Since they’re cheap and come in bulk, we tend to waste a lot of vegetables and herbs in the kitchen. If you’d prefer to cut down on that a bit, a few kitchen staples are dead simple to regrow and don’t need a full blown garden. In fact, these ones don’t even require dirt.
You can technically regrow just about any fruit, vegetable, or herb from a scrap or seed. Most of us aren’t looking to grow an avocado plant in our kitchen. More useful are the foods we tend to use every day—like green onions or lettuce—that don’t take much time, dirt, or space to regrow. Sure, you can grab a bundle of green onions from the grocery store for 70¢, but why bother wasting that when you can keep a nearly endless supply that doesn’t need much upkeep for free?
With that in mind, here are some sensible, easy, and useful plants you can regrow as long as you have a little sunlight and a glass of water. You’ll want to swap these out with new plants every once in a while so you have fresh nutrients (or grow them in soil), but you should get a couple of healthy rounds out of them.
- Growing Scallions – How To Plant Scallions
- What are Scallions?
- How to Grow Scallions
- How to Plant Scallions
- Growing Green Onions (Without a Garden)
- So what do you need to get started growing these gems?
- Selecting Your Onions: Two Options for Onion Greens
- Green Onion Plants In Water: Tips On Growing Green Onions In Water
- Can You Regrow Green Onions in Water?
- How to Grow Green Onions in Water
- How to DIY An (Almost) Endless Supply Of Fresh Green Onions
- This trick to regrow scallions really works
Lettuce is one of those staples that tends to get used in all kinds of meals year round so chances are you’re buying a head once a week or so. Instead of tossing that heart in the trash when you’re done, you can regrow new leaves.
Take the bottom of the heart and place it in jar with about a half-inch of water. Put that in a window sill near some sunlight. Then replace the water every one or two days. Within a few days you’ll have some leaves sprouting up. From there, just let the lettuce grow, trimming off any brown leaves that might wither on the outside. When you have enough green leaves sprouting up, eat away. You can do this with most other red and green lettuces as well.
Green onions are the easiest food scrap to regrow. Just take the leftover green onion roots, drop them in a glass with enough water to cover them, and move the onions around so the roots are pointing down. Make sure you change the water out once every couple of days so they don’t get greasy. Within about a week you’ll have a brand new set of green onions. If you tend to top your food with green onions a lot, this is a pretty simple way to ensure you always have some around.
Garlic sprouts are usually chopped off and thrown away as a sign you’ve left garlic out for too long, but they’re edible if you get the right bits. They have a nice, less abrasive taste than a clove of garlic and make a good topping when they’re sprouted. The initial sprout is bitter and terrible tasting, so you’ll need to grow them for a bit first. If you have a garlic clove with a green sprout coming out of it, pull it aside and put in a small jar with enough water to cover the bottom of the jar. Within a couple of days, the clove will produce roots, and shortly after the sprouts will rise up to a few inches tall. When they’re at least three-inches tall, you can trim off about 1/3 of the shoot.
Fennel has a strong enough taste that it’s pretty rare you’ll need more than just a small cutting from one. If you’d like to keep one around all the time, it’s worth just regrowing one you have. Just take the bulb, put it in a cup, and fill it up with water so the bulb’s covered. Stick that jar in the sun and within a few days it’ll start sprouting up. Replace the water every couple of days and trim off a bit of fennel when you need it.
Leeks are awesome for soups, and it turns out they’re easy to keep around because they grow in water just as easily as green onions. Just take the base of your leeks, cover them in water, and leave them in the window with some sun for a few days. You should start seeing them sprout right away, and within a week or so you’ll be able to trim off parts to use in recipes.
Photos by Vectormart, Nikiteev_Konstantin, JacindaWalker, anneheathen, fred_v, and cbertel.
Growing Scallions – How To Plant Scallions
Scallion plants are easy to grow and can be eaten as is, used as flavoring when cooking, or as an attractive garnish. Keep reading to learn how to plant scallions.
What are Scallions?
Scallions are produced from specific cultivars of the bulbing onion and have a mild flavor. Are scallions the same as green onions? Yes, they are commonly called green onions; however, these plants are actually a cross of the shallot.
Although sometimes marketed as such, the scallion is not the same as the leafy green top of the bulbing onion. It is the long, white shank that is used while the green part is often prepared as garnish. Regular onions do not produce this white shank. Furthermore, onion leaves
are usually tougher and stronger-tasting. Scallions are tender and mild.
