Made From Scraps: Growing Plants from Food Scraps
By: Chelsea Lee
Produce can be expensive, and it is wise to limit your number of grocery runs during a global pandemic. Luckily, some fruits and vegetables can be easily regrown from leftover scraps, cutting down grocery costs AND reducing your chance of coming within 6 feet of another person — talk about getting your bang for your buck!
Here are some fruits and vegetables you can easily regrow at a comfortable social distance:
Leafy Greens (Lettuce, Bok Choy, Cabbage, oh my!)
Like the Hydra head, lettuce leaves will come back after being cut. Simply chop around 3 inches of the root stem and stick it in some water (around 1–2 inches). Make sure the leaves receive some sunlight, and replace the water every 2–3 days. Pretty soon, you’ll have enough leaves to make another salad. Plus, lettuce doesn’t require fire to be destroyed (i.e. lettuce > the Hydra).
Here’s an article that goes a little more in depth about the art of indoor lettuce growing
Many leafy greens can be regrown from individual leaves. Stick the leaves in a container with water and place in a sunny spot — just like fresh cut flowers! Except they’re not flowers, they’re leaves. If you want to pamper your leaves, you can mist them every few days. Within a week or so, roots should begin to reform, and you can transplant them into some soil.
My brother hates celery, so I make sure to produce as much celery as I possibly can to torment him. If you want to help me in my efforts, keep the base of your celery and place it next to a window in a container with a bit of water on the bottom. After a couple of days, the leaves will begin to grow from the base, and you will soon find yourself with even *more* celery. How exciting for me and distressing to my brother Aaron
When you flip them upside down, do your green onions scraps look like really pale people with crazy hair? If yes, you’re in luck because 👏🏼they👏🏼will👏🏼regrow👏🏼
Place the roots (aka onion people hair) in water or soil. Let them grow, occasionally replace the water, and snip off what you need, when you need it. Seriously. That’s it.
Pull off a clove of garlic (bonus points if it has already sprouted) and plant in some well drained soil with the pointy part sticking up. Garlic likes warmer weather and direct sunlight, so try to keep them outside if possible. Check out this article for more garlic growing tips and tricks.
If you’d prefer to grow garlic indoors in water, set the clove sprouting end up (shot glasses are convenient for this purpose and this purpose only), and add water, making sure not to completely submerge the clove. Change the water when it gets murky, and let the sprouts grow until they’re at least 3 inches. Harvest the sprouts when they’re about 3–7 inches tall.
Looking for plants that are edible and aesthetic? Well, you’re in luck: many herbs will propagate from cuttings. Take 4–6 inches from a herb plant, making a cut under a node (a point on the stem where the leaves are sticking out). Try to get your cutting from new growth, as new growth is more likely to take root.
Carefully take the leaves off the bottom 2 inches of your cutting and place them in a jar of water. Make sure no leaves are submerged, as they will rot and make the water all gross and icky, which is not only NOT aesthetic, but not good for the cuttings either. After roots emerge, the herbs can be transplanted into soil, where they can continue their herbaceous journey into herb adulthood.
Have you ever bought a bunch of potatoes under the impression that you were totally going to use them to make the best roasted potatoes ever and then one day opened your cupboard and found said potatoes completely covered in sprouts and totally inedible? No? Me neither. Hypothetically, if I were in this situation, I would cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces, leave them out to dry for about 2 days, and then plant the cut pieces about 4 inches into the ground with the sprout pointed towards the sun. I would do this in early spring and harvest sometime in the summer. Hypothetically.
Imagine this: the stay at home orders have been lifted so you invite your friends over to your house for a social adjoining party. After you finish shaking hands, your friend spots a peculiar house plant that they’ve never seen before. “What an interesting, unique house plant I have never seen before!” they exclaim. “Could it be a sansevieria? A yucca, perhaps? Or, maybe an aloe?” “You are incorrect on all three counts,” you respond loudly, “it’s a pineapple”.
You can make this dream a reality by cutting off the top of a pineapple, letting it dry out, and potting it up. The fruit can take up to years to grow, but you can enjoy a unique houseplant to show off to your friends in the meantime! Check out this link for more detailed instructions on pineapple growing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. From carrots, to sweet potatoes, to onions, and ginger, there are so many more fruits and vegetables that can be easily grown from home. So think twice before tossing out your scraps — you may be saving yourself a couple of trips to the grocery store. Now that’s what I call financial and social responsibility.
Can’t get enough of easily grown food scrap plants? Here are some links to explore: