One of the biggest challenges to living off the grid in a sustainable way is figuring out what to do with your trash. It’s less a problem of disposal and more an issue of figuring out how to make use of everything you bring in. Making a compost heap is a great way to dispose of old food scraps and turn it into nutrient-rich soil. It takes your trash and turns it into a sort of black gold. But did you know you can regrow a lot of your food scraps?
What kind of foods can you regrow? Let’s run down the list.
Carrots are an easy one. Simply chop the tops of your carrots off, leaving about three quarters of an inch of the carrot still attached to the greens. Put in soil and water. A new carrot will grow out of the top.
This was a good one for my household. We eat a ton of celery! Instead of throwing out the base of your celery, simply plant it in some decent soil and it’ll start regrowing almost immediately. Harvest it as you need it, and eventually you’ll never buy celery again.
When you go to chop an onion, cut the roots off the bottom of the onion. Be sure to leave a little bit of the vegetable with the root. You don’t need much. Put the roots in soil, water frequently, and a new onion will grow out of it.
4. Green onions.
Like celery, simply plant the bases of your green onions in some soil and harvest as necessary. It will regrow rather quickly.
5. Romaine lettuce.
Leave a couple inches of leaf on the base of the plant and plant it in soil, just as you would celery or green onions.
This one isn’t exactly a food scrap, but you can break apart a ginger root and grow more ginger out of it. After about four months, you can re-harvest portions of the new root as you need it.
Pineapple is one of the more difficult ones to regrow due to the length of time it takes and the fact that it only grows easily in some climates. But when you chop the top, leafy portion of the fruit off, plant it directly into some potting soil. A new pineapple will grow out of it.
One of my favorites. It’s so easy and you can yield a ton of potatoes out of just a few eyes. As they begin to grow eyes, or those little nodes you see coming out of the skin, chop them up, leaving a small cube of the potato with the eye itself. Plant a few inches apart in deeper soil. This one isn’t for small pots for sure.
Again, not exactly a food scrap, but you can take one bulb of garlic and, after fully grown, turn it into about a dozen. Simply break apart the bulb and plant in soil with the sprouted end up in the autumn. It may sound weird, but if you plant in the fall, it’ll begin growing early in the spring and you’ll have your harvest ready by late summer.
This is also a pretty difficult one to regrow, but it’s possible. Remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil with the very top of the stalk exposed to the air. A new mushroom head will grow out of the stalk if its kept in cool, moist areas without too much light.
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A great initiative started in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) is called ‘Rotterzwam’ (Zwam = type of mushroom). The founders have built a company in an old unused pool in the city and they collect used coffee grind from local bars, cafes and restaurants with a ‘Bakfiets’ (fancy old school bike) to function as the nutrition for growing delicious mushrooms. They do several other things with the coffee grind to ensure nothing of the (waste) product goes to waste. Even better – they are helping people do this on a smaller scale at home as well.
Their website is in Dutch, but Google Translate is your friend ;) http://www.rotterzwam.nl