By: Amy Grant
I’m betting that a lot of you have grown an avocado pit. It was just one of those class projects that everyone seemed to do. How about growing a pineapple? What about vegetable plants? Regrowing vegetables in water is a cost effective and fun way to grow your own veggies. Of course, some of them grow better than others, but it’s still a neat experiment to grow windowsill plants form kitchen scraps. So what are the best plants to regrow vegetables? Read on to find out how to root vegetables in water.
Regrowing vegetables in water is generally as easy as taking a portion of the veggie and suspending it in a glass or other container of water. The portion needed to regrow vegetables in water is usually a stem or the bottom (root end) of it. For example, you can regrow cilantro and basil from a sprig. Just place the stem of either herb in water in a sunny, warm area and wait for a few weeks until you see roots. Once you have a good healthy root system growing, plunk it in a container of soil or back out into the garden.
Let’s revisit the aforementioned avocado just in case you haven’t tried to grow one from seed. Suspend the avocado seed over a container (toothpicks make a little sling to hold the seed up) and fill it with enough water to cover the lower portion of the seed. In about a month and half, you should have roots that are about 6 inches long. Cut them to 3 inches in length and wait for leaf emergence. When the leaves appear, plant the seed in the ground.
How about the pineapple mentioned above? Cut the top off a pineapple. Eat the rest of the pineapple. Take the top and suspend it in a glass of water in a warm area in direct sunlight. Change the water every day. After a week or so, you should have roots and can plant your new pineapple. Keep in mind that it will probably take at least three years until you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, but it’s still fun.
So what are some of the best plants to regrow from veggie cuttings?
Plants that are tubers or roots themselves are easy to regrow in water. Examples of these are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and ginger. Cut the potatoes in half and suspend them over water in a sun filled window sill. The same with ginger root. Soon you will see roots begin to form. When the roots are four inches long, plant into a pot of soil or out in the garden.
Lettuce and celery regrow easily from their bases, the part where the roots were pared off. This usually goes into the compost anyway, so why not try to regrow this vegetable in water. Just place the root end into water, again in a sunny area. After about a week, you will see some roots and new leaves will begin to push up out of the crown of the celery. Let the roots grow a bit and then plant the new lettuce or celery. Bok choy and cabbage regrow easily in water as well.
Lemongrass, green onions and garlic can all be regrown in water. Just stick the root end into water and wait for roots to grow.
See how easy it is? There is no excuse not to regrow vegetables in water. You will be saving plenty on your grocery bill with just a tiny bit of effort on your part. And you will end up with lots of lovely windowsill plants from kitchen scraps that you otherwise might have either composted, put down the disposal or just plain thrown away.
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In the depths of winter, it is easy to get the gardening itch.
In the depths of winter, it is easy to get the gardening itch. An easy and inexpensive way to get your green thumb busy is by starting a windowsill garden from kitchen scraps.
If you are like most of us, you tend to throw away a lot of vegetable waste. Whether it is the top of a carrot, the eye of a potato or the heart of a head of lettuce, there is potential for a garden there. Most vegetables are easy to re-grow, and many don’t even require dirt to get them started. Plus, you get the satisfaction of doing the ultimate recycling – growing food from food scraps.
Vegetables have an amazing ability to regenerate, and you can grow and re-grow many fresh vegetables – often with as little as a glass of water. You may already know about re-growing carrot tops, but did you know about re-growing celery and onions? Here is a list of vegetables that are easy to re-grow right on your kitchen windowsill.
Lettuce and Cabbage– The next time you prepare a head of lettuce or cabbage for a salad or stew, don’t toss the heart in the trash. Instead, place it in a dish filled with about a half-inch of water and set on a sunny windowsill. Replace the water every day or two.
After a few days, you will see new leaves sprouting. You can harvest the leaves for eating when they are large enough. Then, they will regenerate again.
Green Onions Scallions, Leeks and Fennel – You can place the white root base of these vegetables in just enough water to cover the bulb and then place it on a sunny windowsill.
Be sure to replace the water every few days, as it will get foul smelling. In about a week, you should see some new growth. You can transfer these plants to your outdoor garden in the spring, if you would like.
Onions -- Regular onions are easy to regrow. Place the bottom root section in a cup of water on a sunny windowsill. Once it has grown back, you can transfer the plant to a large pot of soil, or, if it is warm enough, to your outdoor garden.
Garlic – You can grow a new garlic plant from just one garlic clove. Simply plant the clove with its root end down in a pot of soil and place it in direct sunlight. Another option is to plant an entire garlic head that has started sprouting in a pot with the shoots above soil level. As it grows, the garlic plant will develop small flowers.
