The nutrients in the pasta water will fertilize 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.
Pasta water can be used to water plants because it provides (NPK) fertilizer and minerals for plants to effectively use while promoting a healthy bacteria population. This results in healthy plant growth. Pasta water can also be applied using any watering method and can also ward off unwanted pests when fermented.
In this article, we are going to explain the benefits of using pasta water on plants as well as how to apply it to get the best results.
The Benefits of Using Pasta Water on Plants
- Environmentally friendly Source of fertilizer for plants
- Easy to obtain and readily available (from everyday cooking)
- Allows us to reuse waste material from the kitchen.
- Save on the cost of purchasing Fertilizer
- Prevents burns associated with inorganic fertilizer application
- Promotes healthy bacteria population within the soil
- Organic method of pest control
- Can be applied through Top watering, Bottom Watering or Misting.
- Boosts plant growth
- Increases fruit and crop production
Another byproduct that can be used as pest control is rice water which is widely used to boost plant growth.
Additionally, the minerals Potassium and Calcium can be added by using banana peel water and eggshell water on your plants. Click on the post links to find out exactly how to get the most out of your kitchen by-products.
Nutrients in one Cup of Cooked Spaghetti
|Manganese||97% of the RDI|
|Selenium||52% of the RDI|
|Copper||12% of the RDI|
|Phosphorus||12% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||11% of the RDI|
|Iron||8% of the RDI|
What is Pasta Water?
Pasta water is the water drawn from pasta from either boiling or just soaking in water. It contains starches that can feed the bacteria in the soil. These starches are made from the natural ingredients of flour, eggs, and water.
Washing the pasta before use allows the “Pasta dust” from the manufacturing process to dissolve into the water. The dust is simply pasta that has been pulverized by the constant movement from the point of processing to when it reaches your home.
This is a way to obtain a very mild amount of pasta water before being used to prepare a meal.
Pasta water can also be obtained after boiling. Now, this is also an optional case where you can strain out the water from the pasta after it is boiled.
The strained water after boiling pasta is also beneficial to plants and it contains more nutrients than the pasta water derived from only washing.
How to Use Pasta Water on Plants
Pour pasta water on your plant’s roots twice a week, and let it soak for 5 minutes. You can also pour it onto the soil of your plant or use a spray bottle with pure water mixed with equal amounts of pasta water.
The recommended ratio is 1:1, or one-part pure water to one part pasta water.
How to Make Pasta Water?
You don’t have to use the pasta and throw it away. Pasta water can be obtained as a byproduct of your everyday cooking routine and it reduces waste by reusing the remnants of the pasta from washing or soaking.
Spaghetti, linguine, and other long pasta can be measured using a pasta measure. A pasta measure is a tool that is available at kitchen supply stores, in pasta-making kits, and online.
You place the long pasta in various loops to measure a serving of the pasta.
Some pasta spoons have a hole in the middle; this will measure one serving of long pasta.
Otherwise when you are using smaller-sized pasta if using measuring cups, a single 2 oz. (57 g) serving is 1/2 cup of dried pasta.
These are the two methods commonly used for obtaining pasta water
Pasta water from Washing or Soaking
- Use ½ cup of uncooked pasta (or the quantity of pasta from your cooking recipe)
- Place into a small bowl
- Add 2–3 cups of water in the bowl with the pasta
- Rinse the pasta thoroughly for 2 – 3 minutes
- Leave to soak for 24 to 48 hours
- After soaking, stir the water to agitate and mix any settled nutrients
- Strain the pasta water into a clean bowl
Pasta water from Boiling
Use this method to obtain Pasta water from boiling
- Take ½ cup of uncooked pasta (or the quantity of pasta from your cooking recipe)
- Place the pasta in your normal pasta cooking pot.
- Stir properly
- Place on medium heat (350 oF)
- Allow to boil for 30 – 45 minutes
- Strain the Pasta and save the water residue
If the resulting residue is too thick you can also add water to thin it down for addition to your plants.
Pasta water obtained from boiling would contain more nutrients than the water obtained from washing. This is because the heat from boiling causes more nutrients from the pasta to be leached into the water.
How is Pasta Water Beneficial for Plants?: Explained
Whole-grain pasta is typically high in fiber, manganese, selenium, copper and phosphorus, while refined, enriched pasta tends to be higher in iron and B vitamins.
These minerals are leached into drawn pasta water which is then fed to the plants.
Pasta water contains microscopic starches (when boiled) and when applied to your plants it acts as a gentle food for the microorganisms in the soil.
These microorganisms provide a natural fertilizer to your plants, allowing them to be fed and grow at a modest pace.
