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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Re-growing Your Bought Produce

It’s the time of year for planting the garden around here and I thought I’d post about a couple of things I grow in our garden and in tubs, that I don’t start from little plants or seeds, but from the (organic if we can) produce we buy at the grocery store.

First off - the butter lettuce. It is by FAR my favorite lettuce and we go through extraordinary amounts of the stuff. I was delighted when I discovered that Costco started carrying the Live lettuce variety a couple of years ago, as they keep just so much longer and so much fresher, since the roots are still attached.

I don’t know why it took me so long, but only recently did it occur to me that the lettuce we keep on buying, had not only fully intact roots on them, and was grown in actual soil (as opposed to some varieties that are grown in water) and that it would stand to reason that they may regrow just fine in a pot or outside in the garden.

So experimenting I went. Here are the results.


1. Butter Lettuce.


This is how it went in. Everything completely cut off, except the root.




I just straightened out the roots, then made a deep hole in a pot and put it in, with the green stump staying above ground.

Here we are 4 days later. Yep, I guess it was prime lettuce growing weather around here.



Here it is at 7 days. We had some rain and a cold spell, but the lettuce kept on going.



Here we are at 1.5 weeks.


(I also planted some seedling lettuce next to it, which is growing well too!)


So at this point, I have started harvesting the largest leaves already. They are tender and wonderful and it only took less than 2 weeks to get there! Since I have several more of these growing, we’ll be in lettuce until the heat eliminates lettuce growing season, which is a while away just yet!


I put the first lot in a container as I wanted to see how well they do even when grown in a pot. It seems they do just fine, which means that as long as you have a nice sunny spot, even on a balcony, and enough room for a pot, you are good to go!



2. Celery.

You know that stump you have left when you cut your stalks of celery off?


Yes, that. Just drop it in some soil, give it some sun, water and time and you’re growing a whole new celery from it.

Here we are going in.  A regular half inch stump of celery, no roots, nothing.



Here we are a week later. It’s starting to grow! I would guess that at this rate it’ll be about 5-6 weeks before I have anything harvestable, but that’s fine by me! I will update you in a few weeks time!


3. Green Onions.

Love green onions but never have them around when you need them or have them go bad on you because you didn’t need as much as you have to buy? No more! Just stick them in a glass of water and set them on a sunny window sill. Harvest the green tops as you need them. They will keep on re-growing!

You need to replace the water with fresh water every now and then and give the roots a rinse, but that’s about it!


Edited to add:

4. Coyote squash.


Oh my goodness I totally forgot about my Chayote squash!

This one isn’t strictly speaking a re-grow, since I didn’t actually use it before I planted it, but since I’ve never seen chayote squash seedlings or such anywhere, I suspect it might be the only way to grow them. And they are a wonderful apple substitute for low carbers and very healthy, but usually only available for a limited amount of months in the fall. So it’s worthwhile testing the home growing potential!

I had about 3 accidently root on my last fall and thought I just plant them and see if they will grown. They did. Rather quickly in fact in the case of the one I didn’t plant quite as deep.

I tried to do some research on the web, since I wasn’t’ familiar with Chayote squash growing at all, but I couldn’t find very much at the time. The two sites that were at all mentioning planting them, said to basically just set them on top of soil, hardly covering them at all.

Since I had three, I tried various degrees of coverage.

In retrospect, the not covering didn’t really work so well for me and I suspect won’t work in even harsher climates!


But then we had several night frosts and storms and I thought I had seen the last of them. But not so.



One looks a little worse for wear, but it keeps on growing, the other is looking pretty well, probably because I planted it so it was covered with soil, so it started growing later and wasn’t as big when the storms hit. And sheltered in the pot. 

The third one didn’t make it however. That was the one I had just sitting on top of the soil. The frost got it pretty quickly!

So, if you are going to do this, plant them deeper and cover them with soil. 

Now let’s see if they’ll survive the Phoenix scorching heat!


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  1. This is great information and I appreciate your taking the time to do these experiments and taking the photographs. Frugal, green and delicious. . .all at the same time!

  2. This great! Thanks so much for this post!

    Gwen Howell

  3. Thank you, Lainie and Gwen! I'm so happy you're finding it useful!

  4. I didn't realize all of the vegies you can regrow, great post!

  5. I could kick myself for not trying this before now. I, too, love living butter lettuce and finally realized I could save the roots and regrow it on my own. I hadn't had time to go get new soil, so I left my little lettuce in some water and to my surprise, it starting sprouting new growth! I finally got to potting it today and I'm so excited to watch it grow! Thanks for the great post.

  6. I never thought to re grow lettuce... silly considering I have re grown silverbeet and celery before LOL.

  7. Newbie here..please recommend a soil and where I can buy. Also Should the pot have holes ?

  8. Your pot will need some gravel, or broken pottery or some such thing in the bottom (1-2 inches,) and yes, always also a hole for excess water to drain out. Then put organic potting soil on top (available at home depots, Lowes, nurseries, etc. and plant. Give it a nice sunny spot and water as needed :)

  9. How did the Chayote turn out, did it grow well all summer?

  10. Loved all the information and am planting today! I found your blog to be addicting and want more on your experiments!

  11. Loved all your information and am now totally addicted to your blog and experiments.

  12. I know you write this ages ago but I just plunked the live butter lettuce I just bought in soil and was wondering if anyone else had tried it before. Thanks for sharing your results!

  13. I tried the butter lettuce with roots first and it did ok. Three days ago I put butter lettuce bottoms with no roots and surprise! It is actually growing faster than the one with roots and has also produced roots!! I am going to wait a few more weeks and then will plant the three plants. I also have the green onions growing in my kitchen window with my mung bean sprouts. Thanks for giving me all these great ideas...oh don't want to forget...also did celery and planted it within a week. It's also growing beautifully.

  14. Great idea, I have been growing lots of cuttings and never thought I could have butter lettuce or celery from parts of compost pile ,thank you celery just got very expensive even in San joaquin Valley where I am.

  15. My lettuce wilted in a matter of minutes when I planted it in soil.

  16. My lettuce wilted in a matter of minutes when I planted it in soil.

  17. Thanks for this post. I just bought 2 from Costco and googled to find out how to keep it fresh until I came by your post. I will try it and see.


  18. I just bought Boston Lettuce for the first time. From costco also (as it happens). The first thing I thought when I saw this on the shelf was "Can I plant this?" Your article was the first thing I came across in the internet and it's very helpful. Thank you!

  19. Does Bibbl lettuce need to be grown outdoors, or can you do it in a sunny widowsill?

  20. This is great, thank you! I was trying to see if I could replant my lettuce and love seeing your success!


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