So what’s the difference between shallots and scallions? While the two are often confused with one another, scallions (green onions) and shallots are quite different. The most distinguishing feature is found in the bulb. Shallots are made up of cloves, similar to garlic. Scallions have a bulb like that of a regular onion, only much smaller.
How to Grow Scallions
Growing scallions is actually easier than growing onions since they have a much shorter growth period. Varieties sown in spring can be harvested just 60-80 days (8-10 weeks) after planting or when transplants reach about a foot tall.
Scallions need rich, well-draining soil. In addition, their shallow root systems require constant moisture and weed protection. Tightly packed plantings and mulch can not only help retain moisture but will keep weeds down too. Shallow watering throughout the short growing season is also recommended.
How to Plant Scallions
Scallion plants can be sown four to eight weeks before transplanting outdoors or direct seeded in the garden four weeks before the last frost date in spring. Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep, ½ inch apart, and with 12- to 18-inch row spacing.
Transplants or sets can be planted about an inch deep with 2- to 3-inch spacing.
Blanch scallions as they grow by hilling up the soil.
This is a really fun little project! It’s interesting to watch, fun to do with the kids, AND it makes your life a little easier because you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to pick up green onions at the store again. The next time you pick up a bundle of green onions at the store, just follow these quick instructions to re-grow them!
So first you’ll need your green onions. As far as I can tell, any ol’ green onion bundle will do, but of course try and pick the healthiest-looking ones like you normally would.
Go ahead and use them in your recipe, but instead of using the whole thing, only chop off the top dark green parts and leave the white parts along with the light green parts and the bulbs with the little roots at the bottom. That should be about this tall.
These onions re-grow really easily, so don’t worry about it too much, just eyeball it! This batch had already been growing for about a week and had already been harvested once. I just decided on a whim to share this fun idea with you so that’s why you can see that the old parts had started to dry out already.
Place your green onions in a glass of cool water, filling it up so that it just covers the white parts of the onion.
And that’s it! No fertilizers or rooting hormone needed for this! Place the glass on a counter near a window and watch in amazement at how fast they grow!
Within a few days you’ll have something that looks like this:
The pieces that you cut off will start with dry out so that they aren’t taking any energy from the new shoots and the roots will grow like crazy!
Change the water out every 2 or 3 days to keep things fresh and happy and harvest your green onions whenever you need them for a salad or a recipe.
Once you have a good root system going, you can go ahead and plant them in your garden or in a pot on the patio if you like and if it’s the right time of year! Why not?
There are quite a few different things that you buy at the grocery store that you can re-grow at home, but this one is the easiest that I’ve come across so far, so of course it’s my favorite!
Have you ever tried re-growing grocery store fruits and veggies before? If not, make sure you give this one a try next time you have the chance!
Growing Green Onions (Without a Garden)
Sure, you say. I’d like to have a garden, but I don’t have a yard, I only have a window ledge, and my thumb is anything but green. How can I grow vegetables?
Let me introduce you to the most determined vegetable of them all, the onion. Onions are members of the allium family which means they have a bulb, a handy little storage chamber at the base of the stem and it’s the secret to the onion’s invincibility. These plants have a life wish!
Think of all those onions that sprouted in the fridge or on the counter—they drew on their reserves to grow new leaves, and that pointy green sprout, as we know from eating scallions, is just as delicious as the bulb, and a lot easier to grow.
Onions are a wonderful mix of green vegetable and condiment. A sprinkling of chopped green onion boosts flavor, presentation and nutrition of everything from mashed potatoes to enchiladas and pad Thai. Fresh green onions provide vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and fiber.
So what do you need to get started growing these gems?
- A pot at least 6 inches deep and as wide as your space allows
- Good quality potting soil
- A bunch of young green onions or a bag of pearl onions from your local food store
Selecting Your Onions: Two Options for Onion Greens
Young green onions are sometimes called scallions, spring or salad onions, and can be found with the lettuces in the produce section. They are whole young plants grown from seed and harvested just as their bulbs and leaves become juicy. Unlike the larger onions over there by the potatoes these have not been allowed to mature and dry out; they’re teenage onions. Their fat little white roots should still be attached. The longer and more intact these roots are the faster the onions will grow again. Before you plant them, cut off and use their long green tops—trimming their tops is important to encourage new growth. Just be sure not to cut down into the white bulb itself.
