Regrow vegetables to make the most of your food dollars, stretch your budget, and have fresh vegetables, herbs, and greens even in midwinter. You can regrow vegetables on your kitchen counter, windowsill, or on a table with a grow light.
You don’t need seeds to regrow vegetables, although you can regrow homegrown vegetables, as well as store bought. Winter is the perfect time to focus on growing vegetables from food scraps, and keeping grow-able vegetables out of the compost. You can also grow herbs from the fresh herbs you get at the grocery store. A single rooted herb sprig can grow into a good sized plant.
Now, you might look at the vegetables in the grocery store and wonder how you’d re-grow any of them. After all, most vegetables don’t come with seeds to grow new plants. Many plants will root from stems, or re-root from their cut bases. Celeriac, fennel, celery, lettuces, and more can all re-root themselves.
A favorite of mine, to regrow, is green onions. This is a great quick win plant to get you started. You can learn more about regrowing green onions here.
Regrowing kitchen scraps is a simple way to boost your access to fresh food, veggies, and to cut down on your grocery bill by a little bit. Re-grown vegetable scraps, like the base of a lettuce stem, can help you make salads all winter. Scallions, romaine lettuce, turnips, some cabbages, celery, fennel, and many others can be rooted and grown from their root bases. Especially if you buy living lettuce that still has the taproot attached, those are especially easy to regrow.
What you need:
- Flat bowls, a flat dish, or a flat tray or two.
- Clean water
- Bases of vegetables like lettuce and celery, or the tops of root vegetables like carrots and beets.
- A few medium pots and some potting soil.
- If you want to re-grow herbs, you’ll need a jar with clean water and several fresh herb sprigs to root.
- A grow light, or sunny windowsill.
Let’s Regrow Vegetables:
Start with clean water in a shallow dish or a shallow bowl. A recycled aluminum baking tray can also work. Place the bases of your recently purchased and used vegetables, like lettuce, leeks, bok choy, and celery, into the tray. The water should be about 1/4 inch deep. You can also place carrot tops, parsnips tops, beet tops, and other leafy tops from root vegetables into the tray.
Change out the water daily to prevent bacterial build up. After a couple of days you should see some roots forming, and new greens starting to grow in your bowl of water. Once there are roots, you can move the bases into plant pots and plant them into soil. Water well.
If plants do not develop roots, but do grow new leafs, you can leave them in the dish of water. When growth seems to slow, harvest the new growth and replace the base with a new one.
Place re-potted plants into direct sunlight on a sunny windowsill, or under a grow light.
Harvest greens after 1-2 weeks. If you trim off only the outside leaves, then the plants will keep growing leaves. Carrot greens, beet greens, lettuce, celery, and all kinds of greens can be grown this way and then used in salads, sandwiches, soups, and more.
Herbs are a bit different. You want to use a wide mouthed quart jar for these. With herbs like basil, parsley, mint, cilantro, thyme, and rosemary you want a fresh 4″ long sprig. Place the sprigs into the clean water and let the water come up at least two inches on the stem.
Spring onions can be regrown similar to herbs,follow this method for more details.
Change the water daily, and watch for roots forming. Once roots form, transfer the herb sprigs from the dish of water to a pot of soil. Firm in well, and water in. Place under a grow light, in a warm spot, or on a sunny windowsill.
Pinch off the growing tips after about 2-3 weeks, to help the herb plants grow in bushy. Then simply pinch back what you need for a meal from your fresh herb plants.
If you want to use a lot of some herbs, like basil for pesto, you’ll want at least 8 plant starts. However, even if only one sprig takes, you can trim new sprigs off of the established plant and root those in the same way. Then you’ll have a continuous supply.
In spring, after the danger of frost is past, you can harden off your herb plants and transplant them into your garden, too. In fall, take cuttings, and root them to start the cycle over again. Just remember to take the cuttings before the first frost!
Regrowing Vegetables with Bulbs, Roots, and Seeds:
Many fruits and vegetables that we purchase from the grocery store have seeds, or are roots or bulbs that will naturally grow if they get the chance. Now, the challenge of growing from seed is that most fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are hybrids, so the seeds won’t grow true to type. But, they’ll still grow something and it can be a fun experiment.
You can even grow some tropical plant from the grocery stores, including oranges, lemons, turmeric, and ginger. Some spices, like cloves, peppercorns, allspice, and star anise may be worth trying to germinate if you have old, whole, spices.
Turmeric and ginger are roots that will naturally try to sprout if the conditions are right. Simply put a sprouted root into a pot of soil, with the sprout above the soil surface, and wait to see what happens. That little green shoot attached to the root will grow like a grass, and you can get a decent harvest of ginger from quite a short growing season this way.
Other roots to grow include sprouted potatoes, sweet potatoes, a sprouted clove of garlic, and even a sprouted onion bulb. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and garlic should produce new roots and a new head. The onion bulb will produce beautiful flowers, and lots of onion seeds if it gets the chance.
Things with seeds and pits, like avocado, pumpkins, peppers, and tomatoes can also be started from the seeds of store bought. I’d use heirloom tomatoes, if they’re available at your stores, rather than the hybrid red slicers though. Sometimes, in the spring, you’ll find tomatoes with shoots already in the seeds. Same with apples in late spring, often the seeds have already sprouted.
Those pre-sprouted seeds can be planted, and watered until new leaves grow. If the plants are strong, especially for tomatoes and peppers, you can transplant them into your vegetable garden once the danger of frost is past. When your plants produce fruit, save your own seeds from the sweetest, and best tasting of the fruits and plant those the next year. Then follow the same procedure and save seeds from the plants with the best flavor, color, and growth.
New to growing food and vegetables indoors?
Check out the Fill Your Salad Bowl workshop and learn how to use 3 different growing methods, at home, so you can fill your salad bowl with super food, nutrient dense, greens every single day. These are greens you can use in your salad bowl, greens you can add to soups, stews, and pasta dishes, and even greens you can use in a stir fry.
In this mini workshop you will learn how to fill a salad bowl every day with food you grow yourself.
- Even if you don’t have any land.
- Even if there is 3 feet of snow covering your garden
- Even if you’ve killed house plants in the past.
- Even if you think you have a black thumb.
Have a look at what’s covered in this workshop and see if its a good fit for you, by clicking/tapping the blue button below.
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