Regrowing Vegetables In Water: Learn How To Root Vegetables In Water


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.

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?

Regrow Vegetables in Water

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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Growing a Kitchen Windowsill Garden from Kitchen Scraps

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!


Regrow Your Leftover Greens, Pits, Seeds, and More

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!


How to Grow Food From Scraps

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.

Cabbage

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.

Supplies

  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 small bowl or shallow tray
  • Fresh water
  • 1 (5-gallon) pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough loamy potting soil with a pH of 6 to 7.5 to fill a 5-gallon container (for pot planting)
  • Spade
  • Nitrogen fertilizer (optional)
  • Mulch (for garden planting)

Directions

  1. Preparation. Save the cabbage core with at least 1 inch of the leaves attached to the bottom base.
  2. Sprouting. In a small bowl or shallow tray, place the cabbage stem, stem side down, and pour water into the container until the stem is half-submerged. Place the bowl in a sunny location. Change the water every day or 2 to prevent bacterial growth. If you live in a dry environment and notice the leaves wilting, mist the leaves every few days to keep them moist. It should take around a week for roots to begin sprouting. Once you notice these, it’s time to plant the cabbage either in a pot or the garden.
  3. Pot Planting. Fill your 5-gallon pot with potting soil, leaving 2 inches of space from the rim. Using the spade, dig a hole and place the sprouting cabbage stem in the soil, root side down, and push soil around it so the tops of the cabbage leaves are still exposed. Water thoroughly until the soil is wet but not waterlogged 2 to 3 times per week. If you choose fertilizer, apply it according to package directions after 4 to 6 weeks and repeat every 2 weeks.
  4. Garden Planting. Find a location that gets at least 6 hours of sun. Your location should be at least 1 to 2 square feet from any other plants to allow for growth. If you’re planting multiple cabbages, space rows 24 inches apart and space individual plants 9 to 16 inches apart. Using the spade, dig a hole deep enough to bury half your cabbage stem. Place the sprouting cabbage stem in the soil, root side down, and push soil around it so the tops of the cabbage leaves are still exposed. Spread a layer of mulch around the cabbage to help the roots retain moisture. Water at least 1 1/2 inches per week. The soil should be wet but not waterlogged. Apply fertilizer according to package directions after 4 to 6 weeks and repeat every 3 to 4 weeks.

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.

Celery & Romaine Lettuce

Regrowing celery and romaine is another easy starter project. It’s especially fun to do with children because these plants regrow quickly.

Supplies

  • 1 celery or romaine bunch
  • 1 shallow bowl
  • Fresh water
  • 1 (10-inch) planting pot, glazed for best results with celery and unglazed for best results with romaine (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill a 10-inch container (for pot planting)
  • Spade (for garden planting)
  • Balanced 5-10-10 fertilizer

Directions

  1. Preparation. As you use the romaine lettuce and celery, trim the stalks off the base, leaving at least 2 inches of the stalks.
  2. Sprouting. In a shallow bowl, place the celery or romaine stalk base side down. Add enough fresh water that the stalk is half-submerged in water. Place it in a sunny location. After several days, roots will begin to grow. After a week, the roots will be long enough to transplant the celery or romaine into a pot or garden.
  3. Pot Planting. Fill your pot with soil, leaving 1 inch of space from the rim. Using your fingers, make a hole the size of your celery or romaine stalk. Put the stalk in the hole, leaving just the tips exposed, and pack down with additional soil if needed. Water until the soil is damp. Celery and romaine need at least 1 inch of water per week, and the soil should be moist at all times. Fertilize every 10 to 14 days according to package directions.
  4. Garden Planting. Choose a sunny location that gets 6 hours of sun daily. If possible, choose the coolest, wettest area of your garden. Using the spade, dig a hole deep enough to submerge half your stalk in soil. Place the stalk in the hole and push dirt around it so the top half is still exposed. Place the celery or romaine in rows 12 inches from other plants spaced 6 to 10 inches apart. Water thoroughly once planted, and provide at least 1 inch of water per week, ensuring the soil is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. Fertilize according to package directions every 10 to 14 days.

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.

Green Onions

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.

