There is a great form of recycling that is easy, fun and nutritious: re-growing vegetables from leftover scraps. You don’t need much to get started — just containers, soil, water and a sunny windowsill. Sometimes you don’t even need the soil.
Many vegetables have the ability to regenerate, and you can regrow quite a few common veggies with as little as a glass of water. It’s a great project for any time of the year, but especially during colder months when you likely don’t have access to your garden.
To help you begin, here is a list of vegetables that are easy to regrow.
1. Lettuce and cabbage — After you prepare a salad or a stew, do you toss the lettuce or cabbage heart in the trash or on the compost pile? Next time, place it in a shallow dish with about a half-inch of water and then put the dish on a sunny windowsill. The water will get cloudy and a bit smelly, so you will want to replace it every day or two.
After three days or so, you will notice new leaves sprouting. When they are large enough for eating, you can harvest them. Leave the head in some clean water, and you can repeat the process.
2. Scallions, green onions, leeks and fennel – Set the white root base in enough water to completely cover the bulb and then place the container on your windowsill.
Replace the water every few days. After a week or so, you will notice new growth. You can keep regenerating these bulbs and even can transfer them outdoors in the spring.
3. Onions – Onions need a bit more room, but they are still easy to grow. Place the onion’s root section in a cup of water on a sunny windowsill and watch for sign of regrowth. When the bulb has grown back, transfer the plant to a large pot of soil. You can replant it in your outdoor garden during the warmer weather.
4. Garlic – Did you know that you could regenerate a garlic plant from just one clove? Here’s how: Plant the clove root-end down in a pot of soil and then place the pot where it can get direct sunlight.
5. Ginger – To regenerate the root of the ginger plant, which is the part you use in cooking, take a fresh piece and submerge it partially in soil with the nubbins pointing upward.
Place the pot in indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist, and the root will begin growing within about two weeks. To obtain fresh ginger, pull up the plant, harvest some of its root and then repeat the process.
6. Celery – Celery takes a while to regrow, but the results are worth it. Place the base (about an inch or two) in a jar of water on a sunny window ledge. As with some of the other veggies, you will need to replace the cloudy water regularly. Tiny sprouts begin to appear in about a week. After a few more weeks, you will see enough growth to harvest.
7. Bean Sprouts – Soak your leftover dry beans overnight before spreading them out evenly on towels to dry. Repeat this process three or more times until you begin to notice sprouts appearing. You may use the sprouts on sandwiches and in salads. Store any leftover sprouts in the refrigerator.
Like many gardening projects, regrowing vegetables takes some time and some patience. Usually, the fresher the scraps, the better the results will be.
Keep in mind that many plants are sensitive to chlorine or fluoride. If you are on a municipal water system, consider using distilled water for your kitchen scrap garden. Also, if your windowsills do not get much sunlight, grow lights will work well.