If a fan of FoodCycler, you probably already know that this countertop food waste recycler creates an incredible soil amendment for your garden.
What Is Soil Amendment?
The FoodCycler transforms your household food waste into a by-product which can be used as a soil amendment in your garden beds.
While the nutritional make-up of your by-product will depend on what you add to your cycle, with an average Western diet (including meat, fruit/vegetables and carbohydrates) our third party analysis shows that FoodCycler produces a soil amendment with an average
stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. These are the three macro-nutrients required by plants for
. (You'll regularly find an NPK ratio listed on bags of synthetic fertilizer at the store.)
With an average NPK of 1-1-1, your homemade FoodCycler fertilizer will have a powerful store of ready to be made available to your plant roots, if incorporated into the soil
Nitrogen-Loving Fruits & Vegetables
that, in the list below, many of the plants which thrive on nitrogen-rich soils seem to be predominantly leafy vegetables, as opposed to or most roo
It's important to remember that, while all plants
need nitrogen to grow and thrive, some plants need more nitrogen than others. "Fruiting" plants (such as cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini) or root plants (like carrots) do well with a balanced amount
of nitrogen in relation to the other two macronutrients (phosphorous and .
If given an excess of nitrogen
, these plants will focus all their energy on developing strong stems, vines and leaves instead of the fruit you're hoping to collect from them! With this in mind, let's look at some fruits and vegetables whose edible parts include their leaves.
You may have already seen wild rhubarb growing in dense, moist areas at the edges of wooded areas. Rhubarb loves well-lit spots with lots of moisture,
. Rhubarb needs sufficient nitrogen
in order to grow the leaf petiole (the edible part of the plant) and, in wild environments, can pull that nitrogen from the decaying organic matter nearby on the forest floor.
If you don't happen to have a wooded area in your backyard, then you'll need to take care of the application of nitrogen-rich organic matter yourself. This organic matter can be applied to the soil prior to planting rhubarb.
need a continuous supply
of nitrogen to generate the sprouts that are both their "fruit" and a continuation of the brassica's thick, water-repellent leaves. You can mix in compost to Brussel sprouts' soil or add a "top-dressing" of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, sprinkling the granules or powder three inches away from the base of the stem.
If you are looking to add your FoodCycler fertilizer, we recommend thoroughly integrating the by-product in with the soil at a ratio of . Your homemade fertilizer packs a nitrogen punch - a little goes a long way!
You may have guessed it: as a green, leafy vegetable, kale needs sufficient nitrogen to support those green-hued chlorophyll molecules
from which it sources its energy. A study performed by the ISHS
determined that top-dressing kale plants with nitrogen fertilizer actually increased the amount of dietary fibre present in the plants' edible leaves.
For a plant whose name in the Cantonese pronunciation means "white vegetable", bok choy certainly offers a lot ofs!
Mustard plants respond very well to continuous nitrogen application: yield can actually increase by more than 30%
! Too little nitrogen availability, and you will start to notice yellowing, drooping leaves.
Lettuce is incredibly easy to grow - a perfect starter plant for the novice or container gardener. This easy-going plant also requires regular access to nitrogen
in order to yield large, crunchy leaves.
This leafy green might be even easier to grow than lettuce! Spinach is a cold-weather plant with supple, earthy-flavoured leaves. Make sure that when you plant spinach seeds - or transplant spinach seedlings - that you're giving them a home in nitrogen-rich soil to support the growth
of their tender leaves.
A notable exception to the list of nitrogen-loving leafy greens, corn absolutely devours nitrogen: corn crops can consume up to 190 lbs of nitrogen per acre
! Gardening experts recommend that you fertilize corn generously just before
planting and after planting, when the sprouts are between 4 and 8 inches, again at 10 inches and a final time just as the corn husks are producing "silk" (the long sticky, stringy bits you remove when shucking corn).
How do I incorporate more nitrogen into my garden soil naturally?
