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Some background: I’m a beginner gardener (and that’s being generous) with a rooftop and a balcony, so everything I grow, if it survives, is in planters and pots. But I know almost nothing about gardening.

With that said, Ive read that I can use kitchen waste (coffee grounds, rice, peanut shells, banana peels, etc) for my plants by using it in compost.

I do not have the tools, the space, or the knowledge to make compost. Obviously, I cannot just throw the peanut shells in the plant like it’s a garbage bin.

My question: how can someone in my situation use kitchen waste to help my plants?

I was thinking of grinding it all up in my kitchen grinder and then adding it to the plants.

  • You can't make "traditional" compost on a small scale, or indoors. You need a enough waste material so that the bacteria decomposing it generate a lot of heat and speed up the process. A good compost heap can reach temperatures up to 50C in the center! The minimum size for an efficient fast working compost heap or bin is about 1 cubic meter (or cubic yard) of waste material. – alephzero Jun 23 '19 at 15:07
  • What is a "kitchen grinder"? You mean one that makes sausage? Or like an electric coffee grinder? Or an electric blender? – Bulrush Sep 18 '19 at 12:25
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Please don’t put kitchen waste directly into your planters. You will end up with mold, probably bad smells and are not really “feeding” your plants. Instead transform the scraps into fertilizer, then feed them to your plants. There are alternatives to regular compost heaps or bins that work on small scale and need only very little space.

One method for changing kitchen waste into fertilizer is Bokashi - carbon-rich material gets fermented by bacteria and becomes useable in just a few weeks. You need a container or two, the bacteria and kitchen waste. Instructions and videos are all over the Internet (example). Note that some waste like bones, eggshells and probably your peanut shells are not suited to the quick Bokashi process.

An alternative is vermicomposting (aka worm bin, worm farm), a box where compost worms eat kitchen scraps and transform them into fertile soil and liquid fertilizer. Again, find detailed instructions on the Internet (example) and accept some limitations as to what you can feed to your little helpers.

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Worm composting is an ideal solution for you.

  • The compost you end up with is many times better than regular composting as a soil amendment.
  • It takes up way less space than a traditional compost pile.
  • You can find a container that fits some free space (under a couch? under a sink? in a closet?) and get started today with shredded newspaper for bedding. Then order your worms, let them get used to the environment for a few days and then you can start feeding them.
  • You get to learn about the wonderful world of worms - what their cocoons look like, how they reproduce, what foods they do and don't like, why they won't crawl out of the composting bin (red wiggler worms hate light and love the moisture of the bin).

Some problems with worm composting compared to regular composting:

  • There are some items you cannot compost as much. For example, a regular bin can tolerate a lot of acidic foods like citrus and pineapple, but those can kill worms.
  • It takes a little more effort to get worms and keep their conditions ideal. You need to monitor the water and temperature more closely/regularly.

There are tons of resources online about how to worm compost. If you have a specific question you could ask in a new question on this site.

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  1. It's a bad idea to add any salted shells of any nut to a compost bin as it's bad for plants. That may put salt in your compost which will then be put on your plants. Use unsalted shells only in your compost bin.
  2. Coffee grounds are good for composting but will turn your compost acidic but that depends on the ratio of coffee grounds to the rest of the compost. Plants like rhododendrons and blueberries prefer slightly acidic soil.

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