The Herald - The Herald Magazine

Waste not, want not Harvest vegetables from old kitchen scraps

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THERE are many things you can grow from food waste, say gardeners Paul Anderton and Robin Daly, right. “If you get into the habit of continuall­y saving potential plants, you’ll find you are rewarded with a decent-sized harvest,” say the pair in their new book Regrown. With a windowsill and reusable containers, you can start with these five easy to regrow edibles.

SPRING ONIONS

The pair say: “This is a really easy and foolproof project. It’s great to do with the kids as the progress is fast.”

Retain one inch of the root end of the vegetable for regrowing. Fill a jar with pebbles or marbles and position each cutting with the root end downwards among the stabiliser­s.

Fill the jar with water to cover the roots, but leave the top of the cuttings above the water. Place on a bright windowsill and refresh the water each day.

AVOCADO

They say: “Avocado pits get tossed into the dustbin every day – each one a perfect new seed of a future avocado tree. They make beautiful houseplant­s.”

Rinse an avocado stone and gently peel away the outer skin, revealing a nutlike surface. Keep its pointy facing upwards during the next steps.

Pierce the stone with three toothpicks, evenly spaced. These will let you put the stone in water without full submersion.

Fill a glass or jar with water and position the stone and toothpicks so the stone is hovering at the water line (with the bottom of the stone under water). It can take several weeks for the stone to start growing.

Once roots have descended and the stone has started to grow a stem and leaves, you could transplant the plant to a pot filled with potting mix. Keep your new avocado houseplant in a bright location and water when necessary.

POTATOES

They say:

“We’ve all been guilty of neglecting a bag of potatoes in a dark kitchen drawer or cupboard. It’s easy to regrow these.”

Use a sharp knife to cut the old potato into sections, but make sure each section has its own eye as this will be the foundation of a new plant.

Let the potato pieces dry in the open air to avoid bacterial infections. After some time, each eye should begin to sprout. You can now plant each potato piece in the earth with the eye facing upwards (four inches deep) or in a plant pot or growbag (with a 50/50 mix of compost and garden soil).

Water regularly if in pots and, once the plant above ground has flowered and begun to wilt (between 70 and 120 days later), your undergroun­d potatoes are ready to be harvested.

TOMATO SEEDS

They say: “Heirloom tomatoes are the best choice.”

Scoop out the inner part of an overripe tomato and seeds and mix these with some water in a jam jar. Seal it and let it start to ferment for one week. This process will separate the seeds from the flesh and help fight diseases.

Strain the seeds, rinse and lay them out on paper towels to dry for at least a week. After this the seeds should be ready for planting. Use the tomato seeds as you would any store-bought tomato seeds. Start the process off using potting mix in seed trays.

BEETROOT GREENS

They say: “It takes a lot of beetroot cuttings to grow yourself a bag of beetroot greens – but the process is fun.”

The top inch or so of a beetroot root can be used to regrow fresh beetroot greens which are wonderful in salad or in dishes as a spinach substitute.

Remove the wilted leaves (or use them to cook with if fresh). Place multiple beetroot tops in a flat-bottomed waterproof tray and fill it with enough water that each root slice has access to water but isn’t submerged. Within the first day or two new leaves should emerge. Changing the water daily will ensure the plants don’t rot.

Harvest the leaves as and when you wish. Regrown by Paul Anderton and Rob Daly, published by Hardie Grant, £16.99

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