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How to Turn Kitchen Scraps Into a Delicious Veggie Garden

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You might not be an avid gardener, but even if you are, did you know that you can take scraps from your home cooking and create an entire garden out of them? Many vegetables, in their whole form, contain seeds and sprouts that you can use to build an entire veggie garden from scratch.

“There are many positive benefits to growing plants from leftover kitchen scraps,” says Katie ElzerPeters, author of No-Waste Kitchen Gardening. “It reduces kitchen waste and is eco-friendly since it practices the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Check out some of our favorite tips below.

Turn overripe fruit into juicy cherry tomatoes.

Growing your own cherry tomatoes is as easy as planting a halved cherry tomato that’s past its prime! To get started, fill a pot with soil and nestle it into a basket. Lay a halved cherry tomato that’s starting to go bad onto soil; cover with a thin layer of soil. Water often and set in a spot outside that gets eight or more hours of sun a day; harvest in about seven weeks.

Turn a tossed core into a leafy lettuce plant.

“It’s easy to regrow ‘heading’ lettuces, such as romaine, red and green leaf lettuce and butter lettuce, from a leftover core,” says Elzer-Peters. To do so, she suggests cutting the bottom (or core) off a head of lettuce, leaving about three inches of lettuce attached.

Place the end in a glass filled with one inch of water and set in bright, indirect light on an indoor windowsill.
Once leaves begin to grow (in a few days), nestle
the growing core into a soil-filled pot outside. Set
in a shady spot; water when top inch of soil feels
dry. Harvest in two to three weeks.

Turn seeds into pepper plants.

“Any type of pepper can be grown from seeds harvested from the inside of the vegetables,” says Elzer-Peters. Her easy how-to: Remove seeds from a pepper, fill a pot with potting mix and
plant several pairs of seeds at least three inches apart. Cover lightly with mix, then water so mix is slightly damper than a wrung-out sponge. Cover top of pot with plastic wrap to lock in moisture and place in bright, indirect light inside; remove wrap
once seedlings sprout (about one to three weeks) and move outside. Keep soil moist; harvest in 10 weeks or so.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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