Homegrown Produce: 10 Foods You Can Grow From Kitchen Scraps
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The average American spends more than $150 each week on food. It’s not surprising considering the commodity’s rapid rate of inflation. Take ground beef, for example: in 2009 one pound cost just $2.35 compared with $3.46 in 2014. That's a near 50 percent increase in five years. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service the price of beef, veal, pork, eggs, dairy, and fresh fruit all rose during the early part of this year.
With no indication that prices will decrease, consumers are looking for new and innovative ways to afford fresh, wholesome foods. One approach is to cut costs. There are a number of ways to reduce food costs but one is brilliantly simple: use food scraps that would otherwise be discarded to grow more food. Many fruits and vegetables can be regrown with minimal space, equipment, or agricultural know-how.
Vegetables with exposed root ends, like celery, scallions, and fennel, can easily be re-sprouted in a small dish of water then transplanted to a pot or garden. Lettuces can be regrown this way as well. Some root vegetables like beets and turnips can be regrown using their cut tops and carrots will quickly re-sprout their edible greens. Even potatoes will grow from dried-out peelings, provided there are two to three eyes on each piece of peel.
Though growing your own foods at home from kitchen scraps is unlikely to meet all your fruit and vegetable needs, growing some produce yourself will help reduce your grocery bill and provide you with fresh, wholesome foods you can feel good about. And, if you’re able to grow a significant number of fruits and vegetables at home, you could be traveling to the grocery store less often, reducing your transportation costs as well.
To grow this vegetable at home, simply save the base of the celery after the stalks have been removed. Place the base into a shallow dish of water, ensure that it receives direct sunlight, and once new leaves start to sprout, transplant it.
If you have unused white scallion ends, simply place them in a glass of water and wait for the green stems to regrow. Then, snip the green ends and repeat the growing process.
Read on for more of the 10 Foods You Can Grow From Kitchen Scraps (Slideshow)
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.
25 Foods You Can Grow From Your Kitchen Scraps
Whether you go all out with a basement hydroponic system or just a few planter boxes inside your windows, you can grow plants year round.
But did you know you can grow many of the food plants from the kitchen scraps you would normally throw away.
Just imagine you could have an constant supply of your favorite food fresh from your indoor mini garden.
Here are 25 food plants that are easily grown indoors started from scraps.
Lettuce, Bok Choy and cabbage are relatively easy to grow from scraps. Instead of throwing out those leftover leaves, simply place them in a bowl with just a bit of water in the bottom. Keep the bowl somewhere that gets good sunlight and mist the leaves with water a couple of times each week. After 3 or 4 days, you will notice roots beginning to appear along with new leaves. When this happens you can transplant your lettuce or cabbage in soil.
Celery is one of the easiest foods to grow from leftover scraps. Just cut off the bottom or base of your celery and lay it in a bowl with just a bit of warm water in the bottom. Keep the bowl in direct sunlight as long as possible each day and after about a week, you will begin to see the leaves thickening and growing along the base. When this happens, you can transplant your celery in soil and wait for it to grow to full length.
3 Lemon Grass
If you love using lemongrass but have a difficult time finding it, simply regrow your own. Lemongrass will grow just like regular grass. You just place the root that is leftover in a glass bowl or jar with enough water to cover it and leave it in the sunlight. After about a week, you will notice new growth and when this happens you can transplant your lemongrass in a pot or in your herb garden.
4 Bean Sprouts
If you love cooking with bean sprouts you can grow them yourself as well. You just need to soak a tablespoon or so of the beans that you want to grow in a jar with shallow water. Leave this overnight and in the morning, drain the water off and put the beans back in the container. Cover the container with a towel overnight and rinse them the next morning. Keep doing this until you notice the sprouts begin to appear and then until they reach the size that you want. This works well with mung beans and wheat berries.
Avocado seeds can be used to grow a steady supply of this super food. You just have to wash the seed and use toothpicks to suspend it over water in a bowl or jar. The water should come up enough to cover the bottom inch of the seed. Keep the container in a warm place but not in direct sunlight and remember to check the water every day and add more as needed. It can take up to six weeks for the stem and roots to appear and once the stem reaches about 6 inches you will need to cut it down to 3 inches. When leaves begin appearing, you can plant the seed in soil, remembering to leave about half of it above ground.
