I love having a year-round garden that is always producing SOMETHING, but it can get costly to buy seedlings that often. That’s when I started regrowing food from my kitchen scraps.
Now as we head into summer its getting HOT here in Arizona, which means the only thing left alive are my hearty jalapeno pepper plants, my citrus trees and for some reason my Basil is thriving this year (it usually is dried out by now). But just because its too hot OUTSIDE to plant, doesn’t mean I am not getting my starters ready for our fall planting season INDOORS!
Did you know you can plant your garden for FREE by simply propagating your kitchen scraps into healthy young plants and transplant right into your garden? Regrowing food is easy!
You will never look at your kitchen scraps the same way again.. and you may be surprised to find all that “waste” can actually be useful in prepping your garden.
With a lot of patience you can even grow some fruit trees!
Some of the ideas below are great for a simple container garden or large pottery if you have a smaller porch OR can be transplanted into a garden.
Plant Your Garden for Free by Regrowing These 20 Foods from Kitchen Scraps
Save the Butts
1 – Celery
Just like it sounds, save the bottoms of your Celery bunch (in-tact, the individual celery stick bottoms wont do you any good). After a good rinse, place it cut side up in a shallow bowl of warm water and set in direct sunlight. Change out the water daily, or it will start to stink. You will see new growth from the center of the stalk within 3-5 days. Within 2 weeks it will be ready for transplant into soil, and within 2-3 months a new stalk ready for eating! Yay!
2 – Bok Choy
Same process as Celery – EASY! If you keep your A/C blasting, you may want to spritz the leaves a few days with water to keep them nice and hydrated as they can dry out easily. When you go to transplant the new growth in about 10 days, bury most of the stalk so only the tip tops of the green leaves are sticking up.
3 – Cabbage
Follow the same process, however you only need to change the water every few days. What’s really cool about Cabbage is you really don’t need to transplant! You can continue to grow your cabbage head in water and just harvest the leaves as you need them. SCORE! 1 less thing to buy at the grocery store!
4 – Green Onions
Again, same process and possibly the hardest to mess up! LOL. Plop your Green Onion butts (with roots attached) into a cup or bowl of water and watch new shoots grow practically before your eyes. Replace the water every day or so to keep it from stinking like.. well.. onion.. You can transplant once the shoots are 4-5 inches tall to keep new growth coming, or if your tight on space in the garden you can continue growing in water and just snip off what you need as you need it, but the plant will eventually stop producing.
Above are my Green Onions, the picture on the left is Day 2 with 2 butts, which I then added 4 more the next day (as I used them), and the photo on the right is after 7 days! As you can see these are ready to be used or replanted in the garden!
5 – Leeks
Guess what? You bet, for Leeks follow same process as Green Onions! See – your getting the hang of this!
6 – Romaine Lettuce
Again, taking a similar approach as with the Celery, stick the bottom of the heart in about a half inch of water and place in direct sunlight. Replace the water every couple of days. You can pluck off the leaves for the next 7-10 days to use in sandwiches and what not. After that, the plant will begin to “bolt” and produce more bitter spindly leaves as it prepares to seed, meaning its ready to go in the garden!!
Save the Tops
7 – Pineapple
Okay, coming from someone who has attempted to propagate a Pineapple about 20 times (no joke).
First, pull out the core. I like to use either a towel over my hand or make the hubs do it because I tend to always hurt myself with the sharp leaves. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive?
Pull of the bottom few layers of leaves to help expose the core. Trim off any fruit that remains on the bottom until you can see the bumpy core called the root buds. Then, let the top dry out for a few days to help prevent rotting.
At this point you have a decision to make.. Water or Soil? Personally I take the water route so I can control the humidity – I KNOW its way to dry out in the phoenix heat to attempt this, so I figure my best shot is starting indoors until the roots establish. And have gotten 3 very nice, full looking potted plants out of it – no Pineapples yet though..
Alternatively you can plant this directly in the soil in your garden and water very generously. Give it SPACE. The leaves will shoot out very long! You will also need to bring it indoors if you are in an area where you get a frosty winter. There’s reason Pineapples grow best in Hawaii.. just sayin..
