16 Foods That’ll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps

By  Andy Whiteley

Co- Founder of Wake Up World

Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it!

There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown vegies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.

It’s fun. And very simple … if you know how to do it.

Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy, and free of chemicals and genetic meddling.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.

Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.

Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.

After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.

Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear.  

Ginger

Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Potatoes

Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.

Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.

Garlic

You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

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Sweet Potatoes

When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.

To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.

Mushroom

Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.

Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).

Pineapple

To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.

Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.

And one for the kids….. ‘Pet’ Carrot Tops!!

I call this a ‘pet’ because the plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant. The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant. But it makes an attractive flowering plant for the kitchen, and they’re easy and lots of fun to grow…. for kids of all ages!

Cut the top off your carrot, leaving about an inch of vegetable at the root. Stick toothpicks into the sides of the carrot stump and balance it in a glass or jar. Fill the glass with water so that the level reaches the bottom of the cutting. Leave the glass in filtered, not direct, sunlight and ensure water is topped up to keep the bottom of your cutting wet. You’ll see roots sprout in a few days, and you can transplant your ‘pet’ carrot into soil after a week or so.

Your success re-growing lovely fresh vegies from scrap may vary, depending on your climate, the season, soil quality and sunlight available in your home or garden. And some vegies just propagate easier than others do. In my experience, a bit of trial and error is required, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Get your hands dirty. It’s lots of fun! And there’s nothing like eating your own home-grown vegies.

Please share your own experiences with the Wake Up World community by commenting below.

Peace.

Article sources:

About the author:

Andy 1 - CopyAndy Whiteley  is a former corporate manager  turned writer, editor and co-founder of  Wake Up World. An advocate of peaceful revolution, Andy  believes we are on a necessary path (albeit bumpy) to a renewed social model grounded in love, transparency, individuality, sustainability and spirit. Through his role at Wake Up World,  he hopes to have a positive influence on  that transition.

Andy lives  in  the NSW Central Coast region (Australia) with his partner of 13 years,  WuW co-founder Ryan Mullins, and  spends his (scarce)  free time keeping fit and enjoying  the beautiful nature  reserves that sit, undisturbed, at their  back door.

“Wake Up World, it’s Time to Rise and  Shine!”  

 

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  • http://Website Jack Weber

    Great info, thanks Andy!

    • http://Website monica

      Hi Jack:
      Thanks for the info.
      It would be of great help if you can illustrate this with pictures so we can share with people of many other languages that will understand immediately. Could you?
      It would be f great help for those who do undrstand english but are not so sure how to do it right,.
      thanks so much
      Best regards
      monica from Spain

  • http://Website Shane

    Bok Choi :)

    Awesome ideas :)

  • http://Website Trish

    Excellent article, well written, well researched, and inspiring. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to more.

  • http://Website Tamaresque

    The easier way to grow mushrooms is to buy some mushroom compost, put it into a covered box – like a styrofoam or coated cardboard vegetable box you get at the market – spray it with water daily and – hey! presto! – mushrooms. I’ve even seen them growing in the veggie garden after an application of compost, but they much prefer shade or complete dark – hence the covering for the box.

    • Wake Up World

      Great suggestion! Thank you.

    • http://Website Tamoo

      How do you know what kind of mushrooms you are growing if you use the compost? I’m scared as I’ve read so many stories of people dying from ingesting poisonous mushrooms.

      • http://Website Diane I

        Mushroom compost comes from mushroom farms – it’s what’s left over after the harvest. Ergo, edible mushrooms. You won’t know the exact variety until they sprout though.

  • http://Website JGonzalez

    I use garlic and onion on almost everything and I’m looking at starting to grow my own vegetables, so this is very helpful. Thanks!

  • Bokashi Murrieta

    Loves this article. Being an organic gardener myself, I loving coming across refreshing articles that get people excited about how easy planting is. It’s even more exciting when your gardening helps to recycle food waste.

    What’s even better is the parts you can’t use to grow, you can still use to create a nutrient rich tea to fertilize it down the road. Recycle it using bokashi fermentation and you will have a natural product ready to create nutrient rich soil for you to grow in, in ten days. So many cool ways to recycle food these days.

    Thank you for keeping the food recycling conversation going.

