In the kitchen, a chopping block is a cruel place. Leftover bits and pieces of ingredients that don’t make the cut at mealtime are carelessly discarded. But did you know many of those scraps have more life to give, and that you can easily regrow food with them?
Composting is most often touted as the ultimate solution to food waste. And while vermicompost and backyard compost bins are still valid options, kitchen gardening should not be dismissed.
A new book has opened my eyes to the many opportunities a zero-waste lifestyle can present.
It’s called No-Waste Kitchen Gardening: Regrow Your Leftover Greens, Stalks, Seeds, and More, by Katie Elzer-Peters.
On beautifully-illustrated and easy-to-read pages, Elzer-Peters shows us it’s possible to save those little odds and ends to regrow more food for ourselves and our families. As a bonus, you’ll save time, money, and always have fresh ingredients on hand.
What Exactly Can Be Regrown?
Carrots, onions, and lettuce can all be regrown from the tiniest of scraps. So can leeks, beets, fresh herbs, green onions, ginger, garlic, squash, and so much more. The possibilities are endless.
The golden rule if not using seeds? As Elzer-Peters points out, “any plant part you want to regrow must have some kind of stem-growing tip in it or on it.”
So, when looking to see if you can regrow a specific fruit or veggie, she says to look for a point that can grow into more stems, branches, and eventually, more leaves or flowers.
Thanks to the growing guides in this book, you’ll learn how to regrow food scraps in both soil and water. It’s not only easy to do; it’s also super productive and fun. You’ll more than likely have great success with any of the featured vegetables; failure is not an option.
It’s So Easy!
With that in mind, I set out to put the tops of my carrots to good use. Carrots are biennials, and there’s no way to regrow the root portion, meaning the actual orange carrot. But you can regrow the leafy greens, which make a perfect substitute for parsley and delicious addition to soups, salads, and more.
To regrow carrots, make sure you buy the kind with their leaves intact, or that have a bit of a leftover stem on the top. Clean-cut tops can’t be regrown.
You will need:
- A flower pot with a diameter of at least 6”
- Soilless potting mix
- A sharp knife
- Carrot tops with stems
Use your knife to cut the carrots; make sure you have about 1” of the carrot to work with, plus the tops. If your carrots have leaves
on them, carefully snip them off, leaving just a little bit to encourage new growth.
Fill your pot with the sterile, soilless potting mix and water, so it’s as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Stick the carrots into the soil and bury about half-way with the top ends up.
Leave your flowerpot in a bright and sunny location of the house and keep the soil moist, never soggy.
The tops should sprout in about a week, but you’ll need to wait a few weeks before you can start harvesting the leaves for your meals. Enjoy them for as long as the plant allows!
If a flower stalk sprouts, harvest the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place for up to three years to grow whole carrots out in the garden.
What do you like to regrow?
For more fantastic fruit and vegetable growing guides, be sure to check out Elzer-Peters’ book.