How to grow vegetables from scraps

Written by Ollie Wilkinson

Homegrown Vegetables: Scrapheap challenge 

Growing vegetables from scraps is the perfect way to nip waste in the bud and sow the seeds of a brighter future. 

Eco friendly advice shouldn’t be kept under scraps, and that’s why we’re here to spill the beans on how to grow your own veg and reduce waste from the ground up. 

Reasons to grow food from scraps 

Almost 50% of Brits throw away out-of-date food at least once a week, with 9.52 million tonnes of food wasted per year (the eco experts). 

One dinner’s scrap is another one’s treasure, and there’s no reason why your wheelie bin should gobble up all those precious stalks, stems and seeds instead of your garden. 

While our fresh fruit and vegetable bags arrive plastic free from UK farms, many others do not, and the food miles and single-use plastic packaging soon adds up. 

Why you should give a scrap: 

  • • It cuts down costs – Replanting produce you’ve already consumed means less money spent on future groceries. 
  • • It cuts down plastic packaging – Eating homegrown produce doesn’t just give your wallet a breather, it also helps the planet. There’s no need for packaging when you’re hand-picking vegetables from your own garden. 
  • • Better fresh – It doesn’t get much fresher than walking a few feet and plucking your ingredients from the soil! 
  • • You know exactly where your food is coming from – The less time your food takes to be shipped, processed and distributed, the more nutritious it is. That’s why our fruit and veg is delivered fresh from independent farms and sent to your home with zero plastic packaging. 
  • • It’s rewarding – You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating a lovely, homecooked meal? You can times that by a bajillion once you start cooking with your home-grown produce. 
  • • It’s a fun way to get some fresh air! 

Get by on your own supply 

Ready for a bit of scrap and pickle? Here’s what you’ll need to grow produce from scraps: 

  • • Clean shears or a knife 
  • • Chopping board 
  • • Water 
  • • A vase, bowl, glass or small vessel 
  • • Soil 

Think you’ve got what it takes to prove food waste is a load of scrap? Here are a few of our favourite veggies to grow from leftovers. 

Growing kale from scraps 

Green, chocked full of goodness and often regarded as a superfood, kale is the Incredible Hulk of homegrown veg.  

Here’s how to take a leaf out of our zero waste book and grow kale from scraps: 

  1. 1. Find a healthy side stem with plenty of leaves. 
  1. 2. Cut the stem using clean sheers at a 45 degree angle. 
  1. 3. Remove every leaf but the top one. 
  1. 4. Place it in a pot of damp soil. 
  1. 5. Mist the soil to keep it moist but avoid overwatering.  

The roots will develop after a few weeks, and in three months, your new kale plant will be ready to brave the outdoors! 

Growing celery from scraps 

Growing celery from scraps? Now you’re stalking! 

Did you know celery can grow up to 3.3 feet? Wage war on waste and generate your own celery increase by following these instructions: 

  1. 1. Chop off the root end. 
  1. 2. Fill a bowl or jar with enough cold water to submerge about an inch of the chopped end. 
  1. 3. Plonk in your celery and place the container somewhere that gets several hours of natural light. 
  1. 4. As soon as the new roots are around 5cm long, plop the plant in a pot or directly into your garden soil. Pick a shady spot, make sure there are no pesky air gaps around the roots, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. 

Growing red onions from scraps 

Shrek was right, onions do have layers, and much more than meets the eye. Not only are they a tasty, healthy, versatile vegetable, but you can also grow them easily from the comfort of your own garden. 

Follow these steps to ensure you know your onions: 

  1. 1. Find an onion with a firm, rooty bottom. 
  1. 2. Cut about 5cms off said bottom. 
  1. 3. Place the bottom (we’re saying bottom too much, aren’t we?) in a shaded, dry cupboard. 
  1. 4. Wait 1-2 days for it to dry out. This prevents it from rotting. Nobody likes a rotting, soggy bottom. 
  1. 5. Place your dry, crispy bottom (we’re still talking about the onion, by the way) in a pot and cover with soil. 
  1. 6. Water your soiled bottom weekly and place in a sunny spot by the window. 
  1. 7. Once you notice a new plant emerging, split the stalks with a knife and plant each one in a sunny spot in your garden. 
  1. 8. Your new scrappy onions will be ready in roughly 90 days. 

If these steps are a bit too much, you can always start with a spring onion: the gateway root to reducing veggie waste. These arrive with the roots already attached, so you can simply slice ‘em off and follow the instructions above. 

