“Garbage gardening” is an easy and inexpensive way to grow flowers and edibles using kitchen scraps – the pits, seeds and roots that otherwise would be headed to a landfill. It’s a fun way to recycle. Educational for the kids, too.
“Almost every unprocessed fruit or vegetable can be grown into a decorative houseplant,” said Deborah Peterson, co-author of Don’t Throw It, Grow It (Storey Publishing, 2008).
“Some are perennials, others are annuals or biennials,” Peterson said.
“You will be amazed as you discover how these beautiful plants can develop.”
Chickpeas, for instance, can be coaxed to flower in hanging baskets, and beets can be transformed into showy dish gardens with their colorful purple and green foliage surrounding contrasting blooms.
Start new plants on the windowsill by using the byproducts from roots, nuts, tubers, beans, bulbs, seeds or cuttings. The “garbage,” if you will.
Water, pebbles, soil or peat can be used as a growing medium.
“Every plant you grow should go outside for five months or so, depending upon where you live,” said Peterson, from Scituate, Massachusetts. “Winter becomes a holding pattern (for perennials), just keeping them alive. But once they’re out again, in summer, they’re wonderful.”
Marianne Ophardt, Washington State University Extension’s Benton County director, added, “Garbage gardening is done more to teach children about plants than it is to create new gardens.”
“Most of your kitchen scraps will be thrown away, but some can be used to provide a unique learning opportunity,” she said.
Children often want instant gratification, so keep things simple. Choose quick-sprouting plants like potatoes, beans, carrots, melons and radishes. “Pineapples wouldn’t be a good idea,” Peterson said; it takes pineapples two or more years to fully mature and produce flower stalks.