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Growing food from your kitchen vegetable scraps is a worthwhile endeavor on many levels. First of all, it helps to keep food out of the landfills and consequently helps the environment. Secondly, it cuts down on food mileage seen as you end up growing some of your own food, you can save some money, and it’s, well, fun!
You don’t need to have an enormous backyard to grow some of your food. A porchway, patio, doorway, or even a sunny windowsill is space enough to grow a little something from food scraps that you might have otherwise chucked in the bin!
When buying your vegetables in hopes of regrowing them, try to choose organic varieties as some vegetables are sold with chemicals in them that prevent seeding. This is why your potatoes don’t sprout in your pantry so readily.
Next time you use any of the following produce, stop before you throw it in the trash or even the compost bin, and see if you can grow yourself a salad.
1. White Potatoes
Source: Daddykirbs Farm/Youtube
Firstly, you will need to source some organic potatoes and look for ones that have ‘eyes’. This is where the sprouts will grow from. Next, you need to leave your potatoes in a cardboard box or paper bag in a dark place for two to three weeks. Make sure that you give your potatoes some ventilation. However, you may have just found some long-forgotten potatoes in your pantry that have already sprouted. You can use these too!
Once you have some potatoes with sprouts, you need to cut the potato into chunks. Try to keep the chunks at least an inch squared in size and make sure that each chunk has a sprout. You then need to leave the potatoes be so that their cut can heal over and dry out. This should take just a couple of days. You can then plant your potatoes in your garden or in containers.
2. Green Onions and Leeks
Green onions and leeks are easy to regrow. When you are using your leeks or green onions for dinner cut the root end off at about one inch. You can then take this part and plant it root end down in a pot of soil and leave it on a windowsill. You can also plant it in your garden. You should leave the cut part right at the surface of the soil and keep the soil moist. You can also just put the root ends in a jar with enough water to cover them. You will need to change the water out daily.
After just a few days you will start to see the onion and leeks regrowing their greens. You will be able to harvest these greens over and over again leaving the root system in place.
3. Root Vegetables
Source: Backyard Gardening/Youtube
This one is a little different. Once you have eaten the carrot or the beet, you won’t be growing a new carrot or beet from the leftover scraps. However, you can grow yourself a bunch of greens. Carrot greens are delicious and can be used as a substitute for parsley and work well in chimichurri. Beet greens are nutritious and delicious in salads and sautêed just like chard.
Cut the top off your root vegetable leaving about one inch of the vegetable attached. Then put the tops in a shallow dish of water. After a few days, you will notice roots growing from the pieces of vegetables and new greens sprouting from the top. Once the roots have been established, you can transfer the tops to your garden, or plant them in pots for your windowsill or porch. Harvest the greens as needed.
Another awesome bonus is that you can leave some of the greens to go to seed and harvest the seeds for planting next season. That way, you have gained a new crop of carrots from your scraps, too.
These days, you can find sprigs of fresh herbs—basil, cilantro, oregano, mint, stevia— sold in water at supermarkets and farmer’s markets. Next time you buy a bunch, keep a couple of stems behind and cut them to about 4 inches long. Then, pop them into a jar of water ensuring that the leaves are not submerged. After just a few days, you should notice roots growing from the stems. Allow them to become about an inch long before planting them in your garden during the warmer months, or in a pot filled with soil for your sunny windowsill.
You can then harvest leaves from your new plants when you wish. Once big enough, cuttings can be taken from these plants, and the process can start over.
If you have ever left fresh ginger in your pantry and forgotten about it, you might be well aware that little sprouts start to appear. Ginger is easy to grow in pots and can be done from the store-bought variety.
Take your organic ginger root and cut off the nobbly finger part as this is where the sprouts emerge. Make sure you have about a square inch of the root, also. You should leave this cut to dry just as you did with potatoes. Then, plant your ginger pieces in the soil about an inch deep with the tips of the fingers pointing upwards. Keep your soil moist and in a warm spot. You should see sprouts in about six to eight weeks.
You can harvest your new ginger when the plant is mature at about eight to ten months.
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