    • http://Website rabs

      in general can u grow enough to last for a couple of days at least? for e.g how many onions do i plant to get about 6-7 big sized onions and how long does it take to get them if u know wot i mean. thanks!

  • http://Website Amanda

    You can eat the carrot leafy top, just chop and add to soups and stews for a vitamin and mineral rich addition. The flavour is a little like parsley with a slight bitter tang.

    • http://Website Name (required)Edna Lynch

      Caged birds love it too, especially Parakeets.

      • http://Website Wilson

        Anyone know if Hemp can be regrown?

  • http://Website Karli

    You know, maybe you can keep the ‘pet’ carrot until it flowers and then pollinate it. Maybe it’ll produce seeds to make new, edible plants. Worth a shot…

    • http://www.akiikwe.com Francine

      you are absolutely right, it will grow seeds as most root vegetables will give you seeds the second year after planting the tops

  • http://www.GrowVeggies101.com Marlene Bertrand

    I am truly fascinated by the concept of growing vegetables from scrap. I’m glad I came here because I learned about a few other things I can try growing. I didn’t know I could re-grow mushrooms. I eat a lot of mushrooms, so I am definitely going to give it a try. Thank you for your informative article.

  • Daria

    I’ve been growing plants from seeds all of my life – but never from scraps so I’m all excited to try out some of your ideas. Thank you!! :)

  • http://Website loliana

    Avocados – grow like carrot tops…stick with toothpicks, “float” in water in sunny window. Once you have plenty of roots, plant in a pot, and once you have small tree growing, plant in the ground in a warm climate (Calif. and Hawaii grow them well).

  • http://Website Kathy

    I recently did this with organic romaine and it started regrowing easily. At about 2 weeks I noticed a ton of little green caterpillars all over the stocks. Watch your plants carefully!!

  • http://Website M

    Start with Organic Veggies to ensure Non GMO Food results to get seeds from next year too.Heirloom Seeds

  • http://experimentalchefs.com Ian Dixon

    I well remember growing the carrot tops when I was a kid though I think our approach was to just put them in a shallow bowl.

  • http://Website Jeff

    Our Maryland extension service says to never plant kitchen garlic, “Purchase certified, disease-free garlic bulbs for planting from reputable seed sources. Never plant garlic from a grocery store. It may be a symptomless disease carrier.”

    Don’t know what it carries, but I’m assuming it may either be something foreign to Maryland or will put my other bulbs at risk.

    • http://www.akiikwe.com Francine

      I really agree with you, and I believe that all the plants that we we replant must be certified organic otherwise you can never be sure of what you will be spreading in your garden or your home…beware of gmo and other toxic products in your veggies

  • Jeana M

    I bought my first turnip, its surprisingly sweet, and it had little sprouts coming out so I cut off the top and divided it into a few pieces and put it into a plate with water to start it. Will it work to start new turnips once I put it in dirt?

  • Dorena

    Thank you for sharing this information. I’m slowly growing things- started off with scallions and now celery. Can’t wait to try the others!

  • http://Website Michelle

    Garlic works. I took a clove, peeled it and stuck it in a pot with soil. Watered it and set it outside. Took about week or so. I have a hard time finding fresh garlic (not spongy) certain times of the year. Now, I am going to try shallots (same problem) and I am starting a small herb and veg garden in pots on my front porch.

  • http://simpsonsparadox.com Meg

    Oh wow, I’m excited to try growing a pineapple top!

    The garlic and ginger are good ideas for me too, we’re a small family so often a little bit goes to waste, it’ll be nice to add to the garden instead of throwing it away.

  • http://Website Alexandra Spagna

    How long do I have to let these things grow before I can pull them back up? I can figure I will see the spring onion and what not but what about garlic or onion or other things?

  • http://davegoesthedistance.com David Millar

    I have to add basil to this list. I love to pick my fresh basil and add it to a variety of sauces, salads, and curry. When I pick too much, I can set one of the pieces with a longer stem in a shot glass with water and it’ll take root after a day or two. Great for when you want to start a new basil plant or help a friend start their garden.

