Growing Food from Kitchen Scraps: Confessions of a Plant Killer: 3 Things I Wish the Other Articles Had Told Me

So, it turns out that growing food from scraps isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. Let me explain…

As most of you know, I have been gardening literally my entire life in one way or another, and quite successfully I might add. I figured this would be a no-brainier for me with all of my experience and knowledge of the plants I was attempting to grow from scraps. Well, I was wrong.

It turns out that I’m not the best with house plants. Let me rephrase; I wasn’t the best with house plants because I didn’t grow up with them. I can grow almost anything outside or in a greenhouse, but I’ve always had trouble with plants inside the house. After a few long talks with Dad, I realized what I did wrong and decided to write this slightly embarrassing confession of a plant killer.

The 3 things I wish I would have known before starting my kitchen scraps

So I realized after the plants were dead that there were quite a few things I didn’t know about growing plants indoors. After the last long conversation I had with Dad, I narrowed it down to the 3 biggest things I wish I would have been told by the other how-to articles before I started this project.

  1. It takes Way longer than you think it will for the scraps to actually start rooting.
  2. Know where the light is in your house and follow that, not where you want it to be.
  3. Remember to take your climate into account for transplanting the rooted scraps.

Lets take a look at each of these and talk about what I learned and how I will fix these mistakes next time.

RIP to my first attempt at growing food from scraps 😦

1. It takes WAY longer to root than anticipated

Having been a gardener my entire life, I know that there are different timelines for different plants, and even varieties of those plants, to root and sprout. This is a given; however, I found it very hard for me to be patient when it came to letting these scraps root. I figured they would be ready in about a week, and if you read my first article on getting started growing your own food from kitchen scraps, you’ll know it took at least 2-3 weeks for my plants to finally sprout their roots. I figured out the reason for that only after I had already killed them all 😦

After doing a ton more research and tapping into the encyclopedia-o-Dad, it turned out I was right. It should only take 1-2 weeks for the roots to start showing and sprouting like pictured in my previous article (linked above). So why did it take mine so long to root? Well number 2 of course!

2. Follow the light, don’t wish for it

When I was ranting to my dad, I kept saying that Grammy (his mom) had plants in her kitchen and they seemed to do really well, and I knew that my kitchen has crap natural lighting, but that’s where I wanted to keep the plants. He looked at me over his glasses and said, “You know better than that, Kate.” I hung my head a bit and asked him what to do then?

He told me that the reason Grammy’s plants did so well was because she kept them all in the living room and bedrooms in the winter because that’s where the light was. He said Mum-Mum (his grandmother) kept them in the front room and bedroom because that’s where the light was in her house. I had an epiphany and realized that my house wasn’t built by people that kept plants of any kind and that the only room really fit for keeping full sun plants is my back spare bedroom. It’s the only room in my entire house that gets full sun for most of the day year round.

So, realizing this fact, I decided that maybe growing plants, or at least food and/or full sun plants, wouldn’t be fore me, unless I want to give up my spare room and build a table for the plants to sit on. I’m not saying that won’t ever happen, but for right now I don’t think this will work for us.

3. Take your climate into account

I started this project back in March of this year (2019) and figured I would be good to transplant the crops once they were established in their pots to the ground in our kitchen garden. I was wrong.

As you know if you follow this blog, I live in Southeastern Ohio where the weather isn’t all that good for planting until at least late May most years, and Mother Nature decided to play a few cruel jokes on us this year. Now, having grown up about 30 minutes East of where I live now, I know that the weather in early Spring can be a bit unpredictable and not to put plants out until early June to avoid the risk of frost. With the warmer than usual March and April, I got a bit of Spring fever and wanted to get my garden started since the weather was so nice so I started the scraps with the intention of being able to transplant them within about a month; but then it got cold again, and even snowed quite a bit and the plants began to suffer and started to wilt.

I was getting antsy since I didn’t have bigger pots or containers to transplant the rooted scraps into since I’m an outside gardener and didn’t want to invest in the indoor gardening equipment. So I kept the plants in the poorly lit kitchen and kept watering them, hoping for the weather to turn so I would be able to move them outside to get the sunlight I suspected they needed. It didn’t happen. I successfully killed all of the plants I had started including the mint, which is more embarrassing because mint is a plant that grows wild as a weed and I even killed it! WTF bad house lighting?

So what did I really learn?

I began to think my thumb had turned from green to black and started to panic about our garden aspirations for this year. After the research, talking with Dad I did, along with getting our herb garden started (check out my posts about this here), I realized I just made a few rookie indoor plant mistakes and now have a plan for the next time I give this project a try.

I learned that not every house is built for keeping plants, but plants can be kept in every house if you really want to; and that you need to have a plan and a backup plan for what you’re going to do as the plants grow that fits the climate and time of year you are living in.

I’m not going to be able to try this one again for a while with everything else we have going on on the TreadlingHome-stead, but I will try again when the time is right and let you all know how it goes.

I hope this was helpful for you and helps you avoid the mistakes I made with growing plants from kitchen scraps. Let me know any tips you have for growing and keeping plants indoors; it would really help me out.

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