Garden with Garbage: 10 Foods You Can Grow from Scraps


Photo: Flickr/Hazel Owen

In 2010, more than 34 million tons of food waste were generated, and only three percent of that waste was diverted from landfills for composting, according to the EPA.  The fact that some of that food waste becomes useful compost is a positive thing, but what if we told you there are ways you can save food scraps from landfills without composting them, and you could save money on your grocery bill at the same time?

If you take a minute and look at which food scraps you're throwing away, this is possible. It turns out some fruits and vegetables can be regrown from scraps, which means you can grow your own food without starting it from seeds. You won't need to buy as much produce either, and in the meantime you may have some interesting houseplants.

General Things to Keep In Mind

There are three main ways you can grow plants from scraps, according to the book "Don't Throw it, Grow It!" by Deborah Peterson, which explains how to grow dozens of windowsill plants from your leftovers. Depending on the plant, you can start growing it in water, pebbles or soil, and most plants will eventually need to be transferred to soil. The climate you live in will likely dictate whether you can grow your plants indoors or outdoors.

The Green Thumb Gardener, a website that offers garden guides and tips, also suggests you use high quality organic produce, which may be more likely to grow into new plants.

Click through to see what you can grow with your food scraps.

  • Sue Cole

    This is awesome! I knew you could keep ginger fresh by planting it, so I guess I should have realized it would eventually grow…
    Why is the world so simple to live in & people have made it so difficult?

    • MelindaNC

      I tried doing this with fresh ginger but the plant only got so big then died. How do you keep the plant healthy and thriving?

      • Sue Cole

        It prefers shade, believe it or not, & it should be always moist. Make sure the nub you plant has an existing branching or 2nd nub on it. You can keep trimming back the greenery to help the root grow. Of course, everytime you need a piece of ginger, you have to dig the root up and cut off another piece, then just replant it!
        Idk ALL the details ’cause I just started doing this, but, in theory, that’s how it goes. I hope this helps.

        • MelindaNC

          Thanks much Sue!

        • Sue Cole

          Mine has now developed an above the surface growth that looks like a tiny, ginger-colored mushroom…

  • terri

    This is great to know about celery, since it’s one of the more ‘sprayed and contaminated’ vege’s out on all those lists. Thank you!

  • volunteeriga

    Thanks for all this information on planting garbage. Very Helpfull

  • MelindaNC

    The onions surprised me. I should have known because I am constantly battling wild onions in my lawn.

    • Stephanie Snyder

      if you don’t want the onions- even though they make beautiful flowers, you have to remove the onion bulb, once you dig them all up you won’t have to fight them again

  • Lavabo Market

    everything looks great

  • J’Marinde Shephard

    Can’t you also clip and use (eat) the greens from the garlic shoots?

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