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Don’t Toss It, Plant It! 12 Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scraps

Don’t Toss It, Plant It! 12 Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scraps

Did you know you can grow your own food from kitchen scraps that usually end up in the compost?

What Is Kitchen Scrap Gardening?

Kitchen scrap gardening is the ultimate in recycling. It’s environmentally friendly, can save on grocery bills, and it’s a fun, hands-on science lesson for young children.

Here are some of the best scraps to get growing. You’ll probably get better results if you start with high-quality organic produce since some non-organic produce is actually treated to prevent sprouting. Also, keep in mind the climate you live in will determine if and when plants started from scraps can be transferred to an outdoor garden.

A Few Things To Keep In Mind

Not everything will sprout. Check on your plants and if after a week you don’t see anything is happening, compost the scraps and try again.

12 Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scraps

1. Green onions: If you cut off and toss the end of the onion with the little roots growing out of it, try growing a new onion with it instead. Plant it root end down in some quality potting soil, place it in a sunny window, keep it watered and watch it grow. This is a great first kitchen scrap gardening project because the green part of the onion will grow back quickly. In less than two weeks it will be tall enough to snip the top off to eat.

 

2. Celery: Cut stalks off about two inches from the bottom of the celery bunch and place that white base in a shallow bowl of water. Do not submerge. After several days roots will begin growing from the base and leaves will grow from the top. After about a week, you can plant in soil with only the leaves above the surface. The plant will continue to grow until you’ve got a new head of celery to harvest. Keep in mind that celery is a cool weather crop, so plant outside in early spring rather than waiting until the hot summer months.

3. Romaine lettuce: Growing romaine lettuce from scraps is similar to growing green onions and celery. Cut off the lettuce you plan to eat and leave a couple of inches at the base. Place this romaine heart in water and new leaves will start to grow from the center. Remove outer leaves as they start to die. You can eventually plant your romaine in soil when the time is right.

 

4. Garlic: A garlic bulb is made up of individual garlic cloves. Hold one clove back from that pesto you’re making and plant it in your garden in the fall; root side down of course, and the tapered end of the clove pointing up. The next spring or summer you can harvest a full bulb of garlic. It’s ready when the tops begin to turn yellow and fall over. You can also plant garlic cloves in pots indoors near a sunny window and have a constant supply of fresh garlic bulbs. 

 

5. Ginger: If you’ve got more ginger root than a recipe calls for, you can freeze it to use later, or you can plant it to grow more ginger root. Put the root in moist potting soil with the newest buds facing up. Ginger is a tropical plant, so you’ll probably want to keep this one indoors. Green shoots will come up out of the soil and the roots will spread out. After a few months, you can harvest pieces of the root, covering it up with soil again when you’ve taken what you need so that it can continue growing.

 

6. Potato: Small potatoes can be planted whole. For large potatoes like bakers, cut into pieces making sure there are a couple of eyes on each piece. Allowing the pieces to dry out for a day or two may help prevent rotting. Plant the pieces in your garden or a container filled with well-drained potting mix and wait for them to sprout. In a few months, you should be able to dig up a whole bunch of new potatoes! Learn more about growing potatoes here.

7. Sweet potato: Even easier to grow than potatoes, with sweet potatoes you don’t have to look for any eyes. The easiest method is to plant the entire sweet potato. To produce more than one plant, however, cut a sweet potato in half and suspend it using toothpicks in a shallow container of water. Roots and sprouts will begin to grow in a few days. Once the sprouts are about four inches or so in length, just twist them off and place them in a container of water. When the roots from this container reach about an inch in length, you can plant them in soil in a garden or large container.

Sweet potato.

8. Basil, Cilantro, and Other Herbs: Re-growing herbs, such as basil and cilantro, is fairly easy to do. Cut a stem about four inches long, and place it into a glass of water. Be sure that the leaves are not submerged in the water. Place your stem in a bright area, but out of direct sunlight. In a few days, look for roots forming. Once these roots are about an inch long, go ahead and transplant them into some soil. In no time you will have your very own flourishing herb garden.

