Propagation from Scraps

by Jennifer Khoo 9T1

 
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What is propagation?

Plant propagation is the technique of creating new plants from existing plants and this be done in a number of ways.

Propagating plants is part of science because you’re dealing with live organisms, but once you understand the logic behind the techniques, knowing why they’re undertaken is quite straightforward.

Some plants are extremely easy to propagate, while others pose a real challenge – it really depends on the plant.

Sometimes you’ll propagate a plant well, but when you try again you might not get the same result, but working out why is one of the fun challenges you’ll encounter in propagation.

My Ignite project revolves around propagating kitchen food scraps to reduce food waste and our carbon footprint, as well as to provide a sustainable source of food. Propagating plants is a doable, fun activity which although requires little effort, can be very rewarding. 

 

My Project in More Detail

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What is it?

My Ignite project revolves around propagating food scraps as a way of reducing food waste and our impact on the environment. I've looked into multiple vegetables and fruits that are no fuss when it comes to propagation and have even tried it out myself. Instructions on how to propagate these veggies are in the tutorial section.

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What do you need?

When you think of growing vegetables in your garden, you probably picture planting seeds or transplanting seedlings but there’s a third option: growing veggies from cuttings. Often these cuttings are what we consider scraps such as carrot tops, avocado pits and cabbage bottoms.
Once you have your cuttings, all you have to do is suspend them in a cup of water near a sunny window, change the water twice a week and wait. Depending on the vegetable, new growth could appear from one day to 4 weeks.

 
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Environmental Impact and Other Benefits

​Roughly one quarter of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are created by food waste, and if food waste was a country, it would be ranked third after the USA and China in terms of greenhouse gas production. When thrown into landfill, food waste produces a large amount of methane. As food rots and degrades, it emits these harmful gases which are 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere. The environmental benefit of preventing this sort of waste would be like taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

We also use a lot of water when producing food. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the water used throughout the world. There’s also a correlation between food waste and deforestation.

Ethically, food waste has a knock-on effect on society. While we’re throwing food out, many people around the world have limited access to food. The UN estimates that globally 1 in 9 people are undernourished. 

Participating in activities like food scrap propagation may seem small but really it's a large step into removing yourself from the food waste cycle because not only are you directly removing waste that would otherwise go straight to landfill, but by growing your own food you have absolute control on harvest. You can take as you go instead which eliminates the issue of overbuying produce and then having to throw it out.  

Additionally, there are many health benefits linked with growing your own food:

  • It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • You decide what kinds of fertilisers and pesticides come in contact with your food.

  • It lets you control when to harvest your food. Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early.

  • There's a significantly reduced risk of vegetable contamination.

Not only this but by propagating your own food you are essentially getting free produce as all you need is water, a container and time.