Growing With Food Scraps

In the past, I had a very non-green thumb, I killed every plant I brought into my house. But I was determined to be one of those people with green plants all over my house and around my yard, and not kill them.

I also love free, fresh fruits and vegetables. But let’s face it; it can be quite expensive to buy a bunch of plants when you know you will most likely kill them. So what can you do? Grow them yourself, from food you bought at the grocery store.

The things I can grow and when they can go outside may differ from where you live.

Growing Tomatoes:

Step 1 – Fill plant pot with potting soil – make sure there are holes for drainage, you do not want it too wet.

Step 2 – Wash tomato and cut into ¼ inch slices, if you’re using a cherry tomato just cut in half

Step 3 – Place tomato slices onto the dirt single layered. I put each slice into its own pot.

Step 4 – Cover the slice with a thin layer of dirt. You don’t want to see the tomato but the seeds need to be covered. If your dirt starts to grow mold (like mine did) just sprinkle some cinnamon on top, it kills the mold. Works well for any plant that has mold or fungus growing in the dirt.

Step 5 – Water it, and keep the soil damp until the seedlings pop through.

Step 6 – When they have reached about 2 inches tall it’s time to separate them into their own pots.

Be very careful when removing sprouts as most of them will still be stuck to the slice of tomato

Step 7 – Very gently break up the soil freeing the plants without tearing the roots and place them into a pot filled with dirt/ potting soil.

I poke holes in the bottom for drainage

Step 8 – Put pots into a bright location and let them grow, do not let them dry out completely, I usually let just the top of the soil get dry in between watering.

Step 9 – When you have no chance of frost and the plants have had some time to get bigger you can plant them into your garden, or large pot if you are container gardening.

Notes:

  • Tomatoes require 6+ hours of full sunlight every day
  • Begin seeds 6-8 weeks before last frost
  • Be sure to harden off your plants before putting them outside
  • Use a stake or cage to help tomato plants stay off the ground
  • Space plants 2 feet apart in garden
  • Water about 2 inches of water a week to help grow a good solid root system
  • During periods of drought, you can place a large flat rock near the base of the tomato plant. It will help prevent the water from evaporating.
  • Mulching around the base of the plants also helps to contain moisture and stops weeds from growing
  • Be sure to plant them very deep, about half of the stem under the dirt with the bottom leaves cut off.

Growing Peppers:

For optimal yield start growing seeds in Feb/ Mar

Step 1 – Cut open pepper and remove seeds

Step 2 – Place seeds in wet paper towel and into a ziplock or sealed container, then place in a warm location (sunny windowsill works well).

Step 3 – Once they have sprouted place into a small pot full of dirt/ potting soil and keep soil damp.

Step 4 – Once the seeds have sprouted through the dirt you can reduce some watering but do not let it dry out completely and Let it grow

Step 5 – When there is no chance of frost, and your plant is about 6 inches, plant into your garden or container.

Or

Step 1 – Cut open Pepper, taking the top half of the pepper with all the seeds

Step 2 – Gently push some of the seeds off the stem letting them fall into the pepper

Step 3 – Place the half of the pepper, open side up into a pot of soil.

Step 4 – Fill the half pepper with soil and water

Step 5 – Once the seeds have sprouted gently separate them into their own pots

Notes:

  • Peppers are similar to Tomatoes in terms of growing conditions
  • They require 6+ hours of direct sunlight every day
  • Be sure to harden off plants before planting outside

Growing Kiwi:

Step 1 – Cut open a kiwi – I choose kiwis from new Zealand as they do not allow GMOs.

Step 2 – Scrape the seeds out and put them in a mesh strainer.

Step 3 – Rub the seeds all around under running water washing the flesh away, you want just the seeds and no flesh left. The flesh will start to mold if left on.

Step 4 – When they are all cleaned off, put them onto a wet paper towel, fold it up and put into a ziplock in a warm location (sunny windowsill works well).

Step 5 – once the seeds have started growing roots you can rip the paper towel around the seeds, so you are not damaging the roots, and place in dirt. Only about ¼ of the seeds will grow big enough so put several seeds in each pot of dirt. Keep the top of the soil damp until they have sprouted through.

Step 6 – water regularly and watch them grow, if you get multiple growing big in one pot you can gently remove one and plant in another pot or you can just pluck it out, leaving only one growing.

Step 7 – Wait until the weather is nice and no chance of frost before planting outside.

I started growing my kiwi seeds in the fall, they were growing great but then they all started dying. I only had 2 of the 6 keep their leaves, but even the leaves looked dead.

I put the dead looking plants outside on the deck to empty out later on. Procrastination took over and a couple months went by. We got a bit of sun in late February and 2 of my “dead” kiwi plants were starting to grow life.

Weeds were growing, the top of the soil was green from algae, but, there was life. another couple months go by and now all 4 of my kiwis that I assumed were dead had sprouted new leaves.

My guess is because they were all in my windowsill they still went through winter, losing all the leaves and stopping growth until spring. I now have all 6 kiwi plants growing, fingers crossed I have at least one male and one female plant.

Notes:

  • Kiwi plants require a male and female plant to pollinate in order to produce fruit.
  • Kiwi plants require both male and female plants to produce fruit
  • Kiwi grow like grapes and will need a very strong structure for it to climb
  • Be sure to harden off plants if grown inside
Forgot to Harden Off before putting outside. Thankfully it survived, there is new growth at the top.

Growing Apples:

 Be sure to choose an apple that will grow in your zone, not all apples grow in the same climate.

Step 1 – Cut open apple and pick out the seeds

Step 2 – very, very, gently peel back a part of the skin on the seed exposing the inside. Doesn’t need to be much but it makes it easier for the root to poke out.

Part of the apple seed skin removed

Step 3 – Place in wet paper towel and into a ziplock, or sealed container, and put it warm location (sunny windowsill works well).

Step 4 – Once they sprout roots place each seed into its own plant pot with the root pointing down.

Step 5 – Keep soil damp until the leaves sprouts up.

Step 6 – I would suggest keeping it in a pot for the first couple years until it gets big enough that it can survive winter and whatever else Mother Nature throws at it.

Notes:

  • Apple trees do not self pollinate so you will need two trees of different varieties to produce fruit
  • When planting in the ground put a cage around to prevent animals from eating it.
  • Harden Off your plants before putting outside

Growing Lemons:

Step 1 – cut open lemon and pick out the seeds

Step 2 – Wash the seeds very well to get off all the coating – I personally found it easiest to pop the seeds in my mouth and suck on them. It takes all the slimy flesh off

Step 3 – Place in a wet paper towel and into a ziplock or sealed container, and then into a warm location (sunny windowsill works well)

Step 4 – Once the seeds have sprouted place in pot full of dirt, water and place in sunny location

Step 5 – Wait for it to grow, place in bigger pot as needed. If you live in a climate that gets cold winters the lemon tree will need to stay inside.

Growing Green Onions

Step 1 – Take the bottom of the green onion that you were going to throw away and put it into some water.

Step 2 – Place in a sunny location and Replace the water every couple days

Step 3 – Cut off top as needed.

OR

Step 1 – Place the bottom of the green onion into a plant pot or a small plastic cup (with drainage holes) filled with dirt.

Step 2 – Place in sunny location and water frequently

Notes:

  • If you just keep cutting the tops off and keep up with the fresh water they will just keep growing.
  • I found keeping them in dirt was easier for growing as sometimes in a jar if there are too many green onions there is not enough air flow and they will start to grow mold.


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