I love houseplants but I’m also invariably broke so it became urgent that I figured out a way to get free plants. Recently I’ve been scratching my gardening itch for free by planting seeds from the fruit and vegetables I eat.
I’d love to share with you my discoveries so far:
This butternut squash plant is a monster. First of all, I never intended to plant it. My housemate ate a butternut squash and I added the leftover seeds and innards to my compost. When I went back to check on my compost about a week later, all the seeds had sprouted and were thriving even with no light. I was wowed and decided I needed to plant some of these sprouts (I’m not gonna waste surprise free plants). I gently planted about 15 of them into a 12cm pot (though have since learned that 1 seed per pot is recommended… oops) and placed them on my windowsill. They have grown so fast – it’s been 2 months and I’ve already had to repot them. They drink a lot of water but other than that this plant is so easy to care for and the speed at which it grows makes it a very exciting houseplant. I am a little afraid it might take over my room while I’m asleep. Regardless, I highly recommend planting a seed or two next time you eat a butternut squash. Who knows, maybe it will even make me a butternut squash someday.
I was cutting up an apple a few weeks ago and decided to plant some of the seeds out of curiosity. I just filled a pot with soil, poked the seeds down by about an inch, and sat it on the windowsill. Some of the seeds were damaged by my chopping the apple so I wasn’t really expecting much and I just kind of forgot about it. To my surprise, a week later there was a little green shoot. This is a picture after about a few weeks of growth. It will take a very long time for this shoot to become an apple tree but I’m excited to be there for its journey. Hopefully I can plant it in my very own garden someday when I can (eventually) afford a house (maybe with all these free plants it will be sooner than I think). My dog, Nacho, certainly approves of this one.
Avocados are a lot more finicky than the other two and I actually had to do some research. The first time I tried growing an avocado I used the toothpick method, waited for 4 moths, and got nothing. Then the pit went moldy so I threw it in the compost and started again. The toothpick method certainly works for some people but avocados like a warm, humid climate and the UK does not provide that so I had to get a little more creative. I decided to start off by using Brad Canning’s method which involves peeling the pit (to stop it going moldy), wrapping it in a damp cloth, putting it in a sandwich bag (or anything airtight), and leaving it somewhere warm. The combination of the damp cloth and the sandwich bag ramp up the humidity. I did this with two pits for a couple of weeks and roots started to grow. It was beginning to smell mildewy in the bag and I was worried about mold so rather than leave them there, I decided to fill a couple of small glass bottles with water and leave them on the radiator. I balanced the pits in the necks of the bottled so just the roots were in the water and I placed the sandwich bag over the top like a lazy DIY greenhouse.
A few weeks later I’m still yet to see shoots but the roots are looking strong and hopefully the summer weather will encourage them to grow upwards as well as down.
I’m still at the beginning of my free plants journey and there is an awful lot more I want to try. I’ve planted some clementine seeds and I’m looking forward to seeing if they germinate. People grow beautiful vines from sweet potatoes which is kind of enchanting and I must try. All fruit and vegetables have to grow in some way or another, or it wouldn’t exist—I’m looking forward to experimenting as much as I can and I would encourage everybody with a green thumb to do the same. What do you have to lose?
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Photo: Kitty Louise