Conventional farming typically demands massive applications of synthetic and organic fertilizers on crops, (with devastating environmental consequences). Gardeners have also traditionally been guided to apply similar synthetic products to their household plots. It's only in recent decades that the focus has been to move away from synthetic franken-fertilizers to organic or natural fertilizers.
5 Environmentally Beneficial Sources of Nitrogen:
Animal waste, such as cow, sheep or chicken manure are naturally rich in nitrogen
2) Cover crops
Cover crops, such as alfalfa or clover, are easy-to-manage crops which you can add to your beds after the growing season in preparation for the following year. This type of planting are so good for the soil that they are actually referred to as "green manure
," and can replace nutrients normally lost in bare soil between planting.
3) Legume companion plants
Legume companion plants, such as pole beans, are notorious for naturally fixing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil for their own use, but also for the use of neighbouring plants.
Some legumes, like beans, are actually key actors in traditional crop rotation
. Legume roots have little bumps which house bacteria called rhizobia
; these bacteria can absorb and process atmospheric nitrogen, making the nitrogen available to the plant roots.
Have you ever wondered why farmers will plant corn one year, and soybeans the next? This is to ensure that their nitrogen-hungry corn will reap the benefits of the soybeans' nitrogen-fixing abilities!
4) FoodCycler homemade
processes household food waste within hours. The by-product left over from the process adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil, with an average NPK of. This means that you can create your own homemade compost alternative from waste materials that would otherwise be sent to the dump!
, or "black gold" is a phenomenal way to incorporate organic matter and fertilizer with a balanced NPK to your garden soil.
A Note on Terminology
The FoodCycler® is a countertop electric food waste recycler that breaks down food scraps through a mechanical process into a dry, lightweight by-product that can be used in gardening applications as a fertilizer. The FoodCycler® and other electric food waste recyclers are not composters, nor do they produce compost or soil as they do not require additional microbes to break down food waste with bacteria. However, the term "electric composter" has been used to describe electric food waste recyclers.
** Please note that the NPK and quality of the by-product is dependent on the quality of the food waste processed by the FoodCycler. Foods high in sodium will produce a lower quality by-product which may inhibit plant growth.
We are continuously doing third party analyses of the FoodCycler by-product in our labs, and will continue to update our literature to reflect new information as it comes to light.
Avelina, M., Reckling, M., Chadwick, D.R., Rees, R.C., Saget, S., Williams, M. and Styles, D. (2021). Legume-Modified Rotations Deliver Nutrition With Lower Environmental Impact. [online] 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2021.656005.
Azim, K., Soudi, B., Boukhari, S., Perissol, C., Roussos, S. and Thami Alami, I., 2018. Composting parameters and compost quality: a literature review. Organic agriculture, 8, pp.141-158.
Dahnke, W.C., Fanning, C. and Cattanach, A., 1992. Fertilizing corn grain, popcorn, silage corn, and sweet corn.
Evans, J. (1989). Photosynthesis and nitrogen relationships in leaves of C3 plants. [online] 78(1), pp.9–19. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00377192.
Guide, A.C., 2000. Vegetable crops production guide for the atlantic provinces. Atlantic Provinces Agriculture.
Liu, C., Yu Sub Sung, Chen, B.-C. and Lai, H.-Y. (2014). Effects of Nitrogen Fertilizers on the Growth and Nitrate Content of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). [online] 11(4), pp.4427–4440. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph110404427.
Michał Śpitalniak, Bogacz, A. and Zięba, Z. (2021). The Assessment of Water Retention Efficiency of Different Soil Amendments in Comparison to Water Absorbing Geocomposite. [online] 14(21), pp.6658–6658. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ma14216658.
Xiong, F., Nie, X., Zhao, X., Yang, L. and Zhou, G. (2019). Effects of different nitrogen fertilizer levels on growth and active compounds of rhubarb from Qinghai plateau. [online] 99(6), pp.2874–2882. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.9500.