Every day we throw away or compost piles of fruit and vegetable peelings. But did you know you’re actually wasting an awesome source of free food? No, we’re not suggesting you suck on potato peelings! Regrowing food from your kitchen scraps – and knowing which foods you can buy once and grow forever – is incredibly easy and saves you money. Not only will you save money and combat the ever-increasing cost of groceries, but if you regrow vegetables, herbs, and fruits, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint and, if you’re growing indoors, your plants will help to purify the air in your home, too. Plus, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, if you’re one of the lucky survivors, once you’ve found somewhere safe from the zombie hoard, eventually you’ll need to start growing your own food – and you won’t just be able to pop down the local garden centre for a packet of seeds! Learn which foods you can buy once and grow forever…
1. Regrow Salad Onions
It’s insanely easy to regrow salad onions or scallions. In fact, there’s very little regrowing effort on your part. You’ve got two options:
1 – Drop some salad onions into a glass and add enough water to cover the roots and half an inch of the white stem. Pop the glass in a sunny spot like your kitchen windowsill. Stand back and watch them grow. Simply cut off the stems as you need them, and the plants will just keep growing. Just make sure to change the water every three days.
2 – Follow the steps above until your salad onions have long, healthy roots, then plant them outside or in a pot of good quality compost and use as above.
2. Regrowing Onions
If you want to enjoy the stronger, more robust flavor of standard onions, you can regrow these, too. It just takes a little bit more effort and space. First off, get yourself a large (2-liter or more) plastic bottle – think empty soda bottle – and remove the neck and any labels. Cut holes all over the bottle. These holes should be large enough for half of each onion to poke through. Place the holes in even layers around your bottle for the best results. Add a layer of organic compost, then your first layer of onion sets. Make sure the top of each onion pokes out of one of the holes. Repeat this layering process until you fill the bottle. Water thoroughly and put the filled container in a sunny spot. In no time at all, you’ll have tasty onion shoots. This is a great way to grow onions all winter. As an added bonus, lots of insects dislike the smell of onions, so this method helps to repel bugs, too.
3. Regrow Garlic
How many times do you find an old garlic bulb or a few cloves lurking at the back of the fridge or the cupboard? Instead of hitting the trash can, regrow the garlic instead. There’s a couple of different options here. Like salad onions, you can stand a garlic bulb in a saucer of water. Make sure to only use enough water to just cover the base, and top it up every couple of days. You can then harvest the tender stems as they grow and the plant will simply keep growing. They have a mild garlic flavor and make a fabulous addition to salads, sauces, soups, and dips.
You can also regrow garlic to get whole bulbs. Just take any left over cloves – or a whole bulb separated into cloves, still with their protective skin on them, and plant directly in the ground. Alternatively, plant the cloves in a roomy container full or rich organic compost. Bury each clove with just the tip peeking out of the soil. Each clove you plant will grow into a whole bulb, so it’s easy to grow a continual supply of fresh garlic.
4. Regrow Celery
Yes, lots of us think the best part of celery is the heart. But, if you save it rather than devouring or discarding it, you can regrow a continual supply of celery. And, if you harvest the growing stalks while they’re young, they’ll be deliciously flavorsome. Simply chop across the stalks, leaving about two inches from the base intact. Inside you’ll see the celery heart – yellowish-green with short, thin stems and delicate leaves. Stand the base in a saucer of water and change the water every few days. Leave the celery in the saucer for around 10 to 14 days. You’ll notice that the remains of the outer stalks start to shrivel up – that’s totally normal. You’ll also see the heart turn a vibrant, darker green and begin to grow taller.
At this point, transfer the celery to a roomy container with plenty of rich, organic compost. Bury the plant deeply, with just the tips of the leaves poking through. Don’t forget to water it regularly – but don’t over-water it too much, otherwise it may rot. It doesn’t grow as fast as onions and garlic, but it’s worth the wait. You’ll soon see young stems pushing upwards and, as once you’ve got a good number, you can harvest them. Harvest the young celery stems from around the outside – this helps to keep the plant healthy, and the inner stems will thicken and mature faster. The plant will simply keep throwing out new leafy stems from the center. Also, as it grows, celery makes a pretty houseplant that requires minimal maintenance.
