How to Grow Your Own Produce From Kitchen Scraps

Help your garden grow using the vegetables and other produce you already have.

Congratulations on trying your hand at growing your own produce. You can start by going to your local plant nursery to buy fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. Or you can buy plants online. Another option? Check your fridge or your compost bin.

To start scrap gardening, simply recycle some of your kitchen scraps into whole new vegetables and fruits—no fancy equipment required. Just choose your starters wisely.

"Some things are gardenable, but some are merely amusements," says Barbara Pleasant, gardening expert and author of Homegrown Pantry.

In other words, you can't turn a random bit of produce leftover from last night's dinner into a full-grown squash just by planting it in the yard.

You may have tried growing an avocado from the seed–by putting an old avocado pit with toothpicks in water–and had lackluster results. But with the right kitchen scraps, you won't have to wait a decade for your investment to pay off. (Take planting pumpkin seeds.) With just a little water and attention, you can grow your own fresh veggies in as little as a week or two.

"Use a dark-colored earthenware jar, so the root section of the stem is not getting light," Pleasant says. "Having their heads in the sun and feet in the shade encourages rooting."

Here's how to help your favorite fruits and veggies take root—and where to plant them once they've grown. Grab your gardening tools and get planting.

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How to Grow Herbs from Sprigs

Herbs may be one of the easiest things in your kitchen to regrow. Plop herbs fresh from the store into warm water in a dark-colored vase.

"They'll last longer," Pleasant says. "And if they take root, you'll get a whole new plant."

Easy-grow plants like mint definitely work, but even basil and rosemary may sprout with a little coaxing. Once the roots form, plant the herbs in your garden or a pot on your windowsill.

RELATED: The Easiest Herbs to Grow Indoors

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Celery, Lettuce, and Cabbages

The bottom cores of celery, bok choy, cabbage, and lettuces can be placed in shallow dishes of water in a sunny window until they take root, and you start to see growth in the leaves. However, you may not get the quality you had in the original greens.

"It'll regrow, but they're scrawny and may not have a good texture," Pleasant says.

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Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes are particularly easy to regrow from kitchen scraps, especially in the spring.

"Any potatoes you buy in the spring have been dormant for so long, they're ready to grow," Pleasant says. You can cut larger potatoes into small chunks with a few eyes on them, and smaller potatoes can go into the dirt whole.

Sweet potatoes are also easy to grow from leftover vegetables—just let the vine grow out from one of the tips. While you may not be able to harvest another potato, a sweet potato vine makes a great houseplant, and the leaves are edible, Pleasant says.

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Love the greens from your favorite root vegetables? Simply lop the top off beets, turnips, or fennel and place it in a shallow dish in the sun until the root growth develops, and then plant.

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Leeks and Green Onions (or Scallions)

As long as the roots are still on the veggies, you can regrow them. Simply place the leek or scallion roots in water in a dark container, and let the roots grow and the greens come back. You'll be able to harvest the greens from your plant a bit at a time.

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How to Harvest Seeds

You may be able to harvest seeds to start your own seedlings from certain produce, including winter squash and tomatoes. Winter squash seeds are ready to go. For tomato seeds, you can simply dry them on a coffee filter and plant them after you take them from your tomato.

Keep in mind that you may not get the exact same type of tomato out of it.

"Supermarket tomatoes are probably hybrid tomatoes, which have unstable genetics, Pleasant says. "They are not going to grow into the same type of tomato." If it's an open-pollinated heirloom tomato, you'll have a better idea of what to expect.

RELATED: When to Start Planting Vegetables in Your Garden, a Month-by-Month Guide

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