Herbs can be potted once roots start to develop.

9. Mushrooms: Re-growing mushrooms from scraps, while more challenging, is still possible. Mushrooms thrive in a warm room with plenty of humidity. Planting in a pot, rather than in the ground, will allow you to control your planting environment better. First cut off the cap of a mushroom and stick the stem into nutrient-rich soil leaving the top exposed. Keep an eye out for a new growth. Harvest when fully grown.

10. Carrots, Beets, and Other Root Crops: For these veggies, you aren’t actually re-growing the root themselves, but rather the leafy tops. Beet and carrot greens house an enormous amount of the plant’s nutrients and carry a notably wide range of uses. Tossing them into a salad, sauté, or smoothie is a great way to get a nutrient boost. To regrow root vegetable greens, salvage the tops (the part of the vegetable where the leaves come out, about 1″ of the vegetable still intact) and place in a shallow tray of water (but don’t submerge). Within a few days, you should notice new green tops growing. You can harvest the greens when ready, or once the roots have begun to grow, simply transplant them into the ground and harvest the greens as needed. This method will work with beets, turnips, carrots, and parsnips.

11. Cabbages: How about growing your own cabbage patch from your scraps? Place some leftover leaves in a bowl with a small amount of water. Place your bowl in a sunlit area, replacing water every couple of days. When you notice new roots and leaves emerging, you can transplant your new head of cabbage into soil, harvesting when fully grown. You can also just continue to replace the water and harvest the leaves as needed. Alternatively, you can simply cut off the heads of cabbages at the base, place them in the ground and wait for a new head of cabbage to form.

12. Onions: Another simple one to regrow from scraps are bulbs, such as yellow or red onions. Simply cut a one-inch piece off the root end of the onion and set it on the ground or in a bowl of shallow water with the cut surface above the water. It will soon begin to regenerate its roots which can then be planted in soil.

Bonus: Pineapple! Technically it’s not a vegetable – but it’s still pretty cool to be able to grow your own pineapple at home! See how it’s done, here.

Regrow Vegetables From Seeds

Don’t stop with just scraps! You can also retrieve your own seeds from your food scraps in order to propagate. Rinse off the slimy, seedy insides of your organic tomatoes and allow them to dry thoroughly. Plant them in a container inside until sprouted to a few inches tall, when they can then be transplanted outside. Peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, and microgreens can all also be re-grown by salvaging their seeds. Turn those composting scraps into new, edible treasures.

Content developed by freelance writers Judy Kneiszel and Natalie LaVolpe.

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  • Betty Buchanan says:

    You do not have to suspend avacado seed over water . I have much better luck just fixing a pot of soil, water it good and push the bottom or side of the seed about half way down in the soil, leaving about half above the soil. Keep the soil moist. After a month or two, it will split open and it will grow a plant up through the split. Oh, also before planting, I take a sharp knife and whack the seed, while in my hand, a few times just to make the skin outer layer where water can get in. I enjoy seeing them grow. They will need bright light of sunny window if grown inside.

  • Shirley collins says:

    I grow my pineapple. First time from purchased pineapple. Now from the offsprings it produces.

  • Faye Bancroft says:

    i am currently growing a celery plant,from the end of a bunch.

  • JEANNE says:

    such great tips thanks

  • Marie Croft-Cavins says:

    I put the avacodo seed suspended by toothpicks until the roots appear then plant outside. I have had success with both Haas and Florida types. I planted a couple of ginger root in front of my house 4 years ago. Every spring I get 4 foot tall plants, with pretty flowers in an area that is about 7 feet ong.When I need ginger, I dig up a small piece. If I don’t use all of it, I put in freezer. When you “peel” ginger use a teaspoon to scrape it. The spoon does a better job than a knife. I have also had success with other scraps.

    • susan says:

      I peel the ginger and then cut pieces and store in a jar of sherry, it lasts forever. Sherry also great addition for stir frying

  • donald kindle says:

    I just found this site its very inresting cant wait for more

  • Bob Merlin says:

    You can grow tumeric the same way you grow ginger.

