• Connie Byers

25 Foods You Can Grow or Regrow From the Grocery Store

Updated: Mar 30


As we get into the growing season I wanted to spend a little time talking about all of the foods that you can grow or regrow from the grocery store. In this article, we’ll cover the plants you can, as well as the plants you shouldn't and why. This is one of my favorite things to do, especially in the mid-season between snowmelt and ground thaw, aka early spring. A lot of the food that you get at the grocery store can be regrown with very little effort in a pot or glass on your counter to add a little freshness to the end of winter's diet. The one caveat of this is that, unlike a seed package, grocery store foods don’t come with growing instructions. Which is the whole point of this post, so let’s dive in.


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Beans and Legumes

When I first realized this one, I felt a little sheepish. In the garden my mother and I kept together a few years ago I desperately wanted a “Three Sisters” garden. For those of you unfamiliar this leads back to my Navajo heritage. The “three sisters” are beans, squash, and corn,” some of the earliest staples of the native diet. And, I was desperate for red beans to grow. I checked every local garden center and hardware store in town and nothing. After watching me run around like crazy my mom finally presented me with a 1 lb bag of red beans from the organic grocer. It’s the same thing, she said, and low and behold if they didn’t grow just like any other seed. Plus, we got a whole pound for the same price we would have paid for a seed package.


When selecting beans and legumes for this purpose I will always try to buy organic. But I found out just recently that it is illegal for commercial farms to sell GMO seeds to the public and since the beans in the grocery store are the exact same as the “seeds” you buy in a packet they are required to sell only non-GMO beans in the grocery store. Making this a big bonus if you want to buy in bulk!

In the Spice Aisle

This is another one of those areas that seem so obvious in hindsight, but I never gave it much thought before I was planning a BIG garden in earnest and trying to budget for all of the seeds needed. But, did you know that things like dill, mustard, coriander, and more can be grown right out of the spice jar? Plus, just like with the beans, they are required to be non-GMO.


Black Pepper

Fill a disposable container or mini greenhouse with potting mix and sow seeds ¼ inch deep and 3 inches apart. Keep covered and moist. The black pepper seeds will germinate in 8-10 days. You can then transplant them directly into a pot or garden.


Cardamom Pods

Remove the outer green cover and soak seeds in water overnight. Plant them the next day in a mixture of half sand and half soil with a handful of coco peat and water well. The seeds will germinate in 40-50 days.


Coriander

Did you know that coriander is actually cilantro seed? To grow this from the spice rack, sow the seeds a quarter-inch deep and cover them with a layer of soil. Water adequately and in just 7-10 days, the seeds will germinate.


Cumin Seed

Soak the seeds in water for 14-16 hours. While you wait, prep a container with 70% soil and 30% potting mix. After soaking, pour the water containing cumin seeds into the pot and cover with a thin layer of the mix. Cover the pot with a plastic sheet and keep moist and your seeds will germinate in 2 weeks.


Dill Seeds

Plant ¼ inch deep and 2” apart. Keep soil moist and covered in plastic. The seeds should germinate in 10 to 14 days. Thin to 10”- 12” apart when you plant in the garden.


Fennel

Top sow fennel seeds directly on potting and water gently or mist so as not to displace the tiny seeds. You’ll have sweet-smelling tender fronds within 7-10 days.


Fenugreek

Soak the seeds overnight in a bowl of water. Remove from water and sprinkle the seeds on well-drained soil. Make sure they get 3-4 hours of sunlight. The seeds will sprout in 3-5 days and require 2-3 weeks to be harvested.


Mustard Seeds

Sow ¼ inch deep and 1 inch apart. Germination will occur In 6-10 days. You can harvest baby greens in 20-25 days or wait till the leaves turn large and velvety.


Sesame Seed

To grow sesame from seeds, wrap the seeds in a moist paper towel, and keep it at room temperature. The seeds will open in 5-7 days and then you can then plant them directly in the soil.

The Produce Aisle

Avocado

Wash the seed and make a toothpick frame in the bottom of a jar or glass. Suspend the seed so that only the bottom inch is covered in water. Place your container in a warm place OUT of direct sunlight. Add water as needed to keep the bottom 1” submerged. Your new avocado plant should sprout in about six weeks. Once your stem reached 6 inches long, trim it down to 3 inches in length. Transplant it once the leaves begin to

appear.


Bell Peppers

Save and clean the seeds from your favorite bell pepper. Surface sow in potting soil and keep moist. Place in direct light then transplant to garden or keep in a large pot.


