12 Vegetables and Herbs You Can Buy Once and Grow Forever
There is nothing that matches the taste (and nutritional value) of a vegetable picked exactly when it’s ripe and eaten soon afterwards.
Most of the produce we buy at the supermarket is grown and harvested from a distant farm, and is usually picked several days or more before it ends up on the shelves. This has a huge effect on the taste and the nutritional content of the produce.
There are some basic vegetables that you can actually buy once and grow at home afterwards. Not only do you get a better tasting, healthier vegetable – you also save money and have greater convenience.
How to Grow Scallions (Green Onions) in a Glass of Water
Green onions are probably the easiest vegetable to buy once and keep forever. Simply take the roots – the part that you usually throw away – and put them in a glass. Add enough water to cover them by about an inch (2.5 cm). Scallions grow very quickly – you can eat fresh new scallions within a few days, and then start the process again.
Grow Carrot Greens with These Steps
Carrot greens can be used in salads, soups, or even for tea. You won’t be able to grow new carrots from the tops, but the greens are tasty, nutritious, and easy to grow. Simply follow these steps:
- Choose fresh carrots (not baby carrots) that have a little green on the top.
- Cut off about two inches from the end of the carrot (the thickest part).
- Place the tops in a shallow tray, making sure to put the cut side facing the bottom of the tray.
- Add enough water (about one inch) so that half the carrot top is submerged.
- Make sure to put the tray in a well-lit area and add water every day or two to make sure they don’t get dried out.
That’s it! In a few days you should start to see the carrot greens growing.
Grow Garlic Sprouts on Your Windowsill
Garlic is similar to carrots in that if you have a garlic bulb, you won’t be able to grow additional bulbs, but you will be able to grow garlic sprouts. Garlic sprouts are very mild in flavor – the initial flavor is unmistakably garlicky, but it doesn’t last long (unlike garlic, which can be overwhelming at times).
- Place the whole garlic bulb in a small cup or bowl. You can even use a shot glass for a single bulb. Using a clear container is fun – it lets you see the roots grow and also lets you know when to change the water.
- Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the cup and touch the bottom of the cloves. Do not submerge the garlic cloves – the cloves will rot if you do.
- Make sure to change the water frequently, and give the sprouts plenty of sunlight. You can cut the cloves and eat them after they grow to about 3 inches (7.5 cm). If left alone, the sprouts will grow as high as 10 inches (25 cm).
Each garlic bulb can have 2 or 3 sprouts grow from it. When you want to harvest them, use a sharp scissor. The sprouts will keep growing indefinitely.
The garlic sprouts are much milder than garlic bulbs – try eating them fresh in your salad.
How to Grow Romaine Lettuce from Its Stump
Romaine is another vegetable that you can buy once and keep growing. Simply put the stump (or heart) in ½ an inch (about 1.25 cm) of water. Make sure to replace the water daily for best results.
Keep it in a bright place with cool temperatures, and you should start to see significant growth after about two weeks. After 3-4 weeks you can harvest and eat the lettuce. If you’re having trouble just using water, then place the stump in fresh dirt after about one week – you’ll see faster results.
You can keep using the same heart to grow additional romaine lettuce leaves. Just make sure to cut away the brown parts on the outside. The inside of the bulb will continue to bring you fresh, delicious lettuce for years to come.
Grow Celery from Its Base
Celery is similar to Romaine lettuce. It’s really easy, fun, and you’ll have fresh celery for a lifetime.
Simply chop the celery stalks from the base of the celery you bought from the supermarket. Rinse the base and place it in a small bowl or cup of warm water. The cut side should be facing up, with the base of the celery down in the water.
Make sure to change the water frequently and allow the plant to get plenty of sunlight.
After about one week, transfer the celery base to a planter, and cover it completely except for the leaf tip. Use a mixture of dirt and potting soil.
Water it generously and you should have fresh celery stalks making their way out of the soil after only a few weeks.
