Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Store-bought or homegrown, you can reuse those veggie scraps to grow an endless supply of food starting with just a container of water at home. DIY water gardens are ideal for anyone who wants to minimize waste, grow organic, save money, and make fewer trips to the market. Homesteaders and city dwellers–this one’s for you.
What you’re going to need:
- Mason Jar or shallow bowl
- Purified water
- Potted soil
- Toothpicks/bamboo skewers, depending on the vegetable
Celery is quite possibly the easiest vegetable to grow in water. Celery is resilient, sturdy and sprouts relatively quickly.
How to: Leaving the entire stock intact, cut the edible top off with at least 3 inches of roots remaining. Take the roots and submerge them halfway in a jar of water.
What you’re looking for: In the center of your celery, you’ll begin to see green leafy tops emerge. Let them grow until you see baby stocks appear and then transfer the entire celery into soil.
2. Romaine Lettuce
I use Romaine every chance I get, so having a never-ending supply has really paid off!
How to: Very similar to celery, cut the edible leaves off the top and leave the roots to be planted in water. Then, cover the roots halfway with water.
What you’re looking for: Leafy green salad leaves will start to pop up. Let them grow to be a few inches tall and then replant them in soil.
3. Bok Choy
Bok Choy loves hot weather. If you live in a warm climate, you can expect the best results from your water-planted bok choy root!
How to: Cut the yummy greens off of your bok choy leaving at least 3-4 inches of white root left. Submerge your leftover bok choy root halfway in water.
What you’re looking for: You’ll start to see baby roots grow out from the bottom of your bok choy and leaves will start to sprout off the top. Give it a week or so until you replant into soil.
4. Green Onion
The lovely thing about growing green onions in water is that you can grow several of them at a time in the same jar.
How to: When you use green onions, you naturally cut the green bits off and leave the white stem and roots left over–this is what you will be planting in water. Stick as many green onion stems as will comfortably fit in a jar and cover them halfway with water.
What you’re looking for: Bulbs will start to develop on the base of each green onion. Once they are about the size of a small gumball, plant them in soil.
Pro Tip: If the stems don’t stand up on their own, tie them all together with a piece of twine or rubber band.
You’ll be amazed by how quickly leeks can grow. Some water gardeners have started to see developments in just 4 hours!
How to: Similar to green onions, leeks have a white base below the green–that’s the part your planting. Cover half way with water and you’re on your way.
What you’re looking for: You’ll start to see the green goodness emerge from the top. You can eat it right away or replant it in the ground to grow even bigger.
Start growing your cabbage in the summer so that come fall, you’ll have fresh ingredients to make comforting autumn soup!
How to: You’re going to need a big bowl for this one. Cut the cabbage so that you are left over with a 1-inch thick slice with the stem remaining in the center. Fill your bowl with a shallow layer of water–just enough to cover the base of the cabbage.
What you’re looking for: The bowl will come in handy as big cabbage leaves start to bloom outwards like a flower. Just like the others, move it into potted soil when it’s ready to thrive.
We’ve got another easy one here! I wonder if Dwight Shrute knows about this beet-growing trick.
How to: Cut the top off your beets and allow the stems to remain. Submerge them face down in a shallow layer of water.
What you’re looking for: You’re going to see leaves start to grow from the stems. When that happens, replant your beets into soil and the edible roots will start to grow beneath.
8/9. Potato & Sweet Potato
You’ve probably noticed that if you don’t eat your potato or sweet potato in time, it will start to grow little sprouts on the surface. That’s the idea here, but we’ll use water as an accelerator.
How to: Toothpicks are a bit flimsy, so use bamboo skewers to stick around the sides of your potato or sweet potato. Using the skewers, suspend your veg over a jar–half in and half out. Cover the bottom half with clean water.
What you’re looking for: Be patient as it could take 60-90 days for your potatoes or sweet potatoes to sprout with a long stem and leaves growing towards the sun. Unlike the other veggies, you are actually going to trim off the stem with the leaves and plant that in soil. This stem will grow roots that will eventually turn into your vegetable.
Growing carrots in water is so simple to do and fun to watch. This is a great project for kids to do on their own.
How to: Cut the carrot, leaving about 1-inch of orange at the top. Place the carrot tops flat into a container with ½ inch of water.
What you’re looking for: The green leafy stem will sprout and grow leaves. Once that’s done, place it in some dirt with the greens sticking out and wait for your carrots to develop.
11. Bonus “Veggie”: Avocado
Yea, yea, yea–an avocado is technically a “seeded berry”, but avocados are the best thing to ever happen to salads, burgers, and sandwiches, so there’s no way we aren’t talking about it.
How to: Take the pit of an avocado and give it a good wash. Stick 4 toothpicks into the pit–just enough to help it suspend halfway over a container of water. Fill the water so that it covers half of the pit.
What you’re looking for: The pit will eventually crack open and it will grow a tail reaching down into the water. Then a beautiful green plant will start to emerge from the top. Once you start to see leaves sprouting, transfer the entire thing–pit and all–to a pot of soil.
You’ll learn that growing veggies in water is not a “set it and forget it” task. You’ll need to monitor the water level, refilling it when it gets low. Pay attention to the outer layers of leaves or stocks as they may start to get slimy or moldy. If they do, peel them off and toss them out.
It’s also a good idea to take your veggie out of the container completely every week or so to give that container a nice rinse with fresh water. And remember: water is life. So once you replant these veggies into soil, make sure to keep that soil nice and most.
If you haven’t already, check out these 10 healthy herbs you can grow in water.