Starting A Food Scrap Garden

Caption: Some of the delicious veggies you can grow right from your home. With enough care, water, and sunlight, a plentiful home garden can be yours in no time. Illustration by Bijou Allard.

Fruits and vegetables: they are colorful, delicious, and make you feel great, but have you ever considered how much food is wasted each time we throw out the leftover bits from our daily meals? The stems, stubs, and seeds of many delicious foods once bound for the compost bin can be easily regrown at home. With enough sunlight, water, love, and patience, these seven veggies can be given new life in no time.

Green Onion

Don’t throw away the unused whites of the onion, simply place them in a jar or cup of water and store in a sunny place (like a windowsill). Make sure to refresh the water regularly, trimming off the green parts as needed. For longtime use, transfer the onions into a pot with soil and you have a permanent supply of fresh green onion– so long as you can keep the plant alive, of course.

Lettuce

Take the leftover base of lettuce and place it in a cup or bowl of water. Replace the water about every other day and eventually, you will have grown enough new leaves to use in a small salad or burger. Using this method you can extend the life of your head of lettuce before composting.

Celery

Take the last couple inches of the celery base and place it into a small bowl of water. Replace the water daily and spray to keep moisture in. The small leaves around the base will start to thicken and turn green, after about 5 days you can move the celery into a pot and cover the entire thing with soil, leaving only the leaf tips out. Water regularly, and you will soon have a brand new celery stock.

Garlic

This kitchen staple is wonderfully easy to regrow. Simply place leftover cloves into the ground with the pointed side facing up. Space them about 4 inches apart either outside during the fall, or in a pot inside year-round. Planting the garlic outside will ensure full heads the next year, while indoor planting will allow you to enjoy garlic greens rather than the full plant.

Herbs

Herbs are perhaps the most useful plant to regrow in your home and one of the easiest. Place a cutting of the plant in a small glass of water and within a week, roots will emerge. Once the roots have grown several inches you can pot the plant and leave it in a sunny place. With consistent watering, you will have a plentiful supply of delicious, fresh herbs like basil, thyme, mint, and chives.

Peppers

Peppers are relatively easy to grow, but they require a bit more time to produce new plants. Save the seeds from your next bell pepper or chili and place them in a small pot of soil. Water the seeds regularly and once they develop a sprout (about 1-2 inches tall) they can be planted into a garden or large pot outside. With care and water, they will soon grow into a wonderfully fresh supply of peppers for your dinners.

Avocado

Avocados are some of the most fun plants to cultivate in your home but definitely require patience. Begin with about 2-3 avocado pits (starting with more is important because not every avocado produces strong roots) and rinse them thoroughly. Once dry, place four evenly spaced toothpicks into each avocado pit, using them to balance the seed over a glass cup or jar filled with water so that the pit is partially submerged (make sure that the pointy side of the pit is not submerged in the water). After about 6 weeks of daily water changes, the avocado pit should split open and slowly a stem and leaves will emerge. In a few months, the small tree should be about 8 inches tall, at which point you can plant it in a medium pot with a drainage hole at the bottom. Keep the tree in a sunny area and water daily. With time and care, you might just end up with a beautiful and plentiful avocado tree right in your home.

Growing fresh food at home is a great step in the journey to reducing everyday food waste and enjoying delicious and fresh veggies. If you’re looking to develop more of a green thumb, the foods you eat every day are a great place to start. With love, care, and commitment you can grow a wonderful and lively home garden that you can share with friends, family, and neighbors.

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