In just a couple short weeks your little pineapple will open up and the leaves will start to grow outward (above on the left is my most recent one). It will take 2-3 years for your Pineapple to flower and therefore bear another Pineapple. Yes, that’s singular.. as in 1. I am on year 3 of my biggest Pineapple plant (above on the right), so fingers crossed she flowers this summer!!
8 – Carrots
Okay since I hit you with some curve balls with the Pineapple, I’ll keep Carrots nice and easy for ya.
Simply cut off the tops, leaving about an inch and place in a shallow dish of water, or using toothpicks, suspend over a cup/jar so its barely touching the water. The tops will sprout and grow in just a few days and can transplanted in 7-10 days.
Important note – this will make a pretty plant for your garden that produces lacy white flowers ONLY. It will not grow more carrots. Carrots are a Tap-root remember? They grow in the ground 🙂 Just thought I’d throw that out there to avoid any heartache or disappointment.
Save a Chunk
9 – Potatoes
Cut your leftover potato (even if its old and sprouting!) in half. Make sure there are at least one or two eyes (those spots where roots grow when they get old). Let the halves dry out for a couple of days then plant directly into your garden, or if its not quite planting season yet, you can plant them in paper bags filled with soil on the counter, then plant the whole thing when your ready – usually right about the time the bag starts to decompose.
10 – Sweet Potatoes
Cut your sweet potato into chunks and place each chunk in a glass of water, suspended with toothpicks or forks so it is half under water. Place is a warm place with sunlight and watch your sweet potatoes sprout and grow slips.
Once the slips are a few inches long, you can simply but carefully twist them off then place in a bowl of water. In just a few days roots will begin to grow out the bottom.
Allow them to grow until they are about 1-2 inches long, then plant them into your garden or a nice big container suitable for growing tubers. Be sure the soil is nice and loose to allow the roots to grow and expand.
Sweet potato slips also make really nice vines that you can put in a hanging planter for some extra greenery around your patio.
11 – Garlic
It can’t really get any easier to grow garlic. You simply separate out your cloves from the bulb, and plant them, paper still on, pointing sprout up in your soil. You will want to keep an eye on them, as I have found that the fragrance of the garlic attracts critters that will dig them up and eat them!
12 – Ginger
To grow ginger, you start by leaving it out to dry a bit. Once the sprouts begin to emerge, you can cut your ginger root into chunks, 1 per eye. Let the pieces sit out for a few hours before planting in soil. Ginger grows best close to the surface, so plant very shallowly, so the top is still showing. Water often and liberally.
Save the Seeds:
13 – Peppers
This one is a no brainier, anytime you cook with peppers, what do you do with all those seeds falling off the core? Keep them!
Place your seeds in a glass, and slowing pour water over them. You will find some will float and some will sink. Remove and throw away the floaters, those are duds. The sinkers are perfect for re-growing new peppers!
Strain your seeds, and let them get good and dry. If you are in a dryer climate like me, you can just put them on a plate and let them sit outside for an hour or so (not in summer!). Because temps here are usually over 100 in the summer, the seeds would burn pretty quickly so in summer just a nice warm windowsill will work.
Keep your seeds in a cool, dark and dry place until you are ready to plant.
14 – Tomatoes
To regrow tomatoes, follow the same process as above to harvest, dry and store your seeds. Tomatoes are touchy, so you will want to start the seeds indoors and allow them to grow a few inches tall before transplanting into your garden. When you do transplant, you want to bury most of the plant so just the top leaves are exposed.
15 – Pumpkins
In October, after the pumpkin carving is done and your left with all those seeds be sure to wash them good and save some for planting! I have a hard time with this because I prefer to EAT my pumpkin seeds… mm… bake them up in the oven and sprinkle with some garlic salt – YUM.
But alternatively you can dry your seeds out, and save them to plant in the garden. Personally, I only do this with sugar pumpkins to use in my pies, as i don’t really have the space for the large jack-o-lantern size varieties.
16 – Lemons
Planting your own lemon tree can take time, but its easy! Simply remove a seed from an organic lemon, rinse, and plant right away while its still moist. Its best to start with a pot indoors in a nice warm sunny location. Make sure your lemon is organic, the non organic lemon seeds don’t all germinate. Pro tip – spring for a Meyer lemon, its totally worth it!
