Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, food security has become a critical issue. With the growing uncertainty of lockdowns and restricted access to grocery stores, more and more people are choosing to grow and prepare their own food.
However, there’s a financial cost to growing fruits and veggies at home. Quality soil, nutrient amendments and superior plant starts can take a toll on what may already be a strained budget; let alone venturing out from quarantine just to acquire supplies.
But starting your own garden doesn’t have to be a financial burden. In fact, starting a garden can not only save you money long-term, but it can help relieve stress by the productive act of gardening itself. Fortunately, there’s a variety of vegetables you can grow using food scraps. Here are some of the easiest ways to start growing food at home.
Root veggie greens
Carrots, turnips, beets and parsnips all have the ability to regrow nutrient-rich green tops. You won’t get a new root vegetable from this group, but the tops will continue to grow for you! With a couple inches of the vegetable still attached, simply place it in a small container (cut side down), fill it with a little water and set it on the counter or windowsill. Refresh water every couple of days. Once the green tops start to grow, you’ll have a continuous supply of greens for soups and salads or even more gourmet recipes, including carrot top pesto or a beet-and-carrot-top smoothie.
White and sweet potatoes can also be saved. When an eye forms, simply cut off an inch of the potato underneath it and place it flat in a small container with water (do not submerge). When roots start to form, bury it in a dirt-filled pot. Like the previous group, leafy greens will grow – but instead of snacking on these greens, you’ll give them time grow entirely new potatoes! Patience is key. But eventually you can use these spuds in a variety of dishes from buttery lemon-dill potatoes to mashed potatoes and more.
Leafy green vegetables
Lettuce, bok choy, celery, leeks and cabbage are fun to regrow. Mostly because these veggies are good options for those of us who enjoy (almost) instant gratification. With this group, leave the stems with a couple inches of the vegetable intact. Transfer veggie to container with some water. In a few days (or less), your green vegetables will show regrowth. When roots appear, transfer to a soil-filled pot.
Instead of tossing pepper seeds, use them to grow more. Same for tomatoes. Using store-bought produce to create homegrown produce will eventually result in less frequent trips to the grocery store, which means you’ll be saving mucho dinero on organic fruits and veggies.
Since they’re being grown from seeds, these veggies will take the longest to produce. But the end result is definitely worth the wait. After cutting into a tomato or pepper, scoop out the seeds and dry them out on a paper towel for a day. Once dried, transfer seeds to a small soil-filled pot and gently mist with water. Depending on the amount of sunlight, temperature and moisture conditions, you’ll start to see sprouts within 1-3 weeks. These can also be potted and kept indoors, so you don’t need a large space to grow these veggies.
Onions and garlic gives savory dishes the flavorful kick we all seem to love. Whether you have a sprouting garlic clove or the chopped off end of a red onion, you can grow more of these items in the comfort of your own kitchen. Simply place them root-side-down in a bit of water. Once the roots begin to grow, plant them in a pot with some soil. These will take a little while to regrow. But unlike potatoes, you can actually cook with the sprouting greens. Onion and garlic sprouts have a similar flavor to the bulbs, just milder. Use chopped green onion tops to garnish soup, make salad dressings, season homegrown root vegetables and more.