Are you excited to start your garden, but you don’t have anything to plant? Don’t worry, you probably have a treasure trove of things to grow already in your kitchen.

You may be familiar with saving the bottoms of the green onions you cut up to sprinkle over saimin or fried noodles. Just in case this is new to you, green onions are usually sold by the bunch with the roots still attached. All you need to do is place the bottom ends in a little water until you are ready to plant them in a pot with well-draining potting soil, or plant directly into your garden. The new leaves will emerge from the cut end.

The centers of lettuce and celery you bought from the grocery store or farmer’s market can also be planted to grow additional food. Peel off the outer leaves/stalks to use as usual. As the leaves/stalks close to the center become too small to use, plant the core in well-draining potting soil with the growing tips exposed above ground. 

Protect the plant from direct full sun and wind while the roots are forming and don’t over water or else the plant will start to rot. Once you see new growth, you can increase the amount of water and sunlight. As the plant develops more leaves, you can harvest the outer ones as the plant continues to grow. When the plant matures, it will flower and set seeds. Collect the seeds to start more plants.

There are more times than I would like to admit when I find sprouting produce in my kitchen. Sprouting potatoes and sweet potatoes can be salvaged by planting them under 1” to 2” of soil. You may have better yield by planting purchased seed potatoes, but why not try growing the sprouted potatoes that would otherwise end up in the compost pile? If the sprouted potatoes are still firm, cut it into large chunks, making sure that each piece has at least one eye. Let the cut ends dry in a bright, indirect sunlight area where the shoots can emerge from the eye. Allow the stem to grow a couple of inches before planting.  

Sprouted ginger and garlic can also be planted in the soil with the sprouting green leaves above the soil. Have you ever sliced into an onion and found a green shoot forming in the center? Use the outer layers for cooking and save the center portion containing the green shoot to plant, keeping as much of the root end attached as possible. Bury the onion in the ground with the green shoots exposed above ground.

These are just a few produce items you probably already have at home and can start growing today. 

Amy Tsuneyoshi

Amy Tsuneyoshi grew up playing in the mud and still finds joy in getting her hands in the soil. She grows a variety of edible and ornamental plants in her urban jungle as well as native Hawaiian plants. She has a degree in Horticulture from the University of Hawai‘i, Mänoa, and is currently the President of the Friends of Hälawa Xeriscape Garden.

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