How to Regrow Veggies and Herbs from Scrap Pieces

Sprout heads of lettuce, celery, green onions, and other produce from leftover scraps with these tips—plus a little water and patience.

Claiming you can grow fresh vegetables and herbs from food scraps might sound fantastical. But it's actually possible—and very easy to do once you know how. Some leftover pieces only need a little water and a sunny spot to sprout, so this indoor "gardening" technique is simple enough for beginners to try. And it's smart: If you regrow veggies from the parts you'd usually toss or compost, you'll cut down on food waste. Plus it's a fun (and inexpensive) way to add a little greenery and fresh flavor to your kitchen. Learn how to regrow vegetables in water and sprout new herbs from trimmings with our tips below, and you'll have your own edible garden to harvest in no time.

Person cutting lettuce end
Jacob Fox

1. Grow New Lettuce Leaves from Roots

You could head to the grocery every time you need a new head—or you could grow lettuce straight from your kitchen. Go ahead and eat your store-bought batch, but leave the central part of the vegetable untouched, since this section possesses the power for producing new growth. Cut the leaves about an inch from the bottom of the lettuce bunch.

Person placing lettuce root in water
Jacob Fox

Place the lettuce stem in a shallow dish of water. Change the water every couple of days; after 10 to 12 days, you'll have new leaves growing from the center of the stem. This tender lettuce is perfect for making small salads or topping sandwiches.

Person cutting celery end
Jacob Fox

2. Regrow Celery Stalks

Don't toss the root end of your bunch of celery—you can use it to grow more tender stems. As with lettuce, cut the celery base from its stalks, leaving about 1 to 2 inches. The central part of the celery contains the nutrients for producing new stalks.

Celery root in glass bowl with water
Jacob Fox

Place the cut celery base into a bowl of water. Change the water every other day to keep the roots fresh. Transplant the roots into soil after eight days in water. Soon you'll be enjoying quick-and-easy ants on a log using homegrown celery.

Person placing basil in jar with water
Jacob Fox

3. Grow Fresh Basil in Water

There's nothing better than a bunch of homegrown basil (pesto, anyone?), and the ability to regrow the herb in your kitchen makes it even easier to enjoy. Cut the plant a few inches below its highest set of leaves. You'll want a few inches of bare stem to reach the water.

Place the trimmings in a jar or vase, then fill the container with water. Keep the plant near natural light but not directly in the sun to keep the basil from burning. Transfer to a pot once hairlike roots have sprouted, typically around the 15-day mark.

Person cutting green onion ends
Jacob Fox

4. Sprout Green Onions in Water

Grow green onions right on your windowsill, even while there's snow on the ground outside. To start, cut store-bought green onions just above the white root, leaving some of the pale green portion. Cutting right at the white part will mean a longer regrowing time.

Person placing green onion roots in glass with water
Jacob Fox

Place onions, roots down, in a small water-filled glass, and set in a sunny spot. Replace the water every 2 to 3 days; transfer to a pot if you'd like the onions to last longer. New growth should be ready to harvest after 7 days.

Person placing onion roots in soil
Jacob Fox

5. Grow Onion Bulbs from Scraps

Onions may be multilayered, but regrowing them is actually quite simple. Slice the bulb so you have a one-inch sliver of the root end. Let that piece dry for a day or two, until the edges start to curl, then place it in the soil, cut side up. Cover the onion piece with about an inch of dirt and water well. Green shoots will start to appear, which you can harvest like spring onions. You can also allow these to continue growing into new onion bulbs, which will be ready to harvest in 90 to 120 days.

6. Sprout New Greens from Root Vegetables

If you give certain root vegetables light, moisture, and warmth, they'll sprout leafy tops you can eat. The action happens fast: Most sprouts begin to appear within a week. Beets, carrots, celery root (celeriac), parsnips, parsley root, rutabagas, turnips, and winter radishes are all excellent candidates. Just don't use potatoes—their sprouts and leaves are toxic.

There are two methods for sprouting, depending on your willingness to sacrifice a whole vegetable. Regardless of which technique you choose, these root eggies will keep growing new leaves as you pick them, since they can draw on the nutrients they store to help them survive winter underground. Expect to be able to harvest greens for about a month.

Method #1: Sprout Using Whole Vegetables

Bury the whole root vegetable in a pot of peat-base potting mix, leaving the top exposed. Water regularly to keep the soil moist. Discard the entire vegetable when it stops sprouting new leaves.

Method #2: Grow Greens Using Root Vegetable Pieces

With this method, the foliage won't be as lush since you're only starting with a small part of the vegetable. But you'll still be able to regrow a few leaves (and use the rest of the veggie in a recipe). Slice an inch or so off the top and place that piece in an inch of water in a saucer, refilling as needed.

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