18 Feb 5 fruit and vegetables you can re-grow from your food scraps
Nicky Roeber is the Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres. Here, he will be sharing his top tips for re-growing fruit and vegetables from kitchen scraps.
It’s no secret that food waste is a global problem and, as it’s estimated that the amount of food wasted every year will rise to trillions of tonnes by 2030 (BCG), now is a great time to start thinking responsibly about what you throw away. I know it can be difficult to know exactly how much food to buy and to keep tabs on what you’ve got in the cupboards. But, you can easily reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill by re-growing your food scraps.
While growing your own produce takes time (and patience) it can also be very rewarding, and if you’re committed to reducing food waste it’s a great way to use up offcuts and scraps. Here, I will be sharing five tasty veggies which are fairly straightforward to grow.
Root crops like potatoes tend to be staple foods in busy modern-day households, so growing your own is a great way of saving you money. And, they’re quite easy to re-grow: all you need are a few potatoes which have sprouted eyes. These are the knobbly root-like growths which appear on the skin after a few weeks sitting a dark cupboard, and they’ll essentially be the seeds which the rest of the plant grows from. Here’s what you need to:
- Cut at least two inches of the peel, making sure to include the sprouting eyes on the potato skin.
- Leave these peelings with eyes out to dry overnight. This will help make sure that they don’t rot in the ground after planting.
- Plant the potato peelings outside in some nutrient-rich soil that has been fed with organic matter. They should be about 4 inches deep, with the eyes facing upwards. Cover them completely with soil, and water in.
- You should start to see green shoots after around two weeks, and after 12 weeks, a fully formed plant will have developed. For the biggest and tastiest potatoes, harvest only after the plant’s foliage has died back — typically 18–20 weeks after planting. You can continue to harvest them for a couple of months after the plant has died.
These sweet berries aren’t just for the summer — they’re loved all-year-round! Although they ripen and grow the fastest in summer, they love the cool air in autumn which helps the leaves to sprout. So, if you frequently find your family fighting over the last berry, re-growing your own could be the solution to any fallouts. Plus, they make a great sweet treat if you’re trying to cut out unhealthy foods.
- Take one raspberry and squash it into a sieve.
- Wash the sieve to remove the residue, being careful not to lose any of the seeds.
- Pat the seeds dry with some kitchen towel.
- Fill a jar with nutrient-rich soil and add the seeds.
- Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of medium grit sand.
- Spray water onto the seeds at least twice a day. They need to remain moist to germinate, so keep a close watch in case the soil starts to dry out.
- Cover the jar with a tight layer of cling film and use a toothpick to poke some holes in it to allow for air ventilation.
- Leave the seeds in a spot which gets partial or dappled sunlight. Once the seeds have sprouted leaves, you can plant them in a larger patch of soil. Be patient, as this could take as long as six weeks.
- Pick them when they’re plump, dry, firm, and uniform in colour. It typically takes around 16–18 months for your plants to mature and bear fruit.
Garlic is often used to flavour everything from pasta sauces to curry bases. And, as fresh garlic tends to have a reasonably long shelf-life, you can reap the rewards of your efforts for longer by re-growing it.
- Take a spare clove of garlic that still has the base and skin attached.
- Dig the soil in your planter or garden and mix in a layer of organic compost. Garlic won’t tolerate being water-logged, so many sure your soil is well drained.
- Bury the clove of garlic and cover with two inches of soil, with the tip facing upwards. Birds are very keen on garlic, so you may need to cover your cloves with a net or cloche.
- Apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser every two weeks and water the plants whenever the soil is dry. Be careful not overwater your garlic plants, as this could rot the roots.
- After nine weeks when the plants are properly established, you can gradually decrease watering.
- After three months, scale back on watering even more. When the leaves begin to turn yellow at the tips, stop watering completely.
- Harvest your garlic when the green tops of the sprout dry out and turn yellowy-brown in colour. If you plant your cloves in autumn, they should be ready to harvest by June or July.
If you’d like to take on a slightly more challenging gardening project, then why not grow your own apple tree? While it will take a few years for your tree to bear fruit, it’s still a fun project and will make a lovely addition to your garden in the meantime. With a little luck and plenty of care, you’ll be able to harvest tasty, homegrown apples after around 8–10 years, so it’ll all be worth it in the long run.
- Take the apple seeds from as many apples as you can (the more seeds, the better chance of seed germination).
- Cover the seeds with a wet paper towel and place them into a sealed plastic bag.
- Keep the bag in a cool place such as the utility room or garage.
- Check the bag every few weeks to ensure that the paper towel is still moist.
- After around 1–3 months, your seeds should have sprouted. Plant the sprouted seeds into a pot of nutrient-rich soil, around half an inch under the surface of the soil.
- Once your sapling is around 10 inches tall, you can think about planting it out. The best time to do this is in the spring or summer, when there’s no danger of frost. Be sure to plant it in a well-drained spot, too.
- It will usually take around 8–10 years for your apple tree to mature and bear fruit. You’ll know that your apples are ready to be eaten when they begin to drop from the branches naturally, or when they’re easy to remove from the stem with a gentle upward twist.
A fresh bundle of lettuce is bound to come in handy, especially if you have plenty of hungry mouths to feed. As well as making up the foundation of salads, lettuce is being welcomed as a healthy alternative to many starchier foods, including wraps and rice. So, if you’re a big fan of this versatile leafy green, I recommend planting and re-growing your own lettuce using leftovers.
- Cut your lettuce, being careful to leave a 1.5 inch stalk. Place the stalk into a dish with half an inch of water.
- Keep the plant in the bowl and place it in a sunlit area.
- Sprinkle with water at least twice a day for the first 4–5 days.
- Transport the plant to your garden soil when roots and new leaves begin to sprout.
- Pick the lettuce when it has grown to full size — this is usually approximately 75 days after planting.
- Harvest the lettuce from the outside in to allow the centre leaves to continue to grow.
Re-growing your food scraps will ensure you’re saving money and getting easy access to your favourite fruits and vegetables. So, trade in your rubbish bin for the garden soil. You could even share the produce with your neighbours to encourage everybody to reduce their food waste!