The secret to the beginnings of a great garden can often be found in an unexpected place. The scraps of vegetables that are thrown away after making a soup or casserole can actually be utilized and transformed into a healthy garden with very little effort.

Green onions

Green onions are garnish that can add tons of flavor to many dishes like baked potatoes, quesadillas, salads, etc. Next time you cook with green onions, don’t throw away the bottom. The white bulb with roots can be planted in topsoil and placed in a sunny windowsill. In a couple days, they will begin to grow and the shoots will break the surface of the topsoil. You can periodically harvest the top few inches of the green onion as needed for your recipes and the green onion will recover and continue to grow.

Carrots

Next time you are cutting up carrots (not baby carrots) for a meal, keep the tops where the leaves grow out of them. Place the carrot tops in a small amount of water, and replace the water periodically. Do not completely submerge the tops. Eventually the carrots will regrow their leaves and send down roots. They can then be transplanted into topsoil and be harvested in a couple months. To check the progress of your carrots, gently remove soil around one side of the carrot.

Sweet and regular potatoes

A whole sweet potato or around half of a regular potato can be regrown by suspending the potatoes partially in water. Stuffing the potatoes into the mouth of a jar or poking toothpicks into them to brace them above the water can accomplish this. After a week roots will grow on the sweet potato and the potatoes will grow eyes. They can then be transplanted into topsoil. Gently digging beside your potatoes will allow you to check their progress.

Ginger root

After using a part of a whole store-bought ginger root for your favorite Asian dish, save the scraps. Take a segment with a growth bud (a little round tip) and plant it into topsoil. It will eventually sprout through the earth and regenerate. You can check the progress using the same method as with the carrots and potatoes.

Avocado

Next time you make your famous guacamole, save the pit from the avocado. Submerge about half of the pit in water. You can poke it with toothpicks to brace the pit to keep it suspended. Change the water periodically. It can take several weeks, but the pit should ultimately split. A root will grow down into the water and a branch will grow from the top and sprout leaves. You can then transplant the avocado into topsoil or to a hydroponic system.

Garlic

If you are like me, you have bulbs of garlic in your house that aren’t being used quick enough and they start to grow a green shoot out the top. Take a clove of garlic with one of the green shoots growing out the top of it and plant into topsoil about 1 in. down. You can also place the garlic clove into a cup or bowl with water (not too much water; just enough to cover the bottom). The garlic clove will grow new shoots and a new cluster of cloves will begin to grow. You can harvest a few inches of the shoots or blades as needed for recipes and they will continue to grow back, or you can harvest the cloves after a couple months of growth. Do not cut back the whole sprout because no more sprouts or blades will grow.

Hopefully this guide to gardening with kitchen scraps will help you grow a healthy garden full of healthy ingredients for your next delicious culinary adventure. It should allow you to create a cycle of great meals and a bountiful garden.