The average U.S. family throws out over 200 pounds of food each year, and a significant part of it is fruit and vegetables. And although forgetting about a few onions and potatoes in your veg drawer is understandable, there are ways you can remedy that. In fact, a lot of leftovers can still be put to good use.
So if sustainable living is on your to-do list this year, or even if you’re just in a mood for gardening, here are some of the vegetable leftovers you can make the most of by regrowing them.
Growing potatoes is so easy you can do it by accident — who hasn’t forgotten about a bag of potatoes in a cabinet, only to find them sprouting several weeks later? So next time you find one that’s beginning to grow roots, simply put it in a bag of soil, and enjoy a new crop in a few months.
Onions, leeks and garlic
Onions and their cousins are a quintessential part of many meals, so chances are you’ll often have leftover ends after you’re done prepping. Rather than throwing them away, simply take the base of the bulb with the roots and place it in water or soil. You’ll see new growth in a few weeks, which you can cut off and use as needed.
Like onions, the base of the lettuce can be used to regrow the leaves. All it takes is a shallow pot or glass, a bit of water, and a sunny windowsill. You can apply the same treatment to other leafy greens, such as napa cabbage or bok choy.
Carrots and Parsnips
If you’ve picked up carrots that still have their leaves attached, then you’re in luck, as they can easily be used to grow some more. Cut off the ends, and place them in a shallow bowl, misting them until you begin to see new leaves. You can then pot them in soil, and repeat the same process indefinitely. It also works with other rooted veg, such as parsnips, radishes, and beetroot.
Basil, Parsley, Sage, Thyme and Mint
You can never have too many herbs growing on your windowsill, especially if you like sprinkling freshly chopped greens on your meals. All herbs are easy to grow from cuttings, placed in water until they grow roots, and then transplanted into a new pot.
Both celery and celeriac can be regrown from leftovers. For celery, it’s important that the roots at the base haven’t been trimmed off, as you can’t regrow it from individual stems. If you still have the root, simply place it in water, and give it a lot of sun. Celeriac can also be grown from the trimmed tops, the same as carrots.
When cleaning your pineapple, make sure to save the leafy top, as it can be used to regrow it. Place it in a water bowl, using toothpicks to keep the base above the bottom of the bowl, and wait until the roots appear before potting in soil. Pineapple can take a while to establish and grow fruit, but in the meantime, it makes for a unique and exciting houseplant.
Tomatoes and Peppers
Even if it’s not typical to de-seed your tomatoes before eating, next time you use them, make sure to save some. Along with peppers, and even eggplants, they can be used to grow new plants, without having to dry the seeds first. Plant them in a pot with rich soil, in a place where they get plenty of sun and warmth. Once established, remember that they rely on pollination to grow fruit, so you can either put them on an open balcony, where bees and other insects can get to them, or manually pollinate them yourself.
Melon, Pumpkin and Cucumber
Like tomatoes, they are also easy to grow from seeds. And, just like tomatoes, they will rely on pollination to develop fruit. However, growing them can be a fun and productive pastime, especially if you have a balcony where they get plenty of sun, and where they can spread out. Melons and pumpkins will need room for the large fruit, but if you’re in a pinch for space, growing cucumbers on trellises works just as well.
If you’re a fan of the fragrant fennel and want to grow your own, it’s easily said and done. The only thing you need to make sure of is that it still has its roots attached to the base. If that’s the case, keep an inch of the base in a bit of water, and wait until you notice new growth before transplanting to soil.