Ginger –To re-generate the root of the ginger plant – the part you use in recipes – simply take a fresh section and partially submerge it in soil. Be sure that the root’s nubbins are pointed upward or at least to the side. Keep the soil moderately moist, and the root will begin growing within about 10 to 15 days. This attractive plant prefers indirect sunlight. When you want more ginger, pull up the plant, harvest some of its root. Then repeat the above process.
Celery -- Celery is an easy, but slow, vegetable to regrow. After cutting off the base at about an inch or two, place it in a jar of water. Replace the water frequently and place the jar where it can get sunlight. Be patient as tiny sprouts begin to appear. After several weeks, you will start seeing substantial growth.
Bean Sprouts – Soak any leftover dry beans overnight. Then spread them out on paper towels to dry before repeating the process for a few days. Soon, you will see sprouts appear. When the sprouts are large enough, you may use them on your sandwiches and salads. Store leftover sprouts in the refrigerator.
Potatoes – As you might expect, potatoes will not stay long as a windowsill plant. However, you can get them started for spring transplanting. When a potato begins to grow eyes, cut it into small pieces with one or two eyes on each piece. Let these sections sit out at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours to allow the cuts to dry and heal over. Then plant the sections (with the eyes facing up) about eight inches deep in a large pot filled with soil. As the sprouts emerge, add about four more inches of soil to the pot.
Re-growing vegetables takes some trial and error. You will have the best results if you use fresh scraps, replace water frequently and place them in a windowsill that gets a lot of sunlight.
Additionally, some plants are sensitive to municipal water that has been chlorinated or fluoridated. If you are not having any luck with re-growing your kitchen scraps, consider using distilled water. Also, if your plants are not thriving, they may not be getting enough light. Try grow lights.
A final note – kids love this project, so be sure to get them involved. Good luck!
If you have spent any time on Pinterest or Facebook looking at food and garden ideas in recent years, you have probably seen images of veggies like celery or the shoots of green onions regrowing in a dish of water. Or carrot tops regrowing in soil. And herbs like basil rooting in water for more plants. This book shows you how it’s done—and, unlike some of the misleading info out there—there are specific tips for success.
Depending on what you grow, indoor regrowing may never produce much more than some garnishes or small amounts of new edibles, but the bigger purpose is having fun with experimental gardening while reducing food waste. Plus, it’s a great way to better understand how plants grow.
Plant life cycles are amazing and plant propagation is addictive—I’m not biased at all—and finding new life in beet tops or potato eyes is a great way to start. Experiment on your own or use it to entice the kids in your life into the world of growing plants.
Grab a copy of the book here at Amazon, learn how each plant grows, how to choose the right part of each plant to woo regrowth—and just start exploring the options. I’ve been doing this for several years now and its like the joy of houseplants with added intrigue and some garnishes on top!
If you want to start growing your food from scraps, it’s essential you start with organic produce. Growers treat many fruits and vegetables, especially potatoes, with a chemical sprout inhibitor, such as chlorpropham, which gives it a longer shelf life in the grocery store. Organic produce is chemical-free, which means it’s more likely to sprout at home.
It’s also helpful to know which growing zone you live in, as most plants can only tolerate a specific range of temperatures and conditions, especially when it comes to moving them outdoors. Check the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zone map to find your growing zone.
Also note that what specific supplies you need (and how many scraps you need) depends on whether you’re planting indoors or outdoors. If you’re planting outdoors or in a larger pot than recommended for pot planting, you can plant more than these instructions indicate. Always read the full directions for planting and make your choices before purchasing any new equipment.
Whether you’re planting into an existing home garden or pot, once you’ve chosen which plants to regrow and picked your method, save the scraps to replant and prepare to enjoy your harvest.
Cabbages can grow to a large size, up to 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. You can successfully grow cabbage in a container if you have a large pot and a large, sunny space to put it in.
Your cabbage will be fully grown in 90 days or when the interior cabbage head is firm and has reached an estimated 1 to 3 pounds.
Cabbage thrives in cooler temperatures and grows best as a spring or fall crop. However, it grows in USDA zones 1 through 9.
Regrowing celery and romaine is another easy starter project. It’s especially fun to do with children because these plants regrow quickly.
Celery is ready for harvest when new stalks are at least 3 inches high or around 125 days after transplanting. Cutting a few stalks to use as it grows encourages new growth.
Romaine is ready to harvest after 55 to 65 days, when the stalk is 6 to 8 inches high and feels firm (but not hard) to the touch.
