Katie Elzer-Peters teaches how to eat without waste

Photo courtesy of Quarto

Author Katie Elzer-Peters has always had a love of plants and has been gardening. Her book, No-Waste Kitchen Gardening, is a great beginners guide to repurposing and composting leftover produce, and growing a garden from the comfort of your kitchen.

Zero waste gardening is all about giving every piece of your produce purpose. Leftover leaves and stalks can be added to soups. Vegetable peelings and skins, although maybe inedible, can be composted to eventually help your soil. No-Waste Kitchen Gardening is all about regrowing the fruits and veggies you can, and reusing or composting what you can’t.

Elzer-Peters answered some of Hello Homestead’s questions about zero waste gardening. Happy reading!

Hello Homestead: What common mistakes should beginners to no-waste gardening try to avoid?

Katie Elzer-Peters: It isn’t a mistake so much as something I see new gardeners (including no-waste gardeners) do a lot and that is freaking out if they kill a plant or the plant doesn’t do what they expect. Plants kind of have minds of their own. (I mean, they don’t have minds, but you can’t ALWAYS control what they’ll do.) If one plant fails to grow it doesn’t mean you have a brown thumb.

This is especially important with no-waste gardening because you don’t know what was done to that plant part before you got it. Maybe it was old. Maybe something like a potato was treated so it wouldn’t sprout in the grocery store.  The only mistake would be to not keep trying!

HH: When starting with no-waste gardening, is it better to start small or go all out?

KEP: It really depends on what you want to do! It’s pretty much up to you. You can end up with a lot of little “experiments” running at one time! I’d say to start with the things you use the most or like to eat.

HH: What are the best plants to regrow for people with less space?

KEP: Green onions, celery, lettuce. They all give a lot of bang for the buck.

HH: If you don’t have access to a garden, can you still no-waste garden?

KEP: Re-grow anything that gives you a “product” that doesn’t have to be planted in the garden. Green onions, celery, head lettuce, cabbage, fennel, carrot tops, beet tops, turnip tops all give you some fun “snips” without going into the garden. I’d grow a sweet potato as a houseplant to enjoy and chuck it when it got too big. It’s just a fun conversation piece.

HH: Can you regrow plants that you’ve purchased out of season?

KEP: Yes, you can! A lot of this is tabletop regrowing!

Read more about Katie Elzer-Peters on her website, The Garden of Words.

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