5. Grow Strawberries From Seed
Strawberries are delicious – if you buy local and organic – but they’re costly. So why not grow your own? And instead of buying over-priced forced or hybrid plants from the garden centre, you can just use your kitchen scraps.
Buy yourself a yummy punnet of local, organic strawberries. Otherwise, you may end up with a variety that won’t grow in your area, a hybrid that won’t produce fruit from the seeds, or a variety that’s had a chemical formula sprayed on to prevent regrowth. Or, in the event of the zombie apocalypse, you’ll have to find some growing wild. Once you’ve got them, you’ve got two choices.
1 – Devour all the fruit and save the top portions that you’d normally discard.
2 – Devour most of the fruit, but keep 3 or 4 whole fruits back.
Whichever method you’ve gone with, make sure the strawberries are ripe – even heading toward over-ripe – for the best results. Place the fruit in a blender with around a litter of water and blitz for 15 to 20 seconds. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes to settle. You’ll find that some seeds rise to the top while others sink. Scoop out and discard the seeds on the top – these aren’t viable so won’t germinate.
Pass the rest of the mixture through a sieve. Run it under cold water until the vast majority of the pulp has gone, and you’re left with mostly seeds. Then you’re ready to plant. Fill a seed tray with rich, high-quality potting compost, then sow the seeds thinly across the surface. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost, and water gently.
Place the tray in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Your seeds will take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to germinate, so don’t panic if you don’t get instant results. Once they germinate and have their first true leaves, you can transplant the seedlings to individual pots to mature, then plant in their final position. If you want to find some genius ways to grow strawberries, other than straight in the ground, check out this post.
Don’t forget, strawberry plants put off runners every year, so once your strawberry plants have matured, they’ll put off a whole bunch of new plants. Leave the runners attached as long as possible, as they’re stronger that way and they take nutrients from the mother plant, too. Place each runner on top of a pot of compost, and they’ll develop strong roots. So, as long as you care for your plants and the runners, once you’ve seeded one batch of strawberry plants, you’ll never need to do another – just keep potting the runners each year.
6. Regrow Lemons From Seed
Yes, you can regrow lemons – quite easily – but you’re in for the long haul. If you choose to grow from seed, your little trees will take anywhere from three to six years to start producing fruit. That’s because all their energy for those early years goes into growing healthy, strong foliage and trunks. Typically, of course, lemons grow in hot or tropical climates, so you’ll struggle to grow a fruiting tree in most other parts of the world outdoors – but that doesn’t stop you growing lemons in containers indoors. You don’t need space for a 20-foot tree, either. You can grow smaller varieties, like Meyer lemons, or, as your tree matures, you can train and prune it yearly.
So, again, two options for growing lemons – if you’re lucky enough, you may find lemon tree cuttings or young potted trees available locally or online if you live in the right area. However, they aren’t readily available in many places. In which case, you need to grow from seed. Also, there’s just something so infinitely rewarding about growing a big, beautiful tree from a seed. Make sure you choose an organic lemon and, if you want a dwarf tree, go for organic Meyer lemons or similar. If you choose non-organic, you risk getting lemon seeds that won’t germinate – or worse, lemon seeds that germinate but just won’t fruit.
Here’s how you grow a lemon tree from seed:
- Take a pot and fill it with decent compost that contains a mixture of peat, perlite, and vermiculite.
- Give the compost a good watering.
- Take your organic lemon and cut into it.
- Select the largest, plumpest seeds.
- Whatever you do, do not let the seeds dry out at any time.
- Pop them into tepid water and use your fingers to remove all the flesh. Note: If you leave any flesh on the seeds, they’ll most likely rot. Some people choose to suck on the seeds until they can no longer taste lemon, then rinse them in water.
- Make a hole around half an inch deep. Once for each seed.
- Drop each seed into a hole and cover over with compost.
- Dampen the soil with a spray bottle or similar.
