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Recycle Your Old Vegetables

Updated on May 31, 2010

Today’s gardeners seem to believe that unless a plant is sprouted from a seed which is derived from a little envelope it cannot come into being. That is quite untrue, as most of our agrarian grandparents did not have the luxury of being able to afford to shop from fancy seed catalogues, therefore they had to use the previous season’s crop to start the next season’s planting. You can grow your own garden next year from the harvest from this year, and you’ll find that it’s easy and fun to boot!

Supplies you may need:

Potato, carrot, and/or lima beans
Glass tumbler
Vermiculite-based plant food (if available)
Potting soil
Shallow dishes
Paper towel

Potato: Find a potato (or sweet potato) with plenty of large eyes and insert three toothpicks into its side, spaced equally around the middle. Fill a glass tumbler with water; sprinkle it with a few pinches of plant food if you have some. Place the potato into the glass until the toothpicks support it and the bottom is submerged in water.

Place the glass on a south-facing windowsill so it will receive a moderate amount of light all day; change the water every three days. In those three days, the potato's eyes should grow and turn green. In six days, the eyes will become shoots with buds on them. After twelve days, you will notice wispy roots coming out of the bottom of the potato and small leaves beginning to sprout on the shoots.

Unfortunately, after two weeks the potato will start to get slimy and rot. You should either throw it out, plant it outdoors in rocky soil, or transplant it to a large flowerpot filled with potting soil on top of a layer of gravel, making sure the bottom of the potato touches the gravel.

Carrot: Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of vermiculite-based plant food into a shallow dish. Pour water on the plant food until it has the consistency of wet beach sand. Cut a half inch off the top of a carrot and place it in the middle of the dish. Place the dish in a dark, humid place such as a basement. Add a few tablespoons of water each day to keep the plant food moist. After five days the carrot will begin to sprout. In a flowerpot filled with potting soil, transplant the carrot so that only the sprouts are showing. Keep the plant on a south-facing windowsill and water daily.

Lima Beans: Soak eight lima beans in water for eight hours and then place them in a small dish. Fold three paper towels so they will fit on top of the dish. Place the towels over the lima beans and pour water on the dish until the towels are saturated. Replenish the water every day for five days. After the fifth day or when the beans begin to sprout shoots, put them on top of the paper towel. Sprinkle a small handful of potting soil and a few pinches of plant food on them and continue to water daily. After ten days or when the beans start to show roots, transplant them into a small flowerpot filled with potting soil. Keep the pot in an east-facing window with bright morning sunlight.


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    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Hal great tips - we use the potatoes but have never done the carrots or beans - we will now!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      What great ideas. Thanks Hal

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Good idea! We generally use our vegetable scraps for making compost for the garden.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      8 years ago

      GREAT Hub Hal!!

      Thanks for sharing!! I've been planting/tending a victory garden for almost a year now!!

      It amazes me how so many of us have lost the connections with our own food source!! And how in just one or two generations, we have lost the skill to feed ourselves through growing our own produce!!

      Thanks again!! Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


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