Simple Switches: Regrow Romaine Lettuce and Other Vegetables

regrow romaine lettuce vegetablesGardening is often viewed as a time-consuming and sometimes costly effort. There’s no denying that planting, watering, tending, harvesting, and storing vegetables can be hard work. Even if you’re not big on gardening and prefer farmers’ markets or stores, fresh produce can be quite costly. But what if you could regrow some of your organic veggies right in your kitchen with nothing more than some vegetable scraps, a small bowl, and some water? Here’s how to get started:

Keep the Right Scraps

Leafy lettuce like romaine, celery, and onions work well for this kind of culinary experiment. My recommendation is to start with an organic variety of vegetable. Though I have had some success with traditionally-grown vegetables, organic veggies regrow faster and seem to be much more hardy. The next step is to cut your veggies carefully. Leave yourself a nice base on your vegetable when you cut and clean it. For example, when I started regrowing this romaine, I left a good 1.5 inches on the bottom. You’ll want to do the same with celery and onions.

Rinse But Don’t Repeat

After you’ve got your scrap, give it a quick rinse and then let it dry. The key is to keep your vegetable base from getting waterlogged. I usually set mine in the dish drain for about twenty minutes or so while I tackle the next step.

Create a Growing Spot

While your veggie scrap is drying, it’s time to create a starter spot where it can regrow. I like to use a clear glass Pyrex storage container, but any Tupperware bin or ceramic bowl will do. Fill the bowl with less than a half inch of water, and place it in a location where it will soak up lots of sun. Then add your vegetable scrap. If you are choosing to regrow onions, note that they can get a bit odorous. Take that into consideration when choosing a container–preferably made from a material that won’t absorb a smell–and a location in your home.

Water and Wait

The next part is the hardest because it’s easy to get impatient. Every day, you will want to empty the water from the container and refill it, making sure that your vegetable stays upright in the container. You only want the very bottom of the new “plant” exposed to water. After 2-3 days, you should see signs of growth. You might notice a few green “feelers” at the base or sprouting out the sides of the scrap. You should also start to see some new growth at the top within a week. 

The Little Romaine That Could - Regrowth after just a few days of sun and water
Meet…The Little Romaine Who Could

Repot or Replant

I usually let my vegetable scrap regrow inside as long as possible. It’s amazing how tall romaine lettuce and celery will get with only water. However, all plants benefit from nutrients in soil, so you’ll eventually want to transplant your veggie. During the spring and summer, I toss ours back into the garden. However, you’ll want to consider growing time and growing seasons before making that decisions. In the fall and winter months, I work primarily with celery (stuffing season means sales on celery – say that five times fast!), and I repot them in two windowsill planters. I can usually keep them growing until spring, when they get booted outside and land in the garden. The most important thing to remember when you repot or replant is to give your plant plenty of opportunities for drainage. If you are keeping the plant indoors, look for pots that have drainage holes and a collection tray or create your own. You can also build up the base with stones before adding a sandy soil mixture. Just like when you first started the regrowth process, these plants like water, but they don’t want to be waterlogged.

Another scrap ready for repotting
Regrown romaine ready for repotting

Now Tell Me…What questions do you have? Is this something that you’ve tried before? Did you know it was possible to regrow your vegetables?


Simple Switches: Regrow Romaine Lettuce and Other Vegetables

22 thoughts on “Simple Switches: Regrow Romaine Lettuce and Other Vegetables

    1. Was it organic originally? At first I thought it wouldn’t really matter, but it’s made a HUGE difference in my experience. Sometimes, I also find I have to leave a bigger “scrap” behind to really get the romaine to thrive, too.

    1. Let me know how it works for you if you give it a shot. There’s a bit of trial and error to it, but I’ve grown probably 10 lettuces at this point and a handful of celery. A few onions, too, though I’m not entirely sure the smell is worth it! Celery is a bit harder, because I try it in the fall (when it’s on sale for Turkey Day!). I think most indoor gardens get cranky in the cold weather and with less daylight.

    1. I’ve done various lettuces, celery, onions, fennel, lemongrass, and potatoes. The potatoes have to go in the ground (or rubber tires) but everything else seems happy in a pot. Next summer, I’m going to give pineapple a go. If you try it out, let me know!

    1. Absolutely! The first time I tried this, I bought a three-pack of organic romaine. Two out of three took. There’s a bit of trial and error to it, but considering they’re kitchen scraps, there’s nothing to lose. Keep me posted if you try it.

  1. This is a great way to grow veggies. I live in a condominium and the homeowner’s association won’t allow me to grow vegetables on the patio (it’s stupid, don’t ask), so being able to do it on a windowsill is a great alternative for me. I’ll have to give it a try!

    1. Ha! The best I’ve done is two cycles. Celery is neat because you can cut parts of the stalks off while it grows in the container. I’ll do a post on that this fall.

  2. I’m so trying this. Also, I cannot wait for your celery post! I have a little windowsill garden of mint, basil and parsley right now but would love to have something more! Thanks for the fun and frugal tips! 👏

  3. I have attempted to grow some vegetables inside and then move to outside. I do great while it’s inside but as soon as it moves outside I forget about it. However, I’m still going to try this. Sounds like a good chore for my 2 yo as well!

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