At our house, we’re getting much better with storing and using up produce.
In fact, we’ve all but completely stopped throwing rotten produce into the garbage. Now, I’m taking it further by actually regrowing vegetables from scraps — in the kitchen window! It’s like my inner gardener has come out to play, and not a moment too soon as grocery prices soar and inflation in the U.S. has now reached a 20-year high.
Let’s start with scallions (green onions). They’re extremely useful, deliciously versatile and dirt cheap. Invariably, I either fail to use them up completely before they go bad or I run out, prompting quick trips to the market, which exposes my impulsive self to at least a few unplanned purchases.
But no more now that I have a tiny crop of fresh scallions growing on my kitchen windowsill. It’s so easy to keep the white ends in a glass of water where they sprout and regrow into new, fresh scallions.
Here are some simple steps to regrow scallions:
No. 1: Stand the white parts of the scallions, with the wispy root ends down, in a glass or jar.
No. 2: Add water to cover the roots.
No. 3: Set the container in a sunny window.
No. 4: Change the water every day or two.
In a week or so, you can begin harvesting the green ends of the scallions, depending on how much green you started with. Snip what you need with a pair of kitchen scissors (you can take up to 70% of the green part) and leave the rest to keep growing. The green part of the scallion will regrow itself. You’ll save money and frustration, and have yourself a fun, low-maintenance and edible windowsill pet.
While scallions are the easiest vegetable to regrow, this method works with other vegetables.
Lettuce. Don’t expect a full head of lettuce from your windowsill garden, but you can get a few leaves at a time, which is enough for a sandwich or garnish.
Put the stem end of the head, with a few inches of the lettuce intact, in a shallow dish of water. Place it in a window area that gets plenty of sunlight. Keep the water fresh by changing it every one to two days.
Celery. A few tender, delicious stalks will regrow — just enough for most dishes that call for celery.
Similar to the steps above for regenerating lettuce, place the stem end in a shallow dish of water by a sunny window. Change the water frequently.
You’ll get better results with celery when you poke toothpicks into the sides of the celery to prop it up. You want to submerge the celery, but keep the bottom from touching the dish to give the roots plenty of room to breathe.
Fennel. You can grow back the green shoots of a fennel bulb by following the same steps for lettuce and celery. Place the bulb end, with the root system still intact, in shallow water, and wait for the plant to begin to regrow.
Herbs. A wide range of herbs works well to regrow using cuttings and scraps. Start with a stem that is about 4 inches in length in a glass of water, making sure to remove all leaves below the water level.
You will learn how to make full use of a plant’s ability to grow new roots and regenerate itself to help you reduce the amount of food waste that you generate in your home.
Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living.” Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.