Plant instead of throwing away: tips for new greenery

Not all vegetable waste from cooking should go in the trash. The head of the Bavarian Garden Academy tells how new vegetables grow from them.

Chopped carrots, leeks or lettuce usually end up in organic waste during cooking. But they really are too good for that. What used to be taken for granted is now becoming a trend again: “sprouting”, growing vegetables, fruits and herbs from plant residues. Marianne Schoe-Gelgert, head of the Bavarian Garden Academy of the State Institute of Viticulture and Horticulture (LWG) in Feitschöchheim, explains how you can grow new plants from seemingly worthless vegetable scraps with simple techniques on your home windowsill.

Lettuce needs its growth center

Lettuce plants do well on relatively cool, south-facing windows.

Photo: Mehriban

Marianna Shoy-Helgert recommends that beginners first try their luck at growing lettuce. A salad that still has root vegetables is best. They are now available in many supermarkets. Heads of lettuce that have already been cut will also work, says Shoi-Gelgert: “However, I’m not reaching the same mass as I used to be.” For regrowth to work, care is needed when harvesting lettuce: “If you make sure that the center of growth remains intact when cutting the leaves, the plant can continue to grow,” says the expert. The center of growth is the lower part of the head of lettuce, where the leaves become very thin and tender. Then simply place the cutting a few centimeters high, along with the root, in a container of water, Shoi-Gelgert says. And warns: “Please do not fill the cup, otherwise the roots will sink.” Relatively cool, but very bright, south-facing windows will be suitable as a place to grow lettuce, for example, in a stairwell. After a few days, the first new leaves should appear.

Watch out for rot on onions and leeks

You can drive away leeks quickly: after four days, the stem begins to grow, after a week you can plant the plant.

Photo: Mehriban

Leeks and onions are also good candidates for growing, says the head of the garden academy. However, they should be used soon before they dry out. Simply cut the plant three to five centimeters above the roots and place the lower part in a glass of water in a place with as much light as possible. The cuttings then quickly form new greens that can be cut and used again and again, Shoi-Gelgert says. If more roots form, the plants can also be replanted in the ground. However, the expert warns that the surfaces of the slices are particularly susceptible to decay: “The surfaces of fresh slices are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and fungi of all kinds.” Her advice: “Don’t work with too much water.”

Carrots, beets and celery: fresh greens for salads

The stalks of root vegetables such as beets and carrots can be used to grow new greens for salads and soups.

Photo: DRasa

If you want to continue using root crops, there are a few things you should pay attention to when buying them, says a plant expert: “If something is missing at the top or there is a soft, brown spot, then the top of the plant has fallen or is dead. It makes new growth difficult.” If the tip is intact and leaves remain on it, a part can be cut several millimeters thick and placed in a saucer or other flat container with water. Scheu-Helgert recommends letting the cut surfaces dry well beforehand or dusting them with charcoal to prevent them from rotting. New tubers do not form from cuts, but the greens that grow are very suitable as a filling for salads and soups.

Basil and mint: shoots reroot

Many kitchen herbs can form new roots from cut shoots.

Photo: Robert Ruidl

The easiest way to propagate canes of basil, mint and chives is to divide the vines and transplant them into larger pots, the expert explains. However, separate strong shoots of plants are also suitable for growing basil and mint. To do this, cut the stem about five to seven centimeters below the tips of the shoots and place it in a glass of water. Make sure the lower leaves are not submerged. “Then new roots will soon form and you can plant them back in the flower pot,” says Shoi-Gelgert. “It’s almost foolproof.”

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From garlic, you can grow new rosettes or stems for soups

New shoots and whole bulbs can grow from individual cloves of garlic.

Photo: Auguste Lange

Garlic is doubly useful for regrowth. If garlic cloves lie in the kitchen for a long time, new green sprouts sometimes form. Placing the finger in shallow water stimulates growth. Then the shoot can be cut off and used, for example, as a side dish for soups and salads or in herbal quark. If you want to grow whole bulbs, you can do it in a balcony box, says Marianne Shoi-Gelgert: “Just put as many cloves as you want in the flower box.” Cloves should be planted about three centimeters and unpeeled. During the summer, a green stalk of garlic forms above ground, and a new rosette with cloves grows underground. But you can collect them only “from August to September,” says the gardener.

Growing exotic pineapple likes to take its time

A new ornamental plant can grow from a pineapple stem.

Photo: Bernhard Weisenegger

If you want to venture out into something truly exotic, you can try a pineapple: “Generously cut off the top, remove the excess flesh from the side, let the stump dry, or lightly press it into activated charcoal or charcoal powder,” explains Pineapple. expert. When everything dries well, the stump is placed in soil that is quite poor in nutrients. “And never keep it too wet, rather keep it too dry,” advises Marianne Shoi-Gelgert. The stem could then form new roots and a new plant could grow over several years. However, the likelihood of the fruit being edible is slim, says Shoi-Gelgert: “It’s more of a small, hard mass.” But at least: This way you can get a decorative pineapple plant.

Questions about the theme of the garden? Bavarian garden telephone Garden Academy can be called on (0931) 9801 3333 every Monday and Thursday from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 16:00. Questions can also be sent by e-mail:


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