Celery and romaine both thrive in cooler weather, so transplant outside in spring or fall. Celery thrives in USDA zones 4 through 10, with some varieties growing well in zones 2 or 3. Romaine grows in zones 4 through 9.
If you’re looking for a quick gardening project to do with kids, start with green onions. They grow new tops very quickly, which makes them perfect for younger kids still developing patience.
In two to three weeks, the green onions will be tall enough to snip and enjoy. To harvest, snip the green stalks and leave at least 1 inch attached to the bulb. The stalks will continue to grow indefinitely.
Green onions grow best in USDA zones 5 through 9.
You don’t need a special mushroom-growing kit to create an endless supply of mushrooms. You can grow them at home using the stalks you typically trim off before cooking. Because mushrooms thrive in cooler environments, it’s best to start the project in the winter or early spring.
Oyster mushroom stalks are one of the easiest to grow, although you can use any variety. However, each mushroom has its own unique growing conditions and requirements, so research each specific variety if you decide not to use oyster mushrooms.
In three weeks, the mushrooms will start to fruit. After the mushrooms begin to grow, they will be ready to harvest in two to three weeks, when the caps are open and the stalks are 2 to 3 inches high. To harvest the mushrooms, cut the stalks with a sharp knife.
Mushrooms will grow in any USDA zone as long as they’re kept indoors and in their specific temperature range.
Fresh herbs like cilantro and basil are expensive to buy in the grocery store. However, you can easily regrow these herbs from stems that are at least 4 to 6 inches long and have an endless supply at home.
You can harvest basil when stalks are at least 6 inches tall. To harvest leaves, snip them off at the base of the stalk with your fingernails or small scissors. The more you harvest, the more basil will grow.
You can harvest cilantro as soon as the leaves are big enough to eat. Trim the stalks off the plant at the base, but never take more than one-third of the plant at a time.
Cilantro thrives best as an outdoor spring and summer crop in USDA zones 3 through 8 and thrives if planted in the fall or winter in zones 9 through 11. Basil thrives in USDA zones 2 through 11.
Lemongrass is another savory herb that’s expensive to buy at the grocery store. But this tropical plant is easy to regrow at home.
At the store, make sure you purchase lemongrass that has the entire stalk intact. Some stores trim the roots off the lemongrass, and while these are fine for cooking, they don’t work for propagating at home.
Note that lemongrass can grow into a very bushy shrub, up to 3 to 5 feet tall, and needs plenty of space. Some people use lemongrass as a screen or natural fence because the plant can grow so densely under the right conditions.
Lemongrass is ready for harvest after two to four months, depending on your climate. Stalks should be at least 12 inches tall and 1/2-inch wide at the base. To harvest the stalk, cut it off at the base, leaving some exposed to light and air. This cut stalk will continue to grow and produce another stalk.
Lemongrass thrives year-round in USDA zones 9 through 10. Everywhere else, you must bring it indoors as soon as temperatures begin to cool.
Ginger can add a burst of fresh flavor to many dishes. It’s also an excellent natural cold remedy.
When choosing ginger root for indoor planting, opt for a piece that’s at least 2 inches long with several bumps. These bumps are the buds that will grow roots. Avoid roots with any signs of withering at the ends or skin that is darker around the buds.
Ginger is a heavy feeder, which means it needs a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for best results.
After 10 to 12 months, when the leaves begin to die back, the ginger is mature and ready for harvest. To harvest your ginger, dig up the entire plant. Break off a small chunk, making sure at least 2 inches of the rhizome remains, and replant the bulb for additional regrowth. Let the ginger rest at least a week before you harvest more, always making sure you leave 2 inches for further regrowth. Ginger grows in tropical locations, so water the replanted root daily.
Ginger only grows year-round in USDA zones 9 and higher, and it can’t tolerate temperatures below 55 degrees F, so pot planting is the best method for most people. If you plant it in a pot and bring it indoors when temperatures cool, the plant will thrive through the winter.
You can easily grow onions from the onion bottoms you trim off the bulb as long as the onions are not moldy or mushy.
Ideally, you will plant several sets of onions to increase the chances of getting a decent harvest. Onions need deep, wide containers to grow well, and it can get expensive if you have to buy several of these. Plastic storage containers are ideal for growing onions, and they’re much cheaper than purchasing a planting pot. Just make sure you use a screwdriver or drill to poke drainage holes in the bottom.
Note that you can plant outdoors once temperatures stop dipping below 28 degrees F. In mild climates, you can plant onions outdoors in late fall for a spring harvest.
The onions are ready to harvest when they start to flower, from 90 to 120 days after planting, or when the tops are at least 6 inches high.
Onions grow well outdoors in USDA zones 5 through 10.
