Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be a great, planet-friendly way to keep your fridge stocked with healthy produce.
But we don’t all have spacious backyards to plant nice, even rows of our favorite vegetables.
Fortunately, you can regrow many common vegetables using little more than your kitchen scraps. In fact, you probably already have all the materials you’ll need to start regrowing vegetables from home right now.
You’ll need a bowl, lots of clean water and small pots for replanting. The pots should be about four inches deep, although larger plants — like avocado trees — will need bigger containers.If you don’t want to spring for gardening pots, plastic drinking cups will also do fine. You’ll also need a little bit of dirt and fertilizer to help your veggies regrow to their fullest potential.
Although most vegetables can be regrown, some do better than others. It’s also important to keep your kitchen setting in mind. Some veggies require direct sunlight and won’t do well without it. Others do better in partial shade.
With a little know-how, you’ll be well on your way to starting a garden from the comfort of your own home.
Herbs: Basil, Mint, Cilantro and Others
If you’re looking to take baby steps here, herbs are a great way to start. Simply cut off about a four-inch stem and let it rest in a small container of water. A shot glass works well in this case.
Put the glass in a spot where it will get some direct sunlight and replace the water every other day.
Roots should start growing from the stem. Once the roots are about two inches long, carefully plant the herb in a four-inch deep pot or cup.
Congratulations! You just started your kitchen scrap garden.
Leafy Greens: Bok Choy, Lettuce, Celery, Bulb fennel
Leafy greens are perfect candidates for your kitchen scraps garden. Just save the bottom two inches or so of the plant, whether that’s lettuce, celery, bok choy or another leafy, stemmed vegetable.
Put the remaining portion of the plant in a glass or shallow bowl in one to two inches of water. Make sure to change the water every couple days.
Place the container in a warm, sunny place, making sure the plant gets some direct sunlight. Wait until new growth starts sprouting from the stem, then plant the stem in a four-inch cup or pot, covering up the old stem with soil.
Green Onions & Leeks
These vegetables are among the easiest to regrow from scraps. Both green onions and leeks are hardy, will grow well on a windowsill, and, as long as the root system doesn’t become damaged, can be regrown over and over again.
As with leafy greens, you’ll want to save the last one to two inches of your green onion or leek and put it in a container with enough water to cover the roots. A glass of water would probably be more appropriate for these veggies than a bowl.
Place the plant on a windowsill that gets full, direct sun for at least a portion of the day. Replace the water weekly. You’ll soon start to see new, green shoots growing from the bulb. Once the shoots are about six inches in length, you can replant the bulb.
Once your potatoes start growing shoots out of the eyes, it’s a good time to consider regrowing them. Cut the potato into one-inch cubes, and make sure each cube contains an eye. Then let the cubes sit on a paper towel overnight to dry out before planting them in a large container.
Potatoes need lots of room to grow, so an old gardening bucket might be a good place to plant your potatoes. Plant the cubes four inches deep with the eyes facing up. Water them regularly and keep them in a place that gets some direct sunlight.
These take a little more love than your normal russet or yellow potatoes.
Cut your sweet potato in half and insert four toothpicks into either side so the toothpicks rest on the lip of a glass of water. Position the toothpicks so the sweet potato is in two inches of water, with the cut side of the potato facing down.
Change the water once every couple days, and the potato will soon start to grow new roots. Once the roots are about five inches long, gently twist them off and let them rest in a shallow bowl of water.
Little sprouts — called slips — will start to grow from the roots in a couple days. Once the slips are an inch long, plant them in a deep bucket or pot.
This is likely one of the more cost-effective additions to your kitchen scraps garden because, depending on where you shop, ginger can be an expensive addition to your grocery list.
That said, if you’re buying with the hope of regrowing your ginger, go organic. Some commercial growers treat their ginger so it won’t sprout at home, which makes it impossible to regrow.
Break off a thumb-sized portion of your ginger that has lots of nodules, which is ginger’s equivalent to potatoes’ eyes. They will be rough bumps usually along the tips of the vegetable.
Sprinkle about two inches of potting soil in a shallow container with a lid. A retired Tupperware container would be great here. Poke holes in the bottom for drainage. Place the ginger nodules on the two inches of potting soil, and then sprinkle another inch of soil on top.
Put the lid on top but don’t shut it all the way. You want some air to get in. Place the container in a warm environment with indirect sunlight, and water regularly until you see little green sprouts emerging.
Now you’re going to need a bigger bucket. As with potatoes, ginger can take up a lot of space underground. An old cement bucket with holes poked in the bottom would be a great home for your regrown ginger.
Put about four inches of potting soil in the bucket, place your newly sprouted ginger on top and then fill the rest of the bucket with soil.
Greens: Carrots & Garlic
Although you can’t grow a whole carrot or garlic clove from scraps, you can regrow the vegetables’ tasty leaves. Carrot greens can add flavor to salads, and they also serve as a great addition to vegetable stocks. Garlic greens, on the other hand, can be used in the place of onions or scallions to give your recipe an interesting nutty flavor.
For carrot greens, save the last half inch of the carrot, trimming the old leaves. Let them rest in a shallow container of water, taking care not to submerge the top of the vegetable.
Put the container in a sunny environment and replace the water every day. Once new leaves start to sprout, plant it in a four-inch pot, covering the carrot top up to the leaves with soil.
Garlic greens are even easier. If you’ve got some garlic cloves that are starting to grow green shoots, simply submerge them in about one or two inches of water. Put the container in a sunny place and change the water every other day. Trim the green shoots to eat as you want them.
Anna Brugmann is a contributor to Codetic.