5 Foods You Can Grow From Leftovers

Looking for yet another way to get more from your garden? How about regrowing vegetables from the leftover bits and pieces? Reduce, reuse and recycle in your garden with these five foods that you can keep growing (and regrowing) even after you’ve gotten a good meal or two out of them.

Regrow Celery from Stalks

Did you know that you can regrow celery from the leftover stalk stub? It’s true. Just take a freshly cut bottom (the whole stub), soak it in warm water overnight, then plant it (cut side up) in fertile soil. Water well for the first few days and within 1-2 weeks, you should have a few slim but steady stalks. Why fuss with seeds if you don’t have to?

Regrowing Ginger Root

Whether you already grow ginger in your garden or have a few fresh nubs from the grocery store, it’s possible to plant what you have and recycle your ginger roots. To regrow ginger, take a fresh root (that’s one that’s not wrinkly or dried out) and plant it partially submerged in soil (like you would an iris). Arrange so that any nubbins are pointed up or on the side, and keep in moderately moist and fertile soil. Your ginger should root and begin growing within a few weeks. Remember to bring your growing ginger indoors over winter (unless you live in a particularly warm or tropical climate).

Added bonus? You can use your ginger to make ginger liqueur.

Regrowing Garlic from Cloves

Not sure what to do with those couple of tiny garlic cloves that you can’t be bothered to peel? Plant them and get double duty from your cloves by regrowing your garlic. The key to successfully growing garlic is to plant it in full sun and to remember to chop off the scape (that’s the tall stalk that sprouts from the bulb). Once you cut off the scape, the garlic plant will pour its energy into fattening a big, tasty bulb for harvesting. Mmmmmm.

Look here for great tips on growing garlic.

foods you can regrow: garlic

How to Regrow Sweet Potatoes

Tired of throwing away all of those crazy-shaped ends from your garden-grown sweet potatoes? Why not recycle and root them right on your kitchen counter? To regrow sweet potatoes, just half-submerge a sweet potato end in a glass of water (hint: toothpicks work well for helping potatoes levitate over a glass rim) and place submerged plants in a warm, sunny spot. Within a few weeks, shoots should sprout from the bottom and sprouts should sprout  from the top. Cut into sections, plant and then harvest (and enjoy!) when leaves start yellowing.

Look here for everything you need to grow sweet potatoes.

Regrowing Green Onions

It just got even easier to grow green onions. Instead of tossing the white ends away, put them in warm water (roots down, with the cut end sticking above the water line).  Within 3-5 days the roots should show growth, and within 1-2 weeks you should see fresh growth on the top too. Refresh water as needed and plant in the garden when weather permits. Voila!
regrow onions

Bonus Round:

Did you know that you can also regrow lemon grass? All you need to do is take freshly cut stalks (cut near the bottom) and put them in water (like you would do to regrow green onions). Eventually, the lemon grass will grow new roots and be strong enough for planting!

If you’ve never grown this wonderful plant, here’s a great article on growing lemon grass in your garden.

lemongrass in containers

For more gardening resources and information, be sure to check out the rest of my site. And happy gardening!

(Images graciously provided by fritz018, jeff1980, forwardcom, 13dede and Christopher Paquette. Thanks!)

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44 comments on “5 Foods You Can Grow From Leftovers

  1. I am really loving your site Jen! A picture even…wowza! I am very intrigued by the leftover growing article. Can I do all of that indoors too? I just was reading up on how to propagate your plants and ordered some rooting hormone….any suggestions for that business?

    • Oh cool, thanks — I’m so glad you like it! I know it’s still pretty new but I think it’s coming together pretty well. Plus, I’m learning a ton! I cannot wait to start my gardens this year! I may have to rent a few extra plots!

      Yes, you can absolutely start them indoors. In fact, right now I have 3 ginger roots, 2 garlic cloves and 2 green onion bulbs rerooting indoors. So far I’ve been watching how they do without any supplemental light (which, here in Wisconsin means pretty low-light conditions) and, while they’re not rocking the house, they’re actually hanging in there pretty well. In another week or two I’m going to put them under a grow light and see what happens. I’ll let you know!

      As for rooting hormones, you know, I’ve never used one so I can’t recommend one. I do know that Territorial Seed Company has mycorrhizal fungi (for feeder root development), but I’ve never used it. It’s definitely a good post topic though … I’ll have to do some research!

  2. I can't get the celery to grow past a few inches before it dies overnight.  It's weird.  I can get it started fine and it grows like gangbusters then bam it's brown and dead overnight.  Any advice here? 
    I've had good luck with green onions, garlic, and potatoes though.  

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      As for your celery, may I ask what growing conditions you have? Celery’s a pretty nutrient-needy vegetable, plus it likes full sun, so it could just be that it’s not getting everything it needs to establish itself. Plus, it needs a lot of water. Are you watering it well, and soaking it before you plant it?

  3. I'm in the deep south.  I started them in a dish of water until they were growing well then transplanted them into containers using Miracle grow garden soil.  I really want to get it growing but can't get past a few weeks.  

  4. I have failed  to get sweet potatoes to grow sips using your method..  I have tried four times.  However, I noticed that old ones are growing their own right now so I am just being patience to see if I can grow the sips from an old sweet potatoes.  I also heard you can grow sweet potatoes from their leaves!   I tried this year but left them in the water too long.  
    Also, you can grow horseradish from a piece and potatoes with eyes.   It comes back every years and can get a little wild.   I even heard that you can grow carrots too from their bottom.  I haven't tried this yet.  

  5. I really enjoyed this article!  Thanks for sharing.  I think I'll give the garlic a try in my garden this year (although I'm still not exactly sure how to identify the scabe… I might need to google that because I don't want to chop off the wrong part.)

    • Hi Carissa. Thanks for the kind comments!

      Garlic scape is really just the stalk that grows up and out from the bulb. So, if you thought of garlic as a flower, the scape would be the green stem sticking out of the ground. 🙂

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  7. Hi Jenn, I found your article through a friend who posted on Facebook. I look forward to trying to regrow some of these yummy plants. We love garlic, ginger and sweet potatoes. I got a planter box for my birthday and have been trying to decide what to grow, the garlic should be a perfect first choice as several of the bulbs we have have sprouted just sitting on the kitchen counter! Thank you for sharing this article and good luck with the site and your upcoming growing season. 🙂

  8. I did this with Romaine Lettuce at one time. Neat list of easier than seed plants! I have containers on a porch at the moment but when I get more space I'm going to do this!!! =) Thanks for the tips! =)

  9. My earlier attempt to reply wouldn't allow me to type or to cancel — sorry.
    In the deep south, celery is a fall/winter crop. Planted in the late fall and harvested in winter.  Celery is also very dependent on water – you must keep it moist, moist, moist. Also, I did best when I planted in humus enriched soil. If it gets too warm – celery goes and it goes quickly. Of course, it also freezes, so, it is a little tricky in the south.

  10. After cutting the scape from the garlic- what's the time frame of growth before harvesting the garlic bulb? My Grandfather says you harvest garlic during the full moon in September, lol.

    • I’m with your grandfather: moonlit gardening sounds divine … especially if you throw in some midnight margaritas! 🙂 As for garlic harvest times, to be honest, I usually just keep checking my allium until I’m happy with the bulb size before harvesting them.

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    • Hi Julia,

      Hrm, nope, that wasn’t me. I’ve never tried growing lettuce from scraps. And, honestly, lettuce grows so easily from seed I don’t know if I would bother! If you do try it, however, please pop back and let me know how it goes. I’d be curious to know!

      Good luck!

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