7 Fresh Veggies You Can Grow From Kitchen Scraps

By Sarah Winfrey on 3 September 2014 3 comments

A funny thing happened at our house this spring.

We bid on our house in October, closed in December, and moved in January. In Colorado. So, while we knew that the house seemed to be well-landscaped and we could see the general outlines of how things would grow, we had no idea if some of the beds had anything at all planted in them, let alone what might be there. (See also: Urban Composting: It Can Be Done)

So super early this spring, about the time that the tulips and daffodils started blooming, something shot up out of one bed, and then another something, and then another. I waited for them to bloom, but, when they didn't, I went ahead and pulled one up, just to see what it was. As I pulled, I got a whiff of something.

Onion?

Sure enough, someone had planted green onion ends in the garden bed, and they were coming up as the weather warmed.

When I researched it, I found that there are actually a good number of vegetables that you can plant from kitchen scraps, so you can regrow them over and over and over again. Here are some of my favorites.

Lettuce and Celery

I grouped these together because their re-growth process is similar. Cut off all the stalks but leave the whitish part at the bottom intact. Place this in a bowl of water and wait a few days, being sure to spray or flick water onto the top so it stays moist, too. Within a week, you should start seeing baby leaves and roots growing out of the old white part. Plant it with just the new leaves above the soil line, and water. Pretty soon you'll have a whole new vegetable!

I have found that some heads, especially of lettuce, just don't seem to sprout. I'm not sure why this is, but I usually just buy another vegetable and try again. I've read that this whole process works with cabbage and bok choy, too, but I haven't tried either of those.

Avocado

The process here is more involved than for almost everything else.

To re-grow an avocado, wash the seed and poke toothpicks into its sides until you can use them to suspend it, wide part down, over a glass of water. Fill the glass until the water comes to ¾"-1" above the bottom of the seed. Keep it warm and remember to add water if the levels drop. After about six weeks, you should see a stem. When that gets to 6", trim it back to approximately 3". Once you see leaves (usually about the same time as the trim), plant the whole thing in your garden, with the top half of the seed peeking out of the ground.

We love that these are re-growable, because we used to live in California, where they're much cheaper than they are here. The process feels very slow, but having fresh avocados is so worth it!

Ginger

The full name for "ginger" is "ginger root," and the part you buy in a store is exactly that. You can simply plant it, either in a pot or directly into your garden. Everything I've read says to plant it with the most recent buds facing up, but I can never tell which those are, and mine has regrown fine. Simply plant it and water it like any other plant.

The only problem with ginger is that it is awkward to harvest. You have to get down to the roots, either by digging or pulling the whole thing up, and then replant it again. Still, if you use ginger a lot, it's probably worth the time and energy that takes.

Pineapple

To get started re-growing a pineapple, you need to separate the top from the fruit. Consensus seems to say that the best way to do this is to cut it about ¼" down and dig out the fruit. Then let the top dry for a few days, before you plant it directly into moist soil, potting or otherwise. Be sure to keep it warm and damp, since the pineapple grows best in tropical areas. It can take up to two years for the plant to produce fruit but, hey, we have all the time in the world.

I honestly haven't tried this one, because no one here likes pineapple, but I included it because it sounds like so much fun. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

Potatoes (and Sweet Potatoes, Too!)

Chop a regular potato into sections that each have at least two eyes. Plant these in a pot and water them well until you see shoots and leaves appearing. Sweet potatoes are similar, except that most of the eyes tend to cluster around one end. You can plant the whole thing, or just cut off this "top" of the potato and plant that. Once you see the shoots and leaves, you can take cuttings, and start new plants and/or transplant them into your garden.

Later this summer, after we found green onions growing all over the place, we discovered that some of our larger "weeds" were actually potato plants! We haven't harvested them yet (except for the few that we accidentally dug up when we thought they were pests), but they look promising.

Mushrooms

These tend to be a particular challenge to re-grow, but it's fun to try. Separate the top part from the bottom part. Then plant the bottom part in soil that's as nutrient-dense as you can get it, with just the very tip showing. If you keep it cool at night and in filtered light (think light that a mushroom might get while under a tree) during the day, you just might top your pizza with your own mushrooms next time!

I haven't had much success with this, but it hasn't stopped me from trying. It seems hard to get these just the right amount of water at the right time. Mine keep looking like they are doing well, and then dying all-of-a-sudden.

Onions

In addition to the green onions I found growing in my yard, you can re-grow full-size onions, too. Usually, an onion has an end that seems to have small roots attached. Cut this off, with just ¼" or so of the flesh of the onion still attached. Plant this, roots down, in a pot or directly in your garden.

My onions have been ready in two-three months, when the stalk starts to get yellow, though it can take up to four months, depending on where you live and where you plant them. Remember to note where you plant which types of onions, so you can be sure to harvest the type you need!

Have you re-grown any vegetables from kitchen scraps? Did it work for you?

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Guest's picture

I wish it was hot enough in the UK to grow avocados!

Guest's picture
LL

I'm regrowing a pineapple in my garden, and it's almost ready! I'm very excited to eat it.

Guest's picture

We do this with green onions/chives. During the winter we plant them in a pot on the window sill. They eventually get thin and spiney, but you can certainly get more than one harvest from them.

Originally, we didn't plant them in soil and just kept them in water. Here's the post:
http://paintingontheceiling.blogspot.com/2013/03/green-onions.html

Happy frugal living, everyone!