Supplies

  • Green onions
  • 1 shallow bowl
  • Fresh water
  • 1 rectangular planting pot no more than 6 to 8 inches deep (for pot planting, a 15-inch tray will accommodate up to 7 bulbs)
  • Enough light and loamy potting soil to fill the pot 2/3 deep (for pot planting)
  • Enough compost to fill the container 1/3 deep (for pot planting)
  • Spade

Directions

  1. Preparation. As you use your green onions, leave at least 1 inch of onion on the bulb. You can store them until you have enough to plant by placing them in a shallow bowl filled with water.
  2. Sprouting. If they’re not already stored there, fill a shallow bowl with water and place the green onion bulbs inside in a bright location. Allow them to sit for about a week. Doing so helps the roots get established, which is helpful for growing them outdoors, though it’s optional for growing indoors.
  3. Pot Planting. Fill the planting pot 2/3 full with potting soil and 1/3 full with compost, leaving at least 1 inch of space from the rim. Mix thoroughly. Using the spade, make a small hole in the soil deep enough to cover most of the bulb, leaving only the tips exposed. Plant the bulbs in the potting soil, leaving at least 2 inches of spacing between each bulb. Place the pot on a sunny windowsill that gets at least 4 to 6 hours of sun daily. Water daily until the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Green onions need at least 1 inch of water per week. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, the onions might need a morning and evening watering.
  4. Garden Planting. Choose a sunny, well-draining location that gets at least 4 to 6 hours of sun daily. Using the spade, dig a hole almost as deep as your green onion bulbs, typically 2 inches. If you’re planting multiple bulbs, space them 2 inches apart. Place the bulbs in the holes, roots downward, and cover with soil, leaving only the tips exposed. Water thoroughly and ensure the onions get at least 1 inch of water per week. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged.

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.

Mushrooms

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.

Supplies

  • Enough straw or shredded cardboard (for bedding) to fill the growing container
  • Fresh water
  • A growing container (paper bag, small cardboard box, or small plastic bin)
  • At least 2 oyster mushroom stalks, cut into 1/4-inch discs
  • If using a box or bin, plastic sheeting or garbage bag large enough to cover it completely

Directions

  1. Preparation. Soak the straw or shredded cardboard in water until it’s saturated. (Alternatively, you can mist it with a spray bottle until it’s thoroughly wet.)
  2. Planting. Pull the bedding out of the water and place a layer down in your growing container. Add a layer of the mushroom stalk discs, leaving 1 inch between each disc. Put a layer of moist bedding on top of the mushrooms. If you have additional mushroom ends, layer these next and then add another layer of damp bedding. Keep layering the bedding and mushroom pieces until the bin is full or you’re out of mushroom discs. If you’re using a cardboard box or plastic bin to grow the mushrooms, cover the top with the plastic sheeting or garbage bag. Poke several holes in the sheeting so air can circulate. If you’re using a paper bag, roll up the top and poke a few holes in the paper. The goal is to create a dark, moisture-rich environment with some airflow. Put the growing container in a dark closet or garage where temperatures are between 65 and 75 degrees F. Check the container every day. If the bedding material begins to dry out, spray it with water until it’s damp but not waterlogged.

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.

Cilantro & Basil

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.

Supplies

  • 4 stems of basil or cilantro
  • 1 (8-ounce) glass jar
  • Spring or filtered water
  • 1 (4-inch) planting pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the pot (for pot planting)
  • Spade

Directions

  1. Preparation. The next time you buy cilantro or basil, use the bottom 75% of leaves only, striping the leaves off the stems and leaving the top leaves attached.
  2. Sprouting. Put the stems in a glass jar and fill it with the spring or filtered water. If you decide to use tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours before adding the herbs to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Place the jar in a location that receives 8 hours of sunlight daily. Change the water every day. After 10 to 14 days, roots will begin to grow. When the roots are at least 2 inches long, you can plant them in a pot or garden.
  3. Pot Planting. Fill the planting pot with soil, leaving 1 inch of space from the rim. Using the spade, dig 1 shallow hole for each stem you’re planting, leaving 1 inch between each hole. Dig the hole deep enough that most of the stem is buried and only the upper leaves are exposed. Place the pot in a location that gets at least 8 hours of sun daily. Once outdoor temperatures reach 80 degrees F, the basil will grow quickly. Cilantro generally thrives when temperatures are 50 degrees F to 80 degrees F. Water basil and cilantro every few days so the soil is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. Both herbs like moisture, but too much causes the roots to rot. To tell whether your basil or cilantro needs water, test the soil at the top and bottom of the pot (at the drainage hole) with your finger. The soil needs water when it’s dry and crumbly at the top and bottom of the plant. When you’ve watered the plants adequately, the top should feel cool and dry and the bottom should feel moderately damp. To encourage a thicker, lusher plant, pinch off the flowering heads as soon as they emerge. If you allow them to flower, the herbs will grow spindly and produce fewer leaves.
  4. Garden Planting. Choose a location in your garden that gets at least 8 hours of sun daily. Before you move the herbs outside, the soil should be at least 70 degrees F for best growth, and nighttime temperatures should not dip below 50 degrees F. The soil should also be moist but well-draining. Using the spade, dig a hole that’s 2 inches deep or deep enough to cover the roots and stabilize the stalk well. If you have several basil plants, space them 10 to 12 inches apart. Plant cilantro 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the herbs deeply several times per week — daily if the weather is particularly dry. The soil should be thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. To encourage a thicker, lusher plant, pinch off the flowering heads as soon as they emerge. If you allow them to flower, the herbs will grow spindly and produce fewer leaves.

