So you’ve decided to flex your green thumb during the pandemic and are trying to regrow veggies from kitchen scraps but you aren’t having any success. Here are seven reasons why your vegetable scraps won’t regrow:
1. The vegetable has been sitting in cold storage for too long
When you buy seed packets, they often come with an expiration date, an indication that the seeds are less likely to be viable and grow successfully beyond that date. The same applies to vegetables. If you’re trying to regrow from a vegetable scrap/seed that has been sitting in cold storage for weeks, the chances that it will regrow is less likely than a fresh vegetable that you’ve purchased directly from a farmer.
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2. The root system has been tampered with
If the edible plants and vegetables you’ve purchased from the supermarket or farmers’ market has its roots in tact, there’s a greater chance that it will regrow. If there are no roots left on the plant or you can see that it has been cut or tampered with, there is a very, very slim chance it will regrow. If you want to improve your chances of regrowing veggies such as lettuce, spring onions, leeks and even Asian greens such as bok choy and tatsoi, make sure to purchase vegetables that look like its roots are still intact.
3. When chopping the vegetables, you’ve cut too close to the root
When chopping vegetables, keep some length between your kitchen knife and the root of the vegetable, perhaps one inch of stem give or take, though this is dependent on the plant. Just remember, the closer you cut to the root, the greater your chances of harming the plant’s ability to reshoot so be mindful when chopping your veggies.
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4. Poor lighting
Plants require light and if you’re trying to regrow in a poorly lit corner of your home, backyard or balcony, that could explain why you’re experiencing regrowing pains. Make sure that the item is getting plenty of natural light, preferably near a brightly-lit kitchen window or any other brightly lit area (you’ll want to keep an eye on the plants so place them somewhere you can easily observe each day).
If natural light is inaccessible given your household situation (you’re renting a room with a very small window for example) or house design, then use an eco-friendly LED grow light. Be mindful of the plant’s proximity to the light as its intensity can burn or damage the plant.
5. You aren’t changing the water enough
If you’ve popped your veggie top/root in a jar of water and haven’t changed the water daily, this could very well be the reason why your plant isn’t regrowing. If you leave the plant in stagnant water long enough it’ll start to rot and stink. Get into the habit of changing the water each day to maximise its regrowth success.
6. Growing conditions are all wrong
Some plants regrow from the root system, others regrow from seed and others regrow in peculiar ways (such as potatoes, they need ‘eyes’ before planting in ground) so it pays to understand the best growing conditions of the plant you’re trying to regrow by doing a quick online search.
To give you some quick pointers, here are some edible plants that regrow from the stem/tops:
- spring onion (also known as green onion and scallion)
- coriander (also known as cilantro)
- lettuces such as Cos and Romaine
- Asian greens such as bok choy, pak choi and Chinese cabbage
- pineapple (just plant the spiky top in soil)
- carrot (won’t regrow the carrot, but will regrow carrot seed that you can plant)
- mushrooms (use the tops and plant the bottoms into the ground)
Some edible plants that regrow from seed:
Some other veggies you can regrow by popping directly into the ground/pot:
- sweet potato
- onion (brown, red and white)
It’s also important to remember that some plants will only regrow under the right soil mixture, lighting, temperatures and climate. For example, pineapples are a tropical fruit and won’t regrow in cooler climates unless you’re regrowing in a temperature controlled greenhouse.
7. The seed is unviable
If you’re trying to regrow from seed and aren’t having any luck the reason could be because you’ve purchased a hybrid vegetable (unknowingly) or the seed is just unviable. For instance, avocados are extremely difficult to grow from seed (let alone having the patience to wait a minimum of four to five years for the tree to bear fruit) and if the original avocado you purchased was a hybrid, the chances it will grow true to form are slim and it may not even bear fruit after all that effort.
Have you tried regrowing from scraps? Encounter any problems? Have any wins? Feel free to share below.
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All images by Jennifer Nini, founder of Eco Warrior Princess.