Save the Pits:
17 – Avocado
Fruit bearing trees can be reproduced with the pits of your favorite fruits and some patience, lots and lots of patience.. lol.
Growing up there was ALWAYS an Avocado seed or 3 sprouting in the sunny window ledge above the sink in the kitchen. And that’s exactly how you do it! Take your washed Avocado seed and stick a few toothpicks in the sides to suspend it in a glass of water so that only about an inch is under water. Make sure the end that is in water is the broad end and place in direct sunlight. It will start to sprout in about 2-6 weeks.
18 – Cherries
Growing cherries is a little bit more of a process. Start with the pits from fresh cherries that came from a farmers market or another cherry tree from someone local. Store-bought cherry pits do not germinate well.
Soak the seed in warm water to help remove the clinging fruit, then set out to dry in a warm sunlight place, like a windowsill. Once dry, place in a zip top bag or air tight container in the refrigerator for 10 weeks. Let the seeds come to room temperature, then they are ready to plant!
Plant a few seeds in each pot, then once the seedlings grow to be a few inches tall, pull out the weaklings, leaving only 1 strong plant. When the plant reaches a foot or so in height, its ready to transplant into its forever home in your yard.
19 – Peaches
Similar to Cherries, Peaches need to be chilled for a period of at least 8 weeks before planting. But before that, how do you get to the seed?
After enjoying your peach, leave the pit out to dry for a couple days. Then, using a mallet or something sturdy, carefully break open the pit, revealing the actual seed. CAUTION – peach seeds contain cyanide and are therefore highly poisonous. Be very careful to not leave the seed out where a little one or fur-baby can get to it.
When placing in the refrigerator, your seed needs to also be moist, so include a damp paper towel in the bag or container. Follow the same process as Cherries.
20 – Nectarines
Nectarines follow the same process as Peaches. If you get nice cold winters, you can also plant the whole pit directly into the ground in the fall. Water it well, and cover with mulch. In the spring you might get some sprouting nectarines!
Where do I start?
Overwhelmed? Don’t try to do everything at once. Start with 1 or 2 scraps to get the hang of the process for each type of re-growing strategy (from chunks, tops, seeds, etc.). If this is your first time growing anything, start with the green onions to build your confidence. Then branch out. There will always be more kitchen scraps, so dont feel like you have to save everything right away.
Know Your Zone
Look up your zone to make sure you transplant your seedlings at the right time for your area. You can find out more information via the USDA Agricultural Research Service Site. Check out this Zone map to get an idea of where you are and which zone you are in.
All fruits and veggies require fertilizer at some point in order to keep producing the fruit. Be sure to look up the fertilizing needs of your plant for your area and start a regular schedule of fertilizing to ensure a great harvest.
My Secret Ingredient
PS – There is a secret ingredient that I use for all my plants which results in bigger, greener, faster growth with ALL my plants…
Have you guessed it?
Okay okay… get this… ITS WATER.
But this is no everyday tap water.. I use my Kangen 8.5 Alkaline water!!
Check out my sister-site HeartenedHealth.com to checkout more information on living a healthy lifestyle with Kangen Water! Or click HERE for a quickie demo and introduction to what Kangen water is all about!
I have noticed a HUGE difference in my plants as soon as I switched from tap to Kangen water with my SD-501 Kangen Water Machine. My plants are staying hydrated longer and the new growth is bigger and more vibrant. Its like I can hear them singing in happiness for this amazing water.
Disclaimer – I am an Enagic International Distributor and LOVE sharing amazing Kangen water and its many many benefits with the world. It is my goal to make the world a better place, one glass of water at a time. By clicking the links above, you will be taken to my Enagic website where you can submit your information and I will send you all the details! I would also LOVE to schedule a call to chat about Kangen water with you! That’s right folks, there’s a real person behind this blog and I love to chit chat!! HAHA!
Although some take longer than others to get to the end goal of having delicious food that you can enjoy right out of your garden, the effort is so worth it! So pick one and let’s get started on your garden!!