The secret to a healthy garden? Garbage

Put those coffee grounds and old potatoes to good use.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
2 min read
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Composting is great for putting food scraps to good use, but it's not the only way to reduce food waste while also benefiting your garden.

Here are five ways to use scraps and food trash in your garden that don't involve a compost pile.

Coffee grounds

Don't throw out that used coffee filter! It's full of organic matter that you can use to enrich the soil of your plants. All you need to do is sprinkle coffee grounds -- sans the filter -- around your plants.

As the grounds break down, they will release potassium, nitrogen, magnesium and other beneficial minerals into the soil. Coffee grounds also lower the soil's pH which is beneficial for some types of plants, like artichokes, broccoli, lima beans and beets.

Tea bags

After enjoying a cup of tea, save the leaves. Like coffee, tea leaves are very nutritious for your plants. As they break down, they release phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium into the soil, enriching it. Also, like coffee, tea can be spread around plants without tilling it in because it won't burn the plants like some chemical fertilizers.


My roses after feeding them banana peels.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Pro tip: Put used tea bags that are still full of leaves on the drainage layer when you pot plants. They will slowly decompose and provide your plant with nutrients as it grows.

Banana peels

I love bananas and I love roses. It's a good thing they go together. After you finish your banana, poke the peel into the soil around your rose bushes. As it decays, the peel will release potassium, a favorite mineral of roses.

I did this a couple times a week throughout the winter and when my roses bloomed, they had twice as many buds.

Potatoes that are growing

I've seen some cooks throw out a potato that's growing shoots. Don't do that! Below the growth, cut off a chunk of potato. Then, stick the potato piece in a pot of soil with a little bit of the skin showing above the soil.

Water it weekly and in just a few weeks you'll have a pretty potato plant you can keep indoors or transfer to your garden.

Salad throwaways

You can regrow celery, carrots, lettuce and cabbage from the parts you usually cut off. Here's how to make an easy indoor garden with food waste.

Grow vegetables in your kitchen with this easy DIY growing system

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