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

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.

Supplies

  • 4 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 (8-ounce) glass jar
  • Fresh water
  • 1 (5-gallon) pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the pot (for pot planting)
  • Spade

Directions

  1. Preparation. As you use the lemongrass, pull off any brown leaves and trim the stalks off at the top where the leaves start to split.
  2. Sprouting. Place the prepared lemongrass stalks in the jar, root side down, and add a few inches of water so the bottom third of the stalk is submerged. Place the jar in a sunny location, ideally a south-facing window. Change the water every few days, especially if it appears milky. New growth will begin to appear at the top of the stalk and roots will emerge from the bottom. If you live in a warm, sunny climate, this will occur after 1 week. If your climate is cooler and cloudy, it might take 2 weeks or more to see new growth.
  3. Pot Planting. Fill the planting pot with soil, leaving 2 inches of space from the rim. Use a spade to dig 4 (1-inch) holes, leaving at least 3 inches of space between each hole. Once the roots are at least 3 inches long, plant the stalks in the pot, root side down, covering the base and roots thoroughly. Leave the leaves exposed. Place the pot in a sunny, warm location, and provide at least 1 inch of water per week, enough that the soil is thoroughly moist but not waterlogged. If you live in a colder climate, keep lemongrass indoors in the winter and mist the leaves with water at least once per week in addition to regular watering.
  4. Garden Planting. Choose a location in your garden that gets at least 8 hours of sun daily. The soil should be well-draining, but the lemongrass can tolerate some clay. Using the spade, dig a hole deep enough to cover the roots and support the stalk. Leave the leaves exposed. Plant each stalk, root side down, at least 24 inches apart. Every day or so, water until the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

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

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.

Supplies

  • Fork or screwdriver
  • Small plastic food container with a clear lid (a takeout container works fine)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the food container (and pot if pot planting)
  • 1 piece (at least 2 inches) organic ginger root
  • Fresh water
  • 1 (2-gallon) pot or larger
  • Nitrogen-rich fertilizer (for pot planting)
  • Compost (for garden planting)
  • Spade

Directions

  1. Sprouting. Using the fork or screwdriver, punch several small drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic container. Add a 1-inch layer of potting soil to the container. Place the ginger in the container and then cover it with soil until the container is full. Water until the soil is thoroughly wet. Cover and set the container on a warm, bright windowsill out of direct sunlight. Water it whenever the soil dries out. Sprouts will emerge within 8 weeks.
  2. Pot Planting. Once the sprouts have emerged, the ginger is ready for transplant. Fill the planting pot with 4 inches of soil and gently take the ginger out of its container. The rhizome is fairly hardy, so as long as you’re gentle, don’t worry about damaging it when transplanting. Place the ginger in the soil with the buds facing downward and cover it with more, leaving only the tips of the sprouts exposed. Place the pot in a bright location or outdoors if temperatures are 60 to 90 degrees F. If you move the ginger outdoors, make sure the plant has plenty of light (but no direct sunlight) and is sheltered from the wind. Fertilize once per month according to package directions. Water deeply once per week, making sure the soil all around the rhizome is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. Every month, put a hill of potting soil around the plant to prevent the roots from growing out of the soil and turning green in the sunlight. Hilling soil on top of the plant helps increase your yields.
  3. Garden Planting. Choose a location in your garden that has partial shade. Add some compost to the soil so that it’s loamy and well-draining. Use approximately the same amount of compost as you have soil, and mix. Using the spade, dig a 1-inch hole. Plant the ginger in the soil with the buds facing downward, covering the rhizome completely and leaving the stalk exposed. If you’re planting multiple pieces, space them at least 12 inches apart. Water deeply immediately after transplanting and daily during the growing season. Ensure the soil is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged.

