If you have ever lopped off a carrot top and placed it in a dish of water to grow, you already know about the amazing ability some vegetables have to regenerate and regrow. What you may not know, however, is that there are many more plants that you eat on a regular basis that will do the same thing.
Now that you are simplifying your lifestyle, you may want to take a closer look at one of nature’s ultimate recycling programs – re-growing (and re-eating) vegetables.
Here is a list of vegetables you can easily regrow indoors in your kitchen.
1. Green Onions, Leeks, Fennel and Scallions – After you have used the stalk for your cooking, place the white root base in a jar of water (just enough to cover the bulb) and place it on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every few days, as it will begin to smell. In three to five days, the roots will show growth and in seven to 10 days, you should see fresh growth on top. These plants will grow without direct sunlight, but the process will be slower. When it’s time to cook with one of these plants, simply cut off what you need from the green growth, leaving the white root end in the water to keep growing. Keep replacing the water, and you will be able to keep re-using these plants. You may transplant them to your garden, if you wish.
2. Garlic – You can re-grow a garlic plant from just one clove if you plant it, root-end down, in a pot and find it a warm spot with direct sunlight. Or, instead of tossing away a garlic blub that has sprouted shoots, plant it with the shoot above soil level. A garlic plant will produce small flowers as it grows, and, yes, it will have that distinctive smell.
3. Lettuce and Cabbage – You know how you usually use the lettuce or cabbage leaves and throw away the base? Well, next time keep the part you normally toss and place it in a large jar of water on a sunny windowsill. The lettuce will regrow with tasty and tender center leaves. As you harvest the leaves, they will grow back again and again.
4. Celery — Celery is also easy to regrow. Cut off about an inch or two of the base and place it in a jar of water. Celery takes its time, so be patient as it will slowly start to re-grow. Keep its water fresh and give it plenty of sunlight.
5. Bok Choy — This Chinese cabbage will also re-grow in water on your sunny windowsill. Cut off the end nub and place it in a bowl of water. You should see new growth in about seven to 10 days. Be sure to keep the water fresh.
6. Lemongrass – Place the root end in a glass of water and let it start to grow on your windowsill. Within about a week or so, new growth will appear. As it grows, trim the grass your want to use in your cooking.
7. Ginger – What you use to cook with is the root of the ginger plant. To re-generate the root, take a fresh section (one that is not dry or wrinkled) that you have left over from your recipe and partially submerge it in soil so that any of its nubbins are pointed up or to the side. Keep the soil moderately moist. Your ginger root will begin growing within a few weeks. As it grows and matures, this pretty plant prefers indirect sunlight. How do you get more ginger? Pull up the plant, harvest some of the root and start the process over again.
8. Bean Sprouts – Did you have some leftover beans from a recipe? Soak the beans overnight. Then drain them and lay them out on paper towels. Rinse and lay them out again. Repeat process for a few days and you will start seeing sprouts appear. When they are the size you like, you can use them for sandwiches and salads. Store what you don’t use in the refrigerator.
9. Potatoes — Try re-growing potatoes that you can transplant later to your garden. Here’s how: When a potato starts to grow eyes, cut the potato into two-inch pieces with a couple of eyes on each piece. Let the sections sit out at room temperature for at least 24 hours to dry and so that the cuts can heal over. Then plant the sections — with the eyes facing upwards — in about eight inches deep in a large pot filled with nutrient-rich soil. As sprouts emerge, add four more inches of soil to the top of the pot.
10. Onions — Regular onions are also easy to regenerate. Place the root portion in a cup of water on a sunny windowsill. Once the roots have grown, you can transfer the plant to a pot of soil, or if it is springtime, to your yard.
The keys to success for re-growing each of these plants are using fresh scraps, having plenty of sunlight and supplying plenty of fresh water. If you are not having any success, consider your water. Many of these plants are sensitive to chemicals, so try the process again using distilled water. If your home doesn’t get much sunlight, you can also try putting the plants under grow lights.
Re-growing vegetables does take some trial and error. Feel free to experiment with what works in your home. Children really enjoy the process of re-growing vegetables, so be sure to get them involved. Let them be in charge of replacing the water, for instance, or in measuring a growing plant. It is a great way to get them involved in a gardening project when it is too cold to do much in your outdoor garden. Have fun!