10 vegetables and herbs to regrow from scraps
Written by Queen Vic Market Sustainability Ambassador Erin Rhoads. Keep up to date with Erin by following her on Instagram.
We love regrowing vegetable and herb scraps in our home. Especially my three year old! It’s a fun zero waste activity for everyone that doesn’t take up too much time or space and is free too. Vegetables and herbs that would otherwise be tossed into your compost bin can be regrown using water and a container. Some vegetables will regrow completely, while others can only grow the green edible leaves. All you need is the bottom of these vegetables and herbs to start.
One of the easiest vegetables to regrow is the spring onion. Most spring onions are sold with the roots. Keep at least 3cm of stem attached to the roots and place them in a container with water covering the roots. Place the container in a sunny, well ventilated spot. Change the water if it starts to look cloudy or stems become slimy. The spring onion will start regrowing in two days. You can either keep them growing in the water or transfer to a pot or space in the garden.
Carrots greens can be regrown but the actual root of the carrot will not. This is the same for most root vegetables. Take the top part of the carrot and place in a tray of shallow water. Change the water every two days to reduce rot or mould. The greens are a favourite and can be used in salad (they have a similar taste to parsley), in a pesto, added to homemade vegetable broths, and we even sneak it into tabouli too. If you get to plant them in soil, let the greens flower, harvest the seeds and try growing your own carrots.
Potatoes are probably the most well-known vegetable to grow. A forgotten potato will produce sprouts called eyes. This means they are ready to grow more potatoes. Organic or biodynamic potatoes are best to use as they have a higher chance of regrowing. Once the potato eyes have grown at least 1cm of sprouts, they are ready to plant in your garden or potato friendly pot. Cut the potato in half if they are large potatoes.
My garden is full of regrown lettuce but I was caught out this time and I’m sharing my mistake so you don’t make them too. Look out for slugs hiding between the leaves at the base. I don’t mind finding slugs in my produce. This means less harmful chemicals are used by the farmer growing my food. But slugs hiding in lettuce mean you won’t get any leaves sprouting once placed in water. The slug will come out at night and eat away all those leaves. It took me over a week to figure it out. Without a slug, lettuce is easy to regrow especially if they are purchased with roots. Within two weeks you’ll be able to start picking off leaves for your sandwiches and salads. We have a couple of lettuces in our garden growing from scraps.
A few days after placing the base of your fennel in shallow water the beginning of those familiar fennel fronds will appear. The fennel does need its water changed every few days. Move to a pot with well-drained soil and harvest the stalks and fronds as needed.
Keep at least 5cm of the bok choy base and put into a shallow dish of water. Change water daily and soon you’ll have new leaves appearing from the centre. If your bok choy starts flowering like mine in the photo this means the plant is going to seed. Leave it in water, let it continue flowering then save the seeds and try growing your own bok choy from seed. If your luckier than me and your bok choy doesn’t go to seed and has regrown some decent leaves, it’s time to transfer to soil where it will keep growing.
After slicing the beetroot keep the top part where the stems would grow. Place this top part in water and watch as leaves begin to regrow. The beetroot will regrow only leaves. Move to a pot or spot in your garden once enough leaves have regrown. These can be used in soups, cooked with olive oil and lemon as a side dish, or tossed in a salad.
Celery is my favourite to regrow. Like the other vegetables, keep the base instead of throwing into your compost and submerge in shallow water. Change the water every two days and soon you’ll have new stalks appearing in the centre. Once the stalks are established plant into a pot or directly in the garden. The celery plant enjoys a good drink of water and prefers moist soil.
Coriander, mint and other herbs
The bottom stalks from herbs like coriander, mint, parsley, rosemary and many others can be kept and put into jars with enough water covering the ends (about 5cm). Make sure to top up the water as needed. Let them regrow in a sunny position in your house. Repot the herb plants and use as needed.
Tip: Because your new vegetables and herbs have been sitting in water they will need extra watering the first week after being in soil. Then water when needed.