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.

Onions

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.

Supplies

  • 3 onions
  • 1 wide, well-draining planting pot, at least 10 inches deep and 2 – 3 feet wide (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the container (for pot planting)
  • Nitrogen fertilizer (optional)
  • Spade
  • Compost (for garden planting)
  • Straw (for garden planting)

Directions

  1. Preparation. When you’re cutting onions you plan to plant, leave at least 1 to 2 inches of onion flesh intact at the root end. Trim the bottom roots from the bulb. You can also plant whole onion bulbs that have sprouted. Let the onion bottoms dry in the open air for several hours, up to 2 days. Letting the bottoms air-dry creates a callus on the onion skin, which aids growth. When the onion bottom is dry to the touch and slightly shriveled, it’s ready for planting. Whole onions that have sprouted can go directly into the soil.
  2. Pot Planting. Fill your pot 2/3 full with potting soil. Using your hands, make indentations in the soil the size of the onion bottom you’re planting. If you’re planting a whole sprouted onion, use a spade to dig holes deep enough to hold the entire bulb. Plant the onion bottoms or whole bulbs in the soil, root side down, leaving the sprouts exposed if using a whole onion, and press gently to ensure good soil contact. Cover with 1 to 2 more inches of soil and water thoroughly enough that the soil is wet but not waterlogged. Place the container in a location that gets 6 to 7 hours of sunlight per day. Onions in containers require 2 to 3 inches of water each week and even more in hot weather. The soil should be damp to the touch but not saturated, as onions like moist but well-drained soil. If you opt to use nitrogen fertilizer, spray it into the soil right after watering and use your hands to mix the top 1 to 2 inches of soil gently. Fertilize the onions every 2 weeks.
  3. Garden Planting. Choose a location in your garden with loose, well-draining soil that gets at least 6 to 7 hours of sunlight daily. Heavy or rocky soil will affect the onion’s bulb growth, so the looser the soil, the better. Add compost to the garden soil, 1 part compost to 1 part soil, mixing it in thoroughly. Using a spade, dig a 1/2-inch hole in the dirt (deeper if you’re planting a whole sprouting onion). Plant the onion bottoms or whole bulbs in the soil, root sides down, leaving the sprouts exposed if using a whole onion, and press gently to ensure good soil contact. Cover with 1 to 2 more inches of soil. Space plants 4 to 6 inches apart, with rows at least 1 to 2 feet apart. Place straw several inches high in between the rows to help maintain moisture and discourage weeds. Once planted, water thoroughly. Onions need at least 1 inch of water per week, enough that the soil is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. Fertilize the onions according to package directions every 2 to 3 weeks.

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

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.

Supplies

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 (10-inch) planting pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough light potting soil with perlite and sand to fill the pot (for pot planting)
  • Spade
  • Houseplant fertilizer (optional, for pot planting)
  • Mulch (optional, for garden planting)

Directions

  1. Preparation. To prepare the pineapple, you must remove the leafy top. Holding the fruit firmly, grasp the leaves and twist. You can also use a clean, sharp knife to cut off the top 1/2-inch from the bottom leaves. Once you remove the leafy top from the fruit, tear off the bottommost leaves until you can see the root bulbs, which look like small brown bumps. Leave the top on the counter to air-dry for several days before planting to help prevent rotting and disease. The flesh should look calloused and wrinkly when it has dried enough to plant.
  2. Pot Planting. Fill the planting pot with potting mix. Using the spade, dig a shallow hole as deep as the exposed stem. Plant the pineapple top in the pot, leaves facing upward, placing it in the hole so the bottommost leaves are still exposed. Water thoroughly until the soil is moist but not waterlogged, and place it in a warm area that gets at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight. Continue to water it every couple of days, whenever the soil dries out. If using fertilizer, fertilize 1 or 2 times per month according to package directions. After 2 months, the pineapple plant should have established roots. You can check the root growth by gently pulling the top out of the soil. Once the roots are a few inches long, move the pot to an area that gets some direct sunlight. A semi-shaded area outdoors is best.
  3. Garden Planting. Choose a location in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sun. Using the spade, dig a hole deep enough to fully cover the pineapple stem, leaving the leaves fully exposed. Water until the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Pineapples are drought-tolerant, so only water if you notice the leaves turning brown. Spread a layer of mulch at least 2 inches deep around the plant to help maintain moisture. As the mulch breaks down, it will provide nourishment for the plant, making fertilizer unnecessary.

