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Growing new plants from vegetable scraps is a fun and entertaining way to reduce food waste and grow new plants to provide healthy additions to your favorite recipes. Of course, not all vegetable scraps will grow into new plants, but many will.
You can regrow onions, scallions, beets, celery, lettuce, leeks, Bok Choy, and carrot tops on the windowsill. Others, like those sprouted potatoes in the bottom of your potato sack, can be planted in soil to grow an entirely new plant with an abundance of new potatoes. Still others, like broccoli and cauliflower, can be regrown from the stem.
Root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips, and beets won’t produce a new root vegetable, but the tops will regrow and can be harvested multiple times. These veggies are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and add flavor to soups and sauces or can be eaten as fresh salad greens.
Can you grow vegetables from old vegetables?
Not all vegetables can be grown from vegetable scraps, but many can. Onions, scallions, leeks, lettuce, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, and Bok Choy can be grown in a shallow pan of water to grow new tops for your culinary uses.
Old potatoes and sweet potatoes can be started in water and transplanted into the garden to produce new potatoes or sweet potato plants.
Other vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and some cabbages, can be rooted and planted in the garden. They will produce smaller heads, but don’t expect them to produce full-sized heads.
What vegetables can you regrow from scraps?
You can grow leafy greens for salads or stir-fries from vegetables, like lettuce, Bok Choy, beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes. Onions, shallots, scallions, and celery can be grown in a shallow pan of water to harvest the leafy tops, but they can also be planted in the garden when the roots have formed, too.
Tubers, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be planted in the garden. Likewise, rooted broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can be planted in the garden and will produce tasty small heads in a few weeks.
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Will root vegetables grow a new root vegetable?
Root vegetables, like carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, and radishes, will produce new green tops, but they will not grow a new root vegetable. The green tops can be used in salads or your favorite recipes.
Onions, however, may produce a new onion bulb if they are planted in the soil. However, keep in mind that onions form bulbs according to the number of hours of daylight and typically need to be planted in early spring. Planting the onion later in the season is not likely to result in a new onion bulb but will provide you with green onion tops for cooking.
Are carrot tops safe to eat?
Many people mistakenly think that carrot tops are poisonous and are surprised to learn that carrot tops are edible and can be chopped and used like parsley. Carrot tops are high in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They are slightly bitter with a flavor similar to parsley and can be substituted in recipes or used as a garnish. Carrot tops can also be used in soups and stews.
How do you regrow vegetable scraps?
How you regrow vegetable scraps depends on the type of vegetable you want to regrow. Many vegetable scraps, like lettuce, carrots, beets, and celery, can be grown on the windowsill in a shallow dish of water. Others, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be planted directly in moist soil. Still, others, like onions, shallots, and scallions, can be grown either in water or planted in the soil.
Can you plant vegetable scraps in the garden?
Many vegetable scraps can be planted in the garden but often do best if they are rooted in water first. Celery, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower perform best if they are rooted in water and transplanted to the garden.
Likewise, sweet potatoes generally do best if rooted in water and then transplanted to soil. Potatoes do best if planted directly in the garden.
Which vegetable scraps can you regrow in water?
Many vegetable scraps grow best in a shallow container or water. These include root vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, and turnips. Plant these veggies in water and grow them on a sunny windowsill for fresh greens.
Do you regrow vegetables from the tops or the root end?
Some vegetable scraps, like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips, are grown from the leafy tops of the veggie. You can cut the top off these root vegetables with a small section of the veggie attached and root them in water. They will grow a new leafy top.
Other vegetables, like lettuce, Bok Choy, celery, onions, scallions, and shallots, need the root end of the veggie to regrow. You need to cut these veggies a few inches above the root end and place the root end in water to force them to regrow.
How to Grow Vegetable Scraps from the Tops
Some vegetables regrow from the tops. This includes carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, and other root vegetables. Growing vegetable scraps from their tops is relatively simple. Here’s what you need to do.
- Cut the root vegetables about ½ to 1 inch below the area where the leaves sprout.
- Trim the leafy top to an inch or two in height.
- Place the veggie section, with the cut end down, in a shallow pan or tray. If preferred, you can suspend the cut veggie in a glass or vase with toothpicks.
- Add enough water to cover the bottom of the cut end. Do not cover the entire end. The goal is to keep the bottom wet to form new roots.
- Keep the end moist. New roots will form in the cut end, and leafy shoots will appear on the top in a few days.
