If you are like me and love reading how to reuse stuff around the house, then you have probably seen this or a similar headline many times before. When researching for this blog I think I read about 25 articles and I have to say some of the ideas were quick and easy but others I really feel were a bit of a stretch. Take an article on feeding your family from kitchen scraps that included growing your own avocados from your left over seed. Now technically you could grow an avocado from a seed but this is a major long term plan. Most avocado tress do not produce edible fruit until about 10 – 15 years from planting the seed, so your family might be waiting a while to get fed!
Some are the plants are finicky and often impossible to grow, so I have just omitted these altogether. Anyway, what I decided to do with the rest was put everything I thought was interesting and viable all together. However, that being said, it was so lengthy, I broke the article up into 3 parts: short, medium and long term time investments, so you can choose how committed you are to growing your own food from kitchen scraps.
Here is part two, these are the ones that take a little bit more effort but I am sure you will agree they are more than worth it!
Medium Term – 3 to 6 months to produce edible crops.
If your garlic starts to turn green in the middle you should not cook with it as it will have lost a lot of flavour but instead of tossing out those sprouting cloves why not plant them? Garlic is really easy to grow and can be done from just one clove. Your best bet is to get a large pot filled with a good organic potting mix and plant a clove or two. Just put the clove into the soil root side down and place in a warm sunny spot, give it a light water once a week. As it grows garlic will produce pretty little flowers and a distinctive smell that also helps to keep the bugs away. To get a big bulb cut back the growth this will allow the garlic, having no flower to divert resources, to focus its energy on becoming a full bulb. Remember once you harvest your garlic to remove a clove or two from the full bulb so you can repeat the process.
Onions are another easy to grow option although they do take some time to mature! It is simple to grow any type, red, brown, white, both outdoors and indoors. Use the root end of an onion with 1-2 inches of onion “meat” still attached. Cover it with 1-2 inches of soil and ensure the soil is kept moist because onions prefer a warm sunny environment. When you see new growth start to appear, about 6 inches of sprout, dig it up and if there is more than one bulb growing, separate them into individuals, leaving some roots on each. You can then re-plant in soil and cut off two-thirds of each shoot. Just like Garlic this will help the plant to focus its energy on becoming a full bulb. It will take 4-6 months for the bulb to fully grow, you can then harvest it and start all over again!
If you want to grow your own tomatoes start out with a really good tomato from the farmers market, preferably a heirloom variety. You just have to rinse the seeds and lay them on a piece of paper towel and allow them to dry. To start the seeds growing you can put soil in an egg carton and place one seed in each section. Once they sprout, allow the seeds to get a few inches high before transplanting them outdoors. Just remember to keep them in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and water a few times each week. You should be eating tomatoes in about 3 months.
Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Did you know that you can even grow potatoes from potato peelings? You just need peelings that have eyes on them. Weather it is pieces or peelings you are using, ensure there are at least two or three eyes on each piece. Allow them to dry out overnight and then simply plant them about four inches deep in your soil, making sure the eyes are facing up when planting. It will take a few weeks before you see the potato plant begin to grow. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth. You can harvest potatoes in stages – “young” or “early” potatoes should be ready about 7-8 weeks after planting (when the flowers first appear). Take a few without pulling up the stems, and leave others to continue growing into full-sized potatoes. You will know when your potatoes are ready to harvest when the vine leaves turn yellow and wither
Sweet potatoes can be grown much like regular potatoes. You’ll want to use organic, because the majority of commercially grown varieties have been sprayed to discourage them from shooting. You just have to cut the sweet potato in half and partially submerge half a sweet potato in a cup of water (supported out of the cup with some sort of skewer or toothpicks.) Roots will begin to appear in just a few days and sprouts will be seen on top of the potato around that same time. Once those sprouts reach about four inches or so in length, just twist them off and place them in a container of water. When the roots from this container reach about an inch in length, you can plant them in soil. Once roots grow to about an inch, just plant them in the ground. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.
Pumpkin seeds are a great snack, but you can grow your own pumpkins by putting some of those seeds in the ground. All you have to do is place the seeds in the soil the seed should be at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed and make sure the area gets plenty of sun and regular watering. The plants should grow quite quickly and you should be harvesting your pumpkins in about 15 – 20 weeks. You can harvest when the vines die off and the pumpkins’ stalks are dry. Leave a small piece of stalk attached to the fruit to prevent damp causing rot. The fruit can be stored for months in a cool airy place.