Food Crops & Edibles

How to Use Food Scraps to Grow More Food

Everyone knows there is nothing quite like eating your own home-grown vegetables but not everyone knows that many foods will regrow easily from scrap pieces that might normally be discarded in the trash or compost bin. Keep in mind that the original vegetable will determine the quality of regrowth, so make sure to buy high quality produce to use in your vegetable-recycling projects.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

Use the white root end of a vegetable you have already cut or a handful of new onions specifically for growing. Put the white end of the root in a glass jar with a little water and leave it in a sunny spot like a kitchen window and the green part of the plant will continue to shoot. Simply snip off what you need for cooking when necessary and place the white root back in the water. These plants will continue growing almost indefinitely, so as long as you keep the water clean, you may never need to purchase them again!


To propagate lemongrass, place the root end into a glass jar with some water. As with onions, place it in a sunny spot like a windowsill and in about a week, new growth will start to appear. Transplant the lemongrass into a pot and leave it outside in the sun. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot in height. Simply cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine and Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will regrow from their white roots. Cut the stalks off as usual and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water. Use enough water to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Put the bowl in a sunny window, occasionally spraying it with water to keep the top moist. After a few days, roots and new leaves will begin to appear. After a week or so, transplant the leafy green into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the dirt. The plant will continue to grow and within a few weeks it will sprout a new head.


Ginger is very easy to regrow. Plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the root-like bit used in cooking) in potting soil with the newest buds facing upward. Ginger flourishes in filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment. Before long, the root will start to grow new shoots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the entire plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.


You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove. Plant the bulb, root-end down, in a warm location with plenty of direct sunlight. Garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once it is established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. Just like ginger, you can repeat the process with the new bulb.

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