How to Turn a Veggie Into a Plant: Gardening the Fast Way

Want to get your kids excited about gardening?

Looking for a secret shortcut to make plants grow fast?

How about a gardening trick that turns trash into food?

Regrow vegetables and fruits to transform them from stems, cores and seeds into fresh, delicious plants you can eat.

It requires very little time and space, and no extra money!

In this article I’ll explain how fun, fast and easy it is to regrow vegetables and fruits with your kids even if you have a black thumb.

Transform fruits and vegetables from stems, cores and seeds into fresh, delicious, plants you can eat, with very little time and space and no extra money!

Why Regrow Your Food?

Two words: instant gratification. Kids today crave it. Adults often strive for it, too.

Gardening is a great family activity to get kids outside and teach them that the food on their plates comes from the earth, not just the grocery store!

If you want to grow a family garden, go for it! It’s fun for kids to watch fruits and vegetables grow and then eat their newly grown bounty. You can use seeds or starter plants, but either method requires some patience.

The quickest way to reap fully grown, edible plants is to regrow your food from the uneaten parts of other fruits and veggies. It’s fun. It’s cool to see the process. It’s instant gratification gardening (or the closest thing to it).

How Does Regrowing Vegetables Work?

Regrowing is part of permaculture, which is a way to boost our ecosystem and natural renewable resources. Instead of throwing food away, you grow it and make more. It’s that simple!

Sure, you can compost table scraps too, but this is a fun alternative or addition.

ABC News in Arizona did a piece on regrowing lettuce. You can see how amazed the adults are in this segment.

Certain foods naturally begin to put on new growth from the base or discarded remnants. Onions and potatoes are probably the best examples of vegetable regrowth in action. Who hasn’t found a potato or onion left in the veggie drawer for a few months that had started to sprout?

But here’s the cool part…

Toss that alien-looking spud—shoots and all—into a pot of soil, and you’ll easily grow a handful of fresh ones for an upcoming dinner.

Speaking of Onions

Did you know a green onion is considered an herb?

And while it’s perfectly fine to eat the white section, the real flavor is in the green part that many people cut off and throw away! Eat the green, save the white and regrow them.

It’s easy to regrow vegetables with this super-fast project that you and your kids can enjoy together.


Regrowing fruits and vegetables is fun and super-easy.

Whether you try this adventure as an experiment, to fortify your family or as a way to pique your kids’ interest in gardening, everyone will enjoy it!

Plus, you’ll see continuous rewards for your efforts.

You Will Need

  • Discarded fruits and vegetables (see list below)
  • Bowls
  • Water
  • Paper and pen (optional)
  • Sunlight
  • Toothpicks (for some of the fruits and vegetables)
  • A place to eventually plant them
  • Dirt
  • Gardening supplies

Preparation Time

However long it takes to eat what you plan to regrow. Then a couple of minutes to gather the supplies

Activity Time

A few minutes to start, then a few minutes a day at the beginning of the process. Then a bit longer (20 minutes/day a few times a week) to care for your plants once you move them into your garden


Start your plants indoors, then move them outside

Follow the steps carefully, and you and your family will most assuredly achieve success when you regrow vegetables and fruits.

#1: Decide What to Grow

So what’s for dinner? And what leftover scraps can you use to regrow? 

Before you start this adventure, talk to your kids about the process. Ask what fruits and vegetables they’d like to use for this experiment. Don’t be surprised if someone wants to grow a candy bar or ice cream sundae.

Don’t Toss These, Regrow Them

Here’s a basic list of what you can grow and how long each fruit and vegetable will take, in order from quickest to longest.

  • Green onions—2″ bottom with roots will start to grow within 3-5 days.
  • Romaine lettuce—2″ core at the bottom will start to grow within 3-5 days.
  • Celery—2″ bottom of stalk will start to grow within 3-5 days.
  • Carrots (regular, not baby)—the top with the green part will begin to sprout right away and can be replanted in the soil to grow new carrots.
  • Potatoes (red, white and sweet)—will sprout within days and grow over several months
  • Garlic—cloves sprout within 2-3 weeks and will regrow new cloves.
  • Onion—begins to sprout within 2-3 weeks after its peak.
  • Pineapple—the crown on top of a fresh pineapple will begin to take root in 2-3 weeks and produce a new pineapple in approximately 2 years.
  • Avocados—the pit can be started in water and then planted in soil to grow an avocado tree. Note: This may or may not ever produce fruit.

