How often have you thrown away the leafy top of a pineapple, or the pip of an avocado, or even the rest of a garlic bulb because a few cloves started going rotten? Those bits that usually end up in the bin can, in fact, be replanted and regrown into fruit and vegetable bearing plants. Mother Nature is the queen of “re-using,” and here are ten food-stuffs you might usually throw away, which can – with a little care – be propagated into healthy plants once again. Stop throwing, and get growing!
1) Ginger Beat the winter-sniffle by propagating your ginger root in spring or early summer. All you need to do is look for a root that has long sections of growth buds, and cut it into 3 cm slices (going through the root, rather than along it). Let the slices dry out for a few days, and then plant them in the garden about 3cm below the surface in a semi-shaded area. It will need really fertile soil, so if you have a vegetable garden going already, then that would be preferable. Water it sparingly until you see active growth above the soil, and then keep the soil moist until the root is fully-grown. You can also suspend the root in a glass jar of water until roots form on the submerged section, before planting in the garden. If you do this, use the same specifications as the ginger slices, only your watering can be quite regular as the roots will have already grown.
2) Potato: Since potatoes are tubers, and already technically “roots,” growing potatoes from cuttings is relatively easy – albeit requiring a little patience. Lay your potato out where it receives some sun for a few days until it starts sprouting the nodules you would normally remove when cooking. Then, cube the potato into 2cm pieces and leave the outsides to dry for a day or two so that it doesn’t rot when you put it into the soil. Find a spot in the garden that is semi-shaded, and use both potting soil and manure in layers for the potato cubes. Dig furrows about 15cm down, and place one cube in each hole. Cover, and keep the soil just about moist – not too dry, not too wet – until shoots appear above the ground. You can add some compost to the top-soil at this point, and your potatoes are ready to harvest when the vines wither.
3) Avocado: Avocado pip propagation is a popular one because you can see the roots grow out of the pip day after day. This is a fun project for little kids, but it’s also a great way to have home-grown avo on toast! Just remember: avocado trees take a few years to bear fruit, so this one will take a little bit more care and attention. Firstly, you’ll need to locate the top, “pointy” end of an undamaged avocado pip, and pierce it with toothpicks so that you can submerge half of the pip in a glass of water with the top facing up. Once roots have grown, the sprout should soon follow, and it is critical to make sure your taproots never dry out! When leaves start to show, you can move your plant to a pot with nutrient-rich soil. As the roots grow, continue moving it into bigger pots, and then eventually outside. A nice tip for a bushier plant is to pinch off the top shoot every now and again so that it encourages more “sideways growth.” Otherwise, you can look forward to an endless supply of guacamole!
4) Romaine Lettuce: If you’re looking for enough lettuce to fill your salad bowl, you might need to plant from seed. However, for sandwich toppings and wrap fillings, this method will work wonders. Cut the bottom 2 cm off of your head of Romaine Lettuce (this should apply to any head of lettuce as long as the hard, stalky bit is still holding all the leaves together) and place it in a shallow bowl of water. Stand the bowl in your kitchen where the lettuce will get morning and evening sun (i.e. not harsh midday sun), and replace the water every other day. You should start to see it grow, and can pick it straight from the bowl and onto your sandwich – it’s that easy.
5) Pineapple: This one got me really excited. Pineapple bushes (also, who knew they grew on bushes?!) take about 20 months to start producing fruit, so maybe leave this one next to your avocado tree, and you can make a pretty mean tropical salad when they both start fruiting. Either way, all it requires is chopping off the leaves and trimming down the fruit attached to them. Then, simply place the leaves in a jar of water, and move into a pot of compost and soil once the roots are about 5cm-10cm long. I can already smell the exotic fruit salads!
6) Garlic: We propagate garlic far too easily, and most people who cook with garlic often enough will have noticed that cloves sometimes have a green inner. This is the shoot growing already, and by planting one clove from every bulb of garlic you buy, you’ll have a garden full of garlic that you can plant on rotation. They also grow really quickly, keep your soil free from bugs and pests, and take as little planting-knowledge as pushing it into the ground. Voila!
7) Onions: Again, onions are already pretty much the bulk of the root, and planting the root-bit of your onions in some potting soil on your window-sill is the first step to your onion garden. When the plant has grown a few leaves, remove the plant from your pot, peel away the old onion bits (to prevent rotting), and cut the leaves down by about one-third of their length. It seems harsh, but this will help kick-start the onion’s growth when you move it into the garden. Once planted in your prepared garden soil, water every now and again, and make sure you continue to cut down your leaves every once in a while. Eat as green onions, or when fully mature.
8) Tomato: This one isn’t so much propagation as it is using the insane amount of seeds you get in every tomato you buy! Even by digging-out, washing, and drying half of a tomato, you can potentially start your very own tomato farm! You could even remove the seeds, wash off the film, and place between moist cotton pads. Leave this is the sun, watering whenever it gets dry, and as soon as it starts sprouting you can move it to a pot. They are delicate vines, and will eventually need something to climb on, but one tomato plant will bear a decent amount of fruit – and quite quickly too!
9) Basil Herbs are generally easy to propagate, and who doesn’t like some fresh basil in their salad or their pasta? Simply find a healthy leaf with at least a 6cm stalk, and put into some water. Again, once the roots begin to show, you can move it into a pot and keep indoors in sunlight, or put next to your front door outside. Planting parsley in the same way will work just as well!
10) Apples: I have on multiple occasions found seeds in my apple’s core that are already sprouting. Ideally, find these, because it’ll speed up the process three-fold! Apple trees will once again only bear fruit after a few years, but even having a nice big apple tree in your garden is a really cool idea. Add a swing, and you’ve got a scene out of a Victorian novel. As mentioned above, try and find apple seeds with little white roots already growing. They are quite delicate, so you’ll need to gently pull them out of the core, and you should always start apple seeds between cotton pads. Keep them in the sun, and constantly moist, and once the sprout starts to show you can transfer into a pot of rich soil. You’ll need to monitor the growth, and move the plant as its roots expand. Keep a kebab stick handy, and let that support the apple sprout until its bark begins forming. Once outside, make sure you support is sturdy, as the baby apple tree will still be sensitive to wind and weather.
Designs by Skylar Phakade