Growing Plants from Kitchen Scraps

Food scraps to be regrown. | Image courtesy of Elizabeth Leader Smith

In school as a child, did you ever grow a potato plant from a potato as part of a science lesson? Using toothpicks, you may have suspended the potato in a glass of water. Inspired by that experiment, my kids and I searched the web and found a few how-tos on regrowing food from the produce we were cooking with that day.

Spoiler alert: We don’t have results to share yet — and based on my green thumb, we may never. Our web search pulled up a handful of varying instructions for each of these, so I picked the easiest and most applicable for growing in containers. Even if these don’t produce edible plants, they are providing a hands-on opportunity for my kids to learn more about growing food.

Cut green onions in water to be regrown. | Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Leader Smith

Green Onions. We stuck the root ends in a glass of water, placed the glass in a sunny spot and have been changing the water every couple days.Garlic. Plant a clove, get a head…or so they say. Larger cloves result in larger bulbs, so we potted one large clove with the root end down. Once shoots appear, we’ll need to trim them so the plant’s energy is focused on the bulb.

Onion. We cut off the root end of an onion, covered it with soil and placed the container in a sunny spot.

Potato. Rather than using the water method mentioned earlier, we tried something different. We cut the potatoes into 2-inch chucks making sure there was at least one “eye” on each piece then dried them on the counter for a day until they were fully dry. We planted each piece (“eye” up) in a small pot about 8 inches deep and added only four inches of soil above them. As the sprouts emerge, we’ll add four more inches of dirt over the potato chunks.

Pineapple. Good things come to those who wait. Regrowing a pineapple can take two to three years, but why not give it a go? We cut the green crown (top) off, removed any fruit from it and dried it out (upside down) for about a week. Before we planted the crown, we put it in a glass of water for a week so the roots could start growing.

I’ve heard success stories with ginger, lettuce, carrots, lemongrass and even avocado pits (if you’ve got patience since it can take nearly a decade for an avocado tree to fruit!).

I’m new to this, and welcome tips and recommendations. Have you had any luck regrowing food?

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