What can one do with organic, uncooked food scrap that would just go into the compost – if you have one? You can make veggie broth with them, or donate it to community gardens if you don’t have a compost, but besides of that, there’s just composting. But you can save some of the vegetable and fruit scraps going into to compost: by using them to regrow a whole new plant!
Depending on the vegetable you want to grow, indoor regrowing will produce small amounts of new edibles for you. The bigger purpose is the regrowing process is having fun – for me, because I can involve the kids and teach them how food is being produced – with experimental gardening while reducing food waste. It’s a great way to understand how plants grow. Regrowing plants from food scraps takes you to the whole new level of getting closer to zero waste. Reduce waste, save money, and start to build self-sufficiency, especially if you have a garden.
Here’s 10 vegetables that can be used for this and what to do with them to regrow:
Use any chunky sections of potato peel or pieces of potato with the ‘eye’ (the beginning of the shoots) on them can be replanted to grow new potato plants. Leave the potato scraps to dry out slightly overnight and plant them in the soil with the “eyes” facing up in exactly the same way that you would plant seed potatoes.
Salad onions, leeks and scallions can be regrown the same way: you will need the green parts for this. Place the greens in a cup or jar filled with water. Put it on a windowsill and change the water every other day. In about a week, you should have a new plant!
After you’ve cut the leaves off the lettuce, put the crown head in water. Within just two days the crown will sprout new leaves and after just under a week, a small bunch of lettuce leaves will emerge. Just as simple as it sounds!
Place carrot tops bottom down on a plate. Add water to the plate so there is half a cm of water past the base. Set near a sunny windowsill. Once the carrot has regrown greens, transfer to an indoor container and water regularly.
Cut the top off a beet, which you’d do as you prepare it for cooking. Rinse the beet top, then place it in a shallow dish of water. (You can also plant the beet top in soil for a longer harvest.) Little shoots will appear within several days.
For this, you’ll need the stump you’d chop off before cooking anyway. Leave its base intact, you’ll need about 5 cm of it. Place the stump in a bowl, with cut side up, and add enough water for the base to sit in it. Soon, small white roots will appear and new leaves will emerge. For good Keep the bowl on a sunny windowsill.
Just save the seeds of a tomato. Allow the seeds to dry out, and plant in potting soil. Keep the plant indoors until you notice growth, and then you can transfer the plant outdoors.
You will need the onion bottom with all the roots still intact. Allow to dry for a few hours to a couple days in a shaded, well-ventilated area to allow for callousing. Place it in a starter pot in a sunny location and cover the top with soil. Make sure to keep the soil moist by watering when needed.
Plant a small chunk off of your piece of ginger in potting soil with the newest buds facing up. Ginger enjoys non-direct sunlight in a warm moist environment. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, including the roots.
Growing your own peppers is easy, as they require little care, just a bit of a watering. All you have to do is plant the seeds in soil and place in direct sunlight. That’s it!
Top tips when regrowing veg from scraps:
- use organic produce if possible
- wash them very well
- check the water every day and change it every 3-4 days as it will start to stink