Growing tasty, healthy produce from clean kitchen scraps isn't garbage gardening. It can save money, cut down on food waste, and teach valuable lessons about nature and sustainability. From celery and onions to beets and ginger root, scraps often have plenty of life left. They just need a chance to avoid the compost pile.
Growing plants from "inedible" parts isn't that unusual. Gardeners routinely grow crops from pieces of plants. Garlic, for example, is grown from single cloves, and tomatoes and peppers can be started from salvaged seeds. Even new potatoes are grown from their sprouting "eyes."
To try your hand at this fun project, start with the following simple-to-grow scraps. You can also experiment with other vegetables by following the instructions for veggies that grow in the same or a similar way. Grow your new food indoors in decorative saucers or containers year-round, or move them outside to your garden in spring.
Leafy vegetables that grow in heads, such as celery, romaine and bok choy, are some of the easiest scraps to grow. Just cut off the plant's base, which you normally wouldn't eat, so you have a piece about 1 inch tall. Place it cut side up in a shallow saucer, and then add 1/2 inch of water. Refresh the water regularly, and get ready for harvestable greens.
Leafy scraps will grow in water on a sunny indoor windowsill year-round. You can also transplant them from water into soil as soon as they show roots and new green growth. Use a decorative, soil-filled container or plant directly into warm garden soil. Plant your scrap so that soil covers the roots and base, but the top of the rooted scrap stays exposed.1,2
Many citrus fruits grow well from castoff seeds. Citrus that excel in containers, such as key lime, are particularly simple to start. Instead of tossing seeds, clean them well and keep them moist. Plant them 1/2 inch deep in a soil-filled container, and then cover the planter with plastic to create a mini-greenhouse until the seeds sprout. Fruit trees can take several years to mature to bear fruit, but they make fragrant, flowering houseplants in the meantime.2,1
Avocados regrow easily in water. Just clean the pit well, and then stick three or four toothpicks into it, evenly spaced about one-third of the way down from the pointy end. Sit the pit on a glass or watertight container, so that the toothpicks support it on the rim. Add enough water to cover the pit's bottom half, and refresh water regularly. Once the pit has roots and a sprout, transplant to a container with soil. Keep the top half of the pit above the soil line, while the bottom half goes below.1,2
Once you plant your newly rooted scraps into the garden, or your container plants move outside into summer sun, handle them just like the other vegetables and fruits you grow outdoors. Regular watering and natural-based fertilizers help provide extra nutrients. For help controlling unwanted outdoor insect pests, turn to trusted pesticides such as GardenTech® Sevin® insecticides.
Whatever type of pesticide you pick, always read the label and match your plant and pest problem to the product. Follow guidelines for treatable plants and the time needed between treatment and your harvest, known as pre-harvest intervals or PHI. For example, Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use treats lettuce up to one day before you harvest, but needs seven days between application and harvest for garlic or onions.
By growing food from kitchen scraps, you can connect with nature, reduce food waste and have some fun, too. GardenTech® brands are here to help you enjoy the rewards of growing — and regrowing — your own food.
* Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions carefully, including guidelines for treatable plants and pre-harvest intervals.