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  • Writer's pictureKate

Big Grow how to grow and use no.4: Kitchen Scraps

This may not be the first place you think of when looking for things to grow- but scraps are a great source of seeds and growing tops and tubers- with the added advantage that a lot of what you grow will be both edible and free!

How to Grow and Use KITCHEN SCRAPS

This clementine seedling has been grown from a pip- it's just a few months old and won't fruit for at least a few years- if we're lucky!

Grow and use SEEDS

There are loads of seeds you’ll have in your kitchen that you can use to grow new plants. Some of these will produce edible food– others won’t produce food but will make nice plants for indoors or to plant out.

Start small seeds on wet tissue on a jar lid or planted in pots of compost. Larger seeds can be started in a jar of water or in compost.

Is it worth planting?

Dried seeds– yes– coriander and monkey nuts may produce a crop. Unpopped popcorn will grow into lovely plants. Lots of dried beans are also great for growinginto bean sprouts and eating after a week or two.

Some seeds are heat treated to stop them from growing in the kitchen– so if your seeds won’t grow this may be why.

Seeds from fruit you’ve eaten– yes– anything from apples to mangoes to clementines to avocado and passionfruits will grow– and may well flower and even fruit. If they’re tropical, they’ll need to grow indoors or in a greenhouse at least.

Any cooked, broken or immature seeds– no– if it’s been cooked, crushed or isn’t a seed (cloves are buds, cinnamon is bark) it won’t grow. Tinned beans have been cooked; frozen peas and sweetcorn are immature so not developed enough to grow.

Grow and use ROOTS

Potatoes, sweet potatoes and ginger are three popular roots (OK, tubers aren’t roots but close enough...) to grow new plants from.

Ginger is great because you end up with fresh stem ginger to cook. Make sure you plant sections that have at least one lumpy growing nodule on them– these will turn into leafy shoots.

Any green or sprouting potatoes you have in the kitchen can grow to produce a crop of potatoes– Plant them in spring or summer outside in soil, or any time of year in a big pot or carrier bag of compost inside and keep the soil moist. When the leaves start to die back, dig up your crop!

Sweet potatoes can be started in a jam jar of water: Once long leafy shoots (“slips”) grow, snap them off the sweet potato and grow on in a pot in a warm place. They are warm weather plants and imported varieties may not crop in the UK- but they’re still fun to grow!

Whole carrots, parsnips etc are into their second year of growing. If you plant them, they may grow– but they will flower and go to seed rather than making more vegetables. Of course, you can always grow the seeds the next year!

Grow and use PLANT TOPS

Tops that can grow leaves that you cut off plants are great for growing. It’s worth trying any growing tops you fancy having a go with.

Carrot, parsnip, beetroot, turnip and onion tops will all grow happily in soil or in a shallow dish of water. Onion and leek bases will also grow new shoots which you can eat. Change the water regularly so they don’t rot.

The tops of all these plants are edible and make handy salad or pesto leaves:

Plant top vegan pesto

Mix a handful of plant top leaves with a handful of nuts, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and enough vegetable oil to help it blend. Blend until fairly smooth– then stir into pasta or use on toast.

For a more exotic bit of growing, pineapple tops will also grow– into new mini pineapple trees!

Twist off the green spiky leaves and leave them aside to dry out for a couple of days, then plant into a sandy compost and put in a sunny place. Water so the soil is damp but never wet– and hopefully the new tree will start to grow from the middle in a couple of weeks.

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