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Food scraps or free food ?

By Ben Sims
11 July, 2020


Food scraps or free food.JPG

Next time you are eating a piece of fruit or a vegetable have a think about whether you can grow new plants from the food waste. Many plants propagate quite easy from seeds or cuttings/scraps. Did you know that many plants will grow even after composting such as tomatoes and pumpkins with no effort whatsoever? It would be such a waste to see these potential new food plants in landfill when they could be looking great in the garden producing an abundance of food. 

Seed grown food plants: 

Mangos – Kensington pride is the only variety that will grow from seed and produce fruit. The only downside between this and an expensive grafted variety is time as it can take anywhere between 4-10 years to bear fruit from seed. If you buy a large enough grafted variety, it will produce fruit that year. Germinate during the warmer months as these are tropical and do not like cold/wet conditions for germination.  

Longan – this Asian fruit tree is from the same family as the Lychee. They grow incredibly easy from seed. Try germinating during the warmer months as they are tropical and do not like cold and wet conditions for germination. Once germinated keep the seedling in the shade for the first few years and give plenty of water and a quality fruit fertiliser like Troforte fruit and citrus fertiliser. They can bear fruit in anywhere from 5-10 years and 7 years is typical. 

Dates – Edible dates grow quite easy from seed. After eating soak, the seeds in water for 24 hours and then plant in a seed raising mix a few centimetres under the soil surface. A seedling should germinate within 20-50 days. Within 4-8 years you will have a tree that bears fruit. Date palms can grow huge, so it is probably best keeping in a large pot. 

Tomatoes – you can literally throw an old tomato on the surface of the soil and it will germinate when it is ready. They will grow anywhere and some of the tastiest tomatoes can be from wild plants. Make sure the variety you are using is tasty and not bred for storage and transport over flavour as at home storage and transport are not significant like they are for a supermarket. 

Chilis and Capsicums – simply cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Leave to dry for a day on paper towel and then plant on some seed raising mix in a pot. Loosely sprinkle some more seed raising mix on top of the seeds so they are covered with a few centimetres of soil. Do this when it is warming up as cold soil temperatures will result in no or poor germination rates. 

Pumpkins - the easiest of all seed grown plants and a survivor of many compost bins. This plant will grow very easy from seed however to have a mature plant with pumpkins you need a allot of space or some creative trellis work with netting to support the weight of the fruit. Simple bury seeds an half an inch below the soil surface and water regularly. 

Growing from cuttings or scraps: 

 Pineapples – Simply cut the top off a pineapple leaving about an inch of pineapple underneath and plant in a pot so only the top is visible. Believe it or not pineapples re-grow happily in pots just keep up regular daily watering and for the first summer keep out of too much sun so they do not dry out.

Sweet potatoes – can be grown either from the tuber or from the shoots. Either way is extremely easy, and you can just bury in prepared fertile soil in your garden. Just bury the shoots so at least 100-200mm are buried beneath the soil and plant cuttings 1-2 inches deep (cuttings need to have nodes to grow new plants) 

Potatoes – when you peel your potatoes the scraps with nodes on them will produce new plants make sure the peelings are thick enough so there is enough starch(energy) to produce a new plant. Alternatives use the ends of the potato that are not as wide and grow from these.  Bury these scraps/cuttings an inch deep and water regularly and new shoots emerge. 

Growing from Bulbs/Cloves 

Garlic – use local garlic that has not been sprayed with methyl bromide which is  a nasty chemical that is sprayed on imported garlic. You don’t want to be growing overseas garlic when you can grow higher quality local garlic that hasn’t been sprayed even if it costs more, in the long run you can keep multiplying your plants so you don’t need to buy garlic as it can store for up to 6 months after it’s grown. 

 Enjoy growing free food and if you need help with consultation and design of an edible garden please give us a call as we would love to help.