How to Grow Food from Kitchen Scraps

Yo yo yo what’s up Compton Health Bar Fam!? I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy during this quarantine and pandemic! These are unprecedented times, and we here at CHB are sending you and your loved ones our very best. 

I know times can be a little uncertain. In my family, for instance, it seems like a sin more than ever to waste anything, especially food. When I call my mama, she says “mija ahorita no hay que desperdiciar nada!” I imagine she looks like this when telling me.

Therefore, here my husband and I are trying our best to freeze meat and produce or cook foods que abundan (like a whole ton of rice and beans) to minimize our trips to the grocery store. Can you relate? In addition to health concerns, some of my friends have gotten laid off or furloughed. For those friends, they are avoiding waste so as to limit unnecessary trips out of the home, yes, but also to stretch things out as much as they can. For these reasons and more, now is the time to be extra creative. In an effort to become self-reliant, can we use this quarantine to learn skills such as growing our own food?

Grow Your Own Food & Reduce Waste

Now, more than ever, it is a good time to learn to grow food and reduce food waste. It can serve as a survival skill these days and a fun hobby to pass the time during the quarantine. There are a lot of ways to do this as well. For instance, composting makes for a great quarantine hobby. Instead of throwing out food scraps, you can turn them into fertilizer for your garden. (Comment below if you want us to come out with a blog post about composting.) 

There’s also the option to grow healing herbs and leafy greens in your own garden. However, these two options require some land (like a backyard), a green thumb, and a few additional resources. It is a useful skill, for sure, but it can seem daunting if you have never gardened before.

Personally, I have found a way to limit waste and grow food that requires less space and is fairly easy. Trust me, I always thought I had a black thumb until I tried this out. Now I consider myself to be a plant whisperer. Just call me Captain Planet, fam. My new plant skills got me feeling like this.

Aight, so what the heck is this super easy way to reduce food waste and grow food?? Fam, it’s called propagating plants. It’s also referred to as regrowing kitchen scraps. So many of the kitchen scraps we throw out can actually be saved and used to regrow more food! No estoy exagerando, amigxs. It feels miraculous to watch something that I would have otherwise thrown away turn around and actually sprout life. Usually, with just sunshine and water, kitchen scraps turn into plants that are full of life!

Still with me here? Orale pues. Here are some kitchen scraps that we are used to throwing away that can, instead, be saved to sprout new life.

How to propagate plants in your kitchen:

Celery – This was the first plant I personally attempted to propagate and the results were great. When buying a bunch of celery, the bottom end is typically cut off to separate the individual stalks. That bottom end can be saved and put into a glass of water. The top will sprout leaves in a couple of days. After perhaps two weeks, the bottom will sprout roots. Once the celery sprouts roots, you can plant it inside a planter!  Change the water often. It is amazing to see this regrow so quickly. Check these pictures of how my celery first started and how it is doing now.

Romaine – Similar to celery. Lettuce is thinner than celery, however. Be sure to change the water every day. The outer leaves may rot, gently cut them away to allow the center to thrive and grow new life. I have tried this as well and have noticed it is quite delicate compared to the celery. It is important to be very gentle with Romaine Lettuce.

I removed the outer rotting leaves of the romaine to allow the tiny little top to grow. By removing the outer layers, I realized that even though the top looks small, the roots had already developed! The Romaine lettuce taught me that it’s ok to grow at your own pace, that all growth is good growth, and that it’s important to remove that which no longer serves us in order to cultivate our growth. 

Bok Choy – This is almost like a cross between celery and romaine. You will sprout quickly in the middle like celery, yet it may be more on the delicate side like the romaine lettuce.  Again, change the water daily and be gentle for the best results. I have not tried this, but my homegirl has. I am sharing these tips based on her feedback and photos.

Napa Cabbage – Napa Cabbage is sturdy, like celery. My same homegirl has propagated napa with excellent results. 

