Give your plants a ‘nutrient boost’ with pasta water hack

Diarmuid Gavin advises people to 'make your own compost'

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Many gardeners overlook the importance of fertilising plants. However, correct feedings are essential to grow healthy, beautiful and thriving garden plants. The idea of using pasta water for plants is pretty simple. Rather than using plain tap water, you save the water left over when cooking pasta and use this to water plants instead. Because the water has drawn out loads of starch from the pasta, it’s supposed to help to fertilise plants and stimulate growth. But is there any truth behind this? Or is it just a gardening myth?

Gena Lorraine, a gardening expert at Fantastic Services, is all for this hack. She said: “Watering plants with pasta water has many benefits and no cons.”

“Pasta water is full of starch and plants love starch. Why? Well, because it’s often rich in vitamins and minerals. So not only does pasta water act as a fertiliser for your plants but it also stimulates their growth.

“Starchy water is good for growing all types of plants, whether they be veggies, flowers, fruits or even weeds.”

The expert stressed that this hack “cannot harm your plants in any way” and that she can’t think of “any plants that wouldn’t benefit” from being watered with pasta water.

Gardening experts at Flourishing Plants are also in favour of this trick. They said: “The nutrients in the pasta water will fertilise and feed your plants, giving them a healthy start by feeding the bacteria in the soil. 

“It can also add minerals such as phosphorous and potassium to the soil which will also boost plant growth.”

To carry out this method, households don’t have to use the pasta and throw it away. Pasta water can be obtained as a byproduct of an everyday cooking routine and it reduces waste by reusing the remnants of the pasta from washing or soaking.

Start by pouring pasta water on your plant’s roots twice a week, and letting it soak for five minutes. 

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Gardeners can also pour it onto the soil of the plant or use a spray bottle with pure water mixed with equal amounts of pasta water.

According to the pros, the “best time” to apply pasta water is before the crop has started its growth cycle. They said: “During this time frame plants are most active and require food and nutrients to carry about their biological activities and pasta water can be an environmentally friendly and waste-free way to provide plants with the food they need to grow.”

However, gardeners should be slightly cautious with this hack as some experts have offered warnings.

The gardening pros at HeyPlants explained: “Unsalted pasta water can give a nutrient boost to your plants and is a great sustainable way to save water. However, use it sparingly.

“If used too often bacteria can build up and lead to mould growth.”

It’s also crucial that people do not use their pasta water on plants if they’ve added salt, as this can wreck them over time. If salt is used in the garden it can end up killing plants and create soil conditions that are not suitable for growing any types of crops for quite some time.

This is why salt is typically recommended for those looking to get rid of paving weeds as it will kill all nearby vegetation.

Experts at Flourishing plants said: “Salt is a concern when using pasta water on plants and you should be careful not to add salt to the pasta if you intend to use it on plants. 

“Salinity affects production in plants, crops, and trees by interfering with nitrogen uptake, reducing growth, and stopping plant reproduction.”

When using pasta water in the soil gardeners should always ensure that the water is at ambient or room temperature so that it does not kill the bacteria in the soil and harm the plant, urged the plant gurus.

Additionally, pasta water is a good additive to soil but care must be taken when watering as it can be easy to overwater the soil which can lead to root rot and yellowing of the plant leaves.

It is recommended to use the bottom watering method (applying water to plants from the bottom up) to ensure that the plant is getting “the right amount of water for optimal growth”.

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