Thursday, October 17, 2013

Growing veggies from kitchen scraps

There are many kitchen cut vegetables that can be regrown to provide food for your household. Some of these are often thought as waste and  kicked into the garbage and most of you I hope will be instead kicked these into your compost pit or to feeding them to some of your backyard animals. If you have the space there's no need to let these things go to waste. Often I will replant these cut vegetable bottoms in potted containers and once they get going I'll give them to friends as gifts. Vegetables like green onions, bok choy, celery, lettuce, and pineapple can be regrown to provide another course of fresh homegrown goodies. 
Pineapple is a unique regrown fruit and is pretty simple to do. Usually when you prepare your pineapple you cut off the top and the bottom. When regrowing this for just place the top on top of the bottom and simply played in the dirt. It's that easy and let the play do it on its own. If you are not in a year-round warm climate then plant this in a potted container that you can bring indoors. It takes two years to regrow pineapple this way. 
Green onions are fantastic to regrow and when prepared in the kitchen most people cut off the white bulb bottom including the roots. These can be simply replanted back in the dirt and we usually space them about 3 inches apart in rows of 6 inches or more. If you harvested green onions in the field with scissors rather than pulling up the bulb there's no replanting to be done there. Just cut as needed and you'll always have a supply. 
Bok choy ,celery and lettuces we will sometimes start indoors and allow them to root first before planting them outside. One just simply gives a fresh cut on the bottom of the vegetable taking off a 16th of an inch of material. Often the root end of the vegetables you buy at the store, will be healed over and this fresh-cut gives the roots a chance to grow faster. We have also planted these vegetables directly into the soil outside and if it is spring or fall time we have not seen any problem with them rooting directly right in the dirt. Watering well to make sure they don't dry out. Pre rooting you veggies indoors in the summertime helps to prevent the hot summers from drying them out. We always follow the planting guide ( spacing , depth etc. . ) when replanting cut vegetables and we treat the replanted cut vegetables as one would treat seedlings or starter plants going in the ground. Often restaurants will discard large amounts of these and you can take advantage of this if you have an inside advantage and ask them to save the bottoms for you .

Here is some green onions and a the remains of a discarded celery stalk. 
Here are scallion bottoms presoaking in Willow Water 

Here a 1/16 of an inch has been removed from a vegetable bottom to allow for fresh root growth 

Here is a pot planted with lettuce and celery bottoms 

These are Romaine lettuce bottoms that we are replanting into the soil. 

Same field a few weeks later . 

A celery bottom showing new growth . 

We at Gateway Garlic use a lot of Willow water ( see our blog Willow Water ) and because of it's rooting effects will use it here in this type of project. Whatever you use you should water your replanted starts well and never let them dry out. 
Carrot bottoms can be replanted as well. You won't grow a new carrot but what you will grow is a healthy plant that will produce seeds. This is a perfect project for those heirloom carrots you buy your farmers market. If you thought they were delicious you can now grow your own seed to plant them yourselves. Resist using most store bought carrots as they have a tendency to be hybrids but sometimes you can grow a decent carrot from the seed that was harvested off the hybrid cut carrot bottom. 
Bulbs onions are like carrots as you won't re grow the same vegetable but what you can grow are seeds. Simply put the cut top on the cut bottom ( minus the bulb in the middle ) and replant. Water well and you will see the green part regrow itself. Weeks later a seed head will develop and you'll have free seed for replanting or you can harvest the early greens for scallions. Some old world farmers will harvest their onions and replant all the tops/bottoms in the field . About six to nine weeks later they will harvest the large stalk that regrows ( before it flowers ). This is called an onion topper and some will throw this right on the grill. Blackened by fire , it is removed and the outer skin peeled away to reveal a delicious monster scallion ! 

Carrot - replanted for seed
Cabbage - replanted for same 
Bok Choy - replanted for same
Green onions - replanted for same 
Bulb onion - seed or same 
Lettuce - seed or same 
Celery  - seed or same 
Broccoli - for same 
Pineapple ( two years ) for same 

Most cut veggies work great indoors when planted in SIP ( self watering planters ) during the wintertime. A 2 liter pop bottle can be turned into a fantastic self watering window container. Remember that unless your using artificial lights ,south facing locations work best . 

There are many more that you can grow but these are just a few that we have done ourselves. Many people add avocado, garlic ( and others ) to this list but we haven't . The reason being is that they are actually the seed from which you grow these from and didn't qualify as regrow cut veggies. 
Both potato and sweet potato can be used to grow starter plants. With the potato all one has to do is to allow the buds to pop that are on the potato. Some people place these in a dark room so that the buds grow . Some people will put the potatoes in partial light to allow the buds to grow. Called chitting ,  some folks believe you grow stronger potato plants this way. Anyway you do it just simply cut your potato up into large chunks after your buds have appeared making sure you have at least one bud per chunk and plant accordingly 
A potato showing the budding 
A cut chunk of potato showing at least one bud per potato chunk 

Sweet potatoes are different creature as they will produce small plants called slips ( clones ) . When these are 4 to 5 inches long you can simply snap them off the sweet potato carefully and place in water to root. Once a good rooting system has developed you can go ahead and plant your sweet potato slips or plants accordingly. 
A sweet potato packed with slips that are being broken off for us to root .
Sweet potato slips in a jar of water which is encouraging roots the form . 
Planted sweet potato starts indoors as we wait for warmer temperatures so we can plant them outside
Here Garden member Handy Dan has shown one of the techniques we use in planting sweet potatoes is in coffee bean sacks . Part of the no till method it makes for easy harvesting. 

1 comment:

  1. Great information!! Thanks!! I am going to try growing sweet potatoes next season