Virtually everyone knows that potatoes can be grown from potato peelings. You need peelings that have eyes on them. Cut those peelings into two inch pieces, ensuring that there are at least two or three eyes on each piece. Allow them to dry out overnight and then simply plant them about four inches deep in your soil. Make sure that the eyes are facing up when planting. It will take a few weeks before you see the potato plant begin to grow.
7 Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be grown much like regular potatoes. You just have to cut the sweet potato in half and suspend it using toothpicks above a container of shallow water. Roots will begin to appear in just a few days and sprouts will be seen on top of the potato around that same time. Once those sprouts reach about four inches or so in length, just twist them off and place them in a container of water. When the roots from this container reach about an inch in length, you can plant them in soil.
Ginger root is very easy to grow and once you get started, you can keep your supply of ginger full. You just need to plant a spare piece of your ginger root in potting soil, making sure that the buds are facing up. You will notice new shoots and new roots in about a week or so and once this happens you can pull it up and use it again. Remember to save a piece of the rhizome so that you can replant it and grow more for the next time you need it.
You can grow your own pineapple even if you don’t live in the tropics. You just cut the top off and insert a few toothpicks to hold it above a container filled with water. Keep the container in direct sunlight. If it is warm outside, sit it on the porch or deck during the day and bring it in at night. Remember to change the water every other day or so and keep the container filled so that it reaches just about the base. You will notice roots in about a week or so and once they are formed you can transplant into potting soil. If you live in a cooler area, it is best to grow your pineapple indoors.
Garlic is really easy to grow and can be done from just one clove. When you buy garlic, you get several cloves so just pull one off and plant it with the roots facing down in potting soil. Garlic likes plenty of direct sunlight so in warmer weather, keep it outdoors in the sun during the day. Once you notice that new shoots have established, cut the shoots back and your plant will produce a bulb. You can take part of this new bulb and plant again.
For more information on the other plants listed head on over to the source article.
Here are a couple of indoor garden videos to give you some ideas.
One of the easiest veggies to regrow from kitchen scraps is lettuce. Some stores sell lettuce planted in soil, allowing you to cut leaves as needed. If this is not the case with your lettuce, though, you can still get an endless supply using nothing more than a bowl or dish filled with water.
Simply remove a few leaves from a head of lettuce (most people remove and toss the outer leaves anyway) and place them in water. Move the leaves to the sunniest windowsill you can offer and wait, making sure the lettuce doesn’t dry out and the water doesn’t become nasty. Once you see roots appear, you can move the leaves to soil and they’ll continue to regenerate once cut!
Growing radish is similar to growing carrots. You won’t be getting a new radish, but you can harvest the greens or wait for the plant to flower and collect the seeds, which you can plant to grow a new radish!
You need about an inch of the radish top and place it in a container with water enough to submerge the bottom part of your radish cutting. Once roots grow, you can transfer the radish to soil. You can either harvest the radish greens and use them for salads or pesto or wait until the plant matures and flowers. When it flowers, it will also develop seed pods which you can collect and plant in soil to grow radish.
17 Foods To Grow From Kitchen Scraps
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4. Regrow lettuce scraps in water
A head of romaine or butter lettuce can regrow from the base we trim off. ( Via Vancouver Sun )
Just give it some water and sun light, you will have more fresh greens for salads in a couple of weeks. See this video tutorial below for more details!
11+ Foods You Can Easily Grow From Kitchen Scraps!
Americans toss between 30-40% of our food every year! This accounts for millions of pounds of food waste, and the food being tossed is typically perfectly useable food. Some estimate that 4.5 pounds of food is thrown away each week per person in the US.
So what is being thrown out and what can we do about it??
Things being thrown out include: leftovers, takeout, “ugly” produce, bones, and bits and ends.
In the coming months I’m going to share some of my favorite Zero Waste recipes with you- ways that my family loves to use up our leftovers and all those funny “bits, ends, and scraps.” Jennie shared a few fun, unique ideas in her blog post here a few weeks ago (lots of these ideas would make lovely and inexpensive gifts too!).
Did you know that many fruits, veggies and herbs can be regrown from scraps? With gardening season right around the corner, why not save your scraps and save some serious money at the grocery store?? We live in a small apartment and have successfully been able to grow many of these in containers as well!
