How to Make Plant Food From Kitchen Ingredients

Overview

While gardening can be cost-effective in the long run if you grow some of your own fruits and vegetables, initially you do have to invest some money to get things growing. That's one of the benefits of making your own soil-enriching compost from kitchen ingredients. You'll use what you would otherwise throw away to feed your plants. Also, natural products are easier on the environment than chemical compounds. Gardeners create compost by gathering organic materials, such as kitchen scraps, combining them with other organic materials, like yard waste, and letting them rot. Composting occurs naturally when leaves, twigs and other plant material decompose and, slowly over time, become nature's own fertilizer. Composting can be as simple or as involved as you want to make it. All it takes is a little time and effort.

Step 1

Find a container for the kitchen waste products. You can use a plastic ice cream container or anything with a lid. Or you can purchase an indoor composting bucket. These range from simple countertop models that go for about $40 as of February 2010 to more expensive systems. Some of these systems claim to hide the odor of decomposing foods, but if you empty your container regularly, that won't be a problem.

Step 2

Throw in all your fruit and vegetable scraps: orange rinds, potato peelings, apple cores. Don't add cooked vegetables with butter or sauces added, because animal products are not suitable for composting. You can also throw in coffee grounds, filter and all; tea bags; bread crusts--basically all kitchen scraps except animal products.

Step 3

Use a separate container for paper products. You can compost paper towel rolls, egg cartons (not plastic), shredded documents, wrapping paper, used kitchen paper towels and tissues, old greeting cards, and cereal boxes. Don't add large amounts of newspaper; it's better to recycle them.

Step 4

Build a compost pile outside. If you want, you can purchase or build a compost bin; unless you live in a windy area, however, you don't really need a container. Put paper and cardboard at the bottom of the pile, then add your kitchen scraps and some yard waste, such as dead leaves and grass clippings. Make sure this layer is no more than 6 inches deep. Add a layer of paper scraps. You don't have to create perfect layers by any means, but you do need to have equal volumes of paper and "green" waste, which is your kitchen scraps combined with yard waste.

Step 5

Allow the compost to ripen. It needs to be in a sunny spot. After a few months, shovel the top layer into a separate pile and scoop out the rich stuff on the bottom. Add 2 to 4 inches of this finished compost to your garden, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Compost increases the yield of your vegetable garden, and it's also a good fertilizer for trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Container with lid
  • Food scraps (not meat or animal products)
  • Paper waste products
  • Compost bin (optional)

References

  • "Compost"; Ken Thompson, 2007.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Composting
Keywords: plant food, compost, making compost, kitchen compost

About this Author

Janet Clark has worked as a professional writer for nine years. She has had more than 400 articles published. Her work has appeared in The Iowan, Iowa Gardening, Friends Journal,The Des Moines Register, Today Magazine, Fort Dodge Business Review,The Messenger, and CareerApple.com. She has also written a novel, Blind Faith. Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.