Buy It Once, Grow It Again: 5 Foods You Can Plant From Their Scraps
It's a problem we've all had: You go to your fridge to fix something to eat, only to discover that your produce drawer runneth over with produce gone bad. Brown lettuce, sprouting potatoes, garlic that's all green on the inside, the works. If only there were a way to repurpose those veggies without having to toss them straight into the trash...
Hey, wait a minute! They're plants, so there definitely is. They grow in the ground, after all, so why not take those inedible scraps and bulk up your homegrown outdoor pantry? To that end, I consulted my resident horticulture expert with 30+ years of experience doing what most of us struggle with—keeping plants alive. His name is Dad, but you can call him Neil. Anyway, here are five plants that are ridiculously easy to replant and enjoy over and over again.
Have a head of garlic whose cloves are starting to sprout? Instead of throwing those in the trash, put them in the ground! This aromatic kitchen staple is super simple to grow. Just plant the sprouted cloves in some good soil in your yard with the sprouts facing up, and make sure they're getting plenty of sunlight and water. They require minimal upkeep, and soon you'll have a bounty of garlic to use in the kitchen. If you'd like, you could also turn this into a learning experience for the kids—just put the sprouting glove in a glass with a little water near some sunlight, and wait for the shoots to get taller.
The leaves are what you're after, but don't throw away the base! Instead, place it in a small amount of water (no more than a half inch), and keep the water at that level until new leaves start to grow. Then take your little baby plant and put it in some soil. Boom! Like a phoenix from the ashes, you've got a whole new head of lettuce.
If you're like me, you always have a couple pieces of ginger that you never end up using. Instead of giving them a one-way trip down your sink's disposal, give them new life! Immerse them overnight in some water, and then pot them up the next day. Make sure the pot they're moved to gets plenty of sunshine. Bonus: When they sprout, they're a really attractive plant with beautiful flowers. Just make sure you bring the pot in when it's cold, as ginger doesn't do well with freezes or cold snaps.
Remember what we did with lettuce? Well, lather, rinse, and repeat with the base of your celery stalk. It'll take a little longer (up to 7 days), but pot it up once it starts sprouting and thickening, and you'll have all the celery you can possibly slather in peanut butter and raisins.
All hail the potato, bringer of French fries! No one wants to eat a sprouting potato, but you can easily take the sprouting "eyes" of a potato and increase your potential for future fries. As with ginger, soak the sprouting pieces and then plant them (if you're in the South as we are, sometime mid-January is best). A fun tip for cleaner potatoes? Buy a bale of hay and place the sprouting eyes in it, making sure you keep the bale wet. This will result in cleaner potatoes that don't need all the dirt scrubbed off!
That's just five of the many, many plant scraps you can reuse to minimize your grocery budget, get the most out of the food you've already bought, and grow your own garden. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and plant the earth! Your forgotten veggies—and your wallet—will thank you.