Discarding potato eyes and carrot ends has become second nature in the kitchen, but that’s no longer the case with scrap gardening. This article is a beginner’s guide to scrap gardening, and it will walk you through what scrap gardening is, where to start, and which kitchen scraps are suitable for scrap gardening.
You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to regrow vegetables from scraps–– it’s an excellent idea for newbie gardeners or those with a small space. While it can’t be promised that your scrap gardening adventure will go off without a hitch, scrap gardening is a fun way to dabble with gardening and put to good use scraps you would typically toss.
What is scrap gardening?
Scrap gardening uses scraps from store-bought or farmer’s market-bought fruits and vegetables to make your own home garden, instead of tossing that food waste in the trash or compost bin.
Scrap gardening is a DIY approach to sustainability to regrow your own food. Scrap gardening also eliminates the trips to the garden center to decide on seed packets. It’s a daunting task to stare at all those seed packets. With scrap gardening, you already have what you need to get started.
Scrap gardening is simple enough for anyone to try, even if you think you don’t have a green thumb. Kids love to be involved, especially with how fast results appear with some scraps.
Although it might be tempting to think any scrap of food from your kitchen could be a candidate for scrap gardening, that isn’t the case. We’ll talk about what scraps you can reuse later in this article.
Note: When shopping at the grocery store with scrap gardening in mind, opt for organic store-bought fruits and vegetables. They could yield better results in scrap gardening since there are no synthetic pesticides or herbicides.
Where to start scrap gardening
You don’t need a large space or garden area to begin your adventure of scrap gardening – a scrap garden could be a container garden, a raised garden bed, or placed in an established garden. Potting soil, a little water, sunshine, and maybe a few toothpicks for some vegetables are all you need to begin.
If you have a windowsill that receives good sunlight, your new little plants will love that spot. Your porch or patio is also a good place if it’s a warm and sunny day.
The plants from some scraps can eventually be transplanted directly into your garden if you have one, but with most, it’s not necessary.
Which kitchen scraps are suitable for scrap gardening
You can use the scraps from several different fruits and veggies to start your scrap garden.
Leafy greens like romaine lettuce, cabbage, and bok choy are easy to grow. But keep in mind that they won’t regrow from a scrap to a full-size head. They will stay small and be as big as they’re going to get after a couple weeks.
- Eat all you can from your original romaine lettuce, cabbage, or bok choy, and cut off one to two inches from the bottom.
- Place that cut-off bottom in a small dish with an inch of water–– change the water daily.
- New growth will happen quickly. Trim the new development after two weeks.
Onions (red, yellow, and sweet)
Red onions, yellow onions, and sweet onions are all good candidates for scrap gardening.
You’ll need one to two inches of the root end of your red, yellow, or sweet onion to use it for scrap gardening. You can choose one of two methods.
Method No. 1
The first method involves a small container, toothpicks, and water. It’s a fun way to watch the new progress of scrap gardening unfold.
- Your onion will need to dry for 24 hours before you begin.
- After 24 hours, you will insert four toothpicks around the perimeter of the onion, forming an x-shape, to suspend the root end over water in the small container.
- Place the container in a sunny spot or a sunny windowsill for a few days and watch small, white roots begin to grow from the bottom.
- Transfer your new sprouting onion to a pot or the ground, and use potting soil to cover the onion and give it some water.
Method No. 2
The second method bypasses the small container and goes straight for the pot or ground.
- Place your onion scrap in a sunny location in a pot or directly in your garden.
- Cover the top part of the onion scrap with a little soil.
- Water it when needed.
Note: No matter which method you choose, wait until the season’s last frost has occurred before your new onions find a home outdoors. When it’s too cold outside, keep the onions in a sunny location in your house. Onions are ready to be harvested when the tops fall over and turn yellow.
- Save the root end of your scallion.
- Place those root ends in a small container with water, submerging the root end in water but leaving the other edge out. Place several root ends in one container.
- New green shoots will grow from the top after a few days. Keep the water in the container fresh by changing it weekly and submerging the roots..
- Wait until the new shoots are at least four inches tall before transferring them to a pot or the ground. You cannot leave them in the original container.
- When you’re ready to use some of your new green onion, chop off what you need and chop off all the way to the ground (or top of the pot) to ensure new growth can happen again.
Did you accidentally buy one too many potatoes, and it has begun to grow eyes? Well, the eyes are perfect for scrap gardening, as long as they aren’t moldy.
For regular potatoes:
- Slice the potatoes into pieces, leaving at least one eye in each cut section.
- Allow the cut sections to dry thoroughly, ensuring no side is wet to the touch.
- Place the potato pieces in either a deep pot or a 5-gallon bucket (with drainage holes) covered with soil or in a hole in the ground covered with soil. Ensure the cut side is down with either option.
- Provide the potatoes with one to two inches of water per week
- As the potatoes continue to grow, build a mound or hill up around it. Once the plant has reached eight inches tall, build the mound up to four inches. Continue the process for every eight inches that it grows.
- Once you notice dead vines, it indicates that your potatoes are ready to harvest.
For sweet potatoes:
- Chop a piece of the sweet potato where it has begun to sprout and place it in a pot or the ground and cover it with soil.
- Water the sweet potatoes, but ensure your area has good drainage because sweet potatoes could rot if it’s too wet.
- The leaves will turn yellow to signify that the sweet potatoes are ready for harvest.
Regrowing tomatoes from scrap can be fickle. But it’s a simple process to give it a try. Since you already have the tomato, you don’t have anything to lose by trying.
- Slice your tomato into ¼-inch thick slices.
