Gardening Tips and Highlights Waushara County Master Gardeners

Growing vegetables from food scraps

by Christine Yesko


Did you know that you can actually grow new plants from common food scraps that are so often destined for the garbage or compost bin? The stems, butts, and seeds from many common vegetables can be turned into a fresh new crop with soil, sunlight and a little know-how.

Here are some grocery store staples you can easily grow more of at home from the food scraps you already have.


Celery: Remove roughly two-inches from the base of a bunch of celery and place in a shallow bowl with water, spraying the top daily to keep it moist. Replace with fresh water every couple of days until a new root system emerges, then transplant into the ground.

Herbs: Most herbs will propagate through cuttings-snip at a node, where sections of the plant merge, and place the cut portion in a jar of water on a windowsill. Replace the water every one or two days until roots emerge, then transplant to a container or the ground.

Green onions: If you’re only using the green part of the onions, retain the white part with a small amount of pale green and place it in the water on a sunny windowsill. Refresh the water regularly and use green portions as they grow, or transplant into a pot with soil for more extended use.

Lettuce: If you typically throw out the base of a head of lettuce, cut it away from the leaves and place in a bowl of water. Replace the water every one or two days, and within two weeks you’ll have enough fresh new leaves for a sandwich or side salad. Note: This will not regenerate a new full head of lettuce, but it will help extend the life of what would have otherwise become compost or trash.

Many of the fruits and vegetables are grown and sold on a large-scale basis are hybrids, meaning they contain genetic components of more than one variety and are not designed to be replicated through seed. Hybrid seeds from conventional produce may be sterile (will not grow) and if they do grow, will not give you an exact copy of the parent plant, but rather something closer to one of the varieties used to create the hybrid.


For more predictable produce from harvested seeds, purchase nonmodified, heirloom varieties. This project would be fun and educational with your children.