- Green onion- this is my personal favorite! Simply stick the white part into a glass of water, change out the water on a regular basis and give it a bit of sun. The plant will continue to grow fresh green onions!! (You can also re-grow leeks and fennel with this method)
- Garlic- this one is time-consuming but worth it. When your garlic clove starts to sprout those little green sprouts, plant it in some soil. Provide it with regular water and sun. In a few months, green garlic scapes will start growing above the surface. These are delicious and can be cut off and added to foods as well. Cutting these back will also allow the garlic clove to put more energy into growing a nice, big bulb. You can continue the process with a clove from the new bulb.
- Onions- These are one of the easiest to grow from scraps. Simply plant the root end in soil, give it lots of water and sun. If you live some place colder, these will do better indoors in pots.
- Lettuce, Cabbage, Bok Choy-The process is similar to green onions, leeks, and fennel. Cut the stocks and main part of leaves to use as normal and place the white root end in a shallow bowl of water (about an inch is good). Keep it in a sunny spot and regularly spray the top portion to keep moist. In a few days they’ll begin to root at which point they can be planted.
- Celery- Start out as you’d start out the lettuce. The roots will take a bit longer to develop and can then be planted as well!
- Lemongrass- Start out your lemongrass in a cup full of water in full sunlight. Change out the water every couple days and in about a week the roots will develop and you can plant your lemongrass!
- Potatoes- Don’t toss those potatoes once they start to sprout! Cut the “eyes” out in about 2 inch chunks, dry them overnight and then plant 4 inches deep in the soil with the “eye” facing up. Sweet potatoes can also be grown- the easiest way to do so is to plant a sweet potato in moist soil and keep it nice and moist, the sweet potato will soon sprout and begin to grow.
- Ginger- This is one of the easiest to grow. Simply plant a piece of ginger in the soil with the bud facing up, keep moist and in about a week you’ll have enough to harvest. This is an easy plant to keep going!
- Basil, Mint and Cilantro- You can always have fresh herbs on hand! Simply keep some fresh cilantro in a cup in a nice, sunny spot. Change out the water every couple days until nice roots develop and then plant. Be mindful that cilantro can take over your garden, so you many want to plant it in a container.
- Root veggies (carrots, beets, parsnips, etc.)- This process should feel familiar now! Place the tops in a bit of water until green shoots start growing on the top and roots form on the bottom. Once a nice root has grown plant it in the ground.
- Pineapple- Yes, you can grow these at home! Suspend the green top with toothpicks above a container with water, try to keep just the very bottom in the water. Make sure to give it lots of sunshine and change out the water regularly (if it’s warm enough, put it outside). It will take at least a week but roots will form and you can then plant your pineapple! Grow it indoors unless you live some place warm.
Have you ever regrown food from scraps? Are you excited to try? Share in the comments or write me at [email protected]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Olivia lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and 5 year old son. She enjoys spending time in the mountains, studying about essential oils, natural remedies and herbs, as well as upcycling/ DIY projects. Olivia’s family is almost completely Zero Waste and strives to live with as little impact on the Earth as possible. They are currently downsizing and planning to move into a Tiny House in 2016.
Whether you move your propagating vegetables to your garden or use them as windowsill plants from kitchen scraps, you will have some maintenance to perform. If you plant your new starter plants outside, be sure they get enough water. They should get about an inch of water each week both from the rain and from watering. However, they will need more water when they are young or if it’s really hot.
If you don’t have a garden, you can learn how to grow vegetables from scraps and plant them in containers on your patio. Just make sure that they get plenty of sunlight and the pots are big enough for the root systems.
Now that you know how to grow vegetables from scraps for your garden and how to regrow vegetables from scraps in water, you can enjoy fresh vegetables while saving money.
Root Crops and Root-like Veggies
With vegetables such as turnips and beets, the root gets eaten and the top part, where leaves once grew, gets thrown away. These top scraps regrow tasty leaves for fresh salads or sautés. Cut off the top, but leave 1/2 inch of the beet or turnip attached. Place the scrap in shallow water, cut side down and leaf end up, and fresh greens will soon appear.
Another easy-to-regrow scrap is ginger root, which regrows quickly in soil. If your scrap still has a fresh, wet cut, let it dry at room temperature overnight. Then plant the root scrap 1 inch deep in soil. Ginger is a tropical plant that can bear unusual, striking blooms. Plant it in a container, and it can live for years indoors. When you want ginger in the kitchen, gently pull up a root and leave the rest for another time. 2
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.