It might sound surprising but the fact is that most of the vegetables we eat can be easily re-grown in our kitchen from scraps. Although the process is easy, it requires some time and patience. But, it will prevent wastage of food and will also help in saving money along with the benefit of fresh and pesticide free vegetables. So it not only is pocket-friendly but is also a very healthy substitute for many vegetables that are bought from the market. So instead of throwing away the scrap pieces into the dustbin, a smart alternative is to re-grow fresh vegetables from it. Also, the quality of the re-grown vegetables highly depends on the quality of the scrap from which it is being grown. So, it is preferred to use organic, chemical-free vegetables for this purpose.
So, let’s take a look at some of the vegetables where we can use innovation at its best and make the best out of waste:
1. Carrot: Many people might not know this but carrot leaves are actually edible and can be used as garnish just like parsley or coriander. To get fresh carrot leaves, you just need to regrow the discarded carrot tops. All you have to do is to put the carrot tops in a shallow saucer filled with water and then place it in a well-lit room. After a couple of days, the carrot tops will sprout and the leaves can be used for consumption.
2. Basil: Basil is considered to be an indispensable herb used in cooking all over the world, so it never hurts to have extra supply of basil anyday. Basil leaves can be easily regrown from basil cuttings. All you need to do is put basil stems about 4 inches long in a glass of water and leave them in a sunny spot. When the roots grow to be about 2 inches long, then transfer them to pots filled with compost.
3. Garlic sprouts: Garlic sprouts are very mild in flavour unlike garlic cloves and can be added to pasta, salads and other dishes. Also, they are very easy to grow and are a good way to deal with sprouting garlic cloves. To regrow garlic sprouts, you just have to put the sprouted garlic cloves into a container with a little water and then keep it in your kitchen. Within a few days you will see new garlic sprouts and this process can be repeated by replanting a few garlic cloves.
4. Lettuce and Cabbage: There are two ways in which you can regrow lettuce and cabbage leaves and both are equally easy to implement. First method is to put the bottom head of lettuce or cabbage in half inch of water and keep in a sunny place. After a few days, fresh roots and leaves will start to appear and after a week or so, transplant it to soil with just the leaves above the level of the soil. This will enable the plant to grow easily and within a few weeks it will grow a whole new head. The second method is to plant the cutting directly into the soil and keep the soil moist for few weeks until the new shoots start to appear.
5. Scallions: Select fresh scallions and cut off an inch from the roots and put the white root end in a glass jar with little water and leave it in a well-lit and sunny position. The leafy part of the scallions will continue to shoot and when it’s time to cook, you can just snip off what you need from the growth and leave the white root end in water again to keep growing. In this way you can have an endless supply of scallions.
You can even buy a handful of new scallions to use specifically for growing.
6. Sweet Potato: One thing to keep in mind before starting to regrow sweet potatoes is to use organic ones as most most commercial farmers spray their sweet potatoes with chemicals to prevent them from shooting and hence, regrowing. Also, you need to be careful of slugs as they love to feast on sweet potatoes.
To regrow sweet potatoes, bury all or parts of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny place. Within a week or so, new shoots will start to appear through the soil. Once the shoots reach around 4 inches in height, replant them. Also make sure to keep about 12 inches between each plant. After this procedure, it will take about 4 months for new sweet potatoes to be ready.
7. Potato: Potato plants need a high-nutrient environment, so it is advisable to make compost using the soil before planting the potatoes. Plant the potatoes around 8 inches deep with the sprout facing upward and cover it with around 4 inches of soil and leave the other 4 inches empty. As the plant grows, more roots appear so you will have to add more soil to support its growth.
8. Sprouted Onions: Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to re-grow and propagate.They enjoy a warm sunny environment and moist soil. To regrow onions, just cut off the root end, leaving about ½ inch of onion on the roots. Then place in a sunny place and cover the top with soil. Once you start regrowing onions, you can keep re-planting the root ends that you cut off and you will never run out of onions again.
9. Ginger: Re-growing ginger is very easy and low maintenance but it also requires time and patience as it takes a few months for shoots to sprout and upto one year for the plant to grow roots which are big enough to be used. Simply plant a piece of ginger in soil with the smallest buds facing upwards in a warm and moist environment. Soon enough, you will observe growth of new shoots and roots. Once the plant is ready to be harvested, pull out the whole plant along with the roots and repeat the process to get more ginger.
10. Lemongrass: The bottom of the lemongrass stalk is too tough to be used in cooking, so instead of throwing it away, you can use it to re-grow lemongrass. Place the root end in water and leave it in a sunny position. Within a week, new roots will start to appear and after that you can transplant it in a pot and leave the plant in a sunny outdoor place. While harvesting it, you can snip off what you need and leave the rest to keep the plant growing.
11. Jalapenos, Bell Peppers: Instead of throwing away the seeds of these peppers, keep the seeds and place them in soil in a place which receives direct sunlight. They grow in a very little amount of time and require very less care.
12. Mushroom: Though mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, they are not very easy to re-grow as they have to compete with other fungi for survival in a warm humid environment which is considered ideal for their growth. Grow mushrooms in a pot so that you can control temperature by keeping it in warm filtered sunlight during the day and cool temperature at night. To re-grow mushrooms, remove its head and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving the top portion exposed. To know if you have succeeded, you will either observe new growth in a few days or it will start to rot.
13. Turnips: Snip off the top of the turnip and place it in a container of water. You will observe green tops growing within 3-4 days and in a week or so the root will start growing and it will be ready to transplant
14. Cilantro, Coriander: While chopping them, it is advisable to keep the root to aid in re-growing them. Even, the bottom of the stems can be used for this process. Place the stems in a glass of water in a well-lit area. The roots grow quickly and soon it will be ready to transplant it and within a few week, it will be ready for use.
15. Lemons: After extracting lemon juice, the seeds are thrown away. Instead of throwing them away, you can use them to grow a lemon tree. Just wash and dry the seeds and then plant them in a nutrient-rich soil.