Grow Baby Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) Greens at Home
Just like Romaine lettuce and celery, baby Bok Choy greens can be regrown by saving the root of the vegetable. Save the root end (cut it about 1.5 – 2 inches) and place it in a small bowl of warm water. I used Bok Choy that was a couple of weeks old, and it still worked.
After about a week, transfer the Bok Choy to its own container and grow it in soil for best results. Make sure to give it plenty of water and sunlight. It usually takes about 10 days for the plant to grow enough to be edible.
These crisp greens are perfect for a salad or to garnish a well prepared dish.
White Button Mushrooms
This actually works for several types of mushrooms, but white buttons are the easiest to grow. Nonetheless, mushrooms can be a little trickier to grow than some of the other vegetables discussed above. Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds – they are a type of fungus and are not plant based. It’s easier to grow mushrooms indoors – outdoors the plants may compete with other fungi and lose out.
To grow a mushroom, remove the head and plant the stem in soil with the top of the stalk exposed to air. Mushrooms grow best in cool (about 55 degrees F), moist environments, so make sure to keep them in a cool place and provide plenty of water. They don’t need too much sunlight.
A new mushroom head will begin to grow soon after.
Choose a few basil clippings with 4 inch stems (10 cm) and strip away the leaves of about the first 3 inches. Place them in a glass of water in a spot with direct sunlight. When the roots grow to about 2 inches, remove them from the glass and plant them in a pot with fresh soil.
It’s recommended the plant get at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight each day.
Like basil, cilantro can grow roots if the stems are placed in a glass of water. Once the roots are long enough, put them in a pot. In a few weeks you’ll have fresh cilantro sprigs growing.
Ginger is very easy to grow – once you have a plant started, you’ll be able to keep harvesting it indefinitely. Simply place a spare piece of ginger root in potting soil, making sure the bud is facing up. Water and ensure there is direct sunlight, and you’ll start to see new shoots and new roots within a week.
Once this happens, you can pull and use it again. Just make sure to save a piece of the rhizome so you can continue growing more the next time you need it.
Surprisingly, pineapples can be regrown using the top of the pineapple. This is a little more complex than some of the other plants listed, so make sure to follow these steps carefully.
- Remove the crown of the pineapple. Don’t use a knife to do this – simply hold the pineapple at the base of the crown and twist firmly. The entire crown will break loose from the fruit easily and completely intact.
- Once you have the crown free, peel away some of the lower leaves to reveal about half an inch of the stalk.
- Using a sharp knife, trim the base and sides of the stalk to reveal tiny brown dots along the outer rim of the pineapple. These dots will soon become the roots of the new pineapple plant.
- Once trimmed, set aside the pineapple crown for 2 days and let it dry.
- After drying, place the pineapple top into a jar of water for a few days. Make sure to replace the water daily and make sure the plant gets plenty of sunlight.
- When the roots are well established, transfer it to a pot and cover it with fresh soil. Make sure the pot has hole for drainage.
- Grow the plant and you should see pineapples bloom within 18-24 months.
While this needs more space than the other plants I’ve discussed above, it’s definitely worth it to get fresh, delicious pineapples. Just like the other plants mentioned, this can be done indefinitely.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes can both be grown again from their original form. Simply cut a potato and make sure there are 2-3 “eyes” – the deeper the better.
Leave the pieces of the potato out in room temperature for a few days – this will ensure they are dry and help make them resistant to rotting in the ground.
Next, plant the potatoes in nutrient rich soil. They should be planted about 8 inches deep, with the eyes facing up. Fill up the potatoes with about 4 inches of dirt – over time as they grown roots you’ll need to add more soil, so make sure you have enough space for at least 8 inches of dirt.
Using kitchen scraps to grow vegetables is incredibly fun, healthy, and rewarding. It’s also a great way to get kids into planting foods and eating them. My 4 year old son hated strawberries until we started growing them – now he can’t get enough of them. I can’t wait till he tries the lettuce :).