Seven food scraps to make gardens ‘thrive’ – ‘stops weed growth’

Diarmuid Gavin advises people to 'make your own compost'

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With food prices on the rise and many stretching budgets to buy the essentials, those looking to reduce food waste should make the most of their leftovers by using them in the garden. Reducing food waste is more important now than ever, which is why the experts at have shared their favourite recycling hacks for helping plants and crops with leftovers. Re-using food and leftover waste is not only restricted to composting, which requires time, effort and can be a learning curve for many. There are lots of other efficient ways to utilise food scraps and encourage a thriving garden at the same time.

Top tips include sprinkling nut shells over flower beds, using spicy pepper scraps to deter pests and using banana peels to add nutrients to your crops. 

A spokesperson for Garden Buildings Direct said: “Many shy away from composting, as it can be a long process with no instant gratification. This is why we wanted to share some of our top hacks for using leftovers or remains from your meals and snacks and using them to care and help your garden. 

“Some scraps can help deter pests and insects, while others stop weed growth and encourage lush foliage for your plants. It can be as simple as saving your pasta water and using it to refresh your favourite plants, or crushing up egg shells and scattering through your flower beds!”

Food scraps to use in gardens

1. Egg shells 

Due to egg shells containing calcium and traces of phosphorous and magnesium they are great for providing plants with nutrients.

The expert said: “Crushed egg shells can work as a fertiliser in your garden. The extra dose of calcium can prevent your crops from succumbing to blossom-end rot, while the shells deter pests like slugs and snails off your favourite plants.”

To carry out this method, just crush up any unused egg shells and sprinkle throughout the garden. It is particularly ideal to use crushed egg shells when growing certain vegetables, such as tomato, pepper and aubergine or plants such as roses, hydrangeas, spider plants or ferns.

2. Spicy peppers

Spicy organic leftovers can be used as an effective deterrent to some of the most common garden pests.

The gardening pros advised: “Save super spicy scraps for keeping pests away from your garden crops. Chilli peppers are a natural insecticide and can even help to improve the flavour of your crops when used in moderation.”

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3. Orange peels

Leftover orange peels from winter mulled wine? As well as spicy scraps, orange peels can also be distributed throughout the garden as a natural pest deterrent, as “the smell deters many insects”. 

They instructed: “Scatter the peels along the bottom of your plants to keep pesky fleas, ants, mosquitos and flies at bay.”

Not only can these scraps be used as a great pest deterrent they also are a great fertiliser as they are packed with nitrogen.

4. Pasta water

According to the pro, any cooking water used to make meals for you and the family can be reused in the garden. 

They said: “Simply save any water used from boiling pasta, rice, boiling eggs or blanching veggies and let it cool before giving all of your indoor and outdoor plants a good water. The starchy water will add nutrients while prompting their release from the soil.”

5. Coffee grounds

Just like orange peels, coffee grounds are great to use as fertiliser due to them being rich in nutrients – especially nitrogen.

The expert said: “The leftovers in your coffee machine might just be the best way to add new life into your garden. 

“The grounds contain helpful nutrients, including lots of nitrogen. Mix your coffee grounds into the soil of your favourite flower beds and pots for an easy, eco-friendly fertiliser.”

6. Nut shells

Another food scrap rich in nitrogen are nut shells. Nitrogen is one of the key ingredients required by both houseplants and garden plants to protect them during the winter months.

The guru advised: “Instead of disposing of nut shells, crush them up and sprinkle a layer over your plant beds to prevent weeds from peaking through. Mixing the shells into the soil will also help to aerate overly compact soil.”

7. Banana peels 

The potassium found in bananas is not only great for humans nutritional needs, but can also be “beneficial” for gardens. 

The expert said: “The nutrient can help your plant to fight diseases while producing more fruit or blossoms. Place them directly onto the soil and let them mulch!”

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