From Grocery Bag to Garden Bed
This tutorial is dedicated to starting to grow vegetables using produce that you picked up from the grocery store. I’m certain everyone has seen the pictures where you can grow celery from the base on Pinterest . Well, I had to give that a whirl and you know what…it works!
I started these plants indoors from three whole organic celery bunches and without much effort they are on their way. We go through a lot of celery since we enjoy juicing. I’ll babysit these for a few weeks before putting them into the garden where I will harvest individual stalks as we need them, but to make sure I will start a few more to keep us going throughout the summer.
Since I was thinking about trying this nifty idea on celery, I got to thinking…what other produce could I grow vegetables from? So, I went looking for veggie’s that would root easily.
Now most of us are familiar with how to get an avocado seed going but I decided to try a different approach. The common method is to cross-cut through the top and drive a bunch of toothpicks into the sides. With toothpicks jutting out at all angles (making this poor seed look like a space ship), it is then placed onto the rim of a glass in just enough water to cover the basal plate (bottom) of the seed.
This method is riddled with problems. Firstly, you need to make sure there is always enough water touching the bottom of the seed and since it’s constantly sitting in water, the toothpicks propping it up warp from the moisture and bend. This leads to replacing them often (and further damage to the seed) so that your seed does not fall into the glass, and since the wait time on this can be quite long before you see any evidence of life trying to push out of this seed, they usually rot before that happens.
Why, (I thought), is this the known and practiced method?
Surely the method we use for forcing bulbs would be just as practical and much less troublesome than the toothpick suspension spaceship idea. So, in my recycled way of gardening (see Styrofoam starting trays for celery above), I filled a small plastic container with rocks and just enough water to sit the seeds into. It’s been weeks, but so far, no rot and I can see that the seed is starting to crack open.
This is lemon grass I found at the grocery store that appeared to be cut with a few roots in tact. I stripped away the outer leaves and placed them in a glass of water.
In a couple of weeks you can see (especially the middle one in the picture) that the roots are starting to push out. Lemon Grass isn’t hardy to the climate zone of the Pacific Northwest to be grown outside year round, they prefer an 8-11. However, I’m going to try to get this one going…plant it outside and in the fall, I’ll shovel prune off some shoots and bring them in. Will it work? We’ll see won’t we.
Now these odd-looking corms (under ground stems) are called Taro Root or Colocasia esculenta (well maybe…). The variety is unknown as I bought this as an edible starchy vegetable and have no way of knowing its true identity. This is the green leafed variety and is most likely hardy to zone 8. It is possible to grow these as a perennial in our area, I have grown the black leaf variety under the name Black Magic in our area with good success in North Vancouver where the temperatures in some area’s remain mild.
They prefer moist boggy area’s, which makes them a marginal plant ( meaning they can be placed in shallow watery spots, higher up along banks or even in area’s away from water as long as the soil is kept moderately moist ).
Anyway, technical jargon aside, these are fantastic plants to place in your planters for seasonal interest and are commonly known as Elephants ear. All I did was find a few that had a prominent ‘eye’ and threw them into a pot with some soil. In a couple of weeks my strange little roots starting to come through the soil and I have a pretty good start on these plants for my summer planters.
The Taro plants and the Lemon grass was under $2.00 to get going. But this whole endeavor was more about having a little fun and to see if I could turn a bag of groceries into something I could put into my garden.
So, head off to the grocery store and see what veggie’s you could start using the simple methods above.
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