Gardening out of nothing

March 14, 2007

I love making something out of nothing and I like gardening so gardening out of nothing is right up my ally.  I think everyone should try gardening.  The simple pleasure of seeing something through to the finish, of planting a seed and watching it grow into a vegetable you will enjoy later, digging in the dirt like a child, is pure cathartic.

I read recently that you can grow onions from onions that you purchase in the grocery store.  Simply cut the root end about two inches up and bury roots down. In the spirit of recycling I tried it in my own square foot garden.  Sure enough within a week I had onion greens poking through the soil. 

Apparently, you can also plant garlic, beans, black-eyed peas (also known as southern or cow peas), potatoes and other things right off your organic grocery shelves. Although I have not yet tried these other items, I am sure it can be done. Afterall, plants regenerate from each other.  However, you must be careful because some plants, like many tomato and pepper plants, are hybrids designed to be sterile. 

I will enjoy chopping these onions this summer knowing they were simply leftovers.  And you can bet I will chop off the roots of the newly grown onions and plant them in my garden – who knows how many generations I will get off this one $.59 investment 😉   That is simple and sustainable.

Speaking of getting something for nothing and recycling, I also want to talk compost.  For years I tossed my vegetable peels, coffee grounds and egg shells down the garbage disposal.  What a waste.  So, learning about composting, I decided to search for a compost bin.  HOLY SMOKES, those things are expensive and confusing.   Did you know that composters come in all shapes and sizes; small and compact for apartment dwellers or large and bulky for those with yards?  Furthermore, apparently you can compost in a bin with earthworms, without earthworms or just throw everything in a pile and let nature take its course.  

Being somewhat cheap – a badge I wear proudly – I figured a plastic trashcan would work just as easily as a $500 compost bin.  I bought two heavy duty plastic Rubbermaid trash cans.   I drilled half inch holes all around the cans and on the bottom for aeration.  Occasionally I remember to turn the compost but more often than not I just forget about it except when I throw my weekly kitchen scraps into the cans.  When one fills up I switch to the other.  When that one fills up, I open the lid to the first bin to find that half of it has mysteriously disappeared.  Either something is raiding my transh can bins or my theory of neglect is true, this stuff will rot with or without your attentions!

With spring in the air and garden prep on my mind this week, I emptied both cans on a slab of cardboard to check the progress of my first year composting.  To my delight over 90% of my kitchen waste and yard clippings from the past year had broken down into dark, rich soil worthy of big bucks.   I picked out the big pieces and returned them to one of the cans and spread the rest over my garden to give it a good immune boost with nutrient packed soil.

I also felt great knowing I didn’t purchase anything for either my new onion sets or my fertilizer, but used what I already had.


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