When I started thinking about the number of eatable items that can be propagated from kitchen scraps, I was greatly surprised about the almost unlimited number. Just thinking about the fruits and vegetables that I consume and the fact that each of them has a seed inside and that means I can grow the plant that produced them. Apple, peaches, pears, cherries, and tomatoes, when we think about it, almost everything we consume with seeds can be propagated back into the fruit or vegetables through the seeds.
For this article I will split the items into three groups: propagation by scrap, propagation by seeds and propagation by plant (cuttings). I will give this warning first, before getting started collecting your ‘scraps’ or seeds, be sure to source them from organic fruits and vegetables, because pesticide and herbicide-treated plants usually won’t grow a second generation. If you purchase genetically modified organism (GMO) for your fruit or vegetables, they were likely bred from suicide seeds that won’t produce another generation of viable seed.
Group one is propagation by scrap. I define scrap as a part of the fruit or vegetable that we would usually discard when preparing them to eat. This is generally the area that the above ground part and the below ground part of the plant meet. If we are going to try to propagate the plant again, be careful to leave at least at least one inch on both sides of this clear divide in the plant. This will allow both the root stock and the leaf stock to regenerate. Below is a list of plants that will re-propagate well by this method and notes for success.
Celery Set the base in a glass of shallow water and in about a week you will see new celery shoots growing out of the center of the stock. Start new celery in a kitchen window and transplant it to the garden once it starts to grow a few inches high. Just make sure you plant once you start to see the outer stalks deteriorate. Celery likes cooler weather, so if it is too hot outside, you can transplant to a pot in your kitchen or by a sunny window in your home as well. Spritz it with water weekly to keep the top of the plant moist.
Green Onions Soak the roots in a container of water, leaving a short shaft of green above the water line in about an inch of clean water, and place them in the sun. As the plants grow taller, keep the water level higher. The roots will grow longer too, and in a few weeks you can transplant them to your garden to grow a whole new batch of green onions.
Leeks. Take the leftover white roots, you must leave at least 8 – 10 cm of the white part above the stem (which in a leek is the thin brownish disk found at the bottom) and place them in a container with a small amount of water in it. You want the roots to be wet but you don’t want the entire thing submerged. Take your container and place it in a sunny window sill. Within 3-5 days you will begin to see new growth come up. In a few weeks you can transplant them to your garden. Scallion and Fennel can be propagated in the same way.
Romaine lettuce. You will take the white base or heat of the plant to grow your produce. Cut the stalks or leaves with an inch left and placing them into a bowl of water with the roots facing down. You want to make sure the roots are in waster but you do not want to submerge the entire plant. Make sure to place the bowl into a sunny window and spritz it with water weekly to keep the top of the plant moist. Several days later you will begin to see the roots and leaves sprouting. In seven to ten days remove the plant from the water and plant it into soil with only the leaves above the soil. You plant will continue to grow and in several weeks you will have a new head ready to be harvested. Bok Choy and Cabbage can be grown just like Romaine lettuce.
Onions Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion (which must remain intact), leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Leave it to dry, in a place that’s shady and well aired, for roughly 2 hours. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. It won’t take long before your onion will begin to sprout. When 2 – 3 leaves have developed well on each shoot, dig up the whole thing, remove the old onion tissues, separate the new shoots with their roots (each one will become a new onion) and transplant them taking care to cut back the leave by 2/3, in this way you’ll encourage the bulb to grow. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.
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