How To Start a Kitchen Scrap Garden

How to Regrow Kitchen Scraps

Feel like you never really get your money’s worth of lettuce or celery at the store? Why not grow another one out of the scraps!

free food regrowing veggie scrapsThere’s more than a few veggies and herbs we can regrow quickly and easily by adding a bit of water and care. Save those bits you’d probably just toss into the compost, and get even more than what you paid for.

Maybe you tried to grow an avocado tree from the pit of an avocado as a child, by suspending it with toothpcks in a jar of water. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Often, the water isn’t being changed often enough (or at all), and mold takes over. Other times, the water level in the jar is too low, allowing too much of the pit to be exposed, which makes it dry out and die.

However, with a bit of regular attention, some water, and a sunny windowsill, you can regrow not only avocado pits, but many other foods too.

While avocado pits take many years to grow into massive tropical canopy trees, something like lettuce, green onions, or celery scraps will be ready to munch on again in a matter of weeks.

Here’s a list of some of the plants you can easily and quickly regrow from grocery store scraps:

  • lettuce
  • celery
  • green onions
  • bok choy
  • cabbage (especially Chinese)
  • beet greens
  • onions
  • basil

Treat your produce like plants, because they are still viable and eager to keep growing! Basically, anything that’s still got a root-end attached will easily re-hydrate and grow again with a little water and patience.

Even root vegetables such as sweet potatos from the store that have started to grow “eyes” can be cut up, placed in water, and they will start sprouting greenery and roots. Those “slips” can then be planted in your garden and will grow into very prolific groundcover vines!

Here’s how to do it:

Chop off the root end of your vegetable, so that your root-end piece is about 1-2 inches long.

Get a shallow teacup or mason jar, and place a bit of water in it–just about 1/2 an inch, so you won’t dampen the whole thing and encourage rot.

Place the root-end of your veggie scrap facing down. You can use toothpicks to make sure it doesn’t fall over if you need to (or if you’ve got a cat or kid who’s likely to knock it over!).

Wait and see. Change out the water every day or two, to keep it fresh. Filtered water and organic veggie scraps will give the best results, but don’t overthink it too much.

In a few days you’ll start to see small signs of leaf growth, and then later (2-4 weeks), you  should start to see roots forming. Once those roots are 1-2 inches long, you can transfer the scraps to a soil mix in small planters. (video here)

From then on, you can have fresh lettuce, green onions, or herbs indefinitely by simply harvesting a few leaves at a time, instead of using up (and killing) the entire plant at once.

Incidentally, you can also keep your fresh-picked and store-bought herbs fresh for up to a week longer by treating them like cut flowers: instead of leaving them wrapped in plastic bags, just prop them up in a jar of water in the fridge.

You can stretch your produce budget for longer using these tips, and start to grow your own food too–even if you’ve only got a windowsill or small patio.

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