Garbage Garden – Week 16

Garbage Garden 2017

Here is a status report for the tiny little garden I started at work from food scraps. I tried to regrow romaine lettuce from the cut ends of romaine, celery from the cut ends of celery bunches, green onions from the white end that is usually thrown away, red onions from the tiny starts inside of decaying onions, and tomatoes from rotting tomatoes.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t anywhere as successful as I was hoping for. Despite what you read on the internet, re-growing food from food scraps will not allow you to feed your family from a head of Romaine you bought 3 year ago.

This was my experience:

Romaine Lettuce:

I started several robust plants from the ends of romaine lettuce using two different methods. Some I started in water and some I planted into the dirt in my garden . Both methods worked – to a point. My romaine never grew beyond the first few leaves that would look very crisp and fresh before withering almost overnight. According to Best Food Facts, there are not enough nutrients in water for romaine to grow for long.

Conclusion:

This would be a good experiment to do with kids. The results are quick and if you don’t let it go too long, you would have enough lettuce for a sandwich. If you, like me, were hoping for a Caesar Salad, you will be disappointed.

Celery:

Like the romaine, the celery stumps showed good initial promise but they did not progress. Unlike the romaine, the celery is still alive in my garden. It’s not really growing but it is flowering. Our hot summer weather may be encouraging it to bolt.

Celery

Conclusion:

Another possible bust. I have considered this experiment a possible bust because I have left this plant in my garden in the hopes I may be able to harvest its seeds. I might try this experiment again closer to the fall when our weather starts to cool off.

Onions:

The results for my onion experiments were mixed.  I tried to grow green and red onions.

Green Onions:

According to the internet, you can put the white ends of any green onions in a jar of water and they will grow. This time the internet was right. The green onions I put into in a jar of water grew and grew and grew.

Conclusion:

Keeping a jar filled with water and green onion stumps is worth it and this method lived up to its hype. If you eat green onions a lot, this is worth the time.

Red Onions:

I was “gifted” more than a few sprouting red onions from work. I dug out the tiny little starts that were growing inside and planted these in my garden.

I thought I was doing well when I discovered this large onion flower in my garden.

One big onion flower

When I did a little research, I discovered that when onions begin to flower, it means they are on the way out. I dug it out but, unfortunately, the undeveloped bulb was slimy and rotten.

However, all is not lost as there are a couple more that seem to be doing well and it looks like at least one of them will produce a respectable onion.  I am going to wait to harvest these ones.

Conclusion:

I am waiting a few more weeks before I deliver my final verdict regarding this experiment.  I probably would have been more successful if I had more of the root end attached to each of my starts when I planted them.

Tomatoes:

I buried a few tomato slices in a dish with some potting soil. They were slow to sprout so I gave up on them. This dish sat, unwatered and unloved in our wood shed for weeks until one day I glanced over and saw what I thought was mold. I look closer and realized I was looking at seedlings.

Tiny little seedlings

I planted some of these seedlings in the garden and they are growing like weeds. It might be too late in our growing season and these little warrior seedlings may not have the time they need to produce fruit but I will be supporting them in their mission.

Warrior tomato!

Conclusion:

Planting tomatoes this way is a keeper. Theoretically, you could feed your family tomatoes forever by recycling the seeds from a single tomato bought years previously. You can increase your success rate by relying on a phenomena called “vivipary.” I wish I would have started the tomato experiment earlier in the year and not given up on these little fighters so easily.

This was my experience with growing food using food scraps. If you have tried growing food from food scraps, leave a comment and tell me about your experiences.

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6 thoughts on “Garbage Garden – Week 16

  1. Very nice experiment. Thank you for sharing. I’m curious about the tomato. Would it have worked better if perhaps you let the slices dry out a couple days before planting? I’m guessing at this because you said the container was left to dry out for several days before it started sprouting. Will you be taking a cutting from the tomato plant to grow indoors through the winter?

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    • I never though about that – maybe it would work better if you let the tomato slice dry out. I know that you can grow tomatoes from cuttings but I probably won’t take one from this little fighter. I have horrible luck with cuttings and our house gets too cold in the winter for tomatoes. We heat with wood and if no one gets up to stoke the fire on a cold night, the temperature can drop to near freezing. We manage just fine but I don’t know how The Man would feel about keeping my plants under the duvet. 🙂

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  2. My sprouted garlic cloves are all doing well in the window boxes on my porch…it remains to be see if they are developing into true bulbs.
    I added several red romaine ends that I was given into the boxes with them and they are doing well in the soil. Like you, I doubt if i will get more than a sandwich or two’s worth but the varied and often hilarious questions and comments from visitors and my mail carrier have been more than entertaining enough to make up for a robust crop!

    Jill
    Hoping you are safe from the fires and that awful smoke.

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    • Thanks Jill. I am glad to hear your little garden is doing well. And you are right, sometimes the conversations are the real crop.
      We are safe from the fires and I hope it stays that way. A couple of years ago , the fires were very close to us. My thoughts are with all those threatened by fires. Praying for rain.

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  3. oh, well.
    After braving a week of unprecedented heat my little lettuce plants died when it dropped 30 degrees last night and we had flooding rains. They were troupers, that for sure and excellent conversation starters as well.

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