Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Smart Gardening: Kitchen Scraps for Gardening Success

Many people treat kitchen scraps as waste and throw them in the trash. However, most kitchen scraps can become gardeners’ gold —black gold, that is, or compost. If you add kitchen scraps to your compost pile each week, you’ll be providing the constant supply of nitrogen a compost pile needs to decompose quickly. Kitchen scraps also provide moisture to compost. Leftover fruits and vegetables or their peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea bags are all good choices for a compost pile. Do not add meats or greases to your compost. Many gardeners store their kitchen scraps next to the kitchen sink in a resealable plastic container, such as a coffee container. When the container gets full, or the next time you make a trip out to the compost pile, take the container to the pile and add the scraps to your compost. Some people store their kitchen scraps in a large resealable plastic bag in the freezer between trips to the compost pile.

Stackable compost bin.
Photo by Danny Lauderdale
Another approach is to add a vermicomposter (i.e., a worm composter) to your home d├ęcor. You can create your own indoor worm-powered composter in a 2’ × 3’ × 8” plastic bin with a lid  in your kitchen or an adjacent room. Add food scraps and moist, shredded newspaper bedding, and the little red wigglers will do the rest. A bin of this size will accommodate the food waste of a family of four to six people.
If you don’t have a compost pile, you can still take advantage of the soil-improving properties of kitchen scraps by practicing “lasagna gardening,” also called sheet composting. To start this process, select a vacant garden space and place your high-nitrogen kitchen scraps on the ground in a 1-inch layer. Then put a 1-inch layer of carbon-rich mulch, such as brown leaves or straw, on top of the scraps to prevent odors from attracting unwanted animals. Keep a supply of mulch close by your sheet-composting space. Each time you take kitchen scraps out, deposit them in a different location, cover them with mulch, and let the earthworms, pillbugs, insects, and microorganisms do their work to break the scraps down and improve the soil. When the next gardening season comes, plant right in the improved area or cultivate first to mix the broken-down material into the soil. Many people use this technique in small vegetable gardens.

- Danny Lauderdale, Pitt Co.


  1. Using biodegradable can help not only to save tons of garbage but a great help to enrich the soil of plants and veggies.

    Kitchen Ideas

  2. I’m flattened by your contents keep up the excellent work.