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How to Grow Nutritious Food from Scraps

By Jo Marshall
Share to PinterestHow to Grow Nutritious Food from Scraps
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Your vegetable throwaways could become a homegrown feast in the months ahead. Instead of tossing those bits that you cut off of your root veggies and tear away from your leafy greens, grow them into a fresh crop with just a bit of effort.

All you need is a container, a bit of sunlight, some potting soil, and patience. The best news is, you don’t have to be an experienced gardener to get started.

01

Carrot greens

Many people don't realize that it’s not just the orange root that is edible on a carrot. The green, leafy tops are often tossed into the compost pile, but you can use them to create a zingy chimichurri sauce, add them to your favorite hummus or smoothie recipe, sauté them, or toss them into a salad.

After you’ve cut off the carrot tops, place them in a bowl that you’ve filled with about an inch of water with the orange side down. Add sunshine and soon you’ll see green shoots emerging from the carrot tops.

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02

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Those green shoots that start to appear on your potatoes if they’ve been sitting around too long are tiny potato plants. Pick out the wrinkly potatoes that have already grown shoots. Cut them in half and let them air dry for a couple of days. Make sure each piece has at least two visible eyes.

Plant them in the garden in about eight inches of soil, cut side facing the sky. You should be able to harvest your first crop in just three to four months.

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03

Tomatoes

Those messy insides of a tomato contain seeds, an easy route for a homegrown crop. Rinse the seeds off, dry them thoroughly for three or four days, and plant a few inches apart in a container you’ve filled with potting soil. You’ll likely see sprouts popping up around five to ten days later.

Allow the seedlings to grow to a height of several inches and transplant them to a sunny area outdoors. Water a few times a week. Depending on what type of tomato it is, you could have fresh ones in the next one to two months.

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04

Peppers

No matter what type of pepper you love, you can grow them yourself by saving the seeds you find inside them. Some people prefer to start their pepper plants indoors, but if you live where the temperatures are milder, you can plant them directly into the soil. Just make sure the place you choose gets plenty of sunlight during the day.

Peppers tend to grow pretty fast, so you’ll be adding spice to your life in no time.

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05

Onions

What could be better than having fresh onions at the ready whenever you need them? Onions are packed full of nutrients, high in both C and B vitamins as well as potassium. They contain quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant and potent anti-inflammatory that fights off risks that can lead to heart disease. They’re also super simple to grow.

Cut an onion in half and place it directly into the ground, with the cut side facing upward. When you see the roots appearing above the soil alongside it, remove the old onion bottom. Those roots will become full-grown plants and start producing onions.

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06

Bok Choy

Its crunchy, sweet, light flavor makes bok choy a yummy addition to a stir-fry or soup and countless Asian dishes. It’s also delicious roasted or braised. This member of the cabbage family is easy to grow, too!

Slice off the base of the bok choy head, and place it in a bowl, cut-side up. Cover it with water, but no more than ¼ should cover its top, and replace the water every few days. Regrowth appears after about a week. Transfer it to a bigger container or the garden until it matures, usually around five months later.

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07

Sour cherries

With just a few cherry pits, you can grow a cherry tree. Although it won’t produce fruit for a few years, sour or tart cherries are self-pollinating, so you only need to grow one tree for it to eventually produce fruit.

Start them from seed in cold storage, in a container you’ve filled with potting soil, then sealed and stored in the refrigerator. Wait for about 12 weeks before planting.

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08

Celery

If you use a lot of celery, growing your own will save countless trips to the grocery store. Cut the base off of a celery bunch, rinse it well, and place it in a bowl or shallow container with the stalks facing upward. Add warm water, not cold, to the dish and place it in a sunny area.

Mist your celery plant every day and change out the water every other day to keep it thriving. In a week or so, plant it in a container or the garden. You can start harvesting in about five months.

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09

Garlic

Few seasonings are as versatile as garlic, plus it has tons of health benefits. Plant a single clove of garlic directly into potting soil. Make sure the root end faces downward. Place the plant where it will receive direct sunlight, preferably outdoors in the spring or summer.

You’ll soon see tiny green shoots appear but trim them back. If you don’t, all the nutrients will go to nourish the shoots instead of the bulb underground and you’ll end up with bitter or less-flavorful garlic heads.

