By Sam Burbach, Education & Programming Coordinator – 04/06/2020

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Have you ever tried to grow plants from your kitchen scraps? We often talk about farm to table fruits and vegetables, but what about counter to garden? This fun experiment is a great way to use kitchen scraps rather than throwing them in the garbage or compost, and kids will be amazed at how they can grow plants from kitchen scraps. 

Lettuce, carrots, celery, potatoes, avocados, herbs and even pineapples, just to name a few, can be regrown from kitchen scraps that you don’t eat. The premise for most of these is that we want to initiate growth from the roots again, which will produce leaves. With some herbs, you can initiate roots to grow from stem cuttings by placing them in water, and once the roots are long enough you can plant the herbs up in soil again for a new plant. Of these examples, the avocado is different in that you are germinating a seed rather than starting growth from the roots or stems (stay tuned for Kitchen Scraps – Avocado Edition!) 

Carrots are one of the easiest kitchen scraps to regrow (and what I was cooking for dinner!), but I will warn you that you’re not going to get a nice new carrot to eat from it. The orange (or red, yellow, white, or purple) taproot that we enjoy is not going to grow again, so you’re not going to get a new carrot out of this, but smaller fibrous roots will grow from the carrot nub and new leaves will sprout from the top making a cute little houseplant. Sometimes we don’t appreciate the parts of vegetables that we don’t eat, but carrot foliage is actually quite pretty if you ask me! 

I tried this with 3 carrot tops. One had already sprouted a little bit and the other two did not. The one that already had small shoots was the first to show foliage growth. The next carrot had some brown foliage remnants at the crown and started sprouting after 4 days. The third carrot was smooth and bare at the crown and this one turned black and did not grow at all. 

This is a very simple experiment to try at home, and the excitement of seeing tiny green leaves emerging from the carrot top has been a lot of fun for me and my kids! 

Here’s how you can try it at home!

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • The top 1” of a carrot 
  • Small dish 
  • Water 
Cut off the top 1 inch of a carrot top.
Place it in a shallow dish with just a little bit of water to cover the bottom
Place it in a location that gets indirect sunlight. 
Wait patiently! After several days, new leaves will sprout from the crown and small roots will form off the taproot.
After the carrot tops get a few inches tall and the roots are more visible, you can pot your carrot tops in a small container to use as a house plant if you’d like. Make sure to place the crown at the top of the soil level.

Downloadable Instructions:

For a downloadable version of the full instructions, click here.