I think many of us need some simple distractions in these truly dismal times, and one thing I have been doing lately is regrowing vegetable scraps. It all started some time ago with scallions (sometimes known as Chinese shallots or green onions: the type of spring onion that doesn't have a bulbous base). Someone told me if I planted the little bit at the base with the roots that gets cut off when preparing them in the kitchen, it would grow into a whole new scallion! This sounded absurd to me, but I gave it a go, planting the bases in a shallow trough of potting mixture every time I had a few, and sure enough they DID grow into whole new ones. It is quite a joy to know that I always have them on hand now if I need one or two. I have even gone so far as to replant the bases of the regrown ones! I have also read that they can regrow in a jar of water. It seems the same thing can be done with leeks and lemongrass, though I have yet to try these ones.
For a few years I have also planted out sprouted garlic cloves into the garden, each of which grows into a whole new bulb of garlic. Now is the perfect time to plant garlic cloves, as I have talked about previously in this blog. As explained in the blog, it is not advisable to plant anything except organic, Australian-grown garlic. It is possible to buy such garlic in some fruit and vegetable shops, or else to send away online for a delivery. I recently ordered some and will use two of the bulbs for cooking and have planted out the cloves of the third one (pictured above).
Other ideas for vegie scrap gardening can be to regrow carrot tops in shallow bowl of water on the windowsill. I remember being amazed as a kid that a carrot top would regrow feathery green leaves, and did this every so often. I think I was disappointed, though, that it didn't grow into a whole new carrot, and in those days, no one ate carrot leaves, but these days they are regarded as something of a delicacy and are added to salads and made into carrot-top pesto. You'd probably need quite a lot of carrot stumps to get enough leaves for a decent batch of pesto, but they could be added to other leaves. I also think the fronds would be a cute garnish for carrot soup! I hadn't realised that other root crop tops could also be regrown in this same way - beetroots, for example. Their baby leaves are also used in salads these days.
The bottom of an onion, with roots attached, will also start sprouting green shoots in a few days if placed, roots-side down in shallow water; these can be used like chives. Apparently, the cut-off bases of fennel, cos lettuce and celery will also start to resprout in a few days in water, and can be eventually planted outside in the garden as whole new plants.
These vegie scraps should never be submerged in the water. The water in the dishes for all these windowsill experiments needs to be changed every day. Not everything will sprout and anything that turns mouldy should be composted straightaway. It's a harmless and diverting pursuit, especially during the winter months when there are few fresh shoots to be seen, and could be a great way to introduce children to the idea of gardening!
Another thing I did recently, totally by accident, was to manage to strike sprigs of rosemary and culinary sage in a jug of water on the windowsill. I had picked too much of them for whatever dish I was cooking, and indolently left them in the jug for a week or so. To my utter astonishment, all the sprigs grew roots in the water. I didn't think this occurred with woody types of cuttings like these were. I then potted them on into potting mix and now have some healthy plants. As I have always thought sage wasn't worth growing at home in Sydney because it dies off after a season or so (usually due to its dislike of summer humidity), this new revelation made me determined to keep on growing it and just propagate it this way every so often. I have never had luck propagating it or rosemary from conventional cuttings in pots. I do rather love crispy fried sage leaves in various dishes!
I'd love to hear from anyone who has done any of these things, or any other ideas for vegie scrap gardening.
The allure of the orchid cactus
24 Oct 21
This intriguing epiphytic plant is in bloom now.
Ageing and gardening
17 Oct 21
As one gets older, there is the need to rethink aspects of one's garden.
Painting with coleus
10 Oct 21
Coleus can make wonderful pictures in the garden.
03 Oct 21
Tough and undemanding plants from my parents' garden are favourites in my own.
The value of green spaces
26 Sep 21
Earlier this year, I visited Callan Park in Sydney's inner west.