If you have a garden, you may already be composting your kitchen vegetable scraps. But did you know you can also grow a beautiful, healthy garden all year long from your kitchen leftovers? In fact, some vegetables are so useful and productive, you can buy them once from the grocery store and never pay for them again! Here is how to start a thriving garden from just your kitchen scraps.
How to grow apricots, plums and peaches from pits
Everyone knows you can re-grow an avocado from seed, and that it’s a fun project to do. But you can also grow apricots, plums, and peaches from the stones of fruits purchased at the grocery store. While not all stone fruit pits will germinate, and most will take several years to produce fruit, it’s simple and easy to start them and see what you get. Here’s how:
- Once you’ve finished the fruit and have only the pit left over, scrub it thoroughly to remove any fruit that may be clinging to the stone.
- Place the pits on a moistened paper towel inside a plastic bag, to create a mini-greenhouse. Put the plastic bag in your refrigerator, at temperatures between 34-42 degrees. After a few weeks or months, the seeds may germinate.
- Late in the fall, plant any un-germinated seeds outdoors, in well-drained soil 3-4 inches deep. Many stone fruits require sustained sub-freezing temperatures in order to germinate. If you have a very dry winter, keep the soil moist, and some small trees may emerge in the springtime.
- If any seeds germinated in your refrigerator, plant them in a pot indoors to protect them through the winter, and move them to outdoor soil in the spring.
How to grow greens and root vegetables
If you have green onions, celery, lettuce, or carrots, you can regrow them from scraps and have a whole new crop, any time of year. Regrowing your vegetables is an easy way to save money and brighten up a kitchen window at the same time. Here’s how:
- For carrots, preserve the last 2-3 inches of carrot top (the end closest to the green). For green onions, leeks, romaine lettuce, or celery, save the last 3 inches at the root.
- Rest a carrot, lettuce, or celery in a shallow dish with about a 1-2 inches of water (with half the vegetable resting in water, and half above the water line). Put leeks or green onions in a cup with, again, water about halfway up the vegetable. Place the container in a sunny windowsill and maintain the water level.
- When roots emerge, transplant from water into a pot, and keep it in a sunny spot. They can stay in a sunny windowsill or be moved onto a patio or balcony.
- Harvest the tops of your greens at will, and have pretty garnishes and salads all summer.
How to grow seeded vegetables
In springtime, you can start tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and other kitchen vegetable seeds for a bountiful summer harvest. Growing your vegetable seeds is a smart way to save money and have the best, freshest vegetables possible. Here’s how to do it:
- In the springtime, prepare a pot with soft, well-drained soil. Add tomato seeds, bell pepper seeds, cucumber seeds, or seeds from any other seasonal vegetable. Lightly cover them with soil.
- Keep the soil moist for several days, until the seedlings emerge.
- When the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin them if necessary, and replant outdoors in a sunny location.
- A good balance of sun and water will allow your vegetables to grow big and nutritious, ready for harvest in summer at the peak of ripeness.
In all these cases, it is best to start with high-quality, organic fruits and vegetables, for the best results in your own garden. Even when choosing the best-quality produce, these methods won’t always work, simply because you can’t always know how the fruits and vegetables were grown, stored, and cared for in their journey from farm to market. However, these methods generally work to grow easy, beautiful, inexpensive organic produce right in your own kitchen, garden, or patio. It’s a fun garden project for the whole family!