  • http://Website Micky Dee

    I’ve successfully grown pineapple by slicing off the top as usual with a small portion of edible fruit and placing it in a saucer of water on a window sill until it sprouted roots. Then from memory I planted directly in to a well drained area of the garden and watered it for a while. 2 or 3 years later it was fruiting when I moved out of the house… a bonus for the new tenants

  • http://Website John the Conservationalist

    Hi!

    I’d just like to add something to the carrots: You can produce viable carrot seed from the “carrot tops” if you don’t mind waiting for a long time. It’ll usually only work if you have a group of three or more locally grown carrots, as many of the supermarket ones are made to be sterile and cross-pollination produces better seeds than self-fertilization.

    When the carrots are flowering, they’ll usually self-pollinate, but you’ll get a better range of viable seed by cross-pollinating them – the bees in your garden will do this bit. Just leave the carrot-tops in a small dish with wet cotton/toilet paper, preferable near another plan that’s flowering and attracting bees, for a few hours in the day.

    The seeds are tiny, about the size of a period. Grow them like you would nursery-purchased seed. Don’t get your hopes too high, I’ve only recently managed to get success.

  • http://Website mariposaman

    A lot of regular supermarket produce like potatoes, garlic, and sweet potatoes and anything subject to sprouting is treated with chlorpropham (Bud Nip, Taterpex) so your experiment in sprouting might be a bust. I tried this once with garlic, and after struggling a bit, the garlic failed to put out much viable shoots and eventually just died.

  • http://www.womentips.co/ women tips

    This sounds interesting! i always re-grow the garlic ,onion and potatoes..but now i have an interest to try all the vegetables in this article. thanks for sharing..

  • http://www.womentips.co/ women tips

    Nice post ! Already i am growing tomatoes,ginger,mint.now i am going to try pineapple,mushroom.

  • http://www.womentips.co/ women tips

    Nice post! i try to grow pineapple but i can’t.can you give me any suggestion.

  • http://Website ali

    I have grown carrots from carrot tops. First you grow the tops to a good size in shallow water then when they are a good size you can plant them in soil and the root will grow. Takes forever though. The carrots also seeded so if you have a breed you like, that is a way to get the seeds.

  • http://Website trawhysee

    You can re-grow kale as well. I chopped off the leafy part for my salads, then just shoved the sticks in the garden, and, to my surprise, they began growing. Who would have thought?
    And I plant green onions among all my veggies to keep pests away. So far, so good.

  • http://Website Shannon

    Thanks for the list! I’ve tried several of those and right now am waiting for the lemongrass shoots to develop roots. What about planting tumeric and sunchokes from the the grocery store? Will that work? I would like to be able to go to my yard to harvest these items and not have to travel to the other side of the city to purchase them at the Asian market.

  • http://Website Kelly

    Hi, I was wondering if onions and garlic can be grown together? And can they be grown in pots? I’m starting to grow my own vegetables and love that you can grow from scraps :)

    • http://wakeup-world.com Kim

      Sure. I grow them that way all the time. Just make sure you mark which is which.

  • http://wakeup-world.com Kim

    I have done this several times by accident. Either I’ve tossed something into the compost pile and had it grow or found it already growing in the fridge or pantry. The pineapple thing really works. I’ll have to try the celery, that stuff is really hard to find at the nursery. :)

  • http://Website Ryan L Bergman

    Use this method at local restaurants and feed The Earth. Great project for Muslims to feed others.

  • JCLUVU22

    Thank you so much for all of this helpful information. I’ve already started an Organic garden because it is so hard to find organic produce around here. Being able to Re-Grow some of my organic produce is great.

  • Sarah Cherry Jumel

    Use the tiny cloves in the middle of garlic, the ones that are too small to peel easily. Soak a while, then plant. The bottoms of big cloves work too sometimes. White potatoes do not always sprout, as they are often inhibited, so organic is the way to go. You did not mention seeds, but the carrot ‘pet’ will make those with time, and putting the seeds of apples, pears, quinces, plums, peaches, apricots, and cherries in a jar in the fridge with some wet cotton or paper for a month or so will make them think a year in the ground has passed, and when you plant them they may very well sprout. If they don’t fruit, or if the fruit is nasty, you can always graft onto the root. The root will stay alive and serve the graft.