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Friday Fun: How to Grow Fruits and Veggies From Kitchen Scraps

A windowsill with three cups of water with growing lettuce in them.
Mehriban A/Shutterstock.com

You don’t need an abundance of land to grow a lavish food garden. In fact, you don’t need much more than a few jars, water, potting soil, and . . . your leftovers. Yes, you can grow fruits and vegetables from your leftover food scraps, and we’ll show you how.

Kitchen scrap gardening is the art of reproducing plants from bits of food instead of throwing them away. Not only is this an excellent way to start growing your own produce, but you can also turn it into a science experiment for the kids. So, if you’re ready to start saving money and reducing food waste, while also feeding your family, let’s go!

What Is Kitchen Scrap Gardening?

Kitchen scrap gardening or scrap gardening is when you reproduce garden plants from leftover food you’d normally throw away or compost. The video above offers an excellent overview of the process.

Several plant-based foods, including root veggies, like carrots and beets, and those pungent favorites, onions and garlic, will sprout and eventually multiply if you plant them. Imagine planting an old sprouting potato in a large pot of soil, and then finding 10 of them by harvest time?

Not only is this an entertaining approach to sustainable living, but the knowledge that comes from doing this is imperative. Also, if you homeschool and are always searching for new STEM projects, this is an excellent one your kids can work on for months.

At a glance, the concept is simple, but there are a few essential details you’ll need to know before starting your gardening project.

How to Start a Kitchen Scrap Gardening

A box of heirloom tomatoes fresh grown.
Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock.com

Propagating garden plants is pretty simple; you don’t need anything more than a few Mason or washed-out jelly jars and some water to get going. Some plants, like most herbs, lettuce, and strawberries, can remain in water indefinitely, while others, like beets and potatoes, have to be transferred to a soil garden or container to do well.

Ball Mason Jars, 16 oz., Pack of Five

The perfect containers for your scrap garden.

If you’re interested, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Use heirloom plants: These are open-pollinated (that is, pollinated naturally) plants that are usually at least 50 years old and have been handed down for generations. These offer your best chance at harvesting produce with similar traits year after year.
  • Beware of hybrids: These plants are produced through conventional pollination, meaning human intervention ensures they bear the most desirable characteristics. These are what you most commonly find at the grocery store. Planting these seeds might produce plants with undesirable characteristics, like changes in color, size, and flavor.
  • Climate matters: If your kitchen scrap garden is also a science experiment, feel free to try growing whatever you want. If you’re more interested in actually harvesting fruits or vegetables, the climate where you live will significantly affect your results. For example, avocados need warm, subhumid climates to thrive, so you likely won’t get fruit-bearing results if you live in the Northern United States.

For a more in-depth look at this fun form of gardening, pick up a copy of Regrow Your Veggies by Melissa Raupach and Felix Lill. You’ll learn how to save money growing 21 different veggies, with helpful step-by-step instructions for each one.

Regrow Your Veggies

Everything there is to know about kitchen scrap gardening.


Gardening is a rewarding hobby, and it can be done just about anywhere! If you’ve always wanted to develop more of a green thumb, kitchen scrap gardening is the perfect place to start your food-growing journey.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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