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Greener You

Turn These Food Scraps into New Plants

Don’t toss your peels, tops and other food scraps into the trash – save them! With a bit of water, sunlight and TLC, you can turn would-be waste into brand-new plants and grow fresh food right at home.

Fresh produce makes up a good chunk of your weekly grocery budget. If you ever feel like you’re constantly buying new bunches of herbs, leafy greens, ripe fruit and other kinds of fruits and veggies on repeat, you definitely aren’t alone. But here’s a trick that just might save you money and a few trips to the store: You can turn many different food scraps into new plants.

Using the leftover bits and ends of many kinds of produce, you can create a garden of your own. With a little space and some creative scrap-growing tips, you can turn what would otherwise be waste into fresh fruits and vegetables right at home.

Before you send your food scraps into the trash, find out how you can grow them into brand-new plants right on your kitchen windowsill. All of the following cuttings, roots, seeds and other kinds of food waste can be regrown – no green thumb required!

Green onions

Green onions are one of the simplest food scraps you can regrow into new plants. This slim variety needs nothing but water and sunlight to turn small cuttings into a whole new batch of usable onions.

The next time you’re cutting up green onions, don’t throw away the ends (the part with the little roots on it). Instead, fill a small cup or glass with water and stand the leftover ends up inside, root-side facing the bottom of the glass. You can stick toothpicks into the sides and suspend the onion cuttings if they’re sinking.

Then, place your green onion scraps in a sunny spot and wait. In just a few days, you should see new growth begin to sprout – and in about two weeks, you’ll have enough green onion to snip off and use. 

There’s another way you can regrow these scraps, if you have outdoor space. The Farmer’s Almanac notes that you can actually plant the onion ends in potting soil and it should grow just like it would in water. 

Celery

Celery scraps can be regrown just as easily as green onion ends – and you can use the exact same simple process. 

As you’re slicing off the white ends of celery stalks, keep them a little longer than usual (about 2 inches). Once you’ve finished cooking, take those ends and place them in a shallow bowl or glass filled with water. Make sure the celery isn’t completely submerged, but instead sticking upright out of the water a bit.

Within just a few days, you should see roots start to sprout from your celery leftovers. The ends will grow roots while the top portion begins to show off new green leaves. And within a week, a new stalk will start to rise up. You can then take your fresh celery out of the water and plant it in soil.

Avocados

Who doesn’t wish they had an endless supply of perfectly ripe and ready to use avocados? You might be able to, if you save one of the pits from a store-bought avocado!

All you need is a leftover avocado pit, four toothpicks and a glass of water. Stick the toothpicks into the sides of the pit so you can hold the pit in place over the glass mouth. Place the more pointed side of the pit upwards and the rounded side into the water. Then, keep the water fresh – and wait.

Within a month, you should see the avocado pit start to split open and create brand-new sprouts. Once the pit has sprouts that are about 6 inches in height, it’s time to take your “replanted” former avocado and put it into soil. You may then be able to continue growing a brand-new avocado tree either in a pot filled with potting soil or in your yard. 

Potatoes

If you’ve got potatoes that either need to be used ASAP or are running the risk of spoiling, don’t throw them away. Instead, turn them into a crop of fresh potatoes grown right in your own backyard.

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, you can take any variety of potatoes and grow new ones. You can take whole small potatoes and simply plant them in soil. Larger potatoes can be cut into pieces; any piece that has a few eyes will sprout and grow once buried in the soil of your garden. They’ll sprout without any problem in just a few months.

Sweet potatoes are even easier to grow. You can use the avocado pit method – just take sweet potato cuttings or ends, suspend them over a glass of water using toothpicks and wait for roots and sprouts to appear. Then, you can transplant your brand-new sweet potato growth into your garden or a large container.

Romaine hearts

Who doesn’t love having a whole bunch of romaine lettuce on hand at all times? It’s such a versatile variety – and instead of tossing the romaine hearts from your next head of lettuce, you might be able to use them to grow your own.

Once you’ve used all of the lettuce from a head of romaine, you’re left with the innermost heart. Take that heart, remove the outermost leaves and place it in water to start regrowing. Within no time at all, fresh leaves should start to grow at the center of the heart so you can pull off fresh lettuce as you need it. If you’d like, you can also plant your romaine in soil once it’s begun to sprout new leaves. 

Leafy tops from root vegetables

While there are plenty of ways to use the leafy green tops that come with root veggie varieties like carrots, beets and parsnips, you don’t necessarily need to eat them. You can take the tops that you normally chop off and replant them, potentially turning them into a fresh crop of your favorite root vegetables.

Each time you slice off the top of a beet, turnip or carrot, take the leftover greens and plant them in nothing but water. To do this, you’ll want to leave about 1 inch of the actual vegetable attached; then, place the veggie portion in a shallow bowl or cup of water. Within just a few days, fresh green leaves should start to appear. Roots will also begin to sprout. And once you have a few inches of visible roots, you can take the veggies out of the water and plant them in soil.

Peppers

Scraping the seeds out of any pepper variety is a typical step no matter what kind of dish you’re cooking (unless you want some extra spice, that is). But if you’ve ever wanted your own at-home supply of peppers either sweet or spicy, you may be able to take the seeds you’re throwing away and plant them instead.

Whether you’re working with bell peppers or hot peppers, you can save the internal seeds and put them right into soil. With regular watering, some sunlight and a bit of care, they’ll likely sprout into little pepper plants. It’s an especially great plant to try to grow if you live somewhere with a lot of direct sunlight and warm weather.

However, with pepper seeds of any kind, it’s important to note that you may or may not get the exact same kind of peppers in your garden. Because so many peppers sold in grocery stores are actually hybrids, you might wind up getting a surprise or two once your peppers begin to grow thanks to their hybrid seeds. If you’re using seeds from a non-modified pepper (like those you’d find at a farmer’s market), you’re more likely to get the variety you expect.

In addition to growing new plants and produce from leftover food scraps, there are even more creative ways you can reduce your food waste. Keep reading: