Coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables are few and far between, but that doesn't mean saving money on produce is just a dream. Several store-bought vegetables can be easily grown in your own backyard or a pot in the kitchen with just a touch of TLC. Don't worry about needing a green thumb — these guys are so eager to get back to nature they practically grow themselves!
The next time you bring home a bunch, save the often-discarded white-tipped roots and stick those babies in a jar of water in the kitchen. In a few days you'll notice longer roots telling you it's time to plant the growing greens in the ground. If you don't have outdoor space, green onions will do just fine in a small pot in the kitchen.
Have you ever found a forgotten clove of garlic that’s tips had turned green? Simply tuck those cloves (green tips facing up) in the dirt and water sparingly. In a week or so you'll notice a single stalk emerging from the ground. Once that stalk has grown a curly tail, keep an eye out for the plant's lower leaves to turn yellow — that's how you'll know when the garlic in the ground is ready to be harvested.
After chopping off the stalks from the base, take a gander down the remaining stalks at the tiny green leaves peeking back at you. Those, my friends, are baby celery stalks just waiting to make their debut. Keep the base cut side up in a shallow dish of water and set it in a sunny spot for 5-7 days, changing the water at least once. You'll soon notice those baby stalks emerging upwards, and that's your cue to stick them in the ground and watch 'em grow. If you want your celery to grow grocery-store straight, slip a plastic barrel made from cutting off the top and bottom of a 2 liter bottle over the bunch. When your next recipe requires a single stalk or two, just snip as you please and leave the rest to keep on growing.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of harvesting your very own home grown spuds…well, except how good they taste! And since growing potatoes in a bucket is my preferred method, no heavy digging is required to pull up your bounty. While you can certainly purchase "seed" potatoes, the store-bought spuds will work just as well. Select a potato that has plenty of sprouts or "eyes" then slice the potato in two to achieve the most "eyes" on both slices. Let the slices sit out on your counter for 3 days or until the cut flesh forms a dry, leather like skin. Once that's done, find a well draining pot or bucket and add a few inches of soil to the bottom before placing your potato slices cut side down, at least 4 inches apart. Cover the slices with a few inches of soil, when the plants have grown a few inches out of the ground, cover them lightly with soil and continue to cover the new growth with soil as the plant grows. Water sparingly — potatoes will rot in water-logged soil. When the leaves on the plant have withered, it's time to dump your bucket and collect your bounty.
While it is possible to use a clipping from fresh herbs to grow some more, I like to invest in the fancy fresh herbs that still have their roots and soil intact. For only a few cents more you are taking home a well established plant that would cost at least $5 from the local garden store. Go ahead and use what you need for your recipe and then stick the herb's root base in water for a few days to give those thirsty roots a drink. Once the roots have plumped up, it's time to stick those herbs in well-draining garden soil and call it done.
Once you've had a taste of home grown, it's hard to go back to store-bought grub. Not only does growing a few kitchen basics save you money, it's also a relaxing way to sample "the simple life." Check your zone for the best planting season in your area and get to growing!
This is a guest post by Vanessa from Dallas, TX
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!