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When it comes to gardening, using veggie scraps just makes sense. It completes the logical cycle: Plant to crop to kitchen and back to plant again. Trees, grass, flowers, and other fauna require decomposing organic matter to get their thing done. So, we make compost, feed our gardens with it, and grow more food.

But, some food scraps equate to more. Some food scraps can be used in other ways to help our gardens stay healthy and vibrant. It’s keying in on these sorts of things that help to eliminate our dependency on chemical and product solutions for garden woes. We likely have the solution we need right in the kitchen compost.

While most of us hopefully know by now that our food scraps can be composted, here are some thoughts as to how to otherwise use them in the garden.

1. Spent Coffee Grounds

Spent coffee grounds have several uses in the garden. They are commonly sprinkled around edges to deter slugs from sliming their way into munch on greens. Additionally, they can be used to make a nitrogen-rich watering solution because once spent, their acidity level decreases dramatically.

2. Organic Banana Peels

Bananas are recognized for packing a wallop of potassium, and in many cases, such as when plants are wanting to fruit, potassium is just what plants are after. Choose organic bananas and use the peels to help plants fruit better. The peels can be steeped in water for a couple of days to create banana tea, or they can be diced, dried, and left to rot around the base of plants.

3. Pest Deterrent

There are certain plants that pests just aren’t that keen to tangle with, and we can use those to create natural sprays that’ll keep pesky insects at bay. Keep the ends of spicy peppers and onions, as well as garlic, and let them sit in water for one to three days. This potent smelling spray — akin to pepper gas — will send most pests elsewhere.

4. Getting New Plants

A huge amount of plants we get, especially when buying organic, can be used to produce more of the same. Autumn squashes come with seeds, as do tomatoes and peppers. Potatoes and sweet potatoes sprout anew. The bottoms of cabbages, lettuces, and celery can all be used to grow new plants. In other words, scraps can be kept to cultivate a whole new garden.

5. Organic Citrus Peels

Citrus peels are pretty useful things in the house, as well as the garden. In the garden, if the peels can be kept in nice halves, they make great biodegradable seedling pots to start plants in. Otherwise, dried and diced citrus peels sprinkled around in the garden will help to prevent cats from using the area as a litterbox. Cat feces, because cats are carnivorous, is too potent for garden beds.

6. Direct Soil Feeding

Composting can take a lot of patience, and then it has to be moved to the garden. Instead, some gardeners prefer to put food scraps directly in the garden. Scraps can either be buried next to and around plants, or buckets can be drilled to have drain holes and sit in garden beds to feed the plants as food decomposes. This is a lower maintenance means of converting food scraps into plant food.

7. Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching works on the same principles as directly feeding the soil. Instead of going through the process of making compost, kitchen scraps are put directly in the garden. In this case, a whole bucket is emptied onto the ground. It’s covered with wet cardboard or several layers of wet newspaper. Finally, that’s topped off with two or three inches of mulch. The food scraps will break down and attract worms. The newspaper and cardboard will block weeds from growing. And, the mulch will conserve moisture while it breaks down into rich soil. This is a really easy, efficient, cheap way to make garden beds.

Once food scraps start going to the garden, the cycle of life is complete. Soil feeds the plants, which feed us, and we put our food scraps back to the soil to feed the plants. When we do this, everyone gets to eat and be merry.

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