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Finding new ways to recycle and use leftovers is not only great for the environment, your peace of mind, and for caring for your succulents! While we all know compositing is a fantastic method for giving your plants the nutrients they need, using leftover water from cooking pasta is another popular method to provide your leafy friends with extra nutrients to help them grow. Give your babies the nutrients they need to flourish without breaking the bank-- they’ll thank you for it!
Just like composting, using leftover pasta water to help your plants grow is an excellent way to reduce and reuse excess food waste. Typically, we toss our leftover pasta water down the drain after cooking, but the starchy mixture contains tons of nutrients that will benefit your succulents.
1. A Source of Affordable, Organic Fertilizer
Leftover water from cooking contains diluted nutrients from the foods you’ve cooked. In pasta, this means you’ll have plenty of leftover starches, as well as nutrients like niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, iron, and calcium. Plants, especially succulents, love the starch and extra nutrients that come with carbohydrate-rich foods. Pasta water is an excellent way to provide these starches without high concentrations of potentially harmful minerals like nitrogen. Just like compost, leftover water from your pasta dishes provides nutritional supplements that work exceptionally well alongside fertilizer.
2. Easy Application
In addition, watering your succulents with leftover water from your pasta poses no real change to how you go about watering your succulents. You can use any method you prefer with any liquid, including top-watering and bottom-watering. The only change you’ll have to make is preparing the solution, which we’ll get into below.
3. Affordable Pest Control
You can also use leftover pasta water as a means of pest control, although this process requires some time and effort to ferment a natural pesticide. The starches in pasta water provide bacteria in soil with food to produce nutrients, which then help plants grow. Slightly increasing the starch content in your soil promotes bacterial growth, which can also drive away fungi or root infections in your succulents. Fermenting your leftover pasta water can further encourage bacterial growth in soil and drive away insects with its low alcohol content.
Like pasta water, water used from cooking or washing rice is high in starches and great for plants, especially succulents. To make rice water, simply save any leftover water you’ve used from washing your rice-- small grains and “rice dust” will mix with the water to create a starch and nutrient-rich solution. Since succulents mainly absorb nutrients directly from the soil and don’t require much water, watering them with leftover rice or pasta water can help promote bacterial growth and create more nutrients in your soil.
To prepare your pasta water fertilizer, mix one cup of distilled water with one cup of cooked leftover pasta water. Make sure the pasta water is unsalted and has no other spices, wines, or other ingredients in it-- this could damage your succulents.
Keep in mind that using pasta water, like compost, is not a substitute for regular fertilizing during the growing season. For the best results, continue fertilizing your succulent with their preferred traditional fertilizers.
Before dumping all of your leftover water from cooking tonight’s spaghetti on your succulents, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your succulents get the most out of their nutrient supplements:
1. Continue Traditional Watering
Giving your succulents extra nutrients through pasta water is by no means a replacement for traditional watering methods. If used too often, the excess starches can build up in your soil and promote mold growth. To avoid this, only use a little pasta water every once in a while instead of every time you water your succulents. For example, try watering with pasta water three or four times a year.
Hot water will burn and damage roots and other plant matter like leaves, stems, and flora. In addition, water that has just been boiled may melt the inside of some spray bottles as well. Boiling water can melt the outermost layers of some plastic bottles-- it is best to let your water cool to room temperature before using it.
3. Measure out Your Pasta Water and Normal Water
To avoid excess starch, many garden experts recommend mixing your pasta water with regular distilled water. Typically, a 1:1 ratio of filtered water to pasta or rice water is recommended. Dilution helps prevent too much starch from entering the soil. When coupled with your regular fertilizing routine, the extra starch will promote growth.
4. Don’t Salt Your Water!
As lovely as it is to add extra salt and spices to your water when cooking pasta, it is the very last thing you’ll ever want to do to your succulents. Salt and spices can slowly kill your plants by providing either unwanted vitamins and minerals or excess vitamins and minerals. It is also best to avoid using water from flavored pasta for this exact reason.
Ultimately, you can use pasta water to help your succulents grow and flourish. The key to doing so, however, is to do so in moderation. Next time you have pasta for dinner, consider giving some leftovers to your succulent friends!
For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.
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