At a time where people everywhere are encouraged to stay indoors to avoid the growing pandemic of COVID-19, it is imperative that we develop creative solutions to problems like the ability to clothe, shelter and feed ourselves. One of the most self sufficient things you can do is grow your own food. We have made it easier than ever by compiling a list of 11 foods that you can regrow from leftover “cuttings” in your kitchen!
1. Green Onions
You just place the stem that is leftover in a glass bowl or jar with enough water to cover it and leave it in the sunlight. After about a two days, you will notice new growth and when this happens you can transplant your green onion into a pot or herb garden. Leeks can be grown similarly.
Lemongrass will grow just like regular grass. You just place the root that is leftover in a glass bowl or jar with enough water to cover it and leave it in the sunlight. After about a week, you will notice new growth and when this happens you can transplant your lemongrass in a pot or herb garden.
3. Lettuce, Cabbage, and Bok Choy
Lettuce, cabbage, and Bok Choy are relatively easy to grow from cuttings. Instead of throwing out the leftover leaves, place them in a bowl with just a small amount of water in the bottom. Keep the bowl somewhere that gets good sunlight and mist the leaves with water a couple of times each week. After 3 or 4 days, you will notice roots beginning to appear along with new leaves. When this happens you can transplant your lettuce, cabbage or wok chop in soil.
Celery is one of the easiest foods to grow from leftover cuttings. Just cut off the bottom or base of your celery and lay it in a bowl with just a bit of warm water in the bottom. Keep the bowl in direct sunlight as long as possible each day and after about a week, you will begin to see the leaves thickening and growing along the base. When this happens, you can transplant your celery in soil and wait for it to grow to full length.
5. Bean Sprouts
Simply soak a tablespoon of the beans that you want to grow in a jar with shallow water. Leave this overnight and in the morning, drain the water off and put the beans back in the container. Cover the container with a towel overnight and rinse them the next morning. Keep doing this until you notice the sprouts begin to appear and then until they reach the size that you want. This works well with mung beans and wheat berries. You can also grow using a coca cola bottle or milk carton! Here is an example below.
You can grow a number of hot peppers from the seeds that are leftover. Just collect the seeds from your habaneros, jalapenos or any other peppers that you have on hand. Plant them in potting soil and keep in direct sunlight unless it is warm outside and then you can just plant them in your garden area. Peppers grow relatively fast and don’t require a lot of care. Once you get a new crop, just save some of the seeds for replanting again.
Peppers like to have warm roots and do well in black containers or concrete blocks.
7. Ginger Root
Ginger root is very easy to grow and once you get started, you can keep your supply of ginger full. You will need to plant a spare piece of your ginger root in potting soil, making sure that the buds are facing up. Expect new shoots and new roots in about a week or so and once this happens you can pull it up and use it again.
To growing fennel, it requires that the roots are kept intact. You need about an inch of the base of the fennel to get it to regrow. Just place this base in a container with about a cup of water and leave it in direct sunlight. The windowsill is a great place to grow fennel. When the roots grow strong and you notice new green shoots coming up from the center of the base, you can transplant into soil.
9. Garlic Sprouts
Garlic is really easy to grow and can be done from just one clove. When you buy garlic, you get several cloves so just pull one off and plant it with the roots facing down in potting soil. Garlic likes plenty of direct sunlight so in warmer weather, keep it outdoors in the sun during the day. Once you notice that new shoots have established, cut the shoots back and your plant will produce a bulb. You can take part of this new bulb and plant again.
Make sure you are not submerging the cloves or they will rot. Change the water when it looks dirty, every 2 or 3 days, and your little sprouts can reach a height of ten inches! You can cut the sprouts with scissors when ready to harvest them. Garlic sprouts have a lighter flavor than garlic and are best raw.
10. Basil and Cilantro
Basil is relatively easy to regrow. You will need a stem about four inches high. Place stem in a glass of water with the leaves well above the water line. Leave the glass sitting in a bright area but not in direct sunlight. Roots should begin to form in a few days and when those roots reach a couple of inches long, you can transplant them in soil.
Cilantro can be grown from scraps as well. Just place the bottom of the stem in a glass of water and leave in a bright area, near a windowsill perhaps. When the roots grow a couple of inches long, you can transplant the cilantro into a pot and you will notice new sprigs in just a few weeks.
11. Turnip Greens
You can reserve the tops of turnips and regrow greens from them. Just chop off the tops of the turnips, leaving about a half-inch to an inch of the top. Place in a shallow container, add water, and put in a sunny spot. After a week, you should see some strong turnip greens. And really, all members of the turnip family (beets, carrots, parsnips) can regrow their greens this way, not just turnips.
You can cut the sprouts with scissors when ready to harvest them. Turnip leaves can be prepared exactly like spinach or its close mustard, kale, cabbage, and collards relatives, including in salads, soups, and stewed with pork and served with vinegar. The somewhat fuzzy leaves are extremely high in vitamins A, B, C, and K, folate, iron, calcium, and thiamine.
General Guidelines to Regrow Food In Water
- You don’t need a lot of water – just enough to cover the roots. About 1/2″ of water seems to be sufficient otherwise the food can get moldy and slimy.
- Be sure to check the water every 2-3 days to ensure that A) there’s enough water, and B) no rogue pieces fall off and slime up your bowl.
- The size of container should be relative to the size of the food you’re growing. Lettuce and celery grows best in shallow bowls like these. Green onion and lemongrass can be in taller, skinny glasses like these.
- You can regrow multiples of the same plant as long as you’re not overcrowding the area.
Other Foods You Can Regrow
This list is not all inclusive. There are lots of other fruits and vegetables that you can regrow such as:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Onions (white/yellow/red)
These items require significantly more time to grow. Trees like avocado take a minimum of five years to produce fruit! Long term they may be great investments and it is encouraged that you research how to grow and care for these as well.