Recycling Food Scraps

This year I plan to write once a month about one of the 12 garden trends from the 2014 Garden Media Group report. The trends are based on many facts and figures. They include technology and smart gardening techniques meant to find balance in the garden.

The first garden trend is Ground Up: table to garden to table. According to the natural marketing institute, only 25% of our U.S. households compost. Food scraps make up 11.7% of our waste with 97% of that going to landfills. We obviously need to reduce food scrap waste.

I know that this is easier said than done. I can speak from experience that composting indoor food waste can be messy and time consuming. I have tried, unsuccessfully, many times to compost kitchen food scraps. I've used buckets on the counter that are emptied in my outside compost bins, but found I didn't dump it enough and attracted fruit flies. I also tried worm composting, but killed the worms.

This really can't be that hard! A quick internet search for indoor food recycling composters yielded many products and systems. There are bins, buckets, grinders, bags, tumblers, and more, making it all very confusing.

I am fascinated by the futuristic indoor food scrap systems I found. The most elaborate one was a "farm" that composts and grows food indoors. It even includes a cutting board that drops waste directly into a compost bin. Another composting system was designed for offices to grow plants using waste.

The system that intrigues me most uses a fermentation process to break down kitchen waste inside a plastic bucket. It is based on a Japanese composting process called Bokashi. Some describe it as a system that pickles kitchen waste, transforming it into useable compost. I have decided to try this method and will let you know how it goes.

Still too complicated for you? Start the slow, simple, and fun way by reusing kitchen scraps. Egg shells can be used as seed starting containers. Once decomposed, egg shells and coffee grounds are organic sources of fertilizer.

I especially like regrowing vegetables. I started celery by placing the bottom end in a dish of water. Once it began to sprout I planted it in a container and it continues to send up a sturdy new stalk. You can also regrow green onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger, leeks, and bok choy. Or, have fun starting pineapple tops, avocado pits, and citrus seeds indoors.

The 2014 garden trends report says that this is the year to find happiness. It states many ways to do that, including finding bliss in the garden. Start finding your happy place this year by recycling kitchen waste.