This isn’t a secret, but it’s not widely known that you can regrow a wide variety of fruit, vegies and herbs from the ‘scraps’ of store-bought produce. Instead of throwing out those excess shallot leaves or allowing the ginger to completely shrivel up in the pantry, let them grow on in the garden. You help reduce food waste and reduce how much you have to buy in the future – winning! If you’re going to try this (and you totally should), use organic vegies where possible.

Spring onions
The next time you purchase a bunch of spring onions, use what you need but pop the remainder in a glass filled with water, just enough to cover the small bulb(s). Place the glass in a brightly lit spot, but away from direct sunlight, and simply snip the leaves as needed. You will notice that new leaves will form from inside the hollow tubular leaves. Change the water regularly to avoid any slime. To keep the harvest going, I recommend planting them into a pot filled with good quality potting mix. To plant, dig a small hole insert the bulb and backfill with soil. My small trough with three individual plants has been growing for over eight months now!

Turmeric and ginger
These chunky roots or ‘rhizomes’ can be quite expensive to purchase, so it pays to make the most of what you have got! When you purchase them, don’t store them in the fridge. Use what you need and plant the rest. The best time to plant turmeric or ginger in Sydney is from early spring to early summer. Bear in mind that it can take 8-10 months from planting to harvest, so patience is required.

To ensure a successful harvest, you will need section that has buds or ‘eyes’ and this is where the plant will reshoot. Break them into small clumps and fill a large pot – at least 300mm wide and deep – with quality potting mix. Dig a hole 5-10cm deep and lay the rhizome in the base of the hole. Cover with potting mix and water in with diluted seaweed. Water sparingly to keep the soil moist, but increase watering frequency once shoots start to appear. Feed fortnightly with a liquid fertiliser. Harvest when the leaves start to yellow and die down. You can choose to harvest the whole lot or harvest from the edges and save the main clump to grow on next season.

This is a fun project for all ages. Remove the top or ‘crown’ from the fruit, ensuring there is no flesh attached. Remove the older, lower leaves and any dead or browning leaves. Allow it to sit in a warm spot for a couple of days for the base to form a callous. Then, you can try:

(i) Filling a shallow tray with a seed raising mix and burying the base of the plant in the mix. After 4-6 weeks, roots will form, and it will be ready for planting into a pot at least 200-300mm wide. Ensure it’s filled with a quality potting mix.

(ii) Plant straight into a 200-300mm pot filled with quality potting mix. Water sparingly to keep the soil moist – they will not tolerate wet feet!

After 10-12 months, you may be lucky to have fruit. Allow it to mature and develop the sweet smell and rich golden-orange tones before harvesting.

Not all herbs can be regrown, but there are a few like basil, rosemary, coriander, thyme, and sage that can be. To do this, ensure the stem is at least 10-15cm long, remove the lower leaves and place in a glass of water. Change the water regularly to keep it fresh. Roots will form usually after 4-6 weeks and once they are 10-15cm long, plant them out. It’s best to plant out during the warmer months as herbs will not fare well in the cold. 

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