Regrowing Vegetables From Table Leftovers
The next time you cut the root end of a bunch of celery or remove sprouts from a white potato, don’t throw these pieces away. You can turn those scraps into more food.
With COVID-19 causing us to stay at home more often and with some vegetables in short supply at local markets, why not grow your own veggies with a countertop garden? All it takes are vegetable scraps, water, and containers.
You can grow new vegetables from the regrown vegetables or you can plant them in your outdoor garden. Without a doubt, regrowing your own vegetables saves money and reduces the amount of waste in your garbage.
So, if you want a different type of indoor project, start with veggies that easily lend themselves to countertop gardening.
You can have salad any time you want when you grow your own lettuce.
- Take leaves near the root of the lettuce and place them in a shallow bowl.
- Cover the leaves with one-half inch of water.
- Put the bowl on a window sill or where the leaves can get plenty of light.
- Change the water every one to two days.
- New leaves should begin to appear within three or four days.
- When the new leaves become four to five inches long, plant them in the ground or in a pot with quality potting soil.
Keeping the root ends in the bowl will eventually weaken the plant and it will stop producing new leaves.
This regrowth method works for green leaf, red leaf, and romaine lettuce. It also works for cabbage and Bok Choy.
- Cut about two inches off from the root end of a bunch of celery.
- Place the scrap root in a shallow glass bowl or wide container and cover the root with about an inch of water. Use toothpicks to suspend the root so that it will not fall into the water.
- Place the bowl or jar in direct sunlight.
- Change the water every one to two days, making sure the root end remains in the water.
- Small leaves should start growing from the center of the celery’s top and small roots around the root end.
- Take the celery out and plant it in soil. Leaving the celery in water for too long will cause the outer stalks to rot.
- Cut sprouted potatoes in halves or small pieces, leaving at least two or three eyes on each potato.
- Let the potato scraps dry overnight. Make sure the potato scraps are thoroughly dry before planting since potatoes rot if they are not dry.
- Once the potatoes are dry, plant them about one foot apart four to eight inches deep in the soil. Keep the eyes up when planting.
- In a few weeks, the potatoes will flower and form tubers. Keep the ground moist, but not waterlogged.
- Cut a sweet potato in half, and place each half in a jar of shallow water. If the sweet potato halves are thin, use toothpicks to keep them from falling into the water.
- Roots will grow on the parts that are underwater and sprouts, also known as “sweet potato slips,” will grow on the part of the sweet potato above water.
- When the sprouts grow to about four inches, carefully twist them off and place them in a shallow bowl or jar of water. When the roots from this jar grow to about an inch, plant them in soil.
Carrot tops are used to regrow carrots. Keep in mind that carrots are root vegetables (a vegetable grown underground at the base of a plant). So, new carrots do not grow from carrot tops. But, carrot tops will produce carrot seeds that you can plant.
- Cut the carrot top and place it in a bowl with about an inch of water. Make sure the top is halfway covered with water. Use toothpicks, if necessary, to suspend the top to prevent it from falling into the water.
- Place the bowl in a sunny spot so the carrot top can get light.
- Change the water every day.
The top will sprout green shoots which, you can use in a salad or pulse them into a carrot pesto in a food processor, or use them as a garnish. Or you can shake the tiny seeds from the carrot top’s flower head and plant the seeds directly into soil.
The planting method for carrots works for all root vegetables, such as turnips, radishes, parsnips, and beets.
Don’t toss the big seed in the middle of an avocado.
- Wash the seed, place it in a bowl or jar, and pour enough water to cover the bottom inch of the seed. Use toothpicks to suspend the seed over the water, if necessary.
- Avoid placing the container in direct sunlight.
- Check on the water every day, and add more when necessary.
- A stem, leaves, and roots should appear after six weeks. Once the stem grows to about six inches, cut it down to about three inches.
- Plant the seed in the ground when leaves begin to grow on the seed. Leave about half of the seed above ground.
Something to remember about garlic: you can regrow garlic stems, also called “garlic scapes,” in water but you can’t regrow a new garlic clove in water. Garlic cloves grow in soil.
While you’re waiting for garlic bulbs to grow, try eating garlic scapes. They’re tasty and you can batter and fry them, sauté them with vegetables or purée them into pesto.
- To grow garlic scapes, place a budding garlic clove in a shot glass or a small jar or bowl.
- Place enough water in the container to cover the bottom of the clove, being careful not to cover the clove entirely so that it won’t rot.
- Place the container on a window sill or a sunny spot. The scapes will begin to curl and spiral upward as they grow.
- When the scapes are around several inches tall, cut them from the top as far down as you can without cutting the leaves off.
To grow garlic in a pot:
- Plant the end of the clove with roots face down in the soil.
- Keep the pots in a warm area of your home and in direct sunlight.
- Once the scapes appear, cut them back so that the plant can place its energy into growing the garlic bulb.
Green Onions and Scallions
Scallions and green onions come from the same species, so they are basically the same vegetable. However, some scallions called, “bunching onions,” do not form a bulb.
To get a starter bunch of green onions or scallions from scraps:
- Cut off the root ends and leave about one-half inch of the green part on the roots.
- Put the roots in a small jar, narrow drinking glass, or a shot glass and add enough water to cover the roots, leaving the tops above water.
- Place the jar or glass near a window so the roots can get plenty of sunlight.
- Make sure the roots stay in the water and change the water every few days.
- Green shoots will grow from the tops of the bulbs in a few days.
- When the shoots grow to about four or five inches long, plant them in the soil in your garden outside or plant them inside in a pot with good potting soil.
Green onions and scallions are gifts that keep on giving if you keep replanting the root ends that you cut off. You can use the same method to regrow leeks.