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.

Garlic

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.

Supplies

  • 2 toothpicks
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Small (6- to 8-ounce) glass jar
  • 6-inch container or deeper (the larger the pot, the more moisture it can retain, which means you have to water it less frequently)
  • Enough well-draining potting soil with peat and perlite to fill the container
  • Spade
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer (optional, for garden planting)
  • Straw or mulch (for garden planting in USDA zones 6 and below)

Directions

  1. Preparation. Save at least 1 clove for planting. Leave the papery skin intact.
  2. Sprouting (for Scapes Only). Poke the toothpicks 1/4 inch into each side of the garlic clove. Suspend the garlic clove over the jar with the pointed tip facing upward and the root end down. Add enough water to half-submerge the garlic clove. Change the water every 2 or 3 days. Within a week, a few leaves will begin to grow. Once these appear, you can plant the garlic in a pot.
  3. Pot Planting. Pour potting soil into the pot, leaving 3 inches of space from the rim. Place the garlic clove in the soil, sprout side up. (If you’re planting more than 1, use a larger pot that can accommodate at least 3 inches between each clove. Cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Pat the soil gently to compress it. Water thoroughly once per week until the soil is damp. Place the container where it will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  4. Garden Planting. To grow a full bulb, you must plant the clove in the fall after the first frost. It won’t be ready for harvest until midsummer. Different varieties have different planting dates, depending on your USDA zone. See full instructions for timing your planting before starting this project. Choose a location in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sun daily. Using the spade, dig a 2-inch hole. Remove all stones from the soil, as these can affect the bulb’s development. Place 1 clove in the hole, flat end down and pointy side up, and cover it completely with soil. If planting multiple plants, space cloves 2 to 4 inches apart in rows spaced 10 to 14 inches apart. Water thoroughly after planting so the soil is moist but not waterlogged. If you live in USDA zone 6 or lower, place a heavy layer of straw over the garlic to protect it from the harsh temperatures. Leave the garlic undisturbed over the winter. In the spring, shoots will begin to grow. If you’re in USDA zone 6 or lower, once temperatures start to stay above 20 degrees F, remove the straw. When you notice new growth, water thoroughly every 3 to 5 days and fertilize if you see the leaves turn yellow.

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.

Potatoes

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.

Supplies

  • 1 – 3 sprouted potatoes
  • 1 (2.5-gallon) pot (minimum) or potato-planting pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the pot (for pot planting)
  • Spade
  • Tiller (for garden planting — you can rent one from a home improvement store like Home Depot)
  • Compost (optional, for garden planting)

Directions

  1. Preparation. You can plant any type of potato that has begun to sprout. Plant small potatoes whole. To prepare larger potatoes, divide the potatoes into 2-inch chunks, making sure each piece has at least 2 eyes. If you have cut large potatoes into chunks, leave them on the counter for 24 hours to dry out. Drying them helps prevent rotting.
  2. Pot Planting. Fill 1/3 of your container with the potting soil. Using the spade, dig holes deep enough to cover the potatoes, and plant the potatoes or potato chunks at least 5 inches apart, facing the eyes upward. You can grow up to 3 potato plants in a 2.5-gallon pot. Cover the potatoes with soil, water thoroughly until the soil is wet but not waterlogged, and place the pot in a sunny location. Provide 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week, making sure it’s thoroughly wet but not waterlogged. Once the sprouts reach 6 inches, add more potting soil until only 2 inches of the sprouts are exposed. Continue to add soil once the sprouts reach 6 inches until the pot is full of soil. While hilling isn’t necessary, it leads to a stronger plant and higher yields.
  3. Garden Planting. Choose a location that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun. Plant the sprouted potatoes outdoors in spring after the date of the last frost for your area or when the soil reaches 50 degrees F. Use the Farmer’s Almanac tool to find the first and last frost dates for your area. Till the soil so it’s loose and airy. Hard-packed soil inhibits growth. To plant, dig a hole at least 3 inches deep. If you’re using compost, spread a layer, at least 2 inches deep at the bottom of each hole. Space potatoes 1 foot apart. Place each potato or potato piece in a hole and cover it. In-ground potatoes need 1 to 2 inches of water each week, enough that the soil is wet but not waterlogged. However, stop all watering in mid-August to help the potatoes develop a healthy skin for winter storage. Once sprouts appear 12 to 16 days later, cover the plant with 1 to 2 inches of soil so only the top 1 or 2 inches of the stalk is exposed. Repeat the hilling process 2 to 3 more times during the growing season.