Do a video search beforehand of what you will grow so you can watch a sneak peek of what to expect. This will also help drum up excitement.

pineapple collage

Regrowing a pineapple is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Warning—pineapples will take 1-2 years to regrow completely.

Be sure to set expectations. Some fruits and vegetables will produce more food in as little as a few weeks, while others take longer. They are all certainly worth the wait!

#2: Ready, Set, Regrow

Gather the discarded fruits and vegetables you decide to plant.

Place each type in a different cup, bowl or other shallow container. (Note: Larger vegetables like celery and lettuce will need their own containers.)

Add water.

Told you it’s easy.

Be sure to change the water every couple of days. Check online for specifics.

deciding which veggies

Decide what vegetables to regrow and put them in a cup of water.

Bonus activity: Have each of your kids make a chart so they can track and measure growth as they regrow vegetables.

Figure out if you want to leave your “pre-plants” inside or out.


If inside, place them in a sunny window where they get plenty of light. This also works during the winter months to enjoy the taste of fresh-grown food all year long.


If you grow them outside, they’ll probably grow better, since plants prefer lots of light. Keep in mind you may have to deal with bugs. Plus, you’ll have to replace the water more frequently since it evaporates quicker in the hot sun.

5 day regrowth

This is what 5 days of onion regrowth looks like.

Any plant can be started indoors and later put in a pot to continue to grow.

#3: Take it Outside

Once there are enough sprouts, move your fruits and vegetables to a garden area outdoors. You can use pots on a balcony, a window box or an area in your yard.

planting sprouts

Once your plants have enough sprouts, plant them in the dirt outside.

Smaller plants can be potted. But root veggies like potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic need to grow in soil.

avocado in progress

Here’s an avocado in progress.

It’s really simple to regrow vegetables and fruits, isn’t it? Even a person with a black thumb can do it.

#4: Reap What You Sow

Once you harvest (pick) your bounty, it’s time to eat.

Sure you can play with your food or create food art first. After all, you grew it!

Discuss regrowing with your kids—preferably over a meal from your garden. Decide if you want to try a traditional garden, as well. You never know—you may have sprouted some young gardeners in the process!

After you eat your regrown vegetables, take the remnants and start regrowing them again.

And again…

And again…

Some Final Thoughts

Regrowing food is a great family project. It’s fun and fascinating.

The perfect way to get kids interested in gardening: Turn something that most people throw out into delicious food for the dinner table!

Studies show that kids who achieve garden success feel invested in the produce they have grown—and they’re more likely to eat it. Even if they don’t, they feel a big sense of accomplishment, pride and esteem.

What do you think? Have you ever regrown food before? Are you ready to try it? What fruits and vegetables will you grow first? Let us know how your regrowing goes and share photos in the comments.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Chris Sabbarese

Chris Sabbarese is a DIY gardener and landscaper with a passion for working in the yard and promoting green education. Chris enjoys connecting with growers everywhere via Corona Tools. Other posts by »


  1. Thanks for this Chris!

  2. Chris Sabbarese says:

    You bet Mike! Thank you for sharing this with your readers. We just enjoyed some fresh, regrown veggies in last week’s dinner. I think they may have actually tasted better the second time. Regrowing is fun, amazing, cheap and tasty. Who wouldn’t want to try this?!?!

  3. Thanks, Chris! I didn’t realize you could regrow so many different kinds of things. Sounds like a fun summer project.

  4. Jeff Korhan says:

    While I’m a subscriber to this blog I only check in once in a while because my kids are adults. However, I happened to read this article because I’m a lifelong gardener. What a surprise to discover the author is my green industry and social media friend Chris Sabbarese!

    Nice job Chris. :)

  5. Chris Sabbarese says:

    You are welcome Jennifer! It’s been a lot of fun for the kids seeing what grows and how easy it is to do. What I love about this, is you can grow stuff like lettuce and green onions all year long. Just find a sunny window and you’ll be enjoying the taste of fresh produce, even when there is snow outside!

  6. Chris Sabbarese says:

    Thank you Jeff! My Kids Adventures is like the best of all worlds for me. Where kids and family, gardening and social media all come together. I’m delighted to participate with MKA and hopefully, inspire other families to experience the joys of gardening!

  7. Jeff Korhan says:

    That’s cool – best of both worlds. Keep it up!

How to Have an Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt With Your Kids
How to Create Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling In Your Home
How to Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt, Minecraft Style
How to Make Slime: 5 Easy Recipes
How to Entertain Your Kids for Hours With Adventure Tubs