Spring Onion – Spring Onion is one of the most miraculous on this list, and one of the easiest. Put the white bulbs in water with the greens sticking up and out of the glass of water. Cut away at the tips of the greens. Just cut away what you need when you need it.  As long as the white bulbs of the spring onions remain in clean water, and a little bit of greens stay on top, the greens will continue to regrow! Buy one bunch, and you may never need to re-buy spring onions again! A lot of my friends try it and love it. Some of my friends were doing this just for fun even before this pandemic hit.

CIlantro – If you put a few stems of cilantro in water, the bottom will sprout roots and you can plant it in a tiny planter and keep it on your window sill. I tried it and my cilantro just wilted and rotted, so the jury is still out on this one. I’ve seen this suggestion online but I don’t know anyone personally who has done it successfully. If you have tried it successfully, holla at us in the comments!!

Radish –  I recently tried this and immediately fell in love with the results. If you have a bunch of ravanos, it is worth saving one and to try and propagate it in water. You will see greens sprout from the top, and then roots come from the bottom. Once you have a fair amount of roots, you can plant the radish in soil. I am giving my ravanito a little more time to grow a little strong before I put the lil homie out in the soil.

Mira que chula!

Garlic – You can put a bulb in water so that it can sprout greens on top and roots on the bottom. Or, you can plant a clove directly into some dirt. I have a little space in the back of my home, so I planted some garlic bulbs directly into the dirt! Still waiting to find little sprouts. Update: each clove has the cutest little sprout!!

Yams – You can put this into a glass container with water. The bottom will sprout roots and the top will sprout greens. Once you have a healthy amount of roots that have sprouted, you can plant the roots into some soil (in a planter if you do not have a yard), with the greens sticking out of the soil.


!No mames! All of these veggies can be grown with simple water and sunlight. Isn’t that absolutely amazing? These first few vegetables that I listed out can be grown in this very simple way to start, and eventually planted in a small planter that can be kept in your window sill, balcony, or whatever other option that is available to you. Be creative!  

 

The next food items I will mention will require some actual soil upfront. 

 

Food scraps your plant directly into the soil in your home:

Ginger – If you have ginger at home, you can cut off a piece that is about 1-2 inches. Just, ensure that the piece you cut off has several healthy “nodes.” You know those little bumps? You can lay the cut ginger on your kitchen counter to allow the cut edges to dry out a bit.  You can then plant this in a small planter and keep it on your window sill. This option will require water, sun and some actual soil.

Potatoes – Have you ever seen a potato that has sprouted little buds? Maybe you kept it too long? When a potato gets like this, you can plant it directly into soil! I planted some potatoes a month ago and they have already sprouted little green tops!  Update: these are now big beautiful plants with flowers!!

Chayote – If you leave this out on the counter, it will develop little buds like potatoes do. Once the chayote has these tiny little roots, you can plant it the same way as the potato. My gardener says you can also plant the chayote into the soil before it even sprouts. I did that around the same time I planted the potatoes and have not seen any little sprouts yet. I am patiently waiting and am hopeful to see some progress soon! Update: cute little sprouts are coming in. But the chayote plant is nowhere near as huge as the potato plant!

 

Trying it all Together 

Aight pues CHB homies! There you have it. Things you may have thrown away that can regrow, plus things that you may not have known that can be planted to regrow more yummy nutritious food. Have you tried propagating any of the plants on our list? If so, tell us your experience in the comments, or share any tips with the rest of the community. Finally, was there anything we missed? What edible plants have you propagated in your kitchen? Have you successfully regrown any food from kitchen scraps?  We want to know. During this time, more than ever, it is important to support each other as a community. We would love to know what you think of the blog and if there are any other vegetables that can be regrown that we have been sleeping on. Until next time, take it easy, CHB fam. Stay healthy, stay safe and may you and your loved ones remain protected during these uncertain times. Lots of love to you all from us here at CHB!