Growing Vegetables from Scraps: How to Regrow Vegetables

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Maya A.P

Regrowing is the trend of growing vegetables from scraps on the windowsill or in the garden. In this article, you’ll find out which vegetables work best, and what you should keep in mind before getting started.

It sounds like a great concept: buy vegetables once and use the scraps to grow them over and over again. But is it really that simple? We have tried out the process of regrowing with different vegetables. In this article, we’ll share what we found out.

Regrowing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

growing vegetables from scrap
Celery is one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow from scraps. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Milada Vigerova )

Even after harvesting, plants are still living beings that can absorb moisture and continue to grow. That’s why garlic, onions, and potatoes, for example, tend to sprout. Regrowing vegetables works on this basis. Usually, all you have to do is place vegetable cuttings in water. The vegetable scraps then absorb the liquid, sprout, grow and begin to form new leaves; a much better fate than landing in the garbage.

Regrowing Vegetables: These Plants Work Best

Some vegetables have a higher rate of success than others. These include:

  • Carrots
  • Parsley roots
  • Onions
  • Spring onions
  • Leeks
  • Romaine/Leaf lettuce
  • Celery
  • Napa Cabbage

How to Take Care of Regrown Plants

For optimal growth, plants need nutrients that water alone can’t provide. Therefore, if you want to grow vegetables on the windowsill, you will need to plant them in soil soon after they begin to sprout. 

  • When the scraps are in water, change the liquid out daily.
  • Make sure that the plants get enough sunlight.
  • After two weeks at the most, you should put the plant in a pot.
  • Water the soil regularly so that it stays moist.
  • As the plant grows, it will require more space — repot as necessary.

Note: If you’re growing vegetables from scraps on your windowsill, west or east facing windowsills work best.

Regrowing Herbs: How it Works

regrowing herbs
Herbs can also be grown in water on the windowsill. This is especially useful if you accidentally broke a stem off your plant! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - stux )

It’s not just vegetables that you can grow from scraps. Garden herbs, too, are very easy to grow by cuttings, though some work better than others. Some of the easier herbs to regrow are: 

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Savory
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary

The process is simple: cut off a few long shoots from the herb plant and remove any lower leaves from the stems. Place them in a small vase or jar filled with water, and change the water every two days. Soon the roots will start to form — you can plant the herbs in a pot or in the ground once the roots are at least 1 inch long

When you grow herbs with cuttings, you aren’t technically regrowing them, but propagating them. With the proper care, the shoots will grow into large healthy plants that you can harvest regularly and use in the kitchen.

Tip: After planting herbs like basil, make sure that you grow and harvest them correctly. Here’s how it works: Growing and Keeping Basil Fresh: Tips for Kitchen Herbs

What to Expect When Regrowing Vegetable Scraps

regrowing vegetables
Regrowing vegetables from scraps requires a large amount of space. (Photo: Maria Hohenthal/Utopia)

The findings from our experiment are summarized below:

  • When growing vegetables from scraps, the plants need daily attention.
  • Not all vegetables are suitable for regrowing.
  • Regrowing vegetables requires a large amount of space.
  • Root vegetables and leeks prefer to flower and go to seed, so you won’t get much of a harvest. 
  • Most lettuce purchased commercially has too short a stem to grow back. 
  • Lettuce starts to rot and mold very easily.
  • Water alone is not enough — for optimal growing, the plants need to be transferred to soil. 

To summarize, regrowing vegetables is a nice way to keep vegetable scraps from going to waste. The plants still have some strength left in them to grow leaves or even sturdy stems. The young leaves and shoots are tender and very aromatic. However, in relation to the effort, the yield is very low. Neither new heads of lettuce nor fresh carrots grow back. To cook a meal with regrown vegetables, you would need much more space than can be found on a normal windowsill.

But regrowing is definitely a great way to watch plants grow and eat some homegrown vegetables. It’s is also a nice way to teach kids about nature’s growing cycle.

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Regrowing: Gemüse einfach auf der Fensterbank nachwachsen lassen

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