Hold the phone. I just found out you can regrow food in water without dirt. Could gardening get any better when you have two black thumbs?
I think not. And my black thumbs aren’t the only reason I’ve been hesitant to garden. It can be costly too, but ever since I found ways to water my garden for free, I’m all over it.
Then my step-mom showed me how to regrow food in water – she had a couple heads of lettuce in a bowl in her kitchen. But as it turns out, it’s just one of several veggies that can grow without dirt, and without much effort too.
It’s great news for those buying organic vegetables, but even if you aren’t, it’s a simple way to stretch those grocery dollars just a teeny bit further is to regrow food in water!
Why Should You Regrow Food in Water?
There are plenty of reasons to regrow food, but the most important ones to me are:
(1) It’s absolutely free.
You already bought the vegetable. All it costs is a few tablespoons of water – but if you’re smart about it, you can re-use water you’ve already used elsewhere, like from boiling pasta or water that you collected while waiting for the shower to get hot. Then it wouldn’t cost you a dime!
(2) It’ll trim your grocery budget.
Little ways to save money really do add up to bigger savings, as long as you’re diligent about using them.
Now, you won’t get a huge harvest out of any of these items, but it is still food and every little bit helps. Even if it’s a few leaves of lettuce to scoop your tuna salad with, you can regrow food you didn’t have before and won’t have to buy.
(3) It makes organics more affordable.
Affording organic food just got easier! If you start with organic food, you’ll regrow food that’s organic… so you’ll reap the benefits of organic greens without actually paying for them!
(4) It’s easy.
Do I have to explain further? I mean, stick the plant in water and watch it grow. Really – it’s that easy!
I’ve listed below all the vegetables that can legitimately grow in water and water alone.
Sure, there are plenty more that can START in water and then be transplanted to soil. And yes, beans will sprout in water too – but unless the vegetable will grow into more vegetable that can be eaten as-is with only a cup of water, I kept it off this list.
General Guidelines to Regrow Food in Water
- You don’t need a lot of water – just enough to cover the roots. About 1/2″ of water seems to be sufficient otherwise the food can get moldy and slimy.
- Be sure to check the water every 2-3 days to ensure that A) there’s enough water, and B) no rogue lettuce pieces fall off and slime up your bowl.
- The size of container should be relative to the size of the food you’re growing. Lettuce and celery grows best in shallow bowls like these. Green onion and lemongrass can be in taller, skinny glasses like these.
- You can regrow multiples of the same plant as long as you’re not overcrowding the area.
- I haven’t tried this myself, but using a fertilizer could help with the yield when you regrow food – especially if this is more than a fun side project. I would recommend this Dr. Earth organic liquid fertilizer or a hydroponic fertilizer.
10 Ways to Regrow Food in Water
Cut off the bottom of the stalk and place in a small bowl of water. New growth begins from the center in 1-2 days with significant growth in less than a week!
Place the root end in a shallow bowl of water and watch it regrow from the center. Be sure to harvest on the smaller side to get the best flavor.
You can’t regrow an actual carrot, but you can regrow the carrot tops! Place the cut-off end of a carrot in a shallow bowl of water. Harvest the greens as they grow and add to salads. Better yet, make this amazing carrot top pesto and stop spending money on store-bought!
Cut off the bottom 2″ of the stalk and place in a small bowl of water. New growth begins from the center in 3-4 days. It might take awhile for a full stalk of celery to grow, but you’ll get great growth in the center for flavoring dishes. If you don’t know what to do with the leaves, dehydrate them and make your own dried celery powder.
Cut off the bottom 1″ of the base so that the roots are intact and place in a small bowl of water.
Garlic chives are the green that grows from a clove of garlic and can be added to dishes that traditionally call for green onion chives like salads and baked potatoes. Place a garlic clove in a small cup and add water to the bottom without submerging. Roots will grow in a few days and shoots will grow shortly after!
Tip: Garlic starts to lose it pungent flavor when the shoots grow, so if you find a rogue clove in your fridge or pantry starting to shoot, place it in a cup of water to grow chives instead of throwing the clove away!
Keep the white part of the onion with any roots that are in still intact. Place in a glass with water and you’ll have a never-ending supply of fresh green onion!
Cut off the bottom 2-3″ of the stalk and place in a cup of water. New growth will come from the center of the plant. Usually only the green part of the leek is used in cooking, but it can be used interchangeably with onions for a delicious, mellow flavor.
Cut off 2-3″ from the bottom and place in a tall container with 1/2″ or so of water. New lemongrass shoots will grow from the center.
Cut off the bottom of the head of lettuce and place it in a small bowl of water. New growth begins from the center of the in as little as 3 days and you’ll have a new half-head of lettuce in about 2 weeks. I’ve heard romaine re-grows best, but I’ve had success with green leaf and red leaf lettuce too.
Got more scraps to regrow food?
There are plenty more vegetables that will regrow using just a small scrap of the original food. These listed below can be started in water, but should be transplanted to dirt for full growth and harvest.
- lemon balm
- onions (white/yellow/red)
- sweet potatoes
And of course, you can save the seeds/pits from apples, cherries, lemons, nectarines, peaches, peppers (sweet and hot), plums, pumpkins and tomatoes to grow your own new vegetables!
We have several heads of lettuce regrowing on our kitchen table, which makes for a pretty and practical centerpiece! If you had a shelf near a window, you could keep all your plants there and just harvest when they’re big!
Just think – if we did all of the above ways to regrow food, we might not ever have to shop at the grocery store again!