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How to grow a scrap garden at home

Published on October 20 2020

Stop! Please don’t throw it away. You can grow it again.

Seriously though, some of us were born to get our hands digging into dirt, tending to our gardens with ever-loving care while some of us other folk think of gardening as tedious; a chore. Maybe you’re someone who wants to grow some of your own food but you don’t want to deal with the demands of a full blown garden. If this sounds like you then you might like the idea of scrap gardening. It’s a lot less work and can still yield a fruitful supply of homegrown goodies for you to enjoy. 

With the pandemic’s disruption to our regularly scheduled habits and routines, this is a great time to start scrap gardening. It will give you the pleasure of growing your own food without even having to visit a plant nursery or garden center. All you have to do is replant the base and bits and pieces of foods that you would normally throw away or compost. Check on your plants and if after a week you don’t see anything is happening, compost the scraps and try again and remember, it’s not personal. Not everything you try will sprout so when something doesn’t work out, keep trying, it’s not your fault. 

Scrap gardening is kind to the environment and creates less waste. You’ll purchase fewer items with plastic wrap as your scraps regenerate new food. And hey, what you don’t spend on veggies, fruit and herbs, you can spend on something else. Even if you are living in a small space with only a little balcony with no backyard land to call your own, no sweat! Scrap gardening is perfect for apartment dwellers and condo owners. 

You can start with just one thing making it a teeny tiny project so you’re not overwhelmed. 

How to grow a scrap garden at home

Start with your scrap of choice. 

Here’s a short list of ideas to get you started: 

  • Green onions
  • Celery
  • Romaine
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Leek
  • Carrot
  • Pineapple
  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Basil
  • Mint 
  • Cilantro

Many of these are still alive in the grocery store, especially organically harvested varieties from a field or greenhouse. Given the right conditions, they can sprout again as long as those growing points are there, you can generate a new plant. When it’s time to transfer these to an outdoor garden just be mindful of the climate and conditions that you live in because these beauties will need some sun to keep growing.

For all the avocado lovers out there who mourn the overripe or stringy avocados that end up in the compost, save the pits and use them to grow your own: Not every pit will produce roots, but isn’t it worth a try? Start by trying a few pits at once. Within a few weeks you should see leaves and in about three months, when your tree is around 7 to 8 inches tall, plant it in a 10-inch pot with adequate drainage.

Rinse off the base of the vegetable scrap you want to regrow, choose something like a glass, a take-out container, plastic cup, water bottle to grow it and put the washed and cut stalks facing upright into the container with just enough water to cover the base so it can draw the water up through the vascular tissue and to the bud. Keep that in mind that these scraps grow more quickly in warmer water.  In very little time you're going to see some little sprouts and shoots coming up and eventually, leaves will begin to develop.

Use a spray bottle to gently mist the plant every other day. Let it get some sun and change the water daily or almost daily while looking out for sprouting roots. Once you see some development it’s best to transfer the baby plant into some potting soil. Use whatever space you have that gets a good amount of light - take it to your window sill, terrace, rooftop or backyard - and let your scrap garden grow. Although likely started indoors, your plants will do better outdoors to gain more mature growth. 


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