Zero-waste gardening has been a hot topic amongst gardeners for quite some time now. And while growing your own fruits and vegetables in itself is a sustainable practice, you can take things a step further. Growing your vegetables from scraps is an inexpensive, mindful way to make the most of your food waste. It can be hard knowing where to start, but we’re here to show you how to transform your table scraps into delicious new produce. So, to find out how to grow using leftovers, just read on.
Can you regrow anything from scraps?
While there are a whole host of veggies you can regrow from kitchen waste, not everything can be regrown using this method. For instance, berries and fleshy fruits (like melons, pears, etc.) cannot be regrown from scraps. Instead, these fruits need to be propagated through cuttings or seeds.
Even some vegetables that can be regrown will likely not reach their full, original size. However, regrowing from kitchen scraps means saving money on your grocery bill, cutting down on food waste and allowing you to grow without unnecessary chemicals. So, what exactly are the easiest foods to grow from kitchen waste?
Vegetables you can grow from scraps
- To achieve the best results when growing regular or sweet potatoes from scraps, we recommend choosing one that has multiple tubers (the little offshoots that appear, otherwise known as ‘eyes’). Try to make sure that the chosen potato does not show signs of mould.
- Cut off the section of the potato that features the tubers. This is the part that will be used to grow new roots.
- Leave the potato cuttings out for a few hours or even overnight to dry. Make sure the fleshy ‘inside’ part of the potato is exposed to the air. You’ll know when it’s time to move on to the next step when the potato is no longer moist to the touch.
- Insert toothpicks into each side of the potato piece and place it over a glass of water. The tubers should be submerged but the rest of the potato should remain above the water.
- Wait for the roots to grow into the water and expect some leaves to grow on top. This should take approximately 1-2 weeks.
- Once the potato has good roots, transplant it directly into your garden or container.
- Water every time you feel that the top inch of soil is dry. Aim to ensure that the soil remains moist. Then, simply follow the same procedure as with every other potato plant.
- Easy to grow from waste, start by cutting approximately 2 inches from the root end of your leftover celery.
- Place this piece in a container of water. Ensure that there is enough to cover about an inch of the celery. We would also recommend that you put the bowl of shallow water on a sunny windowsill so that it can receive around 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
- After a few days, the vegetable will regrow in water. Expect it to sprout roots and small leaves.
- It’s important not to leave the celery in the water for too long as you run the risk of it developing rot. So, move the new plant into your garden when the roots have reached about 1 inch long.
Onions and scallions
- Take a small section of the leftover bulb or stem and place it in a dish of water.
- Simply wait and watch as the scraps regrow and produce new green growth. This should happen very quickly.
Alternatively, you can also use the following method when re-growing white onions…
- Cut approximately half an inch from the root end of your leftover onion.
- Place it in a filled container and cover it with soil. A thin layer should do the job.
- Water every couple of days and wait for a few weeks until green shoots start to sprout.
- Once the sprouts start to show, the onion can then be transferred outside into your garden soil.
Carrots, turnips, beets and other root crops
- Root vegetables grow well from scraps. First, cut off the top of the vegetable (approximately the top 2 inches).
- Next, insert them into a container filled with water, keeping the side that has been cut facedown.
- Place the container in an area that receives plenty of sunlight to provide optimal growing conditions.
- Refresh the water every few days and give it time to grow new roots. This should only take a few days.
- Once you see new roots being established, it’s time to transplant the tops into the soil.
Lettuce and other leafy greens
- Lettuce and other leafy vegetables regrow easily in water. First, just cut off the bottom 2 inches of your lettuce head.
- Next, place it in a bowl of water and keep it in a sunny spot.
- We recommend replacing the water every few days, and don’t forget to mist the leaves a little too.
- Now it’s time to wait for another flush of leaves (and roots) to grow. This should only take a few days.
- Finally, transfer your regrowing vegetables out into your garden.
Basil, mint, cilantro and other herbs
- Herbs are one of the easiest foods to regrow. Simply cut a stem of around 4 inches long and place it in a jar of water.
- Place in an area that receives plenty of direct sunlight (your kitchen windowsill would be ideal).
- Make sure that you refresh the water regularly – every day is ideal!
- Keep the leaves well above the water and once the stems have grown about 2 inches long, transplant them into soil.
We hope we’ve inspired you to start growing your own fruit and veg from kitchen scraps. You can learn even more about growing your own by checking out the articles on our knowledge hub. We’ve got posts on everything from how to create a garden journal to showcasing the best low-maintenance plants for your space. Plus, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media (@gardeningexpress), we would love to hear from you!