Garbage Garden Lettuce: A Good Alternative To Regular Vegetables?

What Is Garbage Gardening?

Garbage gardening is the practice of growing food from waste materials such as paper, plastic or cardboard. There are many different types of garbage gardening techniques which include composting, worm culture, and even aquaponics (a combination of both). Some methods require less effort than others; however all involve some level of labor.

The term “garbage” refers to any material that is not edible. These materials may be used in other ways, but they are considered trash. One of the most common forms of garbage gardening involves using organic waste products like leaves and grass clippings to make fertilizer for your garden. Other methods use household chemicals like bleach or ammonia to kill off pests and diseases in your garden.

Some garbage gardens also utilize animal manure, yard trimmings, fruit peels, etc. as well as human refuse such as cigarette butts, old newspapers, broken glass, etc.

How Does Garbage Gardening Work?

In order to properly perform garbage gardening with success you need to have a good understanding of what goes into making your own fertilizer. You will also want to keep in mind that there are several factors involved when it comes to how much work you will actually do and how long it takes you. Of course, there is also the amount of garbage you have available to work with.

The types of plants or vegetables you want to grow in your garden also helps determine what types of waste materials you will use. For example, if you are growing leafy greens such as lettuce or other vegetables with shallow root systems, you will need a fertilizer that has a lot of nitrogen in it to promote rapid growth. Using animal manure or fresh grass clippings will typically provide what you need. If you are growing root vegetables or deeper-rooted plants, you will need to ensure you have enough phosphorus in your fertilizer.

The most common forms of garbage gardening involve using either worm castings or composts. Both are fairly easy to make and are also fairly easy to use. You can also buy both in garden supply stores if you do not want to make the material yourself. Making your own fertilizer is also a cheap way to go since you are using up things you would normally throw away.

How To Make Composts:

Making your own compost is probably the cheapest way to go for garbage gardeners on a budget. You will need organic waste materials such as grass clippings, dead leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, dead plants, etc. All materials must be either dried or shredded to speed up the composting process. To make the most of your compost, you want to throw in a “brown material” as well such as dry leaves, dirt, humus, straw or hay.

This helps prevent the compost from becoming too wet since most garbage is usually high in water content. The nitrogen provided by the brown material will also help provide fuel for bacteria to break down your garbage. Finally, you will need a “guest material” which can be sand, gravel, or coffee grounds. The guest materials will help break down your garbage even further and prevent the compost from becoming overly dense. When mixed together in the correct proportions, these materials provide the right conditions for your compost to rot.

You may be wondering why fruit and vegetable scraps are considered garbage when you could just as easily throw them in the trash. The reason is that when you throw them in the trash, they don’t break down very quickly due to the lack of moisture and oxygen. When you add them to your compost, they break down much faster thanks to the organisms which thrive in the moist, oxygenated environment.

The process of making your own compost takes a few months to complete since you need to make sure the temperature never gets too hot (which speeds up the process) or too cold (which stalls the process). You’ll want to keep a constant eye on the material and mix it or turn it over every couple of days. If you have the space, you can also choose to own a second container where all the materials can be mixed together. The advantage with this is that you can fill up one container while using the other.

There are also commercial bins available for sale which make composting easy and take up less space. These can usually be purchased at a local garden center.

How To Use Composts:

When your compost is ready, you will need to apply it to your garden. Most people don’t like the sight of chopped up fruit and vegetable scraps and will only use their compost on bushes and flowers. If this is the case, you can throw all of your fruit and vegetable scraps into a container or bag to save for your compost pile. Grass clippings, dead leaves and other plant materials can be mixed directly into the soil.

If you plan on using your garbage as fertilizer, you will need to mix it with the compost before applying it. You don’t want to see pieces of rotten fruit and vegetables breaking through the soil and you want to make sure the balance of nutrients is good enough for your plants. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t identify the material, don’t use it in your garden. This means no leftover pizza and especially no dying lettuce leaves!

Garbage Gardening – How To Grow Plants From Your Garbage Bin on

Finally, you can also use your compost as mulch by spreading it on top of the soil around your plants. This will help keep moisture in the ground and prevent the growth of weeds. Just try not to put mulch on top of the plants themselves.

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to making your own compost. You’ll be recycling your kitchen scraps, keeping them out of the landfill, and providing your garden with rich, fertile soil. With a little bit of effort on your part, you can provide yourself with beautiful flowers and vegetables all summer long!

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Sources & references used in this article:

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… from joined refuse streams to include; office waste, dry waste, wet garbage and the special hazardous material handling of biological, chemical, and nuclear waste by R Kline, R Walker – US Patent App. 10/943,897, 2005 – Google Patents

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of waste management strategies: Landfilling, sorting plant and incineration by F Cherubini, S Bargigli, S Ulgiati – Energy, 2009 – Elsevier

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An analytic network process approach for siting a municipal solid waste plant in the metropolitan area of Valencia (Spain) by P Aragonés-Beltrán, JP Pastor-Ferrando… – Journal of …, 2010 – Elsevier

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