Whether you’re participating in your local park clean-up, planting a garden, or simply enjoying the beautiful planet we live on, everyone can get involved with Earth Day festivities this week. One small way you can celebrate is to grow vegetables from their scraps in jars of water, transforming the parts that might otherwise be thrown away into something new. This project is great for kids and adults alike, requires very few materials, and is a good lesson on preventing food waste in the home. Local produce is perfect for this project; freshness lends itself well to starting a windowsill ‘garden’ from the scraps.
Here are a few simple ways to regrow produce:
Avocado trees can be started by suspending their pits in water and placing in a sunny room. Use four toothpicks or wooden skewers and secure into the seed towards the middle of the seed and suspend on the cup rim so the seed isn’t fully submerged. Once the seed cracks, the root extends to the bottom of the cup, and the stem is about 5 inches tall, it’s time to transplant to a decent sized pot. Keep in a protected area (like a screened-in porch) until ready to be transplanted into the ground.
Greens like romaine lettuce, bok choy, cabbage, and celery can all be regrown by placing the trimmed stalk in a shallow dish of water. These veggies are the quickest way to see regrowth and once they are strong enough, these greens can be transplanted into soil. Texas is super sunny and these greens enjoy lots of shade, so just be careful not to burn them.
Root vegetables are misleading; veggies like carrots and beets can be regrown and harvested for their greens, but the root itself never really regenerates. Place the tops of these vegetables into a shallow dish of water to see growth. These greens are still delicious and can be tossed in a salad to add an interesting flavor to the mix.
Emily Johnson is an environmentalist and educator based in South Florida. She is an avid gardener and often experiments with growing food from scraps. Her backyard boasts 10 pineapple plants, 7 papaya trees, 1 avocado tree, a tomato plant, and aloe, all started from food scraps. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Environmental Science and Spanish.