We tend to collect a lot of vegetable waste in the kitchen and it’s a shame to throw them away in a landfill. But I found that there is a better way to use the vegetable waste for my container garden.
Vegetable waste is good for plants and you can use vegetable peels, citrus rind, potato peels, broccoli and cauliflower stalks. You can dig a hole and add it into the soil. But a better way is to add it to the compost pile where it will decompose into rich, organic matter.
I’ve written details below on how you can use such vegetable waste for your plants. I’ve also added some information on how you can make the compost and add it to the soil.
What is the benefit of using vegetable waste for plants?
The biggest benefit of using vegetable waste for plants is they provide rich, organic nutrients that will help the plants grow strong and healthy.]
Kitchen waste can form 28% of the waste that ends up in a landfill. By reusing this waste, you will reduce the amount of waste that is filling up such landfills.
This reuse of waste will also reduce the carbon emissions taking place due to burning up such materials.
What vegetable waste can you use in the garden?
You can use any vegetable waste from your house that does not contain processed ingredients like oil and fat in it. The best waste would be the vegetable and fruit peels that you collect from the kitchen. You can also use overripe fruits and vegetables that you have left in your kitchen.
It’s also good to use the kitchen food scraps that contain vegetables in it such as those from your salads or vegetable dishes. Just make sure there is not too much cooking oil or grease in it. The grease will not allow the vegetable material to break down into the soil and it will invite pests and insects to your garden.
You can also use cooking water that you have after boiling vegetables, eggs, or pasta. Such cooking water contains beneficial nutrients for the plants. Just make sure to cool the water before adding it to your garden soil.
How to use vegetable waste in the garden
1. Add the vegetable waste to the soil
The easiest way to use the vegetable waste in your garden is to add it directly to the soil. This material will slowly decompose and add rich, organic nutrients to the soil.
You can use this method in your garden soil or your potting soil if you have a container garden. The benefit is that you don’t need to do much work. The drawback is you can only add a limited amount, especially to the potting soil.
If you try to add too much vegetable waste to the soil it will pile up in the soil and start smelling. This will also attract pests and insects to your plants.
This method also takes some time to work because the vegetable waste will decompose slowly. Depending on how much and what kind of waste you use, it can take months before the material has decomposed and mixed into the soil.
2. Make your own compost
The other option you have is to make organic compost using vegetable waste. This will give you material that you can either mix in the soil or add on top of it.
The compost contains rich, organic nutrients as well as beneficial microorganisms that will enrich your garden or potting soil.
The drawback of this method is that you need to learn and use techniques to create the compost which can take months or years depending on how you create it. To create compost, you may also need space in your garden to build a compost pile or a trench.
You may need to use a compost bin if you’re limited in garden space. If you’re growing a container garden and have limited space, you may need to use a pot to create compost.
You need to use the right technique to create compost otherwise you’ll end up with a mix that will smell due to the decomposition with anaerobic bacteria.
How to make compost from your vegetable waste
There are several ways to use vegetable waste to make compost and it depends on the space you have. Some methods will take several months while others could take years before the compost is ready.
The simplest method of making compost is by building a trench and adding the vegetable waste to it. You dig a trench that is about 12 inches deep and cover it with vegetable waste up to 6 inches. You need to fill the remaining 6 inches with garden soil.
You can use this method if you are growing plants in an in-ground garden. Your garden soil with compost will be ready after about a year. When one part of your garden is ready with such soil, you can start trench composting in another part of the garden.
This way you will keep enriching the soil in different areas of your garden over the years.
The next best option you have is to build a compost pile in your backyard. This will help you make compost that you can use in your in-ground garden, raised beds, or a container garden.
You create a compost pile by mixing in “green” and “brown” materials. Green materials are organic matter like coffee grounds, grass clippings, vegetable waste that will add nitrogen to the pile.
Brown materials are organic matter like dried leaves, wood chips, twigs, straw that will add carbon to the compost pile.
You need to add alternate layers of the green and brown materials where each layer is about 2-4 inches in height. After adding every layer, you need to spray some water so the material is moist.
Every few days, you need to turn the compost pile with a rake. This will help the pile get the required aeration so it can break down faster into compost. You’ll also need to sprinkle some water to keep the compost moist.
You may see some steam rising out of the compost pile which is expected as it heats up. The compost will be ready after a few months depending on the materials and the turning. You’ll get a dark, crumbly material that looks like soil and has an earthy scent.
A compost bin is an option you have when you don’t want to use your backyard space for composting. Instead of a compost pile, you use a bin to make your compost.
The bin has an inlet where you can add the layers of green and brown materials along with water to give it moisture. You can open up the lid to allow air to circulate in the materials.
The bin will have a handle that you can use to rotate it. The rotation helps the materials in the compost bin to mix together along with the air and water. This helps fasten the composting process.
The benefit of using a compost bin is it’s compact and takes little space in the garden. Since the bin is covered there are fewer chances of attracting pests and insects to your compost material. It’s also easy to mix up the compost materials by rotating the compost bin with a handle.
The disadvantage of using a compost bin is that it is usually of small size and you’ll get limited compost from it. The compost bin is closed and you may have a little difficulty in getting good aeration in it.
Vermicomposting is a method of creating compost that you can do in a smaller space than a backyard. You use worms like red wiggle worms to get the composting started.
You need to use a 15-gallon container and place some paper at the bottom. Then you can place the worms in the container along with the vegetable waste and cover it with soil.
Whenever you get some vegetable waste you can keep adding it in the center of the compost pile. The worms will keep breaking down the material into rich, organic matter.
You’ll need to keep the pile moist so the worms can get the required moisture. You can know this by checking the worms in the container. If they are coming to the top, it means there is a lack of water. If they are moving towards the bottom, it means the container is getting a lot of water.
Once the compost starts getting reading, you can pick an inch from the top. Before you remove the compost, expose the top layer to light. This will make the worms move to the bottom. Keep doing this whenever you want to remove a layer of compost for your use.
Once the entire compost is removed, you’ll find the worms at the bottom of the container. And you can start a new vermicomposting again in the same container by adding vegetable waste and soil.
If you have a container garden in your apartment, you may not have much space for building a compost pile. You can make use of pot composting to make your compost.
You can use a pot that can hold sufficient vegetable waste such as a 5-gallon one. Make holes in the sides and bottom of the pot so that it allows good aeration.
You can add the vegetable waste to this pot every day along with a little bit of existing compost. After a few days, remember to give the mix in the pot a good stir. Keep doing this for several weeks, and you’ll have rich, organic compost ready.
You can keep another pot and add the vegetable waste to it while the first pot is full and on it’s way to creating a batch of compost.
Make sure to sprinkle some water in the pot but don’t make the material soggy. If you find that the material is starting to smell, it is due to anaerobic bacteria which means the material is either getting too much water or not enough aeration.
You can open up the pot in an outdoor spot and allow it to dry out and get enough air into the materials.