Many people never think twice about throwing away seeds, stems and the bottom part of vegetables and herbs discarded during the preparation of meals. They can actually be regrown at home. In this article, we are going to talk about propagation using stems, the bottom part of veggies connected to roots and also seeds.  

1. Propagation using stem cuttings

Ginseng jawa planted from cuttings
Sweet potato leaves planted from cuttings

Many vegetables and herbs can be propagated using stem cuttings, such as water spinach, basil and mint. 

Water spinach, also known as water morning glory and river spinach, is called “kangkung” in Malay. It is a semi-aquatic plant and creeper that can grow in moist soil. After you have plucked the tender leaves, shoots and small branches, don’t throw away the remaining bigger stems. Plant them in potting mix.They have been known to be easily propagated.

Pineapples are unique. You can cut the top off the fruit and plant the whole leafy bunch straight into soil. It will grow into a new pineapple plant and eventually bear fruit a few years later.

Herbs such as basil and mint have soft stems. If you let them grow too tall, they will start to droop and become unhealthy. It is better to keep pruning and harvesting the leaves. Then you can plant the stems to produce new plants.

If possible, leave a few tiny leaves. Then, poke the stems into soil. Alternatively, you can put the stems in water first to let them grow roots. You can have fun experimenting to see which vegetables and herbs can be regrown from stem cuttings. However, spinach cannot be planted from cuttings, but must be grown from seeds.

2. Planting the base  

Growing spring onions from the base

Some vegetables can be planted from the base – the bottom part, usually with roots. For example, spring onions, bok choy, lettuce, celery, etc. Cut off the leafy top part to use in your cooking, 1-2 inches from the base. Then, immerse the bottom part in a bit of water. Once new roots start to grow, plant it in potting mix.  

3. Planting seeds

Seedlings germinated from pumpkin seeds 1
Seedlings germinated from pumpkin seeds 2

Lots of vegetables and fruits produce seeds. You can plant them to see which ones will grow. It’s not that hard. Ardent gardeners have recounted cucumber and pumpkin plants growing from seeds thrown into their compost pile. Next time you buy chillies, capsicums, lemons, papayas, pumpkins and all kinds of melons and gourds, you can try planting their seeds. 

However, please note that growing seeds from vegetables and fruits bought in the store might not give you an exact copy of the item you harvested it from. This is because many store-bought produce are hybrid varieties and they are not intended to be propagated through seeds. So if it sprouts and eventually bears fruit, you might possibly get something closer to one of the varieties used to create the hybrid.

Cranberry Hibiscus planted from cutting, Butterfly Blue Pea Flowers planted from seeds, Indian Borage planted from cutting
Clockwise from left – Cranberry Hibiscus planted from cutting, Butterfly Blue Pea Flowers planted from seeds, Indian Borage planted from cutting

To celebrate Earth Day, YoRipe is also running #UseFoodScraps Contest (from now till April 30th). Share your hacks in transforming food scraps and win FairPrice vouchers! 

Author Khor Hui Min (Instagram: @khor.hui.min)