Playing with Food… Growing Fresh from Table Scraps

photography of garlic on wooden table

There you are, halfway through a recipe, you grab for the garlic and OH NO!… when did you use the last clove?  Ahhh, must have been in the tomato sauce you threw together in between ZOOM meetings!  A lot of us (me included!) have skipped going to the grocery store as often as we used to during COVID-19, opting to buy for longer periods of time and making purchases last longer with better meal planning.  In fact, according to, 73% of us are making fewer trips to the grocery store since the pandemic started and 88% are unable to find items they normally buy.

And it’s not just shopping habits that have changed, diets are changing too. Interestingly, in the same study, it was found that 47% of respondents are eating more processed foods while eating less produce, meat, and poultry.  

73% of Americans are making fewer trips to the grocery store since the pandemic and 47% of respondents are eating more processed foods while eating less produce. —

So, if you are still at home with some time on your hands, we encourage you to start playing with your food! Specifically, your scraps like the old potato with eyes or that wilted celery.  Yes, there is still plenty of life left at the bottom of your produce drawer even if some of it looks like it’s past its prime (kind of like us after weeks of salon-free quarantining!). Now you can reduce your food waste AND keep healthy produce on the table by bringing it to life again instead of tossing it!

So, what can you re-animate (can you tell we have been watching way too many old horror movies)?  We picked some easy ones to get you interested…

garlic - apartmenttherapy

Did you know one clove of garlic can regrow a whole head?  And, who knew growing garlic could be so pretty! Photo:

Garlic: You can get a whole new head of garlic from a single clove and now that you know this you may never run out of garlic again! You can plant the single cloves in the fall in your garden and have plenty of delicious garlic for the following summer. For small spaces, garlic can be grown in containers. Give it a try! 

Leafy greens: Types of veggies like celery, cabbages, lettuces, and bok choy are super easy to regrow.  Instead of cutting off the bases and tossing them, put the cut side up in a shallow saucer and add ½ inch of water. Leafy scraps love a sunny windowsill and can remain in water year-round (keep it refreshed – some need it daily) or transplant into soil once they show their roots. With a daily change of water in a shallow bowl and some warm sunshine, about an inch or two of Romaine lettuce base will gift you with more leaves in two weeks to top your sandwich. In three or four weeks you’ll get a whole head of yummy goodness!


So cool!  Once the bases are planted and the romaine sprouts from the ground you can cut the leaves from the base and leave the plants to grow new leaves!  Illustration:

Carrots & Beets: Again, don’t throw out those ends!  Put them in water instead and they will regrow their greens (sorry, you won’t get new carrots and beets just their greens!). Beet greens are delicious in salad and carrot greens are full of nutrition and provide vitamins A, B6, C and K, folate, manganese, niacin, potassium, and thiamin. Don’t know what to do with carrot greens? Try this Carrot Top Pesto!


Carrot top pesto?  Yes, please!  Don’t throw out those carrot ends, grow some carrot greens to make this delicious pesto.  Photo:

Green Onions, Leeks, and Scallions: Regrowing spring onions is as easy as grabbing a mason jar and some water. Chop off what you need and put the root ends into the jar with fresh water. New growth will generate in a few days right in your kitchen!  Seriously, this is so easy that you should never buy another bunch of spring onions again because you can cut, grow, and cut again and keep going as long as you keep your water fresh. Leeks and scallions can be grown again the same way as spring onions while shallots and other types of onions can be started in water and transplanted to your garden or grown in pots.


So simple and lovely to look at too!  Keep a glass of spring onions regrowing in your kitchen!  Photo:

Tomatoes: Looking back at this list we almost have a whole salad bowl grown from the scraps of a previous salad. Tomatoes can be grown from their seeds and it’s as simple as putting a slice of tomato into some soil. Don’t believe it?  See how it’s done at!


New baby tomato plants from tomato slices, we love this idea!  Photo:

Basil: This herb, like cilantro and mint, is as easy to regenerate as the green onion. So, the next time you pick some up at the store, save some to grow on your windowsill. Take your saved stems and strip  ¾ of their leaves off and plop them in a jar of water. Place in a window that isn’t too hot and watch for their roots to form. Got roots? Transplant those babies into some pots. Don’t use up the new plants before saving a few stems for new growth! Now if we can only figure out how to have an unlimited supply of mozzarella!

There are so many other scraps to play with that we didn’t cover here but we hope we’ve piqued your curiosity. Try re-growing potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, and ginger. While you’re at it, try the seeds of lemons, limes, and peppers too! Your grocery list will be a lot shorter when you shop from your own windowsill. See you in the next blog!

Deb Fries is a freelance writer and designer and worked at Julianna Rae in graphics and customer service, she now writes for the blog and wraps up after a long day of gardening in her favorite Heavenly Spa Robe in Shale