Share to PinterestWoman's hand planting small garlic in the ground
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10

Green onions, scallions, and leeks

Don’t toss out the green parts of these luscious vegetables. Instead, grow more by placing the greens in a water-filled cup or jar. Place it on a windowsill or other location where your potential crop will get plenty of sunlight. Within about seven days, you’ll start seeing seedlings that will be ready to add to your favorite dishes once they’ve reached maturity.

Share to PinterestGrowing green onions scallions from scraps in a jar
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11

Lettuce

Salad lovers, rejoice. You can easily grow heads of lettuce from the parts you’d normally discard. Simply cut about two inches off the base. Place it in a bowl with just enough water to cover the bottom third.

Position the bowl in a spot where it will receive ample sunshine, but not full sun. Or, place it under grow lights. Change out the water every few days. Roots will appear in three or four days, and that's when it’s time to transplant the leaves to the soil so that they can mature.

Share to PinterestRegrowing lettuce from scraps
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12

Ginger

Whether you’re using it to flavor foods or as an herbal remedy, you should always keep a fresh supply on hand. And, you can grow fresh plants from a spare piece of ginger, just by planting it in some soil. New buds usually appear within a week to ten days.

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13

Bean sprouts

With just a tablespoon of beans, you can grow more bean sprouts at home. Fill a jar with a few inches of water and soak them overnight. Drain them the next morning. Set the beans in a bowl and cover them with a towel. Rinse daily.

In a couple of days, you’ll discover tiny sprouts growing from the beans. This method works well with wheat berries, as well.

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14

Avocados

Grow your very own avocado tree. Once you’ve cut open an avocado, wash off the pit and stick four toothpicks around it. Fill a jar with water and balance the pit over the opening. There should be enough water so that about half of the pit is submerged. Place the pit in a spot that gets daily sunshine, changing out the water every couple of days. Over the next few months, you’ll see a seedling emerge, and in the months ahead, it will become a sapling.

Share to PinterestAvocado plant seed sprouting and growing in plastic cup with water
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15

Lemongrass

If you love marinades, curry pastes, stir-fries, and spice rubs, you need to keep plenty of lemongrass on hand. Remove the tops and place the stalks in some water. They’ll take root in about three to four weeks.

Transplant them into a container where they’ll get lots of sunlight. This plant needs warmth year-round to grow, so bring it indoors during cooler temperatures.

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16

Basil

With just a few clippings of four-inch stems from a bunch of basil you buy at the grocery store, you can start growing your own fresh herbs at home. After cutting, place them in a glass of water on a windowsill that has full access to sunlight, but not too much heat.

When you see that the roots have grown to between two and four inches long, transplant the basil cuttings into a container of potting soil. You’ll be trimming leaves for your culinary creations in weeks, just remember not to harvest all of the leaves at once, or your plant will die.

Share to PinterestBasil plant being regrown from trimmed shoots in a drinking glass
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17

Pumpkins

Save those pumpkin seeds and you can start a pumpkin patch. Wash the seeds thoroughly. Set them aside to dry. Locate a space outdoors where the plants will have room to grow and spread the seeds out in a single layer over the ground. Cover with a thin layer of soil.

Most varieties take between 85 and 130 days to grow to maturity from seed.

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18

Mushrooms

Growing these delectable delights can be difficult unless you start them with store-bought stems. When you’ve removed the caps from the mushroom, plant only the stalks into a pot of soil and cover them, leaving the very tops exposed.

Mushrooms require lots of humidity and a warm environment to take off. Adding compost to the soil is essential. Some people say that adding used coffee grounds to the soil boosts the shrooms’ nutrient levels.

Share to PinterestGrowing white mushrooms at home
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19

Pineapple

While it may take a lot longer to achieve, you can also grow pineapples from their leafy tops that you’d normally throw away or add to the compost bin. Twist the top off instead of cutting it, because that keeps the parts that are beneficial for regrowth. Use toothpicks to suspend the pineapple top over a glass with just enough water to cover the base.

Roots emerge in about a week. Transfer the pineapple top to a bigger planter and make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. It can take up to two or three years for it to flower and produce fruit, but in the meantime, you’ll have a beautiful plant to enjoy.

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20

Coriander and cilantro

Lemony, flavorful coriander is an excellent seasoning to have on hand in the kitchen. Some parts of the world refer to the entire plant as coriander, chefs and garden experts refer to the leafy greens as cilantro. The plant’s seeds are roasted and ground into the spice, coriander.

Grow plants in your kitchen by placing stems into a jar of water in a sunny area. When you see fully-formed roots, plant the stems into a pot

Share to Pinterestfresh cilantro herb in pot
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