Growing broccoli from scraps 

Stem the tide of waste by nurturing your own broccoli from leftovers. Here’s how to get flourishing florets out of your scraps: 

  1. 1. Find a thick, juicy stem that’s around 12cm long. This will create strong roots. 
  1. 2. Off with its head! Once you’ve given your broccoli a short back and sides, you should be left with the stalk. 
  1. 3. Place this in a container of water (a wide glass is ideal). Leave half of it bathing in the water and the other half dry. 
  1. 4. While it’s enjoying its bath, treat your stalk to a tan by leaving it on a sunny windowsill. 
  1. 5. Keep the water fresh and clear. If it’s looking murky, replenish with new clean water. 
  1. 6. Once the roots grow thick and to around 5cm long, you can plant your stem in your garden. 

Growing romaine lettuce from scraps 

We’ve not even reached the tip of the iceberg of growing food from scraps yet, with lettuce next on our list. We used a romaine lettuce, but any type will work using this method: 

  1. 1. Slice off the leaves. 
  1. 2. Leave around 5cm of stem and place it in a bar, vase, bowl or glass. 
  1. 3. Pour enough water to cover roughly half of the stem without fully submerging. If the lettuce doesn’t remain upright, you can use toothpicks to support it. 
  1. 4. Pop it on a ledge, windowsill or shelf which gets at least a few hours of sunlight each day. But keep it out of full sun as this will scorch the plant like a sunburnt lizard eating a vindaloo. 
  1. 5. Replace the water every couple of days and you should see cute little leaves start to sprout. Once these are vibrant and green, snip them off and enjoy! 

Growing bell peppers from scraps 

Any gardener worth their salt knows how to grow peppers from scraps. Rich in vitamins and low in calories, these are an awesome vegetable to grow at home.  

Follow these instructions to source your own supply from leftover seeds. 

  1. 1. Deseed a ripe pepper and place the seeds on a paper towel. 
  1. 2. Leave them in the sun to dry out for an hour. 
  1. 3. Plant them in a cardboard egg carton with a bit of soil. 
  1. 4. Place the egg carton on a sunny windowsill indoors. 
  1. 5. Once leaves start to sprout, move the plants into a larger indoor pot. You can cut the carton up and plant each individual plant with the egg cup still attached, as our sustainable packaging is compostable.
  1. 6. After two weeks you can tuck your plants into outdoor soil beds. But be wary of frost because peppers don’t like the chill! 

How to grow carrots from kitchen scraps 

Don’t stop now – we’re all rooting for you! Next up is carrots, a tasty veg that’ll give you superhero night vision and strong bones, as well as plenty of calcium and vitamins. 

How to grow carrots from scraps: 

  1. 1. Slice the tops off your fresh carrots, leaving about 3-5cm of the stem. 
  1. 2. Place the sliced side down into a container of water. Make sure there’s enough to cover the sliced bit, but not so much it ends up floating.  
  1. 3. Put the container in a sunny spot inside your home. 
  1. 4. When you notice little baby roots growing from your scraps, they’re ready to be planted into a soil pot. 
  1. 5. Put the pot in direct sunlight outside for 3-4 hours a day before bringing it back indoors. This acclimatises the little guys to the great outdoors without overwhelming them. 
  1. 6. After a week, you can leave them outside in their pot or the ground. 

Growing potatoes from scraps 

There’s nothing more a-peeling than growing potatoes from your leftover scraps. Don’t hesi-tate to give it a go using these simple steps! 

  1. 1. Find a spud with plenty of eyes on it (eyes are those weird tubes that sprout from potatoes). 
  1. 2. Slice off the chunks with eyes on. Look for clumps of eyes (there’s no un-gross way to say that), as these are how your fresh potatoes will grow. 
  1. 3. Dry the chunks for 1-2 hours on a hard surface. 
  1. 4. Once they’re no longer wet to touch, space them out and plant in your soil. And remember, eyes in the front (cut side down). 
  1. 5. Keep the ground moist and add more soil when the stems appear. 

Grab your farm-fresh potatoes in plastic free, recyclable packaging to save on food miles, plastic waste and a trip to the shops. 

Growing cabbage from scraps 

Growing cabbage comes with little baggage, and can be done using scraps in just four steps. 

  1. 1. Eat all the tasty crunchy leaves and place the bottom of your cabbage in a dish of water. 
  1. 2. Make sure there’s enough water to cover half of the leftover scrap. 
  1. 3. Place in a sunlit area of your home and replace the water every couple of days. 
  1. 4. Pick the leaves as they grow or plant it in your garden. 

Growing brussels sprouts from scraps 

Watch your garden trump that of your neighbours with fresh homegrown brussels sprouts.  

  1. 1. Chop off the flat bottoms of your brussels sprouts. 
  1. 2. Place in a small body of water (around 4cm). 
  1. 3. Change the water every day and remove any dead leaves. 
  1. 4. When they get to about 7cm tall, plant them in your garden during the summer. Cover the plants in soil and water once a week if there’s no rainfall. 

To scrap it all off 

Love growing scraps rather than throwing scraps? Put waste on gardening leave and check out our other guides to watch a greener future blossom. 

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