- Cover the pot with a cloche of simply use kitchen wrap or a clear plastic bag, and pierce small holes all over the top. This helps to keep the lemon seeds warm and damp. If, however, your home is particularly warm, don’t bother with the covering, as you’ll overheat your seeds and they’ll rot. If you’re not too sure, plant two pots of seeds, cover one and leave the other uncovered.
- Place the pot in a sunny spot and water regularly – don’t let the soil dry out completely.
- In around two to four weeks, your seedlings should germinate. Once they break the surface, remove the plastic covering.
- Once they germinate, your lemon seedlings need 10 to 14 hours of sunlight every day. If you can’t manage this naturally, buy an inexpensive grow light.
- After around two months, when your seedlings have got at least three true leaves, plant them into large, individual pots, ideally around 16 inches deep and 18 inches wide, where they’ll happily stay for at least a couple of years.
- Remember, however good your compost is, it will run out of nutrients, so you’ll need to apply organic fertilizer around twice a year to replenish the nutrients and keep your growing lemon trees happy and healthy.
- Keep a close eye on your young lemon trees, checking the underside of their leaves for signs of pests and diseases. Don’t allow them to get root-bound in their pots, as this will stunt their growth and make them more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Who says you can’t stay healthy with hearty doses of vitamin C during the zombie apocalypse?!?
Pineapples take a while to produce fruit – not as long as lemon seeds, but still quite a while – two to three years, so growing pineapples from the crown is another long-term, but exceptionally worthwhile project. And, once you’ve got the first crowns to thrive, they’ll give you new ones, so you’ll have a continual supply.
Make sure you select a ripe (not overripe) organic pineapple. Ideally, grow at least two, as they can be temperamental, so it’s likely that one may not survive to maturity. The process involves careful preparation of the crown to achieve success, and the plants need regular care as they mature. You can find a brilliant, in-depth, step-by-step tutorial for regrowing pineapples here.
Regrowing ginger is super easy – and you can do it from organic roots you buy from the grocery store – remember the inorganic ones may have been sprayed with growth inhibitor. Choose ones that have “eyes buds” – similar to the chits or eyes that appear on potatoes when they’re ready for planting. If you can’t get any with buds already, get any good size ginger root and let it sit at room temperature, where it will start to shoot. Now, ginger is really a tropical plant, so it requires warmth and moisture – cold weather will kill it. So, unless you want to grow and harvest it all during one summer, it’s advisable to plant the roots in pots that you can just bring indoors in cold weather.
Take a deep pot and fill it with rich compost, then add your ginger roots, with the eyes facing upward. If you’ve got a chunky root with multiple eye buds, cut it up into smaller pieces, and plant each one. Cover the ginger roots with around 1.5 to 2 inches of compost and water thoroughly. Now, yes, ginger is a tropical plant, and yes, it likes heat, but it also likes partial shade, so keep this in mind when you’re placing your pot. While you can grow them indoors, they thrive outside in warm weather. Therefore, try starting them off in the greenhouse in mid spring and, once all danger of frost is past, put them outside and let them grow through to the fall when the leaves will start to die back. However, you must harvest the roots before the first frosts, or the plant will die, and the roots will take heavy damage.
When you harvest ginger, the roots will be fairly large, and some will have obvious “eye buds” at the top. You can remove these and replant them, so you’ll have a steady supply of ginger.
These are just a few of the many different foods you can regrow from kitchen scraps. There’s a whole bunch of other fruits and vegetables you can buy once and grow forever, which we’ll cover in a separate post. We figure that right now you’ve got your hands (and your windowsills) pretty full already, and we don’t want to overwhelm you. Following the simple steps above, you’ll soon have an abundance of fresh food all year round. You’ll be saving money, getting the satisfaction of harvesting your own crops, and, on the off chance that the zombie apocalypse does occur, you’ll still have access to fresh food to keep you healthy – after all, when you’re doing battle with the undead on a regular basis, you definitely can’t afford to be malnourished!
Don’t forget to send us your pics, too. We’d love to see how you’re getting on with growing some of these.