Regrowing Vegetables from Food Scraps

By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably

The compost pile isn’t the only place your table scraps can end up where they’ll be put to good use. Many scraps you would otherwise consider trash can actually be made into edible food again. Besides minimizing your waste, regrowing vegetables also saves you money, and the best part is, it’s easy and inexpensive to do. Here are just a few of the foods you can regrow in your own backyard.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes were the first vegetable I tried regrowing when I noticed one in my kitchen starting to sprout. To begin this new circle of life, cut the sweet potato in half and place the parts (with the cut end down) in a glass or dish. Add enough water to cover the potato pieces halfway. You want to place the dish in a sunny, warm spot and maintain the water level. After a few weeks, it’ll be covered in leaf sprouts with roots at the bottom! Gently remove the sprouts, and lay them in a shallow bowl of water to grow new roots. When they’re about an inch long, they’re ready to plant in soil.

Plant the slips in well-tilled soil, placing each one in a row about four inches apart. Water daily for the first week, and then slowly spread out how much you water it to once a week. They should be all set to harvest in about four months. (The leaves will start to yellow when ready.)

Green Onions

Regrow green onions in a glass of water.

This is one of the simplest foods to regrow—all you need is a glass of water and a sunny spot on a windowsill. After you’ve cut off whatever you need from the green tips, place the whole bunch, roots down, in a glass and add about an inch of water. Place the glass in a sunny window spot, and you’ll be amazed how quickly the green shoots will regrow. This is a fun one for kids to learn about sustainability with, as it works quickly. Change the water out every few days, keeping it at the same level, and just snip off what you need when you’re cooking.


Regular onions are another option when you’re considering regrowing vegetables. You just have to place the cut-off bottom of an onion in a bed of soil, either in a pot or in your garden, and cover with about an inch more of soil. Once new roots begin to sprout, just gently pull away the old onion bottom and leave the roots to continue to grow. If you planted in a pot, you can transfer ‪the roots to your garden bed.

Romaine Lettuce

As you chop up lettuce for a salad, set aside the bottom of the bunch for regrowing in your garden. Put the piece in a bowl with a half-inch of water. Set it in a sunny window, and change the water every day. Once new lettuce sprouts begin to grow, it’s time to plant it in your yard. When the leaves reach about eight inches tall, you can harvest them, either by removing the entire plant, roots and all, or chopping off the top with a knife. If you choose to leave the roots, you can continue to grow and harvest romaine.


Regrowing celery from the scraps.

Once you’ve made your soup or salad, save the chopped off base of a celery bunch and place it in a bowl filled with warm water. Place the bowl in a sunny spot, and don’t forget to change the water out daily. Once a week has pasted , fill an empty spray bottle with water so you can mist your plant without overdoing it. Once you notice some leaves start to sprout, you can transplant it to your garden or a pot. Then you can cover the plant with soil, but make sure the leaf tips remain exposed. When the stalks are fully grown, you can harvest and start all over again.


Seeds of all kinds can be regrown from the fruits and vegetables they came from. From hot peppers and tomatoes to apple seeds, simply set the seeds aside to dry and then plant them the same way you would with the kind you bought from a nursery.

Growing vegetables from scraps is not only an idiotproof hobby to take up, but it’s also a great way to teach kids about sustainability and minimizing waste in a clear, interactive way they can understand.

What are some foods you’ve successfully regrown? Share some pics of your recycled garden on Twitter.

Image sources: Flickr | Sher Warkentin

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Composting food waste is a big commitment. Instead, you can simply reuse those scraps to regrow more food. Regrowing vegetables is an easy step you can take to make your kitchen more sustainable, and it's a great way to teach kids about the importance of reusing and repurposing what you already have instead of just buying something else.