes the soil easier to dig.
Furthermore, soil with high nutrient content and a crumbly consistency is far better at holding onto valuable water and producing healthier plants and vegetables.
Recommended Read: The 10 Best Compost Bin Selections for Creating Your Own Fertilizer
Organic matter improves the soil by stimulating or feeding the life contained within it. By digging a natural organic fertilizer into your soil, you encourage natural bacteria, fungi, earthworms, and other beneficial organisms without which your plants may not survive or thrive.
Worms and natural bacteria break down the soil structure, which makes it easier for you to cultivate. Without worms in your garden, the soil becomes compacted and hardened.
Furthermore, the waste produced by the worms improves the structure of the soil and the nutrient levels. Consequently, a healthy worm population leads to nourishing soil.
Reap what you sow
When you grow vegetables, the plants use the natural nutrients and minerals found in the soil to grow. It’s the same with shrubs and flowering plants. If you don’t replace the goodness in the soil which the plants use to grow, the soil becomes barren and may not sustain life.
Learning how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food maintains the balance in the soil and allows you to replace the goodness in your garden to achieve successful agriculture.
Vegetables tend to be greedy plants, and while you may have a good crop the one year, if you don’t replace the goodness in the soil, you won’t get the same results the following year.
Perhaps you love your flowering shrubs and trees. The energy required to produce flowers and leaves comes directly from the ground and the sun.
While the sun takes care of itself, you need to take care of the ground. Without sufficient fertilizer, your soil may continue to deteriorate, and your plants may suffer.
Rotating Compost Bin
A compost bin represents one of the most efficient ways to transform your waste into usable, organic material. When you learn how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food, a rotating compost bin may provide the best place to start.
It takes approximately six weeks to achieve a usable mixture to apply around your plants or dig into the soil. However, you can use an organic compost accelerator to help speed up the process.
What is a rotating compost bin?
The unit consists of a large drum, usually made from durable plastic, set onto a sturdy metal frame with a turning handle. You place your vegetable scraps inside the drum and turn the drum once a week to keep the contents aerated.
After some six weeks, you end up with a natural, crumbly compost rich with natural goodness and nutrients. It proves the perfect mixture to use as a mulch around plants.
Furthermore, digging the compost into the garden improves the soil and adds valuable plant food to boost your flowers and vegetables.
How does it work?
A rotating compost bin proves useful all year round, unlike a compost heap, which may prove challenging to use during the winter months.
Tip your vegetable peelings and waste garden matter into the drum. I like to add a tiny amount of soil to mine, which adds natural bacteria to the mix.
Turn the drum every week to keep the texture light and to prevent the compost from compacting. The action of turning the drum adds valuable air to the mix and helps the waste break down.
A rotating compost bin represents an easy solution for your composting needs. It proves ideal for using up vegetable peelings. However, do not place cooked or dairy products within the composter because it may encourage vermin to infest your garden.
Recommended Read: How to Make Your Own Indoor Compost Bin and Why You Should
The more experienced or adventurous gardener may like the idea of Vermicompost.
Furthermore, this method proves one of the most efficient ways to use up waste and produces very high-quality plant food.
What is Vermicompost?
Vermicompost is plant food made using worm farms. While it may sound a bit squeamish, the process produces a liquid feed for your garden and containers that proves highly effective.
Furthermore, a colony of 500 worms may eat up to 2 pounds of waste a week, making a worm farm an efficient form of composting.
How does it work?
A worm factory consists of layers of plastic trays with drill holes in the base of each tray. Most worm farms or factories use a tap at the bottom of the stack from which you drain your liquid garden gold.
You fill the trays with layers of shredded newspaper and a colony of worms. The worms break down the scraps and newspaper.
As the contents break down, it releases liquid from the decomposing waste and the worms. The liquid collects at the bottom of the farm, where you use the tap to drain it away.
The resultant liquid proves a highly potent form of liquid fertilizer for your plants and makes a fantastic leaf feed when diluted with water.
