One man’s trash, is that same man’s treasure

Week 3 of lockdown… Your work and home wardrobes have fused to become a hybrid of business on the top and comfort on the bottom, breakfast can be eaten any time of the day and a box of easter eggs will be served as a meal at some point.

But hopefully, through all this madness, you’ve been forced to cook. Cook good and healthy food, at least once a day. You buy more thoughtfully and buy fresh produce that can last for some time, but you keep wondering, what if they eventually run out?

Well, never fear, because your kitchen scraps can regenerate into a whole new veggie patch, and here is how:


Celery is one of my personal favourite vegetables. It goes into soups, salads can be eaten by itself and as a dipping snack with some hummus. When you buy celery, get a whole bunch with the bottom stem still intact. From the bottom towards the leaves, cut it at about 5cm. Place it in a shallow water dish for about 3-4days until a new leaf appears and transfer to soil. A whole new plant will grow.


Red, brown or green onions are a must-have in any kitchen. They are the add-to-any-meal vegetable and since we are one of the few animals on the planet that can eat them, we might as well eat as much as we can of this natural anti-bacterial. When chopping your onion the next time, leave about 2cm of onion on the root part, place in water for 2-3days and transfer to soil. You will see grass-like leaves appear and pretty soon have some more onions.


This is probably one of the easiest vegetables to regrow. Simply take one of the cloves, let it soak in water for 2 days and plant about 5cm deep. Soon you will see shoots popping up and within a few months, you will have a whole bulb of garlic! Yum!

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

You should be all eyes and ears – or be on the lookout for them on your potatoes and sweet potatoes. Usually, when these root vegetables are placed in a dark spot, they start sprouting and can then be placed underground, at least 10-15cm. It is best to plant them in a container or planting bag that can be easily harvested from as you will need to remove them all from the container and you want to make it easy for yourself.


This is a favourite all-round and I’ve propagated more than 50 myself through this method.

The ‘crown’ of the pineapple, or spikey leaf bits, become an entirely new pineapple plant. Simply twist the head off of the pineapple, remove the bottom leaves until you’ve cleared about 2-3cm of the stem and plant into well-draining soil. Also, allow some water to gather in the growing point on the tip; pineapples like to have water between their leaves. They are great to grow in window sills and can be planted outside once they get bigger.


A staple each home should have is fresh ginger. Ginger is easily grown from the tuber you buy in the store. It is a rhizome, or modified stem, that creeps along just under the surface of the soil and multiplies by sending off new shoots in different directions. Look for a piece of ginger with some new growth on it and plant them in well-draining soil in a shallow but wide container. Plant them about 1.5-2 cm below the ground and make sure they are well-drained as they do not like standing in water.


This is more of a commitment than most, so if you are in it for the long run, I recommend this highly rewarding project. Suspend the seed with the point end showing up. The seed will start to crack open and you will have root growth and a sprout that shoots out. Transplant once the second set of leaves have fully formed. Do not remove the seed, the tree will drop this by itself. Once it is established enough, plant it outside in a protected area with enough space as they get very large. Within a few years you will be dripping in green gold.


You can easily grow hardy herbs like rosemary, thyme and origanum from cuttings. Simply take some of the sprigs of the herb you didn’t use on the roast or veg and plant them with about 2 thirds under the soil, and they should start rooting within a week or two.

So, instead of chucking those leftovers into the bin next time you make a meal, see what you can pop into a planter and pretty soon, you’ll only have to shop for the essentials.

Mark Mac Hattie is a Landscape Designer and blogger for Contours Design Studio.

N.D. Landscape Design, B.Tech Landscape Design 

Master’s of Landscape Architecture

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