- Place it in a container or pot filled almost to the top with soil, and add a little more soil to the top after placing your tomato slices in it. With a decent size pot, you can fit several tomato slices in a circle in the pot.
- Keep the pot wet and watch for seedlings appearing after a week or two. You could have upwards of 30 seedlings.
- Depending on how many tomato plants you want, choose the strongest seedling(s) to transfer to a new pot to grow into full-size tomato plants.
Using the bottom root end, you can regrow celery into full-size new stalks.
- Cut two inches off the bottom of your celery.
- Place one inch of that cut celery into a jar of water–– you want to keep one inch out of the water.
- You will need to change the water daily and ensure it’s receiving sunlight on a windowsill or other place in your house with good sunlight.
- After one week, the celery will need to be transplanted. At this point, you should see leaves and maybe even small new stalks. Don’t wait longer than a week to transplant because the original celery root can begin to rot from being submerged in water for too long.
- You can plant celery in either a pot or in your garden. Leave the new leaves and stalks exposed and not buried under the potting soil. Celery grows best in cool weather, so opt for planting in a location that receives shade.
- Your celery will be ready to harvest after about four months or when the stalks are around six inches tall.
If the top part of your carrot has some greens still intact, put that scrap to use to grow some new carrots.
- Cut one-quarter inch off the top of the carrot, leaving at least an inch of the stem attached to the top.
- Place the cut end side of the carrot in a shallow bowl with a bit of water.
- Don’t place the bowl in direct sunlight–– keep it in a shady location.
- Roots will begin to grow in the stems and on the cut part of the carrot after a few days.
- Once the roots have appeared in the carrot piece, it’s time to move it into a pot. Place the carrot side down in the soil with the green stems left out of the soil. Give the carrots some water after you plant them. Note: A pot is best for the new carrot because you can transition it easier to direct sunlight and cold weather. Take the time to slow that transition by keeping it in the shade and slowly working up to a few hours a day of sunshine.
To regrow a radish, you need a radish including the roots–– not just a scrap of one.
- Remove the leaves and stem from the radish but leave the roots attached.
- Place three toothpicks in your radish in a triangle shape and place it balanced in a glass of water. Do not submerge the radish fully in the water–– the toothpicks will help with that. If you notice the water running low, add some more.
- New roots and leaves should be visible after a week. Those new roots and leaves signify that it’s time to move your radish into a pot to continue its growth.
Note: Radish plants will be happy on a windowsill that receives warm sunlight.
To choose a beet for scrap gardening, examine it to ensure it has healthy greens. It can grow indoors year-round in a sunny windowsill.
- Chop the beet until one-half inch remains and trim down the greens.
- Place it cut side down in a bowl of water, making sure to change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.
- After several weeks when your beet has grown roots, you can move your beet plant to a pot.
- It takes about eight weeks for a beet to be ready for harvest. You’ll know it’s ready when you pull it out, and the root is at least the size of a golf ball.
If you have a few extra garlic cloves from a recipe, use them to regrow some more garlic. Use good-draining soil when planting garlic because it can rot if it gets too wet.
- Where you plan to plant your garlic cloves will determine how many you need. If you’re planting them directly in the ground, you can opt for more, unlike if you’re planting them in a pot. You will need to space garlic cloves planted in the ground six inches apart and each row will need to be one foot apart. For planting garlic cloves in a pot, only place one or two garlic cloves together.
- Regardless of which method you choose, place the pointy side of the garlic clove toward the sky and the flat end in the soil. You will need to push the garlic cloves two inches deep into the soil after you’ve ensured proper spacing.
- Give your garlic two to three inches of water per week, except during the summer. Allow the soil to become dry.
- When your garlic is ready to harvest, the leaves will have turned brown or completely fallen off. You will also notice the garlic has become a tan color.
- After you’ve harvested the garlic, it will need to dry in a shaded area for two weeks. Cut the tops off and wait for the roots to dry for you to remove them.
You can regrow pineapple from scraps, but it can take a couple of years to produce any fruit, and it will shuffle between a few different pot sizes over the first year.
- Use a ripe pineapple with green leaves around–– avoid using a pineapple with yellow leaves.
- Cut the pineapple close to the top. After you’ve made the initial cut, continue to cut away at the pineapple removing all the flesh. Make thin slices on the stalk until you see brown dots. Those brown dots are the unformed roots.
- Once you have removed all the flesh, pull some of the lower leaves away from the stalk, exposing one inch of it.
- Allow the stalk to dry thoroughly.
- Pot the pineapple crown in a small pot after it has dried. Only put an inch in the potting soil and leave the rest exposed.
- Pineapple plants don’t need a lot of water. To avoid overwatering, use a spray bottle to moisten the soil. Provide plenty of sunshine for your plant.
- Patience is necessary when growing a pineapple, as it can take up to three months for your new pineapple to root. To test if your pineapple has begun to root, gently pull on the crown to see if there’s resistance. Don’t pull so hard that you’ll break the roots, though.
- When the pineapple has established roots, it will need to move to a larger pot for about a year. Your pineapple plant will need to make one final move into a 5-gallon bucket after a year.
- It will take time, but your pineapple will eventually flower and begin to grow fruit several months after it flowers.
- Pineapples will be ready to harvest when they are evenly golden.
When to hire a professional
When your scrap gardening has turned into a full-fledged garden and you need a little assistance with your gardening ideas, connect with a gardening company near you.
Scrap gardening is a fun activity to do with kids, so why let outdoor chores take away from the fun? Connect with a local lawn care pro who can handle your to-do list, from mowing the lawn to edging the garden’s borders.