According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, nearly 33% of American household food waste is fruit and vegetables. Each month, nearly $50 of food waste is lost by the average American. I dunno about you, but that adds up to quite a bit of lost money from my pocketbook.
To cut down on the amount of money I’m wasting buying and throwing out fruits and veggies, I have been working on growing my own from the scraps I’d otherwise be tossing or just putting in the compost. Not only does it save me money from having to buy new (which can get pretty pricey), but I also know that there’s not been any harmful chemicals used on them. When I first began my research on the topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find just how many options there are!
Source: Fix.com Blog
If you’re watching your carbs and have replaced some of your pasta with bean sprouts, you can very easily grow your own rather than buy them at the market. Mung beans, alfalfa, lentils, chickpeas, and adzuki beans are some of the easiest to grow and commonly eaten raw. To grow your own, soak a few tablespoons of the beans overnight in a container or jar filled with a few inches of water. The next day, drain the water and replace the beans in an empty container, covering it with a towel. Rinse them again the next day and repeat this process for a few days, until you notice new sprouts beginning to grow. You can plant a few of these sprouts to replenish your bean supply and continue the recycling process.
Cabbage, Lettuce (such as romaine) and Bok Choy
If you love your salads, grow your own greens at home! Rather than throwing away the extra leaves that you have trimmed from the head, place them in a bowl with less than an inch of water. Place the bowl in direct sunlight and mist your leaves a few times per week. By the end of the first week, you should see new roots beginning to grow. When this happens, plant them in fertile garden soil to grow new heads. When grown, you can harvest the new heads and repeat this again with new leaves.
The first veggie I tried re-growing was celery.. and it’s CRAZY EASY! It takes a while for this one to grow, but you don’t have to do too much with it. Leave approximately 3-4 inches of the base intact when you cut off the stalks. Poke four toothpicks into the base as pictured and place over a shallow container of water, enough to cover the previous root area. Reusing empty half-gallon milk cartons works perfectly for this and gives you yet ANOTHER way to upcycle. Woohoo! Mist the plant a couple times a week and change out the water about every other day. When new leaves begin growing from the center of the stalk base, you can plant the base in your garden OR a pot. I like to reuse old plastic containers for this. Simply cut the old, dried-out stalk stubs from the base and plant so that the old stuff is beneath the soil. Once your new bunch is ready you can again cut off the stalks and regrow from the same base.
Root vegetables are mostly all done the same and again are quite simple. Simply save the last 2 inches of the bottom of the plant keeping roots intact. I use toothpicks to hold them upright in place and then place in a container of water with the roots down, leaving 1/2 inch of the top exposed. Shallow-cut plastic containers work great for this. Place on a sunny windowsill. Be sure and replace the water every couple of days and keep the level above the roots. You should see regrowth within 3 to 5 days. Green onions, leeks, fennel, and scallions you can leave in water but for lemongrass and larger onions, plant in soil. Harvest when fully grown, only cutting what you need for cooking, leaving the roots in the water and repeat with the same root ends. Lemongrass should be harvested when about a foot tall, leaving the roots still intact.
Carrot and Turnip Greens
While many plant cuttings will grow a whole other plant, carrots and turnips grow from seeds so need to be replanted. You can, however, regrow the greens from cuttings. Simply leave about a half-inch when cutting the tops and place them in water. Replace the water every couple days and fresh new greens will grow to be cut and enjoyed.
I have yet to try mushrooms as they’re apparently kinda finicky, but one day I’ll be adventurous enough to give it a shot. You simply cut off the caps of the mushrooms and place the stems into dirt, leaving a short bit above the soil and new caps will grow. For these, you must be sure that it’s in direct sunlight and that it’s kept very moist and humid. Perhaps using a plastic cake container to create a sort of greenhouse? Have you been successful in regrowing mushrooms?
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
If you’ve ever left a bag of potatoes sitting in your pantry, you probably already know that these will begin to grow. You’ll see the sprouts, called “eyes” beginning to grow from the sides. These are what you need to regrow regular potatoes. Simply cut your potatoes in sections so that you have a couple “eyes” on each piece. You can also make this work from the peelings which still have eyes. Simply plant them, “eyes” up in about 4-5″ of soil and in a few weeks, you’ll have more potatoes!
