Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
This is a continuation from the March 2022 article that covered how to grow from your kitchen scraps. The previous article featured green onions, lettuce, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger, garlic and onion.
There are different ways to propagate or grow plants, and this article will focus on seeds. In general, when growing or saving seeds, it is best to use large, fresh fruit and select seeds that are fully developed and plump.
Have you ever cut into a cucumber or other fruits like eggplants, peppers, papaya and tomatoes and found hard seeds inside? Try planting them. Scoop out the seeds and wash off the surrounding pulp. Select the largest, fattest seeds to grow. The small, wrinkly ones are not worth your time. Fill a pot with well-draining potting soil that is pre-moistened, but not soggy and scatter the seeds on top. I prefer the method of planting a “community pot” instead of planting one seed per pot because it saves time and space. Lightly cover the seeds with a layer of potting soil. A good general rule is to plant seeds as deep as they are wide. If a seed is large, it can be buried deeper. If the seeds are like grains of sand, a light dusting of potting soil to barely cover the seeds is fine. Seeds don’t need the sun to germinate so you can keep them in a place where you can monitor for sprouts. If the potting soil dries out before the seedlings emerge, set the pot in a tray of water instead of watering from the top, which could bury the seeds deeper and prevent them from sprouting. Remove the pot from the tray of water when the potting soil is moist and allow the pot to drain well. If the potting soil stays too wet, this can rot the seeds. When the seed sprouts, the cotyledon emerges first and then produces true leaves. Wait until they have at least two true leaves before separating the seedlings. The seedlings will grow quickly, and it is better to plant them directly into the ground at this point to minimize root damage and provide the roots space needed to spread. Protect from slugs, snails, birds and other garden critters that can snip the tops off the young plants until they become bigger. Set up a trellis or plant in an area where it can climb.
For fun, experiment with other fruits like kiwi, strawberry, apple and pear. Sometimes you may find apple seeds already sprouting when cutting open an apple. Seeds of temperate plants will need to spend time in the refrigerator to trigger germination. While it may be possible to sprout temperate plants like apple and pear, they need cooler temperatures to thrive and may not survive life in Hawai‘i. If they do grow, just keep in mind these plants may need cooler temperatures to flower and fruit.
Have fun challenging yourself to see what you can grow from your kitchen scraps!
Amy Tsuneyoshi grew up playing in the mud and still finds joy in getting her hands in the soil. She grows a variety of edible and ornamental plants in her urban jungle as well as Native Hawaiian plants. She has a degree in horticulture from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and is currently the president of the Friends of Hälawa Xeriscape Garden.