Lettuce, cabbage, and bok choy are straightforward to grow and have a short, four-day growing period. They are more space intensive than herbs so a large deck or small garden is recommended for these leafy greens. Collect unattractive or tough outer leaves that would normally be discarded and place them in a bowl containing enough water that the bottom ends are submerged. Set the bowl aside in an area that receives ample sunlight, replacing water and misting leaves every other day. After three to four days small roots and new leaves should be visible. Transplant the sprouted leaves in soil and allow to your greens to grow to full size.
2. Celery and Romaine Lettuce
Celery is one of the easiest vegetables to regrow, and the same growing techniques can be applied to romaine lettuce. Cut off the base of a head of celery and place it in a bowl of warm water with the cut ends facing upwards. Place the bowl in a sunny area, making sure to change water every other day. After five to seven days, new leaves will have appeared and the sprouted base will be ready to be planted in soil. Make sure the new leaves are uncovered and water generously. Harvest once the plant has reached full size.
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3. Lemongrass and Scallions
One of the most frustrating parts of making Asian food is tracking down the often-elusive lemongrass. Well here’s a secret: re-growing this hearty, aromatic herb is so simple that a child could master it. Within days you could be adding it to all of your stir-fries, marinades, and broths. To grow from scraps, cut the root end off of the stalk and place it in a container filled with water so that that the roots are fully submerged. Place the container in ample sunlight and refill water regularly. In about a week, new growth will have emerged and the plant can be transplanted into soil. It can be harvested once it has reached one foot in height (make sure to cut off just the amount you need and not the whole plant.) Due to its sensitivity to cold, lemongrass will need to be moved inside during the winter so make sure to choose a planting container that allows for this. Scallions can be regrown using these same steps.
4. Basil and Cilantro
Cilantro and basil can both be regrown once their stems grow new roots. Place whole stems in a water-filled glass, keeping the leaves out of the water and making sure there is ample but indirect sunlight. Replace water every other day or as needed, and transplant stems once the roots are two inches long. New shoots should emerge within a few weeks and leaves can be harvested as needed.
Ginger has been praised for its flavor and medicinal powers for so long and by so many cultures, that it’s incredible that more people aren’t growing it at home. A surprisingly small amount of energy and space is needed to grow this unique root. All you need is a pot, some soil, and a small piece of leftover ginger. Plant a thumb-sized piece in moist soil, ensuring the buds face upwards. Within a week there should be enough new growth to harvest the entire plant (including the roots). Remember to save a small piece of the rhizome so that you can replant it and continue growing ginger free of cost for as long as you want.
6. Carrots and other root vegetables
Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets, and parsnips all grow well from just their tops. Simply remove the tops and place them in a container of water, cut side down, in ample sunlight. Change the water every few days and observe for new growth and roots. Once roots are visible, transplant the tops in soil, taking care to not cover the green shoots. Carrot greens are edible and can be harvested for use in salads or pesto, otherwise wait until carrots reach full size and uproot.