Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

Instead of throwing kitchen scraps into the compost bin, re-grow them!

Many of us have had the experience of reaching into a bag of onions to find new growth as fresh green shoots have sprouted within. Plants love to grow and it’s easy to simply cut away the new sprouts and get on with dinner, but for the intrepid gardener, the new growth possible from vegetable scraps or an unexpected surplus of produce is an opportunity to get a jump on propagating new crops. Before relegating kitchen scraps to the compost pile, consider these anxious growers and repopulate a bountiful garden using parts of the vegetable usually left behind.

Celery

Cut celery stalks from the base as usual, but instead of tossing that base away, place it in a shallow cup of water on a sunny windowsill, leaving the top exposed. In a matter of days, you’ll notice fresh green growth emerging from the center. Change the water every couple of days and watch the plant flourish, even as outer stalks lose their color and fade. Once the new growth has established, transfer the growing celery into the garden or a pot of soil to continue its development.

Green Onions

Use the white root normally discarded to effortlessly provide a steady and renewable source of green onions. Simply place the roots in a glass, leaving the cut end above water. Left on the kitchen windowsill, the green shoots will continue to grow. Change the water occasionally and an endless supply of this cooking staple is always at hand. This same method may be used to keep fresh leeks or fennel always within reach.

Cabbage

Like celery, cabbage (as well as bok choy and romaine lettuce) can be regrown from the root base. Although cabbage can also be started in water, starting out in shallow soil is sometimes more effective. Make sure to keep the soil especially damp for the first week or two to encourage new growth.

Potatoes

A favorite grade-school project, the eyes of potatoes readily sprout new growth (sometimes even in the pantry). Cut potatoes into pieces and nurture the sprouts in water. Once new sprouts are established, plant in damp soil to grow your own potatoes.

Avocados

That golf ball-sized pit is a giant seed ready to grow into your very own avocado tree. Press three toothpicks into the pit along its center and suspend it in a glass with water covering the bottom half. Change the water regularly and after a few weeks stems will form. Growing this tree is a little more challenging than some other kitchen scrap projects, but is worth the effort. Check out this article for more details on growing your own avocado tree.

Garlic

Plant a clove of garlic in a pot of damp soil and place it in a sunny location. As the garlic scapes (stalks) grow, cut them back to divert the plants resources to developing that glorious root. Garlic scapes are a treat in their own right and the peppery stalks can be roasted or used in pesto.

Ginger

Ginger rhizomes (the “root” used for cooking) are easy growers inside the house, but take a little longer. Plant a piece of the rhizome in damp soil and place in a sunny room, but out of direct sunlight. Shoots will become evident fairly soon, but it will take several months before there has been enough growth to harvest. Once the ginger has developed sufficient growth, pull the plant from the soil for use. Don’t forget to cut off a piece to re-plant!

9 Comments About this Article

  • Rae Marie Czuhai
    Did not know about cabbage!! Can't wait to try that next. Thanks Mick! You have the best info! Look forward to your posts each week!!

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Alicia Wright-Philpott
    THANKS SO MUCH!!!

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Alicia Wright-Philpott
    What about carrots

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Jean Boland
    Very imformtative. Haven't had any luck with Advocados

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Diane
    I started a celery root and it was doing really well. Then one day it just wilted and died. This is the third time I planted celery root and the same thing happened.

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • HGTVMallory
    Hi Diane. Are you planting it in soil or letting it grow in water? When I tried this, I had a similar experience and didn't transfer the celery to soil in time. I saw initial growth and it looked great, but then it got soggy. Transplanting at the right time was key in my case and I missed the window. I say try, try again!

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • TZ in CC
    I can't wait to try some of these. I have an indoor "green room" that I grow lettuce and herbs and my tomato starts in, so that should be a great room to try these out in. Thanks!! TZ

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Deborah Cheney
    How deep do you plant the potatoes?

    Posted 5 months ago

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  • Trish
    What about pineapple tops? My sister said she started one in water and it grew. I tried it and ended up throwing it away cause it was going bad. Tried a few times in fact but no luck.

    Posted 5 months ago

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