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Indoor Garden From Leftovers

Updated on June 18, 2014

Leftover Groceries For Your Indoor Garden

One of the easiest way to start a garden indoors is to use what is leftover from food preparation. It goes by several names, garbage garden, grocery garden or scrap food garden. You can use the tops of root plants, grow in water, plant seeds or plant in dirt. These can make interesting long lived house plants and some are even edible.

Growing Plants With Kitchen Scraps

An Indoor kitchen Garden

I would recommend buying organic fruits and vegetables for obvious reasons like pesticides or buy from a local farm stand that you trust their growing methods. A lot of the vegetables with the greens still attached you find in the supermarket look inedible because of the careless treatment and age. Most of these greens taste better when they are less mature. They do sell them separate and they do look better.

Certain greens are not popular. One of the reasons is they don't travel well, so it's a marketing decision. If you grow them yourself or buy local that won't be a concern.

Grape seeds planted indoors can be grown into a vine. In cooking grape leaves are used as an edible wrapping, as in stuffed grape leaves.The seeds are used to make grape seed oil and also as an exfolient in skin care.

Coffee beans (Coffea Arabica) can be grown into a plant with dark green leathery leaves. It produces white fragrant flowers and red berries.

I am concentrating on growing plants with this lens but in reusing scraps you can use the seeds to make flour, beverages and cosmetics. Peels and rinds can be cooked in various ways, used also in cosmetics, arts and craft projects and even as potpourri.

Growing Citrus Trees From The Pips

Indoor Citrus Plants
Indoor Citrus Plants

A popular way of growing an indoor garden is to use the seeds of citrus fruits to grow plants. Seeds of citrus should not be sprouted as they produce toxins. Supermarket grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges can be planted in potted soil and produce plants or rather small trees. They can be pollinated with a small brush. There have been accounts of fruit being produced that are sometimes very bitter. The plant of course can be transplanted outdoors to have a better opportunity to grow to a full size tree. If you becomes inspired then you can buy the dwarf variety and attempt to grow a dwarf tree indoors which will produce better fruit.

The fresh leaves of your citrus tree can be steeped or boiled and made into a tea. The leaves can be dried and be mixed with other teas or used by itself. They also can be used to wrap meat, shrimp and cheese for grilling or cooking. Also used in soups and stews as a flavoring or as garnish. The dried fragrant leaves can be placed in bathwater, closets, potpourris or floral arrangements.

Growing A Sweet Potato Vine Indoors

Edible sweet potato leaves

A favorite plant to grow indoors is the sweet potato. (Ipomoea batatas) People will notice that sprouts will grow from a sweet potato even if left on a shelf. You can twist them off and place in growing medium or potting soil. Another way is to take a whole sweet potato and place it in a jar of water with just the bottom of the potato in the water. It can be anchored by toothpicks if the jar mouth is wide. Sprouts will show and then leaves and vines which will continue to grow in your indoor garden. The leaves are eaten in many parts of the world. You can also buy sweet potato leaves in specialty markets. Many of them will be called "yam leaves", even though they are not from the true yam plants.

The regular white potato (Solanum tuberosum) is not in the same plant group as the sweet potato and the sprouts and leaves are not edible.

Some people call sweet potatoes yams (Dioscorea batatas) but they are a different plant. The yam is a tuber and the sweet potato is a storage root. In the U.S. we did not see true yams much in the store but its becoming more popular and hopefully they will be more clear on which one you are really getting.

Growing An Avocado Plant

You can plant an avocado pit in potting soil or place it in water held up by toothpicks. To plant it the narrow part will be up above the soil and the majority of the pit will be below. If you use the water method, the plant can be potted when you see enough roots forming. It grows into a nice house plant.The leaves of the Mexican Avocado ((Persea dryminfolia) are the one used in Mexican cooking and are available at stores and online as hojas de aguacate. The leaves of the Guatemalan Avocado (Persea American) and the West Indian variety are considered toxic for people and animals. The popular Hass variety is from the Guatemalan avocado so the leaves are also not edible.


scallions in water
scallions in water

Scallions also known as green onions can be placed in water. They periodically can be snipped off then they will grow until spent. They have an onion flavor and can be used in many types of dishes.

Growing Carrot Tops

growing indoor carrot tops
growing indoor carrot tops

Carrots (Daucus carota) can be bought with the green leafy tops still attached. The carrot can be cut around one half inch from the top and placed in water. The greens will continue to grow. Carrots with the greens cut but the top of the vegetable intact will grow the fern like leaves. These are also edible and make nice micro greens.