- Harvest the tops as needed.
How to Grow Vegetable Scraps from the Root Ends
Some vegetables, like onions, shallots, scallions, celery, lettuce, and Bok Choy, need the root end to regrow. These veggies can be grown in water and used right away or can be transplanted to the soil once new roots form and leafy green shoots appear. Here’s how to start vegetable scraps from the root ends.
- Cut the tops of the vegetable back to three or four inches, leaving the base or root end intact.
- Suspend the vegetable cutting in a glass of water or vase with toothpicks.
- Fill the container with water so that the bottom of the root end is touching or slightly below the water’s surface.
- Place the container on a sunny windowsill.
- Watch for roots to form from the root end of the vegetable and new green shoots to grow from the top.
- Harvest the green shoots when needed and allow them to regrow. Alternatively, you can transplant the veggie into the soil as soon as the new roots are two to three inches long.
How do you regrow broccoli and cauliflower from scraps?
Broccoli and cauliflower will regrow from the stalk and do not need a root end. They will often produce several small heads, but don’t expect full-size broccoli and cauliflower heads when you regrow them from vegetable scraps. Here’s how to regrow them.
- Cut the broccoli or cauliflower flowerets from the stalk but leave the branching stalk intact.
- Place the branched stalk in a glass or vase of water so the bottom two to three inches are submerged in water.
- Change the water every three to four days or whenever it looks cloudy or discolored.
- Watch for new roots to form along the stalk.
- Transplant the rooted stalk to the garden once the roots are two to three inches long.
How do you regrow potatoes and sweet potatoes from scraps?
Old, sprouted potatoes or sweet potatoes in the bottom of your bag don’t need to be thrown away. You can use them to regrow new plants that will produce an abundance of new tubers for eating. How you start them differs.
How to Grow Potatoes from Scraps
Regular potatoes are best started right in the soil and will perform well in your garden. However, it should be noted that if you choose to use old supermarket potatoes to grow new potatoes, you do run the risk of disease, like blight, that could spread to other potatoes or tomatoes in your garden.
When growing potatoes in the garden, it is always best to start them with certified seed potatoes so you know they do not carry diseases. To prevent transmitting disease from the supermarket potatoes, plant them in a container or bucket and grow them away from your main garden.
- Check that the tuber has several eyes. If you are using old potatoes, they have likely already sprouted shoots from the eyes. Do not remove the sprouts, as they will continue to grow.
- Plant the potato tubers to an eight-inch depth, using care not to break off the shoots.
- Cover the potatoes with soil and firm them down lightly with your hands.
- Water the potatoes to moisten the soil and keep the soil slightly moist until new shoots appear.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes from Scraps
Sweet potatoes do best if they are rooted in water before transplanting them into the soil. You can either root the entire sweet potato or cut it in half and start two sweet potato plants. Here’s how:
- Suspend the sweet potato over a glass or vase of water with toothpicks.
- Fill the container with water so the bottom few inches of the sweet potato are underwater.
- Place it in a sunny location, such as a windowsill.
- Change the water every few days or whenever it looks cloudy or discolored.
- Watch for roots to form and new shoots to grow from the top of the sweet potato.
- Transplant it to the soil when the roots are three to four inches long and each sprout has at least two leaves.
What vegetables don’t regrow from scraps?
Not all the vegetables you buy in the supermarket can be regrown from scraps. The actual fruiting body of the plant does not have the cells necessary for it to regrow. This includes vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, summer squash, beans, and peas. However, you can save and dry the seeds from these veggies and grow new plants from the seeds.
Can you regrow herbs from scraps?
Many herbs can be grown from cuttings by rooting them in water. These include basil, oregano, thyme, mints, rosemary, and sage. To root them, cut a three-to-four-inch herb section with at least two healthy leaves. Remove any leaves on the bottom two inches of the cutting. Place the cutting in a glass or vase of water and put it on a sunny windowsill. Change the water frequently and watch for roots to form. You can either grow the herbs in water or transplant them to the soil once the roots are two to three inches long.
Growing vegetables from scraps is a great way to reduce food waste and to provide your family with fresh vegetables all year. Vegetables like onions, scallions, and shallots can be grown in water and used whenever needed. The tops will continue to regrow with each cutting. Herbs can also be grown in water on a sunny kitchen windowsill, so you always have fresh herbs to season your favorite recipes. Others can be planted in the garden for fresh veggies later.