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Published 01.07.21, 11: 22 PM
Sustainable, zero waste, eco-friendly — these are terms we have heard day in and day out in the last one year. It was about time we all looked within ourselves, our lifestyles, and thought about how we are resourcing waste produce all around us. The past year has been very introspective for us all. We realised we didn’t need to shop as much as we did, consume healthier home-grown and home-made food (yes, I am one of those who transformed from a plant killer to a plant mother!), and recycle and reuse materials around us.One aspect that I looked at very closely recently was how I could transform my kitchen into a zero-waste zone. One of the ways I succeeded in accomplishing this was by using my kitchen waste as plant fertilisers. They are simple to make and nourishing for your plants. And yes, you also end up with completely organic and home-made fertilisers. Win-win! Here are some ideas from my kitchen to yours:
Rice water: This fertiliser promotes healthy plant growth and is easy to make. Put water in a bowl and then soften the rice. Sift through and keep only the water. Pour into your plants twice a week. You can use the water in which you soak the rice to the water in which you boil it. One can also use it from a spray bottle. Rich in zinc, phosphorus, protein, and iron, it controls pests well and promotes growth. You can use the water used for soaking or boiling lentils or pasta too to do this.Onion peel: Take a handful of onion peels (of about three-four big onions or five-six medium-sized onions) and soak them in a litre of water for 48 hours. Use the drained water in your garden the following day. The peels can go with the water too. Don’t throw away the onion skins, use them to create organic potassium-rich fertiliser for all your plants growing indoor or outdoor. The fertiliser is filled with potassium, phosphorus and zinc. It works wonders for flowering plants. It helps in disease resistance, promotes growth and strengthens stems. And it also has calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper.Potato peel: We all love potatoes, don’t we? Well so do our plants! Boil some potato skin for 20 minutes. Sieve this water and mix it with regular water in a 1:5 ratio. This water is rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins. You can also boil the potatoes with the skins and then peel off the skin. Whatever process you choose, don’t throw away that nutrient-rich water. If you want to use it as a fertiliser, don’t add salt to the water beforehand.Orange peel: Orange peels help protect your plants when you use them in a natural pest-repelling spray. Just add the peels to a spray bottle and fill it with hot water. It is safe for plants and is a more natural, chemical-free way to repel bugs. Another way to do it is by cutting the peel into small pieces and liquefying it in a blender by adding half a cup of water. Pour this solution into the soil and let the peel pieces decompose. You can also throw the whole peel as it is on the top of the soil or plant it under the soil near the roots.Banana peel and eggshell: Sun-dry banana peels till they become completely coarse and dry. Cut them into small pieces and place them in the blender. Add eggshell and give it a good mix. This can be sprinkled in the soil. Bananas contain nutrients that houseplants love. Banana peels release potassium and small amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium into the water. Combined, banana skins and eggshells make a great combination. Eggshells are a great source of calcium. Aerate the soil a little and then put this mixture in the soil.Mango: Just in time before mangoes leave us this season, let us feed our plants some! Mangoes are rich in vitamin A, B6, C as well as dietary fibre, copper, folate. Although we usually throw away the peels, they too contain vitamin C, E, polyphenols, carotenoids, and plant fibres. Utilise them as organic fertilisers for your plants this summer. Cut mango skin and save for three-four days along with the seed in a jar of water. You can also add a small piece of jaggery as this helps in the longevity of the fertiliser and also helps in transmitting the maximum amount of nutrients from the fertiliser to the plant.Aloe vera: Aloe vera is not called a wonder plant for nothing. Apart from being good for our hair and skin, it is also helpful for plants. Cut aloe vera into small pieces and place in a jar filled with water for 4-5 days. Use this water on your plants. Aloe vera fertiliser can encourage seed germination and rapid root development, improved cell strength, and contribute to overall superior plant health, growth, and vigour. In fact, aloe is so great at promoting growth that it’s commonly used as a natural rooting hormone, used to help plant cuttings establish new roots.Tea leaves: According to several reports, dried tea leaves contain 4.4 per cent nitrogen, 0.24 per cent phosphorus, and 0.25 per cent potassium, making it an organic source of NPK fertiliser, known for helping plants grow. One can also use tea leaves from tea bags. Used tea grounds and fresh tea leaves contain nutrients and tannic acid that, when added to the soil, create a more fertile environment for a garden, landscape, and container plants. Because tea grounds are natural, organic matter, they increase nutrient levels and improve soil quality as they decompose.So I hope next time you throw something in the garbage bag from your kitchen, this thought crosses your mind — ‘can I use it for something else?’ And these options are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways in which you can use them, be it for other household stuff or your hair and skincare, the list goes on. So let us all do our bit in conserving, recycling, and reusing. You can check out many other processes to adapt in your daily lives at home on my Instagram handle @design.on.the.go.The author runs her own soft furnishing brand Onset while working with her family textile business. She has taught Textiles at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and been a visiting lecturer at Philadelphia University and JDBI, Kolkata
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