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Garbage In, Garden Out, The Recycling Gardener, Soda Pop and other foods

Updated on January 28, 2015

Recycling Foods Benefits You Garden


Soda Pop for your Geraniums

Soda Pop in the garden is actually better for your flowers than it is for your kids, flat or not, it can be poured directly onto the soil to help blooming plants and the soils itself bringing sugars the fungi thrive on, phosphoric acid, and even the carbonation provides needed carboxylic acid the plants can use.

I am not kidding about soda being better for your garden than for you. It is a problem for the liver and kidney as well as your bones. Phosphoric acid depletes calcium from your bones, but this is good for a plant because the phosphorus is needed to transport the calcium. You body has plenty of phosphorus unless you are vegetarian, but the soils generally do not.

When our kids had parties, several kids brought over soda. We provided natural soda periodically, but here I am talking about the most common sodas, especially colas. When the party was over I would take the soda bottles out and pour it on the garden.

Even the natural sodas have a lot of carbohydrate which helps soil organisms to multiply and grow in size.

The soils love it, the plants appreciate the carboxylic acid (which makes the bubbles) and the phosphoric acid. The plants use the phosphorus to bloom, and all the acids help the soil pH which helps transport minerals into the plant.

A Pot of Soup is Good for the Soil

We love to make soup.

It is so easy and inexpensive to make a very nutritious pot of soup.

We use one of those tall stock pots that could hold a small turkey. And we do cook small turkey’s, chickens, and so forth and make soup from the stock left over, but most of the time we just use chicken and/or beef broth and add the veggies and other ingredients and have soup for a day or two especially when it is cold outside.

OK, so, in San Diego it only gets cool, not cold. Nonetheless, we enjoy soup.

What to do with all that leftover homemade soup?

Dig a shallow hole, deeper of there is chicken, beef, or other animal proteins in it, and simply let it percolate for a while before burying it.

A few days ago I dug up a spot where I had done this.

Now this spot was pretty dry and the soil was OK, but nothing special.

I dumped to pot of soup into the hole. It was a nice chicken soup we made one night, so chicken fat, vegetables, salt, other herbs for flavoring. Into the hole it went.

Since it was not a deep hole and other things had already been put into the hole, layered with newspaper to keep animals out, I buried this then put a brick stepping stone over it to help keep out the neighborhood cats.

When I uncovered it and sunk a spade into the soil the soils collapsed into the hole. The soil below was a nice, rich, dark soil. I had noticed the rose bush growing there was doing better than others in the yard, and surely some of these nutrient had gotten into the soil.

When you make compost of mulch, you lose matter in the process. Some mass becomes water-soluble and is washed into the soil, some is released as carbon dioxide gas. The same was true here, the mass I buried was reduced by fermentation and biodegrading and all of this enriched the soil.

Boiled Vegetable Water

One of the problems with boiling a vegetable, or with steaming them, is the loss of nutrient into the water.

These are valid ways of preparing vegetables, but, ask yourself, why might this make a good soup stock?

Because it is flavorful.

What are flavors?

Nutrients from the vegetables.

Then why not make use of them?

After the cooking water cools, as, assuming you are not going to make a soup, put this into the garden, of, water your house plants. This assumes you are not adding salt to the water, which would not be good for your house plants.

Pizza, Pizza!

OK, someone left the Pizza out overnight, but you have a garden.

What is a pizza made of? Wheat flour, cheese, tomato sauce, perhaps some meat. All of this is biodegradable. All of this, not matter how old, makes for a party with the microorganisms in the soil. Remember, there are a lot more of them than you have friends, but let them party after you friends leave.

Bury the pizza in whole or in part in and around plants. Just be sure to get the top a few inches below the soil. If you bury it “standing up” it creates water channels into the soils so you get better water penetration in the soil.

Hopefully, this is whole wheat crust, and then you have fiber in the soil which will help hold water. This is what it does for you also, and so improves your digestive tract function.

Left Over Watermelon?

I am a watermelon addict. Not those plastic tasting seedless watermelon but the big 20-30 pound rattlesnake or regular green watermelons beckon me during the summer, and indulge I do.

Sometimes I simply cut a slice or end piece and eat it with a fork, sometimes I slice up the entire fruit and put it into a bowl.

Several days ago, at this writing, I did this but accidentally left it out overnight.

When I wore a younger man’s cloths, I would eat that the next morning but early in our marriage my mother-in-law warned against this practice. I resisted her suggestion that it could cause some gastric upset and continued the practice several more times until, you guessed it, one day I learned what mother-in-laws are for; the giving of sage advice.

Repenting of my sins, I swore off that practice that very morning while worshiping the porcelain god. It wasn’t pretty, so now I recycle watermelon that is left out into the garden.

This time, I had cut it up and put the rind into the mulch pile, so I had little nutrient packets of potassium and carbon, and distributed them among my potted plants, simply using a trowel to turn them into the soil.

You do want to do this because watering just now I found a piece that I missed. It was a bit dry and withered, but also attracting what we call house flies. You don’t want that, or the smell than might arise from this, but overall, this adds potassium and sugars to the soil and helpful bugs and worms love it.

If you have a spot out of the way, and have the rind you can just turn it fruit side down on the soil to keep the flies away, give it a week, then bury the skin or it will simply dry out once the bugs have eaten the fruit. Wood lice and pill bugs love this and they are good for the garden in general helping to recycle plant materials.

The bugs watermelon rind and other fruit attract are mostly good bugs for the soil, but, this makes a bit of a mess, so either put it out of sight, or, if you don’t have such a location not a problem, just bury it, leave a mound on top and watch the mound sink back into the soil as the fruit is eaten by worms and naturally breaks down from fungi and bacteria.

Remember what you are doing is trying to return the soils to a healthy condition with lots of organisms, nutrients, and carbon compounds. Watermelon has a lot of potassium, sugars, moisture, other nutrients all of which the soils can use.

If you prefer a nice neat garden, always turn it into the soil. I have a lot of mulch, so this yields two advantages, first, the material on top hardly makes a difference, and second, if it is in too public an area, it is easy to turn into the mulch helping to revitalize it as well. Remember to leave that little mound of dirt or mulch to drop back into the hole when the melon is gone because it is about 95% water.

It’s called watermelon for a good reason.

Remember also minerals are not lost to the garden because a bug eats it (unless the bug flies away) it is just in a different form and will eventually return to the soil. Nitrogen is not like that because it can form nitrogen gasses and simply evaporate, but potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and others are minerals, or metals, and they return to the soils eventually. What we are doing is seeing it returns to the soils at our home.

Carbon, much maligned today, it really important for plants. Remember, sugars are carbon hydrogen and oxygen and are the end product of photosynthesis. Plants can get carbon from the air, but there is a lot less of it there than is found in a good healthy soil. Carbon in the air is only 370 parts per million but in the soils can make up 1-5% or more of the mass, or one to five parts per hundred. This is thousands of times higher than in the atmosphere and it can be absorbed as carboxylic acid when dissolved in water.

© 2015 Ronald A Newcomb

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