Being able to reuse the waste material from the kitchen is a very efficient way of reducing our impact on the environment.
Starch is a polysaccharide. Carbohydrates are organic compounds that combine a sugar molecule with one or more of its own sugar molecules.
Starch has two subunits: amylose and amylopectin.
When heated, it forms a paste that can be used as a thickening agent for cooking and making sauces.
Living things use the sugars from starch as an energy source.”
Starches provide bacteria in the soil with food which helps them thrive and multiply. As a result, the bacteria population within the soil will be significantly increased.
The overall effect of this is that with more bacterial activity in the soil, more nutrients will be made available for the plants from the breakdown of organic matter (starches) in the soil.
Bacteria and other microorganisms also help prevent diseases from infecting plants.
As explained in “Agriculture and the nitrogen cycle”:
“Microorganisms ingest the ammonium cations, and then release free ammonium that is taken up by plants. Bacteria also can store ammonium in their cell walls as a food reserve.”
As you can imagine, this is a very beneficial attribute to have if your farming system requires the use of fewer fertilizers.
Using Pasta Water with Succulents
Pasta water can be used to water succulents while adding vital nutrients at the same time. The pasta water should be thinned so that it can be applied as a spray as succulents require more dry aerated soil.
Succulents can be misted with a solution of pasta water during their normal watering schedule. Succulents require a small amount of water and nutrients at any given time.
Misting succulents with pasta water is a sure method of providing them with the benefits of pasta water without overwriting and causing problems associated with overwatered soil.
See our article on Adding fertilizer when misting.
How to Mist Succulents with Pasta Water
Any household spray bottle can be used as long as it is cleaned properly.
The pasta water should be thin enough for the spray bottle to expel the water.
- Add the pasta water in the spray bottle
- Spray or mist the plant on the top as well as the underside of the leaves
- Also, spray the top soil with the pasta water.
Misting should be done during the morning periods or late evenings to allow the plant to absorb moisture and nutrients. This also prevents the heat of the day from drying out the moisture too quickly.
Bottom Watering with Pasta Water
Bottom watering plants with pasta water is another way plants can benefit from this kitchen byproduct just as well as using eggshell water. Bottom watering will allow for the pasta water to be absorbed thoroughly into the soil without having it in an overwatered state.
In doing so, the total mass of the plant roots will be able to access the nutrients provided by the pasta water.
How to bottom water with pasta water
- Use a a small, flat container two inches larger than the plant pot
- Place the plant into the container
- Add the pasta water so that the water level reaches 1 to 1 ½ inches high on the side of of the plant pot
- Allow the plant to sit in the water for 15 to 20 minutes
- After the time has passed stick your finger in and test the soil for moisture
- Once you feel that the soil is moist (not wet) you can remove the plant.
- Place the plant to drain out any excess water
See our in-depth article on how to apply fertilizer when bottom watering.
The Effect of Pasta Water on Plants
The effects of pasta water on plants is attributed to the nutrient available in the pasta water when added.
The plant will readily absorb the minerals from the pasta water while the bacteria in the soil will break down the carbohydrates into simple nutrients for the plant to use. The result is increased plant growth and fruit production.
As a result pasta water can be used as a fertilizer which will help to increase crop yield while feeding the plant roots, making it grow stronger, healthier, and more resistant to diseases.
The best time to apply pasta water is before the crop has started its growth cycle. The growing period for crops, especially in the North American climate spans from the beginning of spring to the end of fall.
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.
What are the Precautions When using Pasta Water
When using pasta water in the soil you 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. This precaution is applicable if you are using the water from boiled pasta.
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.
Our recommendation is to use the bottom watering method to ensure that the plant is getting the right amount of water for optimal growth.
Salt is also 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.
Using Fermented Pasta Water as a Pesticide
Just like rice water, pasta water can also be fermented and used as a pesticide for the benefit of plants.
The benefits of using fermented pasta water have been proven to encourage a good bacterial population which in turn promotes healthy root growth. Additionally, fermented pasta water produces a sour alcohol-like aroma that wards away unwanted pests like lizards, snakes, and iguanas from the garden.
Additionally, insects like fruit flies, gnats, plant lice, flea beetles, aphids, and other pests can be reduced using fermented pasta water as the alcohol from fermentation acts like an irritant to these small insects which can also kill them.
How to make Fermented Pasta Water
- Use any available jar
- Fill ¾ of the contents with pasta water
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of sugar with the pasta water
- Mix in 4 tablespoons of milk
- Cover the jar and allow it to sit for 3 – 4 days
- After the time has passed the solution will turn from opaque to translucent.