So you’ve spent hours in the kitchen, humming away, cooking up the perfect meal. Now comes the worst part. You’re left with piles, or even bags, of food scraps and kitchen waste, an inevitable byproduct of the cooking process. If not properly disposed of, these bits can easily stink up the kitchen, and yet it feels wasteful to toss out what’s decomposable with regular garbage. However, the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure holds somewhat true here; there are plenty of eco-friendly and creative ways to turn your kitchen waste into a great addition for your garden.
1. Green Onion and Garlic
Green onions and garlic—besides being common ingredients in Taiwanese cooking—are some of the most versatile plants in the world. For most cooks, the spring onion’s rooted tip is usually cut off and disposed of. However, this tip can actually spring into a whole new scallion, if you just put it in a glass with some water. Give it a few days, and transfer it over to potted soil once it sprouts. You won’t even have to pay it much attention; it will transform into a whole new green onion ready for cooking again within just a few weeks.
image via Lena Morris
Don’t you hate it when you’re finally about to make something out of that sack of potatoes in your pantry, and you discover that the potatoes have sprouted? These sprouts are highly poisonous, and the potato itself is not safe to be consumed if it has turned green or wrinkly. So what can you do with it all these potatoes that are no longer edible? Throw it in some soil and watch it flourish! Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a garden, since the potato root itself acts as a fertilizer for the plant. The plant grows big and fast without much watering and is an easy green addition to your patio or garden.
image via Bmvera
3. Egg Shells
With eggs being the go-to for a quick meal, used egg shells seem to pile up so quick. However, many people don’t know that these things that are so easily tossed away can actually be an useful aid for your garden. Sprinkle your used egg shells around your sprouts or mix it in the soil to add some calcium to help fertilize your plants. The shells also help steer pests away from your vegetables.
image via Tango Mango
4. Longan (龍眼)
Longan is a common fruit in Taiwan that’s similar to a lychee but smaller in size and with a huge seed. These seeds are actually very versatile and easily replanted in an amateur garden. Just like those old elementary school projects, simply soak the seeds in some wet paper towels or a glass of water for a few days, and then transfer them over to soil once they start to sprout.
image via Wikipedia
5. Carrot Tops
Most root vegetables work miracles in the garden. The inedible top of a carrot can actually be regrown if planted in soil with the vegetation exposed. Immerse just the leftover root part of the carrot in soil, and the greens will start to shoot up within days of planting. The next thing you know, you’ve got some new carrots for another stew or light snacks. What’s up, doc?
image via Gemma Garner
6. Coffee Grounds
Turns out brewing your own coffee is not only much more affordable but also will provide you with another helpful gardening resource. Mix the coffee grounds with the soil, and the grounds act like a powerful fertilizer, adding nitrogen and acidity. Furthermore, its potency helps deodorize and keeps pests like slugs away. For maintenance beyond the garden, coffee grounds are also an excellent exfoliator for the skin. Mix it with some olive oil for an affordable and all-natural face mask. If you don’t have a coffee maker, most cafes in Taiwan actually give their used coffee grounds for free if you just ask for them!
7. Food scraps
Everyone knows how it feels to find a pile of food scraps down your sink drain after doing the dishes. Especially as the weather warms up, the scraps stink faster and attracts flies. This kitchen nuisance is in fact a really great resource for the garden. Next time you have a good pile of food scraps collected, rinse off any residue of dish detergent, and bury it under some soil for a stink-free and nutritious compost. Your plants will love it!
image via Wikipedia Commons