For sweet potatoes, cut into pieces and stick toothpicks into the sides to create a suspension frame, keeping it just above the water. You will see roots beginning to grow down into the water. “Eyes” will also form on these and once they’re about an inch tall, transplant into soil. You will want to use organic sweet potatoes for the best results as many growers spray to keep them from growing new shoots. These take about 4 months to reproduce.
Avocados are definitely not the quickest to regrow as you use the pits to create a whole avocado tree. One thing to keep in mind is that not every avocado seed will grow roots so it’s best to try out 2-3 pits at a time. You’ll need to start with a clean pit so be sure and wash off any remaining meat with cool water and then dry. Similarly to how I suspended the celery and onion, place four toothpicks pressed into the pit, wider side down. Place into a container and fill with water so that approximately half of the pit is submerged. Place container in a sunlit area, out of direct sunlight.
The top of the pit will begin to split open after about 3-6 weeks and several weeks after that, you’ll begin to see a stem, leaves and roots growing. In another few weeks, you should begin to see leaves growing. It takes about three months before the plant is about 7-8″ tall and ready for planting in a pot. Press your plant into the soil, ensuring that about half of the pit is covered in soil. Keep your plant in a sunny area, being sure to water it regularly.
While I have access to seeds and pits from all of these, I haven’t personally tried them to give details on how to grow them. Some of these types of plants will need special procedures to be sure that they reproduce, so I’ve included links from each fruit type with complete instructions on how to do so. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what kind of luck you had!
All sorts of peppers that you buy generally have pesky seeds in them that you remove before you actually use the pepper. Some folks use seeds and all (especially hot peppers) but for the most part, they’re tossed. Save those seeds and you can replant them! I let them dry for a day or two and then plant them in a thin layer of soil. Be sure and water them and keep them in direct sunlight and you’ll see them beginning to sprout. As for most seed plants, it’s recommended you plant about 3 times as many seeds as you wish plants as not all will germinate and grow.
Tomatoes regrow much like peppers: from seed. You’ll want to gather the seeds and be sure to let them dry, then plant, keep watered and in the sun. One quick way to achieve this is by slicing the tomatoes and letting the entire slice dry before planting. Once the plants are about an inch or so tall, you can transplant in the garden or inside planter.
I use a TON of garlic in my house. I think it’s probably my biggest go-to as far as seasonings go. And.. it’s again.. easy to grow! I broke up a bulb of garlic into the individual cloves and used toothpicks to suspend them in water. Once the roots begin to regrow, transfer them to the garden or a pot. I used the $1 plastic “shoe box” containers from the dollar store with holes drilled in the bottom and place the lid beneath it as a water tray. New bulbs will form and you can multiply your individual cloves into whole bulbs. To ensure that the clusters grow, cut back the shoots you see growing and keep them at 2-3 inches. You can also regrow the garlic by cutting off the root ends, similarly to how you regrow onions.
Basil & Cilantro
To regrow basil and cilantro, you’ll want to hold back a few of the stems, about 4 inches long, removing the leaves. Place the stems in a container of water (a glass jar works well) and keep container in a sunny area, changing the water every couple days. They will regrow roots and you can then plant them in a pot when the roots are about 2 inches long. You’ll have a new plant in a few weeks which you can snip leaves from to enjoy. You can use the leaves as needed, just be sure not to harvest them all at once.
Chives will regrow much as green onions and such. You can merely place the rooted ends into a glass container (again, glass jars work great!) in a sunny spot and after a short while, they’ll begin growing new tops which you can cut as needed.
Ginger & Horseradish
Ginger works much like potatoes, seeing as how they’re both roots. You can simply cut the ginger root into pieces and press them into soil, ensuring the sprout or “eye” bit is upward. Place in a sunny area and keep soil moist. The root will continue growing beneath the soil. Horseradish has a couple extra requirements for best results, so check it out at the link.
Chestnuts and Hazelnuts
Chestnuts and hazelnuts can be planted to grow new trees of each. Be sure to dry them out, then plant them in fertile soil. For these, you will need to plant at least two seeds nearby each other (or plant a new side near an existing tree) in order for them to pollinate and produce too much. You’ll also want to check and be sure that your climate will work for these types of plants as they’ll grow into tall trees which will need to be outside. These can also be started inside and then moved outside later. Keep in mind, because these grow into trees, it might be a couple years before you see the results.
What kinds of veggies, fruits, etc have you experimeted with? What others do you know of that will regrow, other than those listed here?