  • Barbara chapman says:

    How long did it take your pineapples to bloom? My plant is about eight years old, 4′ tall , I have been waiting forever….I leave outside on my deck after spring and bring in before freezing temps began..I’m in SC. What am I doing wrong …? Thanks in advance for your help!

  • christine casoli says:

    Thanks for the great info! A little off topic, but I learned by accident that when you pinch off the top of a basil plant and put it in water, it will root and you can make baby plants. I would pluck some from the plant in the yard and keep it handy in a little shot glass of water on the kitchen windowsill. One day I noticed it had sprouted roots!!! It can also be done with rosemary branches but they don’t root as quickly and easily.

  • Beth Brown says:

    I have a indoor grapefruit plant that is 6 feet tall and over 30 years old tall that I grew from a seed ,it produced pea size grapefruit a couple of years ago but they just fell off. I have moved a few times and it even survived the ice storm of 1998 when there was not much heat in the house.

  • trinawest81 says:

    I adore this article! At the moment we have a Lemon Tree, started from a non-organic lemon. Although I did lose several through trial and error, we now have got one that is about 3 feet tall. Hoping to start up a few more experiments asap. ohh and also, ty to Karen Berry, I’ll be stopping into my library too.

  • susan Wood says:

    I think the classic is the avocado! but to get them to fruit you must have a male and a female. Problem is, I don’t know how to tell the difference, lol!
    Also have grown radishes, plus much of what has been mentioned.

    • Rad says:

      The avocado is usually grafted to inducing fruiting. The plant barely can self germinate, the male & female flowers open at different times during the day. It’s a pretty plant tho!

  • Karen Berry says:

    I have a head of green as well as a head of red cabbage that I started by accident. After cutting the root stalk end off for Cole slaw for a party I just lightly wrapped the store plastic bag around them and placed off to the side as I made the slaw. The bag got partially covered and forgotten. When guests had finally left about 3 days later, I picked up the bag to toss it but felt something in it. I unwrapped to make sure it was”garbage” and not a toy and found the cut cabbage end had a few roots just from the moisture of being in the bag. I placed in a bowl of water to just keep the roots covered and place in my east window. Kept close eye to keep roots covered with water. When leaves showed and roots were 3″ +/- long I planted in potting soil in a 6″ pot. Watered well and returned to east window until it was the size of my fist. By then was warm enough to plant outside. Fed and watered through summer about ready to make slaw again Fromm free cabbage.
    I too started a pineapple plant from the top of a store fruit. According to my research on them they need to end up in at least a 16w”x16″deep pot and with luck after 18-24months I might get a blossom to develop. Ha. My plant being precocious sent up a flower stalk about 9 months after I started it. It was still in an 8″ self watering flower pot and nowhere near the 2’x2′ plant size mentioned in my reading. It is still in the small pot, afraid to transplant while it was producing a flower stalk, and I have a fist sized pineapple at the top of the stalk. Still sitting on my south window sill where it has been since I started it. Second plant is behaving itself and I have quickly potted it in a large pot. It is double the size of my pineapple growing one, but I took it outside when the temperatures started hitting +90℉ and higher. Watered as I did as a house plant. Will bring in as temperatures drop. Outside. Oh yes I keep my home at 68℉-70℉ year around due to health requirements for me. I tried planting garlic it all rotted bought some fresh ginger at the store and planted the section with two eyes on it. I now have 3″ High leaves from each of the eyes. Will bring in before cold weather and continue care. Looks like my end table space under all the table lamps will be taken up with plants again this year. Those that do not have window sill space to the south. Really getting a kick out of this kitchen gardening.

  • Tami says:

    I also planted blackeyed peas from a store bought bag of dried beans in the dried bean section. I hadnt ever grown them before. I had the BEST blackeyed peas ever!!!!Tons of them!!! I had plenty to share, too!!!

