Do you use your kitchen scraps in your garden? Guest blogger Mari tells us how to grow plants using discarded foodstuffs.
Originally from The Netherlands but currently living in sunny Spain, Mari has made it a mission to cover her balcony with succulents. When she’s not tending to her houseplants she writes for You Had Me At Gardening, an informative website aimed at (indoor) gardeners looking to take their plant care to the next level.
If you use a lot of vegetables in your cooking you know that unfortunately, not all parts are suitable for eating. Does that mean veggie scraps are completely useless? Absolutely not!
Not only can you compost scraps to use them as fertilizer for your plants, sometimes you can even grow new plants from them that yield new veggies or are entirely edible.
We rounded up some of the easiest vegetables you can grow from kitchen scraps. Enjoy home-grown veggies with no investment and make your kitchen a little greener in the process!
One of the easiest veggies to regrow from kitchen scraps is lettuce. Some stores sell lettuce planted in soil, allowing you to cut leaves as needed. If this is not the case with your lettuce, though, you can still get an endless supply using nothing more than a bowl or dish filled with water.
Simply remove a few leaves from a head of lettuce (most people remove and toss the outer leaves anyway) and place them in water. Move the leaves to the sunniest windowsill you can offer and wait, making sure the lettuce doesn’t dry out and the water doesn’t become nasty. Once you see roots appear, you can move the leaves to soil and they’ll continue to regenerate once cut!
Regrowing bok choy from scraps is very simple and only requires the base of a stalk, which you would generally throw away. As with lettuce, this base is placed in water in order to allow it to start rooting. You can opt to move it to soil as soon as roots have appeared, but you can also leave it in water.
New leaves on your bok choy sprout from the center, eventually growing to full size. We love regrowing bok choy because it’s not just yummy, but also quite decorative when grown in a pretty bowl. You can remove a few leaves at a time so the inside can continue to grow. Endless bok choy, let the stir fries commence!
Regrowing celery is almost identical to the process we just discussed for bok choy. It’s quite easy because celery also generally comes in a bunch that still has the base attached. To regrow this vegetable, cut off the base as you normally would. Just don’t throw it away this time, but place it into a bowl of water and move it to a windowsill that offers as much light as possible.
New growth should start appearing soon, especially in summer. You’ll see new leaves and eventually stems sprout from the stalk, which can be used as soon as they’re of the desired thickness.
Onions are such a staple in cooking it makes sense to try and regrow them yourself. Luckily, doing so is quite easy. As dried out as they might look, the roots on the bottom of your onion still carry plenty of life in them. Cut off these roots, making sure to leave a bit of the onion flesh on top.
You can let the onion root in water (making sure to only submerge the roots) and then transplant it to soil, but since this can get a little smelly most indoor gardeners opt to place the onion piece directly into soil. Make sure the roots are covered, keep lightly moist and be patient! Green sprouts will soon emerge from the middle, indicating that your onion is fully rooted.
Peppers, especially hot pepper varieties, are a favorite edible option to grow among indoor gardeners because the plants stay small and will yield their yummy harvest even indoors. All you need to grow hot peppers is pepper seeds. Although some like to use even the seeds in their recipes, you can easily save at least a few to grow new plants.
Wash your pepper seeds and let them sprout using the classic method of wrapping them in damp kitchen paper and placing them in a ziplock baggie. Place this mini ‘greenhouse’ in a warm spot and check up on the seeds every few days to make sure they aren’t going dry. Little sprouts should appear after anywhere between a few days or a few weeks.
You can plant these in starter soil mix and leave them to grow, ideally providing some extra light using grow LEDs. I recommend self-watering planters since peppers love moist soil, but be careful not to sog them!
You now have baby hot pepper plants, which will produce an abundancy of new peppers with the right care!
Everyone that has forgotten about a bag of potatoes before knows that it’s actually a little too easy to regrow them: they can start doing so by themselves without your permission. Each ‘eye’ (node) on a potato has the potential to sprout an entirely new plant, so all you need to grow more potatoes is one or multiple of these. Literally. You can actually grow new potato plants from just peels!
Take any piece of potato that has eyes on it and let them dry for a day or so to lessen the chances of rot. Then, simply place them in large, soil-filled pots with the eyes facing up and be patient. You should start seeing baby potato plants pop up soon. Once the plants are fully grown they’ll start producing little potatoes that are fully edible and can be used to start the process all over again.
Starting sweet potatoes is almost as easy as regrowing regular ones. In order to acquire sweet potato slips (little sprouts that can be planted to grow new potatoes), most indoor gardeners use the easy method of cutting a sweet potato in half and submerging it halfway into a glass of water. The rounded side of the sweet potato should be facing up, as that’s where the eyes that produce new plantlets are located.
If the container is placed in a warm and sunny location, you’ll soon see both roots and little sprouts start appearing on the sweet potato halves. Once the plantlets have had some time to grow, you can remove them from the potato piece by gently twisting them off. You can now place them into soil or leave them in a glass of water if you’d like to be able to see whether the rooting process is going well. Voilà! You’ll be enjoying home-grown sweet potatoes for free once the slips have had enough time to develop.
If you successfully harvested your potatoes and are ready to take it one step further, find out how to live off your own garden. It’s incredibly rewarding!
Regrowing vegetables from scraps is very easy and because these plants are so resilient, it works in some manner with pretty much any veggie you can think of.
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Visit youhadmeatgardening.com to read more of Mari’s writing.