Bok Choy

Place the end of your bok choy in a shallow dish and submerge roots in water. Replace the water every few days and keep the tops moist by misting. New Leaves will sprout in 5 to 7 days. Once new leaves are established transplant to dirt by burying the plant up to the new growth. Harvest in 5 months.


Celery

Place the end of your celery in a shallow dish and submerge roots in water. Replace the water every few days and keep the tops moist by misting. New Leaves will sprout in 5 to 7 days. Once new leaves are established transplant to dirt by burying the plant up to the new growth. Harvest in 5 months.


Garlic

Sow cloves 1 inch deep in a container filled with potting soil. Place the pot on a sunny window sill and water lightly. You can harvest your garlic greens in just 7-10 days or complete garlic in several months when the bottom half of the leaves have turned yellow.


Green Onions

Place the bulb/root end upright in a glass or jar and add about an inch of water. Replace the water every few days and your green onions will begin to regrow in 3 to 5 days. These will replenish themselves almost indefinitely as long as you keep their water fresh.


Ginger

Take a piece of ginger and cut it into 2-3 inches chunks. Soak it overnight in water and plant it the next morning in a rich, loamy potting mix. Ensure that the growth buds on the ginger pod face up. Maintain the moisture of the soil, and provide partial shade. This will take nearly a year to reach the harvest stage.


Jalapeño

Save and clean the seeds from your next jalapeño pepper. Surface sow in potting soil and keep moist. Place in direct light then transplant to garden or keep in a large pot.

Leeks

Place the bulb/root end upright in a glass or jar and add about an inch of water. Replace the water every few days and your green onions will begin to regrow in 3 to 5 days. These will replenish themselves almost indefinitely as long as you keep their water fresh.


Lemongrass

Place the bulb/root end upright in a glass or jar and add about an inch of water. Replace the water every few days and your green onions will begin to regrow in 3 to 5 days. These will replenish themselves almost indefinitely as long as you keep their water fresh.


Pineapple

Slice off the leafy green top and remove all fruit as well as all bottom layers until the root bud is exposed. Place in water for two to three weeks until roots form then transfer to dirt. This one is in it for the long game it will take 2 to 3 years before you can harvest.


Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Cut potato into 2” pieces ensuring that each piece has 1 to 2 eyes on it. Let pieces sit for a couple of days until they are fully dry. Plant close to the surface of a deep large pot and add more soil as the plant grows. Harvest when the top of the plant dies off.


Pumpkins

Clean and save the seeds from your next jack-o-lantern. Direct sow in the garden ½ inch deep and 12 inches apart or start indoors in pots and transplant outdoors.


Romaine Lettuce

Place the end of your lettuce in a shallow dish and submerge roots in water. Replace the water every few days and keep the tops moist by misting. New Leaves will sprout in 5 to 7 days. Once new leaves are established transplant to dirt by burying the plant up to the new growth. Harvest in 5 months.


Sweet Potatoes

Cut potato into 2” pieces ensuring that each piece has 1 to 2 eyes on it. Let pieces sit for a couple of days until they are fully dry. Plant close to the surface of a deep large pot and add more soil as the plant grows. Harvest when the top of the plant dies off. Let them sit in a warm dry place for 2 weeks to ‘sweeten’ before eating.


It has seeds, will it grow?

The general rule here is that if it has a hard skin, and hard seeds for example watermelon or apples then, it will indeed grow a plant. There is however one exception to this rule and that is squash and gourds. With these plants, it’s best to go ahead and buy seeds if you want to grow them. There is a theory out and about that you could end up with a poisonous squash when regrowing from a plant that may have been cross-pollinated.


Let me break that down for you. If you have purchased a squash that was grown on a farm that housed multiple squash varieties it’s possible that cross-pollination occurred during its growth. This doesn’t necessarily affect the plant that you are eating, but it could have an effect on the seeds inside. Now, I’m not so sure about poisonous squash, but I have heard stories of people who ended up with squashes that looked nothing like their parent plant, and though they were not poisonous they also were not tasty. So, in short, avoid the squashes unless it is a last resort.





The Regenerating Pantry

Let’s face it, eating is expensive, especially eating right, so whether you’re a homesteader, a gardener or just an eater, any time you can cut down on the food bill is a win. What grocery store foods have you regrown? Have I missed any of your favorites? Let us know all about it in the comments. And, until next time,












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