How to grow vegetables from scraps: Four kid-friendly science experiments to try at home

How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore
We can’t be the only ones who’ve found an unused garlic sprouting from the corner of the fridge and wondered about the possibilities...

We’ve tried our hand at balcony gardening and putting the jungle back in Singapore a while back and it’s turned out better than we expected, especially when the kids got into it. But while we were busy troubleshooting our plants, our little green fingers kept twitching for more things to plant, more, more! We stumbled upon a two-in-one solution to cultivate this amateur gardening hobby that doubled up as a science project for the kids. Two words: Veggie scraps.

Who knew every un-chopped vegetable scrap was an actual living plant that could be returned to the soil to grow once more? There are loads of guides out there you can follow to successfully grow edible plants from scraps, but we’ve found that it takes not only a patient hand but also a little luck. Here at HoneyKids HQ, we’ve dug up the best budget plant experiments to try with your kids and we’ve been working on growing supermarket-bought ginger, garlic, spring onions and celery for about two months now. Here are the (mixed, we must admit) results…

Ginger How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore

Make sure the ginger buds are face up. Photography: Darissa Lee.

Ginger does the job of growing itself most of the time, especially if you’ve diligently done the grocery shopping but haven’t found the time to do any actual cooking. Just stick that budding root in soil instead of the bin. We found it can go with or without water and ours soon sprouted a lengthy green shoot after two weeks. However, the roots we expected to grow never came. Moving on…

Garlic How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore

You can peel the skin from the garlic clove before trying to regrow it. Photography: Darissa Lee

Garlic sprouts as easily as it can be obtained. To help it along, you can plant the clove in soil with the tip pointing up and make sure it gets plenty of sun. Or, you can leave a bulb in a container and fill it with enough water that it touches the bottom. It should grow roots and sprout within two to three weeks. Remember to change the water once every two days.

Spring onions How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore

Cut the spring onions, leaving a bit above the roots. Photography: Darissa Lee

These common garnishes don’t just go in broths or in stir-frys, they’re great science experiments too! Next time you chop one up, save the roots and pop them in a small jar with water covering the roots (remember to change the water daily). They’ll start to regrow within a day, and after a week even the little ones will be surprised. Fair warning, the supermarket-bought ones don’t keep for very long – once they’ve grown to a certain height, they’re likely to stop growing. 

Celery How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore

Cut the celery a bit above the base. Photography: Darissa Lee

Cut off the base of a bunch of celery and place it in a small bowl of water with the cut stalks facing up. Place the bowl in a sunny area and change the water once every two days. After about a week, you should see leaves start to grow and then it’s time to move it to the soil before the outer stems start to wither and rot. Cover the base with soil, leaving the new leaves uncovered and water regularly.

How to grow vegetables from scraps Honeykids Asia Singapore

The vegetables are ready for the next stage of potting. Photography: Darissa Lee

There are other veg you can try regrowing like potatoes, carrots and onions, just follow these basic tips:

  • Before growing, leave them to dry overnight
    If the veg is damp for whatever reason, drying it out will prevent unwanted nasties from growing on them.
  • Stick them in soil
    Plants grow better in soil where it’s well-aerated and they aren’t water-logged. The only downside is that you won’t get to watch them grow until they’ve broken the surface.
  • Keep them in well-lit places
    Plants need lots of sun to grow so keep them on the window in a well-ventilated and warm place.
  • Don’t over water
    Over-watering means the plants can’t breathe and will get water-clogged. This leads to rot instead of new veg.

As for fruits like avocados and pineapples, you should remove all the flesh from the seed or the crown, respectively, leave them to dry overnight and suspend them over water using toothpicks. They will grow roots, but it will take at least a few weeks before you see any changes. Remember to change the water every couple of days.

Spring onions How to grow vegetables from scrap Honeykids Asia Singapore

Ode to the spring onions that did their best but, sadly, didn’t last the month. Photography: Sheralyn Loh.

Our takeaways from this experiment (hey, everything’s a learning experience!):

  • Growing vegetables from scraps in containers means you get to see how the roots grow, but the vegetable can also easily rot.
  • If you’re not eating organically grown vegetables, there’s a chance the scraps won’t grow because of the chemicals that are sprayed on to keep them fresh (just another reason to go organic).
  • Don’t overdo the watering or you might end up with rotted veggies, or worse… bugs! 
  • Trust your instincts. If the veggies aren’t growing, give them a dignified farewell and dispose of them. Or risk giving someone mould allergy (sorry, Tracy!).
  • Most of all, have fun with it. You may not feed the family for a week, but you’ll definitely learn a few things together!

Photography (top image): Darissa Lee for HoneyKids Asia

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