Waste Not, Want Not

When it comes to grocery purchases you can regrow, the list is endless. Basically anything is fair game; spinach, coriander, spring onions and even fresh purple carrots with their tops and root still intact. We recently purchased some carrots that were so fresh we planted a couple straight in to a garden bed. They grew and grew until eventually they flowered and set seed, providing us with the next crop free of charge – what a cost saving that was!

You can also do this with tops from pineapple and beetroot,  as these can continue to grow with a new lease of life when planted. These tops will send out roots and flourish.

Other root crops will grow easily from a small piece. If you purchase some ginger, galangal or turmeric with an eye or shoot, why not try planting it? Even potato peelings with an eye will grow roots and new shoots if planted.

Plants that you can regrow from the base or roots include celery, Chinese vegetables, spring onions and some herbs. These roots can grow new tops, ready for the table in no time at all.

A new planting of English spinach after the tops have been cut off for use.

A new planting of English spinach after the tops have been cut off for use.


The list of seeds you can harvest for free is rather endless, although some may not be viable due to immaturity or even hybrids.  You could try avocado, pumpkin, tomatoes, capsicum and chilli, to name just a few.

We have heard how much goodness is in the skins of vegetables, so once they have been washed why would you throw this way?  These ‘scraps’ make an ideal stock concentrate, turning waste in to a flavoursome and nutritionally-rich addition to your next stew, casserole or soup.

As there has been an abundance of citrus around, I thought I’d share a few ways to use up the leftover piles of skins we have found ourselves with. I haven’t been called ‘Frugal Faye’ for nothing!

The creativity here started when I decided to take advantage of our bumper crop of oranges and make fresh juice for the family. As you can imagine, there was quite a pile of citrus skins sitting on the kitchen bench. I was recently asked about whether citrus can be added to worm farms and this got me thinking; just what use is there for this pile of skins?  In its present form and quantity, I suspect my pile of skins would be an overload to any worm farm, but I do feed citrus to the worms in smaller proportions. I have also found they are converted far quicker when the scraps are blended in a food processor.

Here are some other ideas for value-adding our citrus peels:

  • Adding the skins to compost is a great way of returning potassium to the mix, but once again these will break down quicker if they are in smaller pieces.
  • Soldier fly larvae are great warm season waste recyclers and turn just about anything, including meat, dairy and citrus, in to a protein feed for chickens and fish.
  • Dried skins act as a great fire starter as the oils burn very well. I also use toilet rolls filled with lint from the dryer to help the fire get going quickly.
  • Orange skins are a key ingredient for mulled wine.
  • Dried peel is a great addition to pot pourri or fruit cakes.
  • Orange halves make great slater traps, simply placed on a garden bed cut side down.
  • Candied peel dipped in chocolate is a delicious treat served with coffee.
  • Boil skins on medium heat with a teaspoon of cinnamon for an air freshener.
  • Infuse orange skins in vinegar for a week or more and you have a homemade cleaning product.
  • Orange zest makes fragrant and flavoursome marinades and teas.
  • Infuse peel in olive oil to make zesty salad dressing.
  • Skin products from orange peel powder can include face masks, scrubs and even bath bombs.

I really enjoy the challenge of making the most of what is available and I hope you are inspired to stop and give a thought to the phrase “there is no such thing as waste, only stuff in the wrong place”.

Why not go ahead and try out some of these ideas? I’m sure there are more things to add to the list too. Happy homesteading!

Since using my homemade fire starters, it has been a lot easier to get the fire going.

Since using my homemade fire starters, it has been a lot easier to get the fire going.


About the author – Faye Arcaro
Faye is a passionate gardener who owns a 4-acre Perth property, aptly named ‘Botanic Obsession’. She enjoys sharing her knowledge through writing, radio and TV presenting.

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