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How to grow vegetables from kitchen scraps

Published on January 9th 2019
A room with a table covered in houseplants, pots, tools and soil

Plant Care

If your kitchen is anything like mine in the wake of Christmas it’s full of old vegetables – abandoned sprouts, leftover carrots, celery bases and the odd sweet potato languishing at the back of the cupboard.
Fortunately, experimenting with these leftover scraps is a great way to engage the kids with a fun ornamental growing activity when the weather is grim outside.

Which Leftovers?

First we collected up the vegetable tops (carrots, parsnip, sweet potatoes, radish) and bases (sprouts, celery, lettuce, leeks). These need to be placed in a shallow saucer with water covering the bottom of the scrap, but not submerging the top. Change the water every day and watch to see which grows new leaves first. Our top veggies were:

Carrots and Parsnips

The carrot tops looked most unpromising and took the longest to sprout leaves, but are now producing lush foliage. The parsnips were quicker off the mark and overtopped the carrots immediately. Once your carrot or parsnip tops are producing leaves, plant them in a pot with compost. They won’t produce new roots, but you’ll soon have an umbelliferous forest for your lego bunnies to live in.


Celery bases have great regenerative power and can produce a healthy set of leaves within just a few days. The kids were surprised at the energy stored in this seemingly dead vegetable scrap – even more so when they found out that we could plant the base outside in the ground after a week in water and it would continue to grow leaves and even small celery stalks.

The Challenge

So set the kids a challenge this winter: how many vegetables can you regenerate from leftover scraps? Then raid the fridge and get growing…

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