How Can I Grow Food From Scraps?

Learn how to grow your own garlic, lettuce, and celery

By Jessian Choy

September 3, 2020


Illustration by Loris Lora

Hey Ms. Green,

I heard that I can grow fruits and vegetables from food scraps. That would help me avoid trips to the grocery store during the coronavirus crisis. What are the greenest ways to grow produce?

—Hsianglin in Albany, California

Garlic, lettuce, and celery are three of the easiest foods to grow from food scraps indoors. The next time you see cloves of garlic sprouting green stems, plant the cloves (not the whole head), unpeeled and with the sprouts facing up, two inches deep and four to six inches apart in a pot of soil. Place them in a sunny spot and keep the soil moist. Snip the sprouts and eat them for a garlic-like flavor.

Don’t have soil? Try growing lettuce or celery! Take one bunch of either vegetable and chop three inches from the bottom. Put the bottom in an inch of water and set it under bright, indirect light. Change the water every few days. Slice off new stalks and munch away. You can compost the rotting parts.  

Want to cut down on plastic waste? Avoid soil sold in plastic by bringing a bucket to nurseries that sell soil in bulk. Ask if they sell veganic fertilizer, which means it’s free of blood and bones from animals. You can learn more about veganic farming at

For tips on how to grow other produce from scraps, indoors or outdoors, pick up a copy of Katie Elzer-Peters’s No-Waste Kitchen Gardening.