How to Upcycle Food Scraps into DIY Fertilizer
Turning food scraps into fertilizer is an easy and environmentally-friendly way to repurpose food waste from your kitchen. Homemade fertilizer from food scraps provides nutrients to help your garden and houseplants thrive. Here’s everything you need to know about upcycling food scraps into DIY fertilizer.
Gathering Food Scraps for Fertilizer
The first step is collecting food scraps that can be recycled into fertilizer. Here are some of the best options:
Fruits and vegetables – Scraps like apple cores, celery ends, carrot tops, and potato peels are excellent choices. Try keeping a bowl on your kitchen counter to collect vegetable and fruit castoffs.
Coffee grounds and tea leaves – The grounds and leaves are full of nitrogen which is great for plants.
Eggshells – Crushed eggshells provide calcium and other minerals. Rinse shells thoroughly and allow to dry before using in fertilizer.
Stale bread – Small amounts of plain bread can be added. Allow bread to dry out first.
Avoid animal products like meat, fish, bones, and dairy as these can attract pests and cause odors. Moderation is key with food scraps like oils, citrus peels, onions, and garlic which have strong scents.
Composting Food Scraps
Composting is the most efficient way to convert food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Here’s how to compost at home:
Choose a compost bin or pile your scraps in a heap. Try to compost in a shady spot near a water source.
Mix green materials (food scraps, grass clippings) and brown materials (dead leaves, sawdust) in equal amounts.
Turn or stir the compost every week or so to aerate the pile.
Keep the compost moist but not soaked.
In 2-6 months, the scraps will decompose into dark, crumbly compost for your garden.
Creating Fertilizer without Composting
Don’t have a compost pile? Try these options to upcycle food scraps into homemade plant food:
Bury scraps directly in soil
Dig a hole or trench in your garden and add food waste. Bury scraps at least 6 inches deep. The scraps will compost over time right in the ground.
Make compost tea
Allow fruit and vegetable scraps to soak in water for a few days. Strain the “tea” and use it to water plants. The liquid is full of beneficial nutrients and microbes.
Blend into a smoothie
Puree food scraps like fruit peels, eggshells, and vegetable ends in a blender with water. Pour the fertilizer slurry directly onto the soil around plants.
Dry scraps like coffee grounds and vegetable peels in the oven on a very low temperature until completely desiccated. Crumble the dried scraps to make meal or sprinkle around plants.
No matter which method you choose, applying food scrap fertilizer boosts soil health. Use it to feed vegetable gardens, flower beds, container plants, and more. With a little effort, you can reduce waste while improving your soil quality. Upcycling food scraps is a win-win!