Furthermore, as the worms break down the food, it forms an excellent crumbly compost, which you can remove to use on your garden and in your soil.
Before you remove the trays’ contents, it is essential to rescue as many of the worms as possible. While you may lose some of the colony into the garden, they quickly reproduce inside the factory.
Mealworms make excellent natural compost makers. You may wish to use specialized mealworm bedding to help build your colony and create a healthy, natural environment within your worm farm.
Mealworm bedding contains additional beneficial nutrition for your colony. However, unlike common worms, mealworms don’t create valuable worm castings for your compost.
The advantage of using mealworms in a worm farm is the frass they produce. Frass is the natural liquid by-product excreted by the worms, which proves highly nutritious to feed your plants.
Once you set up your worm farm and establish your colony, the frass collects in the bottom of the farm, and you drain it away by using the built-in tap.
The solution makes a superb plant feed when diluted with water. Furthermore, use the diluted solution as a leaf feed to boost the health of your plants.
Don’t use cooked, greasy, or dairy waste in your worm and mealworm farms. Use only those waste materials that you would consider for a rotating drum composter.
When you learn how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food, Bokashi composting may seem new to you. However, it proves a highly efficient and easy way to transform your food waste into beneficial garden fertilizer.
What is Bokashi composting?
Bokashi compost is fermented compost. Food waste, including cooked items such as meats, is added to an airtight container.
By adding layers of food waste to water creates a mixture that turns into a brackish solution. The constant addition of vegetable matter and food waste with water causes the mixture to ferment.
Efficient and nutritious
By adding layers of waste and topping it up with water, you can quickly fill a container. The lid must remain tightly fitted at all times, and while you may expect the mixture to stink, it gives off a mild scent like pickles or molasses.
The advantages of Bokashi composting derives from its space-saving nature. You may use items such as meat scraps, dairy products, and nutshells. Furthermore, it takes up very little room in your garden.
When filled, it takes approximately two weeks for the fermenting process to create a fantastic natural fertilizer for your garden.
Dig a Hole
Perhaps you have a small garden and don’t have room for composters. Dig a hole or trench where you intend to grow your produce next year and fill the trench or hole with your vegetable waste.
Method to the madness
The last thing you want is to see rodents rushing into your garden to remove the vegetable waste from your prepared hole or trench.
Once you have thrown in your peeling, cover the waste with a little loose soil and dampen it with water. The action should deter the little devils from stealing your scraps.
By sprinkling a little soil over the waste and adding water, you gradually build up layers of composting goodness. The scraps should start to decompose and enrich your soil accordingly.
Consequently, anything you plant in the area should thrive and produce a healthy bounty of fruit, vegetables, or flowers.
Recommended Read: How to Start a Compost Pile
How to Turn Vegetable Scraps into Plant Food Explored
The human race wastes a vast amount of food every year. Furthermore, when you imagine how many of us throw out our peelings and rotting vegetables, it amounts to a considerable quantity of landfill.
Yet, all those potatoes peelings and vegetable waste represent a valuable resource for our gardens and plants.
Learning how to turn vegetable scraps into plant food helps save the planet. It also saves us money because we can make plant food rather than buy it. Furthermore, the process proves easy and cost-effective.
A simple rotating compost bin quickly and easily produces rich compost for use around your plants and digging into the soil. The compost improves your garden’s nutrition and creates the perfect soil texture to promote healthy root growth.
Worm and mealworm farms produce high-quality compost and frass to use as organic fertilizers. You can dilute the frass to use as a leaf feed, and spraying the mixture over your plants may result in a healthy crop of flowers.
Furthermore, worm mold and worm compost provide a rich source of vitamins and nutrients for your vegetables.
Creating garden compost and feed need not be difficult. Follow our hints and tips to help reduce landfill, save the planet and provide your garden and plants with the food and nutrition they need.
Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry making business and sells his creations online. Get more of Sean’s excellent eco-friendly gardening advice at Garden Aware and GrowWherever