Pineapple is another tropical fruit that (in most parts of the country) thrives best when planted indoors.
You can root pineapple in water, similar to other fruits and vegetables. However, it’s best to plant it directly into soil.
Pineapples are notoriously slow-growing, and it can take two years for your plant to bear fruit. However, many people find that pineapples make a beautiful houseplant, whether it’s fruiting or not.
You can grow pineapple outdoors in USDA zones 10 through 11.
Regrowing garlic indoors is a bit different from growing other vegetables. When you plant a clove indoors, you’re growing it for the scapes, which are the tender young shoots that grow from the clove. Garlic scapes are edible and delicious, much like garlic chives, and you can add them to baked potatoes, biscuit or bread dough, or dips for an added burst of flavor.
If you plant spare cloves in containers and grow them indoors, you can harvest and eat the scapes throughout the year.
Garlic cloves will not produce a garlic bulb unless you plant them outdoors and they go through a regular growing season. If you plant garlic outdoors, one clove can produce a bulb that contains five to 10 cloves.
Once scapes begin to curl, they’re ready to harvest. Snip them off with scissors near the base of the plant. Keep in mind that the longer scapes get, the more fibrous they become, so it’s best to harvest them early.
The whole garlic is ready to harvest in mid-to-late July, when at least two of the leaves at the base have died. To harvest the garlic bulbs, dig them up gently with a spade or gardening fork, being careful not to pierce the bulb.
Depending on the variety, garlic grows outdoors in USDA zones 3 through 8.
Don’t toss those potatoes that have begun to grow “eyes” and send up sprouts. You can easily plant them in your garden or a deep container and have a new harvest of potatoes in just a few months.
If you want “new” potatoes (potatoes harvested early when they’re still small and have soft skin), harvest these 2 to 3 weeks after the stalks flower.
Mature potatoes are ready to harvest when the stalks turn yellow and begin to die, usually 18 to 20 weeks after planting.
To harvest the potatoes, cut all foliage down to the ground and wait 10 to 14 days. Leaving them in the ground allows them to develop a tough skin for winter storage. After the potatoes have cured in the ground, use a garden fork to dig them out of the dirt gently. You can also use your hands to dig them gently out of the ground.
Gather potatoes quickly. Leaving them out in the sun too long causes them to develop solanine, which turns potatoes green and causes a bitter taste. Store freshly dug potatoes in a cool, dry place (45 to 60 degrees F) for up to two weeks. That helps the skin thicken further for storage.
Potatoes thrive in USDA zones 3 through 10.
You can grow many different types of hot or mild peppers at home using the seeds from store-bought varieties. Habaneros, jalapenos, and cayenne all make bright, decorative additions to a sunny kitchen windowsill or flower bed and provide you with plenty of spicy heat and flavor to liven up your dishes.
These instructions are for starting hot pepper plants from fresh seeds. You can use seeds from naturally dried peppers, but you must rehydrate them in water before sprouting. However, the companies that supply many commercially dried peppers use heat to dry them rapidly, and those usually aren’t viable for planting.
Depending on the variety, mild peppers are ready to harvest in 60 days, while the hottest peppers are ready in 150 days. Keep in mind this harvest range starts after transplanting and does not include the 8 to 10 weeks it takes for the seed to germinate and grow strong enough for transplanting.
Peppers grow as perennials in USDA zone 11. Elsewhere, you must bring them indoors when the weather cools.
You can regrow carrot, beet, turnip, and parsnip tops. However, this regrowth doesn’t produce another edible root. Rather, you regrow these vegetables for their tops, which are tasty and contain many nutrients.
You can put root tops into smoothies, add them to salads, use them in pesto, or saute them with olive oil and garlic for a delicious side dish. Carrot greens are an excellent replacement for fresh parsley in recipes.
You can harvest the tops as they grow or when the plant has produced enough foliage to use in a recipe.
Because you grow them indoors, you can grow root vegetable tops in any USDA zone.
The findings from our experiment are summarized below:
To summarize, regrowing vegetables is a nice way to keep vegetable scraps from going to waste. The plants still have some strength left in them to grow leaves or even sturdy stems. The young leaves and shoots are tender and very aromatic. However, in relation to the effort, the yield is very low. Neither new heads of lettuce nor fresh carrots grow back. To cook a meal with regrown vegetables, you would need much more space than can be found on a normal windowsill.
But regrowing is definitely a great way to watch plants grow and eat some homegrown vegetables. It’s is also a nice way to teach kids about nature’s growing cycle.
This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Regrowing: Gemüse einfach auf der Fensterbank nachwachsen lassen