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.

Hot or Mild Peppers

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.

Supplies

  • 1 shallow bowl (if planting naturally dried seeds)
  • 4 paper towels
  • A zip-close bag
  • 6 – 8 seeds from any fresh or naturally dried hot or mild pepper
  • Seedling starter cells
  • 1 (6-inch) planting pot (for pot planting)
  • Enough potting soil to fill the cells (and planting pot if applicable)

Directions

  1. Sprouting. If you’re using naturally dried seeds, put them in a shallow bowl and cover them with water. Let them sit for 3 days. Fresh seeds are ready to sprout without that step. Wet your paper towels and place them in the zip-close bag. Put 6 to 8 seeds in between the wet paper towels and seal the bag. Place the bag in a warm area in your kitchen out of direct sunlight. The ideal temperature is 70 to 75 degrees F. Keep the paper towels moist but not waterlogged. Germination can take as little as 1 week or as many as 6 weeks, depending on the temperature and the variety of pepper. As soon as the peppers begin to sprout, add potting soil up to the seedling starter cells’ rims. Remove pepper seedlings from the bag, being very careful not to damage the tender stalks, and plant them in the soil. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. In 8 to 10 weeks, when seedlings are at least 4 inches tall, they’re strong enough to transplant.
  2. Pot Planting. Fill the planting pot with soil leaving 1 inch of space from the rim. Place the pot in a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Provide 1 inch of water per week so the soil is wet but not waterlogged. Pepper plants can quickly rot if you overwater.
  3. Garden Planting. You can plant pepper seedlings outdoors 2 to 3 weeks after the date of the last expected frost. Choose a location in the garden that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun daily and has sandy, well-draining soil. Dig a hole deep enough to cover half the length of the seedling, 1 to 2 inches deep. Space plants 18 to 36 inches apart with 2 to 3 feet between rows. Provide 1 to 2 inches of water each week to keep the soil thoroughly wet but not waterlogged.

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.

Root Vegetable Greens

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.

Supplies

  • 1 root vegetable
  • 4 toothpicks
  • 1 (8-ounce) glass jar
  • 1 (6-inch) planting pot
  • Enough potting soil to fill the pot
  • Spade

Directions

  1. Preparation. When you eat root vegetables you plan to plant, leave at least 1 inch of vegetable flesh attached to the roots. Root vegetable tops grow best in containers.
  2. Sprouting. Insert the toothpicks into the flesh of the root top, spacing them evenly. Using the toothpicks as support, suspend the root top over the glass jar with the greens facing upward. Fill it with enough water to submerge the bottom half of the top. Set the glass in a bright location out of direct sunlight. Change the water every 2 or 3 days. When the sprouts form and roots are visible in the water, the tops are ready for transplant.
  3. Planting in a Pot. Fill the planting pot with soil, leaving 1 inch of space from the rim. Using the spade, dig a shallow hole for the vegetable top. Plant the top in soil, covering the roots and submerging the bottommost portion of the stalks. Provide 1 inch of water per week or when the soil is completely dry. Ensure the soil is thoroughly wet but not waterlogged.

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.


What to Expect When Regrowing Vegetable Scraps

The findings from our experiment are summarized below:

  • When growing vegetables from scraps, the plants need daily attention.
  • Not all vegetables are suitable for regrowing.
  • Regrowing vegetables requires a large amount of space.
  • Root vegetables and leeks prefer to flower and go to seed, so you won’t get much of a harvest.
  • Most lettuce purchased commercially has too short a stem to grow back.
  • Lettuce starts to rot and mold very easily.
  • Water alone is not enough — for optimal growing, the plants need to be transferred to soil.

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



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