Pearl onions, also called boiler onions, are a bit of a gourmet item. These miniature dried onions are just an inch or two in diameter and are often used for creamed onions or for roasting with meat or new potatoes. They may be white, yellow or even red. They usually come packed twenty or so in a nifty little mesh bag, but you might also find them in bulk at a farmers’ market. These will take a little longer than green onions to get started as they have to grow new roots. But because their bulb is larger they have the potential to make a healthy show of greenery to harvest and enjoy. Their tops are pointed and their roots are a brushy dried stubble.
To plant your onions, fill the pot half full with moist soil. Then arrange the onion plants or bulbs two inches apart with the root side down. Gently but firmly pack more soil around them until the trimmed top of the green onion is just peeking out or the bulbs are completely covered. Water well and add more soil if it settles and exposes the bulbs. Place in a sunny window (onions need about six to seven hours of light per day) or under a grow light, and be patient.
Keep the pots moist and in a few weeks you will have a crop of green onion tops to harvest. Once harvested they will grow more green tops and you can harvest them again and again. In fact now that you know the trick you can start onion pots as gifts for all your friends!
Green Onion Plants In Water: Tips On Growing Green Onions In Water
It’s one of the best kept secrets that there are some vegetables you need only buy once. Cook with them, place their stumps in a cup of water, and they’ll regrow in no time at all. Green onions are one such vegetable, and they work especially well because they’re usually sold with their roots still attached. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow green onions in water.
Can You Regrow Green Onions in Water?
We are often asked, “Can you grow green onions in water?” Yes, and better than most vegetables. Growing green onions in water is very easy. Usually, when you buy green onions, they still have stubby roots attached to their bulbs. This makes regrowing these useful crops an easy endeavor.
How to Grow Green Onions in Water
Cut the onions a couple inches above the roots and use the top green part to cook whatever you like. Place the saved bulbs, roots down, in a glass or jar with just enough water to cover the roots. Place the jar on a sunny windowsill and leave it alone apart from changing the water every few days.
Green onion plants in water grow very quickly. After just a few days, you should see the roots growing longer and the tops beginning to sprout new leaves.
If you give them time, your green onion plants in water should grow right back to the size they were when you bought them. At this point you, can cut the tops off to cook and start the process right over again.
You can keep them in the glass or you can transplant them into a pot. Either way, you’ll have a virtually inexhaustible supply of green onions for the cost of a single trip to the produce section of your grocery store.
How to DIY An (Almost) Endless Supply Of Fresh Green Onions
Don’t Throw It. Regrow It.
Green onions, aka scallions or spring onions, are sold with a root end that you always trim off. But did you know you can encourage those roots to regrow new onions?
Image zoom Green Onions Cut Ends | Photo by Vanessa Greaves
Here’s how easy it is to upcycle this common food scrap you used to throw away.
- Slice off the ends of the bulbs, leaving roots attached.
- Stand the bulbs root-end down in a small jar. (I stood them up in an egg cup.) Add enough water to cover the roots.
- Set on a windowsill and keep the roots moist. After a few days, green shoots will emerge from the tops of the bulbs. After that, they’ll grow very quickly.
- Keep the roots submerged; change water at least once a week.
Image zoom Green Onions Rooted in Water | Photo by Vanessa Greaves
- When the shoots are or four or five inches long, you can plant them in the ground or a pot. If you keep them in the jar, they will produce green shoots for a while but the plant will weaken eventually and stop producing.
- Snip off what you need; the onions will continue to grow in the ground almost indefinitely, although they could get to be much larger than the green onions you find in your grocery store. If they flower, you can use the flavorful blossoms in salads.
Image zoom Green Onions in the Garden | Photo by Vanessa Greaves
Save money. I haven’t bought green onions in two years (except to demo this tip).
Save time. A continuous source of recipe ingredients or garnishes.
Reduce waste. You’ll never have to toss out a half-used bunch of green onions that you forgot in the fridge.
Wow the world. It’s a foolproof project that’ll impress kids and adults alike with your mad green-thumb skills.
Now you’ll always have fresh green onions on hand for recipes and garnishes.
How to Regrow New Celery from Scraps
Regrowing green onions from fridge scraps will save you 99¢ a month! That’s $11.88 a year. Whoo Hoo!!!
Okay, this might not make you rich and it won’t change your life, but it’s something you should try just for fun. You will be amazed how quickly your green onions will regrow their green tops. Treat them right and you’ll have green onions forever!
Start with a regular bunch of store bought green onions – organic or not – your choice.
