How to regrow shop bought vegetables

by - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Often we find that the most interesting and satisfying projects are free! Re-growing vegetables from shop-bought producer is one such project which is not only fun, but a frugal investment to the kitchen garden!

It takes far less time for the vegetables to be ready for harvesting than when growing plants from seed! Kids will love watching the plants quickly develop to maturity, while you can enjoy the satisfaction of saving on grocery shopping by harvesting vegetables grown naturally at home.

Here are three ways you and your family can grow vegetables from the leftovers of shop-bought produce which you can start at any time of year and in many cases grow on the windowsill if the climate is too cold. I've also added links to more projects found across the web - just in case you and your family develop green fingers after trying these ridiculously simple and gratifying ideas!

What you will need

Virtually everything required for these projects can be found around the home. Be creative and recycle containers such as empty soda bottles or cleaned paint cans for when your plants mature.

  • Small containers (for rooting) - cups or jars are ideal for most projects
  • Toothpicks
  • Water
  • Larger pots (for planting out if growing indoors)
  • Compost (again, for growing indoors)
  • Leftovers from vegetables - see below for project details
  • Patience!

Growing celery from the heart

Photo by Feli

With a little patience, we can regrow celery using the often discarded heart of the vegetable. 

Purchase a bunch of celery from the supermarket (or your local greengrocer) and chop off the stalks with a knife, leaving the root intact. Place the whole root into a cup and fill to just under halfway up the root with clean water.

Tip: change out the water every couple of days to prevent the root from going mouldy.

Within a week, you should notice the outer stalks begin to dry out, while at the heart those yellowed stalks begin to develop new green shoots. At this stage, you can plant your celery root into a more permanent container using potting compost or a mixture of compost and regular dirt from your garden. Be sure to water your celery plant regularly to prevent the soil from drying out. 

It can take five months or more for your celery plant to mature, though in the meantime it's okay to snip off a few younger shoots for use in recipes which require a mild celery taste.

Never-ending spring onions

Photo by Feli

Possibly the simplest project of the three, regrowing spring onions is also surprisingly fast!

After purchasing a bunch, simply let them sit in a glass or jar of water and snip off the green tops as required. In only a couple of days, you'll notice the cut green stalks will develop regrowth, while by the end of a week it will seem as though they had never been cut!

You will probably need to change out the water every couple of days and rinse the roots under the tap to prevent them from going "off". Alternatively, plant in compost in a planter and continue to snip off what you need as normal.

Tip: Using the water-only method, your spring onions will not be able to absorb much-needed nutrition. After around 4-5 cuts little (if any) regrowth will develop and the stems may not taste as good as the first few cuts. Add a little tomato fertiliser to the water (a tiny amount) or grow in regularly fertilised compost for a never-ending crop.

Sprout new potatoes

Photo by Jessicareeder

If you are lucky enough to find unused potatoes producing sprouts at the back of your vegetable cupboard, put them to good use and grow more!

This project does require large containers if you want to grow a crop big enough for the whole family, so salvage old kitchen bins, coffee sacks or even a few used tyres if you have the space.

Chop the potato in half, and be sure that there are at least two or three sprouts on the half you want to use. Submerge the cut part of the potato in a shallow jar of water, using toothpicks stuck in the sides to hold the shoots above water level. 

Tip: Change out the water daily!

After a few days, the shoots will begin to grow into leaves, at which point you can plant in a larger container of compost and wait for your potatoes to grow. Each potato half can yield as many as 12 whole potatoes when the plant is fully grown!

Tip: If you have a few spare tyres available, lay the first flat on the ground and fill the centre with compost in which you can plant a few of your sprouting potato halves. As the leaves grow tall enough, place another tyre on top and add more compost to allow your plants to grow taller (and deeper). Repeat with a third or even fourth tyre if you have one. Once the plants are mature you can simply kick the tyres apart and reap a mammoth crop of potatoes!

Grow lettuce from stumps

Photo by via Flickr

Lettuce is one of those wonderful "cut and come again" plants which is capable of providing tasty salad leaves all year round. 

If you've bought a lettuce from the supermarket, it is certainly possible to regrow some leaves from the stump you would normally discard. Simply cut off the leaves, leaving half an inch or so above the stump, and sit the stump in a shallow bowl of water.

In time (usually after a few days) the lettuce leaves will begin to grow back, allowing you to crop as needed for fresh salad leaves to accompany your meals.

Tip: Many people use Romanie lettuce for this project as it appears to yield the best results

More great resources for regrowing vegetables from kitchen scraps

Here are some excellent articles found elsewhere on the web for regrowing projects using different types of fruits and vegetables:

Do you have any tips for regrowing vegetables?

We'd love to hear if you have any other ideas for regrowing plants from kitchen scraps or any similar family-friendly projects. Please feel free to leave your suggestions or links to articles on the web by leaving your comments below.

Image credit: Chard leaf macro by tillwe, via Flickr

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