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Regrowing food scraps

"this windowsill kitchen garden is not *really* to supplement your diet. Sure, you’ll be able to nibble away at your greens, but we’re not producing tons of vegetables here." Simple Bites

I was in leftover mode today and was going to do something else, and then saw that a big trend in this time of lockdown is apparently regrowing fruits and vegetables in your kitchen from food scraps. So I thought I would look at that instead. After all I'm not a big gardener but I do like to grow food things - usually without much success, so I thought I might learn something.

And I did. Just Google regrowing food scraps and you will find heaps of sites that tell you how. I have now looked at several and give you this one - Food Revolution Network - which has a whole heap of simple diagrams that more or less summarise the options.

I also got quite enthused about this video, which whilst not detailed did show you lots of options, particularly with little tricks like making a mini greenhouse with a plastic bottle, using tins as pots, and so on.

And then I thought I would turn to my trusted Guardian - by then I was looking for some good quotes, and found this statement, which rather brought me back to earth.

"The internet is awash with advice, a great deal of it misleading – so ignore those viral videos about sowing herbs in glass jars; it won’t work." Jane Perrone - The Guardian

Very depressing. I'm guessing she is referring to videos like the one above. But as I read on through her article I found that she was actually doing many of the same things anyway.

So where does the truth lie? As always somewhere in the middle I think. If you are really keen on growing vegetables then this is not for you. You need a proper kitchen garden and proper seeds and seedlings. Plus a lot of care and attention. But if you are looking for a fun thing to do on your own, or with your kids or grandkids then give it a go it seems to me.

It seems that the best approach is to use the kitchen as a start, then transfer the plants that grow to a proper garden. Then you will get 'real' plants. If you don't do this, then you will get varying degrees of usefulness.

Root vegetables will sprout leaves - and you can use these in salads and stir fries and things, but if you want to grow an onion, for example, you will have to plant it in the ground - but you can indeed use the root of an old onion to do this.

You can regrow lettuce but it won't look like a real lettuce - you will still have bits of the old root showing - unless you replant in the garden or in a pot. But still you will get plenty of leaves and you can pick these as you go. Pretty useful I would have thought.

The same thing applies to other similar plants - bok choy, some kinds of cabbage, celery, silver beet, leeks, spring onions ...

Then there's the herbs - now these you grow from the tops - which are then placed in water until they grow roots - then plant out. Although I guess you might be able to keep them in the water and pick them as and when you need them. After all you don't generally need heaps of leaves do you?

Opinion seemed to vary on garlic - from you will be able to grow a bulb of garlic from one clove (I did sort of do this once, in my garden), - to you will get just a few shoots that you can then use as a milder garlic flavour.

But the thing that got me was the pineapples. Most of the sites I looked at were English, but even so they were trying to grow pineapples from the tops. Later I learnt that this was really as a house plant, but a few dedicated people have indeed managed to get actual pineapples. I mean it's a tropical plant! So yes you can get roots, and then I guess you might get a few more leaves, but then what. Besides it is apparently quite difficult. Ditto for avocados, but then I'm guessing most Australians know about the suspending the stone over water trick.

As one of these authors said - it's a fun thing to do with kids, and for the herbs, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lettuce and spring onions in particular probably worth doing if you have no garden space.

But I suspect it's not quite as easy as it looks. The Dave's Garden lady had these words of caution to add to the above:

"The taste of regrown vegetables will be milder than fresh vegetables.

Not everything will sprout. If there's no sign of life after a week, discard it.

The bottoms may become slimy. It's a little yucky, but it's normal."

Carole Menser - Dave's Garden

I might try some bean sprouts though. I know they work.

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