When you’re ready to use your green onions, cut the onions so there is about one inch of white root end remaining.
Eat and enjoy the top parts of the green onions in whatever recipe you’d like (eg. Our Favorite Veggie Dip).
Place the root ends, root side down in a small glass (shot glasses work well). Fill with water.
Place on a sunny window ledge and replace water ever 2 to 3 days.
Enjoy watching how quickly those greens will start to regrow (here’s Day 6).
Once they’re 2-3 inches long, you can cut the greens as you need them and keep the roots in the water to see how long they’ll continue to regrow.
If you’d like to give your green onions a more permanent home and have them last even longer, transfer them to a small pot filled with potting soil.
In fact, because green onions come with roots in tact, you can actually plant them directly in the soil as I did with this pot.
How cool is that?!
I’ve done this several times and am always delighted with the results. I’ve also done celery and romaine lettuce. While my first two experiments with romaine and celery didn’t go so well, I can’t wait to show you the results of my latest attempts. But that will have to wait until another day!
Here’s a complete list of posts on regrowing things from the fridge:
Other posts on regrowing kitchen scraps including my earlier, less successful attempts:
How to Regrow Romaine Lettuce from the Stem
Growing Celery from Stalks
Will you try regrowing green onions? Let me know if you do and how it works out for you.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.
This trick to regrow scallions really works
As an experienced home cook, I can’t help but play favorites when it comes to ingredients, and in my kitchen, scallions are frequently the star of the show. When I learned you can regrow scallions, I had to try it.
Scallions, or green onions, are mild alliums with small bulbs and long stems. It is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten cooked or raw, and is popular in cuisine around the world, from a garnish on buttery mashed potatoes to the flavorful bulk of Chinese scallion pancakes.
Between pad thai, basil beef, risotto and fancy scrambled eggs, I use about two bushels of green onions a week. The organic green onions at my local farmers market are a full dollar more expensive than the regular, non-organic ones at the supermarket (though they definitely worth it for the taste and sustainability bonafides).
Any pennies I could pinch on my green onion habit would be a welcome respite for my grocery budget. When I heard through the online sustainability grape vine that I could regrow green onions indefinitely from the scraps leftover from cooking, I knew I had to try. Here is how it works:
When you are cooking with green onions, keep the ends of the bulbs with the roots attached (I like to call these the “root butts”).
Place the bulbs root-end down in a small jar or glass (or, in my case, a salad dressing-sized plastic container). Add enough water to cover the roots.
Set the jar on a sunny windowsill and keep the roots submerged, changing the water at least once a week.
After about two weeks, your green onions will have formed long green shoots, and you will be ready to reap the rewards.
After a few days, green shoots emerged from the tops of the bulbs. Watching them grow over the course of the next few weeks was delightful. The stems gradually developed a gradient, from dark green when they emerged to the oniony off-white, as the concentric layers pushed upwards and unfurled.
When the shoots are or four or five inches long, they are ready to use. At that point, the scraps will have developed long enough roots that you can also plant them in a pot, though they may need some teasing apart (mine were a snarled mess when I took them out of the container, but they were relatively easy to separate).
If you keep the green onions in the jar with water, they will produce green shoots for a while, but the plant will eventually weaken, the shoots will yellow and the bulbs will stop producing. In the pot, apparently, they may even flower (the blossoms are, apparently, edible, and delicious in salads) and grow to be larger than the bundles in the grocery store. Time will tell for my scrappy plants.
My scallions never got quite so big as the originals, and once the tips of the leaves started to yellow, I figured it was time to snip some.
The scallions were a little more tender than if I grew them fresh or bought them from the store, but they held up to chopping and sautéing. They also tasted delicious in my scrambled egg sandwich, so I can officially endorse this regrowing method as an easy and tasty way to reduce food waste while flavoring your food.
Apparently, scallions are not the only supermarket vegetable you can regrow and reuse.
Leeks and fennel can be regrown with the same technique as regrowing green onions, though they take a little longer to grow. You can put the heart of romaine lettuce and the base of celery in water and it will regrow leaves. Many herbs — including basil, mint and rosemary — can also be placed in water to grow new roots and transfer to a pot of soil. Pineapple can be regrown from the leafy tops to produce new fruit in a few years. You can even grow an avocado tree from a pit (though whether or not it will flower and fruit is a different story).
Before you contribute to food waste or add food scraps to your compost, consider what you can use again and again. It will help you save money on groceries as well as contribute less to your local landfill.