a gardener planting in the backyard

Thrifty Gardening: Growing New Food from Leftovers

You don’t have to go out and buy seeds or seedlings to start a successful garden. For those vegetable gardeners looking to save a few dollars, try growing new plants from the scraps in your kitchen.


You can grow a new bunch of celery by saving the end of the stalk you just bought at the grocery store. Once you’ve eaten all the stalks, save the leftover base and set it in a bowl or shallow container of warm water, with the base down and the stalks up. Make sure you keep the bowl in a sunny, warm place, and change the water every two days or so. After about a week, you should notice new green growth in the middle of the stalks. Remove the celery and plant it in potting soil, burying the entire base up to the new leaf growth. Pretty soon, you’ll have a brand new celery plant! Eat, rinse, repeat!


Like celery, lettuce has a tough, crunch base that most people do not eat. Once your lettuce has been eaten and you’re left with the not-so-tasty base, place it in a small container of water. If you want to grow multiple heads of lettuce, place multiple leftovers in the same container and keep them huddled together so they stay upright. Like the celery, change the water every other day and keep it in a warm place with a lot of sunlight. After a week or so, you will see new leafy growth popping up around the base. Plant it like you planted the celery and keep it well watered.


Yes, you can re-grow pineapple! Instead of submerging the pineapple, you are going to cut off the top, stick a few toothpicks into the pineapple, and set it into a dish of water. The toothpicks should keep it a couple inches above the water. If you keep it warm and in direct sunlight, you should notice new roots growing down toward the water in a couple of weeks. Once the roots look strong, plant it and wait for your brand new pineapple! But, like the other plants, make sure to change the water every other day.


During the fall, you can save the seeds from your jack-o'-lantern and plant them. You don't have to dry them or let them sprout first. You simply take the seeds out of the pumpkin and plant them. If you plant in winter, it would be best to start them indoors in containers and transplant them later. Just make sure they receive plenty of warm sunshine.


When you buy a head of garlic, it contains multiple cloves. If you can part with a clove, you can re-grow an entire bulb! Plant the clove in moist soil in direct sunlight. Make sure the roots are pointing downward and keep it well watered and warm. Pretty soon your clove will produce new growth. Cut the new growth and wait for the garlic to produce a bulb. You can continue this cycle and never buy garlic again!

Last Updated: February 10, 2016