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Since the pandemic lockdowns began in early 2020 and the food supply challenges increased this year, many people have looked for ways to be self-sufficient. Raising egg-laying hens, buying meat from local farmers, planting vegetable gardens and growing one’s own food are just some of the sustainable life changes Americans have made in the last two years. Now, with rising inflation, food insecurity is a real issue for more and more people as it becomes difficult to stretch the dollar. Growing one’s own food sounds daunting to some, but it can be done without the need for land, lots of water, or even a green thumb.
How, you may ask? Kitchen scraps! Don’t throw them out; instead use them to regrow vegetables. Celery, green onion, lettuce and garlic are just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce. Haha). But you can also grow potatoes, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, ginger, pumpkin and tomatoes. Water, a little soil, a sunny windowsill, and some clear jars you probably have stashed in the back of your cupboard, are all you need to start a little garden at home.
Celery: You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to grow your own celery! Cut two inches from the stalk’s bottom and discard that two-inch portion. Then place the remaining stalk in a container with one inch of water. Change out the water every day. Transplant the stalk to a soil-filled container or the ground once it sprouts a good amount of new leaves, in about one week. (Don’t plant outside when it’s hot — celery is a cool-weather crop.) Submerge the stalk in soil with lots of compost to its center leaf tips and then watch it grow. It looks quite pretty.
Green onions: Supremely simple to grow. Once you’ve used most of the green part you can add the white base and root to a container with a little water (Don’t submerge it. The little green that left should stick out above the water.) Use a container (I like to use clear jam jars) narrow enough to keep the cut stubs upright. Green onions will start to grow within days when placed in a sunny window. You can let them grow as is or plant in soil, but I just keep them in the jar on the sill and snip when I need a little oniony punch.
Lettuce: Head lettuce, such as romaine, butter and iceberg, regrows easily. All you need to do is cut off the base of the head so you’re left with a piece about one inch tall. Place it in a small container with 1/2 inch of water you change daily. In about three to four days, it should be sprouting roots and new shoots. Then plant in the ground or a larger container filled with a mix of compost and soil.
Garlic: I like to wait until I see a green spout pushing out of the clove before planting it, root side down, in a container with soil that drains well. You can also plant the clove outdoors in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 1 to 9. Cloves should be spaced four inches apart when planting. Once you see tall stalks, you can harvest your bulbs and chop the cloves to add to a sauté.