Sweet Pepper

Pepper plant on Windowsill
Pepper plant on Windowsill

I grew this pepper plant on the windowsill from seeds of an organic sweet pepper I bought from the store. A nice plant for an indoor garden.

garlic scapes

Outdoor Garden

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Kitchen Scrap Garden

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Sprouts, grasses and Microgreens

If you have leftover lentils, garbanzo beans or brown rice you can sprout them. You don't really need to buy special equipment just a jar or bowl and water. You can also grow grasses from leftover grains like wheat or rye. And of course microgreens are very young plants. Some people start plantings and pick some of the young ones and garnish foods with them.

Other Uses For Leftovers

Minimize Your Waste

There are many other things you can do with leftovers. The peels and rinds of fruits and vegetables can be made into meals. The seeds can be eaten in various ways or used in craft projects. Onion skins, coffee grounds, beets and many other foods can be used to dye material. Natural beauty treatments can be made from many eatable items. Coconut hulls can be used to make charcoal. The fibers on the coconut are called coir and are used as a soil medium and to make useful items like floor mats and mattress stuffing. Most food leftovers can be used to make compost. Dried leaves, banana skins, corn kernels and cob can be used as a fuel source and burned. The ashes can be used as a cleaner of your silverware and other metals and can also go into the compost.

Any Feedback on Gardening With Leftovers?

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    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Great lens, it's featured on one of my garden lens. Can't wait to try carrot top greens!

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 

      6 years ago

      This is fascinating -indoor garden from leftovers- thanks for the tips!

    • MichaelWoods profile image


      6 years ago

      I could not tell you how many leftovers I grew plants from. And I don't mean the leftovers in bowls that were pushed in the back of the fridge. My newest feat is trying to grow a pineapple from the top.. I have not succeeded with that yet..

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 

      6 years ago from SE Michigan

      My kids will get such a kick out of growing these! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is truly an awesome lens. i have learned so much and look forward to trying this method. Thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Incredible! Thanks for all the info. we planted two types of garlic..the scapes info very interesting!

    • Scraps2treasures profile image


      6 years ago

      Fun lens! We have never been successful with growing an avocado tree but we did grow a sweet potato vine.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      I just totally LOVE this! I am going to plant some sweet potatoes today!! Yay Blessed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting and helpful. You have given me some great ideas and useful information. Thanks.

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 

      7 years ago

      Great lens! I love growing food and herbs indoors. Thanks for the additional ideas.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image


      7 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      This is a really interesting lens. I enjoyed reading it.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      7 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Loved the ideas and results from this lens! We use most of our leftovers for our 3 compost piles, but I will try a few of your ideas. I am going to feature your lens, maybe you will consider mine!


    • EcoGecko LM profile image

      EcoGecko LM 

      7 years ago

      great lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love your lens and all wonderful topics.

    • caketech profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens.

    • GramaBarb profile image


      7 years ago from Vancouver

      What a great lens! I use to do some of the tips you have here. I must teach my grandchildren too.

    • norma-holt profile image


      8 years ago

      What a great innovative lens. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Save Planet Earth

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      8 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I really enjoyed learning about gardening with leftovers. I'll have to try the sweet potato vine. Absolutely impressed with all this wonderful information on indoor gardening. 5*****, faved, and lensrolled.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      I have two avocado trees I started from seeds three years ago, and I grow my own kitty grass from oat and rye seeds. I like your idea about keeping scallions in water!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Brilliant! I don't grow vegetables inside, but outside I've found that pumpkin and tomato plants grow really well from seeds just from my veggies.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens... I have a small plot of land, and I'll try few gardening tips shared in your lens.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      8 years ago

      I started an orange tree once, but never thought about trying anything else.



    • hlkljgk profile image


      8 years ago from Western Mass

      ooh, i love this!

    • eccles1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Love this lens thank you

    • AppalachianCoun profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! Lots of info and we can't wait to get started! 5*, Favorite and Lens Roll

    • MBradley McCauley profile image

      MBradley McCauley 

      9 years ago

      Great-great-great lens.Gave you a 5. Hope you are making money with your lenses, I'm scrapping by but hope to get better.

      I'd like to link it on my Container Garden lens.

      Hope you will follow me on twitter, - mbradleymc


    • MUMMYB profile image


      9 years ago

      Interesting lens and some really good ideas. We should all be learning to waste less these days.5* Thanks, Clare


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