By Jimmy Deaton
Do you throw your garlic bulbs out once they start to sprout? What about your potatoes when they get a little wrinkly? How about ginger root that sits out on the counter too long?
Well, you could be getting a lot more value out of your produce than you may realize! Many popular edibles can be regenerated from the scraps you’re likely throwing out. Keep reading for a list of veggie scraps you will want to hang on to from here on out.
Yes! You can regrow pineapples with just the tops alone! To start, twist the leaves away from the pineapple. Use a fresh top and remove a couple of layers of the outermost leaves, cut away any fruit that’s still attached at the base of the leaves. Then, suspend the top in a couple of inches of water. Using a clear glass will make it easy to see the roots form. Once roots are about 1/4 inch long, which usually happens in a week or two, plant them in a container filled with potting soil and organic fertilizer. Just a heads up: your new pineapple plant will likely be ornamental in nature. Fruit, if produced at all, can take up to two years. But, as bromeliads, pineapples make an amazing (free) houseplant!
Have you ever bought ginger root and noticed little buds forming? Plant it! You’ll have fresh ginger to harvest soon enough! Ginger is a tropical plant, so keep it indoors in cooler climates. Soak the roots overnight to encourage growth, and then placing the rhizome in sphagnum moss until leaves and roots develop. Then you can transfer it to a container filled with potting soil.
If your garlic cloves start to sprout, plant them! Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow over and over again. One clove planted in the garden, in either early fall or late winter depending on your area, can multiply into a bulb of multiple cloves. It takes about 9 months, however, so you’ll have to have patience.
Celery follows the same protocol as many others. Once you use the celery stalks, save the end that’s leftover. Place it root side down in clean water for around a week. Then, transfer the celery to rich, well-draining soil and watch it really start to take off.
Buy a fresh head of lettuce, make a salad, and plop the base of the leaves you’re left with in a couple of inches of water. Within a week it will begin to grow! From experience, some lettuce leaves may be smaller and some plants may not grow at all. Don’t be discouraged and experiment with different types of lettuces. Bok Choy can also be regrown in this way. It’s just one option for getting the most out of the food you buy!
It’s nothing short of amazing how many plants can regenerate themselves starting out with clean water. Lemongrass is another one of them! Place leftover stalks in a few inches of water and wait for roots to develop. Once they become 3 inches long or more, plant them up.
If you’re planning to regrow your onions from store bought onions, choose bulbs with a good looking root. Once you cut the root from an onion, most folks suggest setting it aside for a day or two to let the skin dry out a bit. Then, plant the root in a container of potting soil (you shouldn’t be able to see the onion). Water regularly. Your onion should push several new stalks up. These stalks are called sets and they will need to be separated and planted out. Each one should produce its own onion!
Green Onions and Scallions
Do you love to toss some green onions on just about everything? Buy them once, and then grow them from the scraps on a windowsill. Place the root leftover from the green onions in a couple of inches of water. In just a few days you’ll notice roots form, but also the leaves will start to grow. Continue to harvest while in water, or plant in a container of potting soil.
This is just a sampling of the vegetables that you can grow from scrap. When regrowing food from store bought produce it’s really important to choose healthy, organic, disease free plants. Many non-organic edibles are treated with pesticides, as well as growth-inhibiting chemicals. Fresh from the farmer’s market or a local health store are your best options if you want repeated harvest Also, when using water to stimulate root growth make sure to keep the water clean and fresh. Try to use filtered and chlorine free water as well.
So, what have you got to lose? Share with us your successes and failures so we can all learn more about regrowing our own food!
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