Eating local produce is an amazing way to reduce your carbon footprint. On average, the produce you buy from a grocery store has already traveled 4,108 miles by the time it gets to your kitchen (http://www.foodmiles.com/)! You can decrease food miles by buying from local farmer’s markets, but this can get expensive.
One way to cut back on these costs is by growing your own food at home. An easy and fun way to start this process is by regrowing food from food scraps! This helps decrease food waste, decrease your carbon footprint, and save money!
Here are some foods you can regrow from food scraps:
Greens (Bok Choy, Lettuce, Cabbage, Celery):
Take the base of your leafy greens in a small bowl full of about half an inch of water (with cabbage you can just place leftover leaves in the bowl). Place the bowl in an area with lots of sunlight. Replace the water once a day or every other day and mist the leaves with water. Once you see roots sprouting, transplant your greens into the garden. This process can be repeated indefinitely! With leafy greens, you can continuously pluck off leaves to use and as long as you leave some it will continue to produce for you!
Cut your potato into small pieces, making sure that every section has at least two sprouts. Let the pieces sit out in a room temperature area until they are dry to the touch. Then, you can plant the sections outside about a foot apart in 8 inches of soil. In about a month they will start growing!
These are surprisingly easy to grow! All you have to do is take the seeds, dry them out, and plant them in a sunny area outside. If you have a whole pumpkin, you can even plant that in your yard!
Next time you cut open a tomato, save some of the seeds! Rinse off the tomato seeds and allow them to dry on a paper towel. Then, plant them in an indoor planter and keep the soil moist. Once the sprouts are a few inches high, you can transplant them outdoors in a sunny area. Water them a few times a week.
This one can take up to two years for your re-planted pineapple to start producing fruit! Make sure you have a pineapple with happy green leaves. Remove the leafy top and suspend it with toothpicks in a container with water. Make sure that the water touches the base of the pineapple at all times. Place this in a sunny area and change the water every few days.
Roots will start to appear in a few weeks. Once they are fully formed, replant the pineapple in soil with lots of sun!
Tip: If you live in a colder area, keep your pineapple inside.
These are extremely easy to grow! Simply cut off the base of the onion (leaving about half an inch of onion) and plant it in a sunny area. The roots will regenerate and once they do you can remove the old onion and allow the roots to grow into a new plant.
Mushrooms are a little tricky, because they need to be planted in a warm and humid area. Simply cut off the caps, and place the stems into some soil. Leave the top exposed and the base will produce a new head!
For these, simply cut off the tops of the stalks and place them in water. Change the water every few days. In a few weeks, roots will begin to sprout. Once the stems have grown strongly, you can plant the stalks into soil in a warm area of your garden.
Peppers are another easy thing to grow! Simply save seeds, let them dry out, and plant them in a sunny area.
Green Onions, Leeks, Scallions:
These are extra wonderful for food scraps saving! Simply take the green parts of these veggies and place them in a jar full of water in a sunny space. Change the water every 3-4 days. In about a week the plant should replenish itself and you can use it right away! Make sure to leave the roots in the water and you can easily continue this cycle!
Place a chunk of ginger in indirect sunlight with the smaller buds facing down. The ginger will sprout new shoots and roots and can continue to be harvested as a whole and reused in this way!
This can be done in two different ways!
You can easily replant garlic by placing a clove in a sunny area of the soil with the bottom of the clove facing downwards. The garlic will begin to sprout, you can either cut off the tops and have garlic sprouts that way, or you can wait until the tops die and you’ll have a whole new clove.
Alternatively, you can place a garlic clove(or a whole bulb) into a jar with a little bit of water in the bottom. Make sure the water covers the bottom of the cloves but do not fully submerge them or the garlic will likely rot. Be sure to place the garlic in a sunny area and change the water every other day. Once they reach about three inches tall you can begin to chop off up to a third of the tops at a time and they will continue to replenish themselves.
Basil and Cilantro:
Fresh herbs can be very expensive, so being able to grow your own is a fantastic experience! These plants can easily regrow their roots and create new plants. Just place the stems (with a couple of leaves still on top) in a bowl of water in a sunny area. Be sure to change the water every other day. Once the roots sprout, you can plant the stems into the soil. Within a few months these stems will turn into a whole new plant that you can continuously harvest leaves from. As long as you don’t overharvest the leaves, you’ll continuously have fresh herbs.
Root Vegetables (Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, and Turnips):
These are extremely easy to grow! Simply cut off the tops and place them in some water. Change the water every few days. Once the tops being to resprout and roots begin to form, you can place them outside in a garden bed and they will grow!
This is another tricky one! If the seed is too damaged at all it will not be able to grow and not every avocado will grow regardless. First, clean off the avocado pit, then stick toothpicks through the sides at an equal distance. Now, balance the pit with the toothpicks in a wide-mouthed jar with the pointy end facing up. Fill the jar with water so about half of the avocado seed is covered at all times. Finally, place the jar in a sunny area and replace the water every couple days. Within a couple months, the pit will begin to split and the avocado will start to grow roots and a stem. Be patient, and once you see leaves grow you can plant the avocado into soil. Make sure about half the pit it above ground.
Go forth, and regrow your food scraps with confidence.
Regrowing plants from food scraps is a rewarding and amazingly easy way to utilize existing produce and help cut down on food waste! Most of these techniques can continuously produce new food. This process saves you money and helps save the earth!