There are many great ways to make the most of the vegetables you grow in your polytunnel. One thing that you can do is regrow vegetables from scraps. You might be surprised to learn that food scraps can often be regrown to provide a second harvest. You can get a second flush of growth from certain scraps, and in some cases, get a potentially never-ending supply of food . So before you decide to relegate these to your composting system, here are some of the things you should consider regrowing from scraps:
1. Regrow Lettuce
Lettuces are often amongst the easiest vegetables to regrow. Cut and come again varieties will already produce further leaves once the first are harvested. But even a variety of headed lettuces can be regrown from their rooting bases. You can even take individual leaves from certain lettuces, and place these in water to encourage new roots to form.
Like lettuces, certain cabbages can also produce a second flush of leafy growth while still in the ground. By placing the rooting bases in water, you can also encourage new plants to form from portions of the plant that would usually be thrown away.
3. Bok Choi
Bok choi is another plant that can regrow when its rooting base is added to a saucer of water. Many Asian greens and other leafy vegetables can also be regrown in this way if you retain the roots at the base of the plant. Once the roots are growing strongly, new green growth will appear. You can then simply use leaves as they appear. Or you can replant them in soil, or in containers.
4. Regrow Spring Onions
Another incredibly easy vegetable to regrow from the base section is spring onions. Again, simply add the base to a container of water, and new green growth will appear. This is something you can regrow again and again.
Regular bulb onions can also be regrown from the rooting base section. New green growth will appear, and if you replant the onions in the ground, or in containers, they can regrow new bulb growth over time. Garlic can also be treated in the same way.
Leeks are another member of the allium family that you can regrow from the base where the roots appear. Again, simply place the base of the stem in a vessel of water, then wait for new green growth to emerge from the centre of this base.
Another member of the allium family, shallots are a little different. Unlike garlic and onions, which will regrow only a single bulb, shallots form clumps and so you’ll get a bigger harvest each year. Some of the bulbs in each clump can be replanted to grow and divide into more shallots for next year. Like onions and garlic, however, you can also regrow from the rooting bases of these vegetables.
8. Regrow Celery
Celery is another of the easiest vegetables to regrow. Again, simply place the root base into water, and new leafy growth will emerge in a week or so. You can simply harvest new shoots as required, or replant the celery and allow it to grow into a new full-sized plant.
9. Bulb Fennel
The lowest 2 cm or so of the bulb of bulb fennel can also be treated in much the same way as celery. Place the base with roots in a shallow vessel of water, then wait for the new leafy growth to appear.
10. Regrow Carrots
Don’t discard carrot tops. Instead, these too can be placed in water. New green tops will emerge and you can harvest and use these as a pot herb/ in a range of recipes. You can also allow the roots to grow, then transplant them back into the ground so new root crops can form.
Turnip greens are often discarded. But these are also a useful additional yield from a polytunnel garden. They can be used wherever you might use other brassica greens. Again, you can also allow the tops to re-root and then transplant these back into your polytunnel garden.
Parsnips are another root crop that can be regrown from the tops in much the same way as the above. Simply wait for roots to form and then transplant these back into your polytunnel so they can grow on and form new parsnip roots.
Beetroot greens are also often thrown away. But these too are a healthy and tasty additional edible crop. Again, place the top sections in water to allow new roots and leaves to form. Again, these can them be replanted once roots and leafy growth are growing strong.
14. Regrow Potatoes
Potatoes can also be regrown from scraps. Take any section that has an eye in it, and plant it in the soil this month. A new plant should grow from the eye, and if you keep your potato plant protected from frost later in the year, you could have some new potatoes to harvest for your Christmas dinner.
15. Sweet Potatoes
Suspend half a sweet potato that may be past its best for eating over a container of water, and new roots should form. New shoots will appear within a week or so. Once shoots are around 10cm long, snip these off and place them with their bases in water. New roots should form. As soon as the roots are growing strong, these slips can them be replanted to form new sweet potato plants.
These are some vegetables you can grow then regrow again easily. The same methods can be used to regrow many common herbs and other plants. Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.