    • Karen Berry says:

      The Anasazi beans were found in a clay pot in a cliff dwelling. Now they have been grown ,saved, and grown enough that you can buy them at the grocery store. Since we eat the bean seed itself you are right saying the grocery. Store is a cheaper seed source. My husband showed me that 3o years ago. He loved to garden. Keep at your gardening. I recommend it for several reasons: great marriage counselor by time you meet your spouse in the middle of garden after squashing bugs and yanking weeds you both are calm enough to did cuss the issue as adults, you get exercise, fresh air, time with spouse and kids and a boost to the grocery budget

  • Tami says:

    I placed a pineapple top in shallow water and it wasn’t long before it rooted. I then put it outside in moist soil & it continues to grow. I can’t wait to see what happens through the warm months!

    • Karen Berry says:

      Where are you located? Pineapples do not like freezing weather. Have read that they do well in Arizona (with irrigation) making a nice hedge that keeps out wandering animals.once your pineapple once your pineapple blooms and produces its pineapple, do not give up on the mother plant. I waited and watered mine and she rewarded me with 3 babies (think chicks for Hens and chicks plants). These can be slipped off, allowed to air dry before planting in time you will get another pineapple … In about 18 to 24 months from each of them. Unfortunately ,from my reading, each plant only produces 1 pineapple fruit but does give the patient grower several new plants for further fruit in the future. Have a plant producing a flower stalk right now. Hope the fruit will be bigger as the plant is almost 4 times the size of the one that produced last year. I figure it is due to a summer outside in the Colorado heat and Sun last year.(I had to water no rain fell. I also moved the plant into the house when winds got up to 55 to 75 mph. A dolly is handy for moving large potted plants. I wish you a tasty pineapple just wait until golden for the most unbelievable sweet pineapple.

  • Debbie Persinger says:

    I have a really small section of dirt that I throw all my peelings in. So far this year I have 2 pumpkin plants coming up and some potatoes and onions. It will be interesting to see what will grow there this year.

  • Nancy says:

    Cool fun with the kiddos.

  • Nancy says:

    This would be a fun cool project to do with the kidsdo.

  • Martha says:

    Save some of your own dried beans, toss them in a plastic bag and put in freezer
    until Spring. When you plant them they will come up in a very few days. Freezing
    also keeps the bugs out of the ones you save.

    • Karen Berry says:

      How about planting cumin seeds ( for cilantro the leaves and cumin from ground seed, mustard, celery or poppy seeds see if you can get them to grow as free plants. I’ve read that the seeds from oranges, lines, and lemons can be grown IF THE SEEDS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRY OUT BEFORE PLANTING. I hope to try for an orange tree. Will just have to be careful,of the thorns.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Karen Berry: It’s coriander that is the seed to grow cilantro. Take a look at some growing tips for cilantro here: One Plant, Two Flavors! Growing Cilantro and Coriander

  • Cindy says:

    I love cantaloupe and cucumbers, when I eat a good flavored one I plant the seeds just like they are, put them in a shallow hole cover up and they come up in a couple weeks. Also plant where they can climb yields more. Be mindful of insects in your area. Also you can do the same with tomato

  • Dave Courington says:

    These are great ideas and work well. I have celery right now in my garden from scraps. I also grow garlic each year like this. I bought a bag of fingerling potatoes from the grocery store last year and planted them. I put in 5 potatoes and got almost 9 pounds of potatoes at the end of the season out of that raised bed. I planted a larger bed this year and they are growing wonderfully. Please know that you do not have to pay for the high priced seed potatoes at the gardening center of feed store, just use what you have from the grocery and save yourself money and have a wonderful time with your kids watching those plants grow and then eating them.n You also ca plant the dried beans from the store, like pintos and black eyed peas. I have done this and it works well and is much cheaper than buying the little packs.

  • Margaret Mackey says:

    Amazing information. I will pass it on to my kids and friends that love gardening.

    • Karen Berry says:

      Check with your local library. Mine has a seed exchange. You take out seeds in the spring and bring back seeds from your plants in the fall.

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