Grocery Store Vegetables and Herb Seed Sources

Produce Department PhotoI take a perverse pleasure in finding ways to recycle grocery store produce and grow it in my garden. You'd think I'd stop being so tickled and indulge my curiosity some other way than by sticking a little piece of root in a pot to see what happens. My nephew once started a sunflower from a seed he stuck in the office ficus on a dare. No one was more surprised than he was when it sprouted.

Here is my short list of produce department finds. Please fill in any that I've missed. Oh, if you take all of this seriously, I should warn you that seeds don't always produce plants exactly like the parent. There are a number of reasons for this, and it can be disappointing. These plant experiments are lighthearted, so don't expect too much.

Actually, all of my ginger stock has come from the grocery store. Once you have a healthy plant growing, you can start harvesting roots from around the base.

Yes you can take those red and white potatoes and grow them in the garden. Do-it-yourself potato towers using wire make it easy to grow potatoes in a small space too.

Find a bunch of scallions with a good portion of root still attached and plant them in a pot or in a sunny spot in the garden. I've kept a group of four onions potted on a sunny windowsill for months, snipping green tops as I needed them. This has saved me a few of last minute trips to the store.

Buy a bulb and plant it out, pointy end up. This is a long-term project because garlic needs a season to really get going.

Follow the same process as for garlic.

You can also buy vegetables, harvest the seeds, dry and use them next year. A good short list would be:

Seed Stock
Tomato (The seeds have to ferment a little before drying.)
Squash (Other than pumpkin.)
Avocado (This is a tree and won't bear similar fruit, so some nice foliage is the best you'll be able to get. It's a fun project for kids though.
Red pepper
Bell pepper

There are lots of others. I'm still experimenting.

Even if you don't try this for yourself, it may give you a new insight into those brightly colored produce bins the next time you go shopping. When you're a gardener, it's all material.


  1. Hello,
    amazing, a couple of years ago I started pretty much the same thing :-) Fortunately I moved to a country with tropical climate where I can plant everything into my garden. Tried many fruit seeds, the easiest and fastest to grow are jackfruit (already have a few fruits on my tree), Mango and Papaya. Avocado also works and also seedlings can give fruits, as I asked a botanist. Already have a little nursery, just started with pineapples. Found some lemongrass roots at the grocery recently and grows fine now. This is really a nice hobby.
    Take care

  2. What a helpful comment. Thanks

  3. Another cool trick that I read about (blog of The Amateur Gourmet): after cutting off the root end from lettuce or the tops of carrots, plant them. They will grow a new plant. I was amazed when I first did this and continue to be very pleasantly surprised as I try other vegetables: parsnips, radishes, napa cabbage.

    Also, re: the above post-I have also read (in many sources) that an avocado tree grown from a seed won't produce fruit but I did it while living in FL and it did eventually work. I think that this might've been more the exception than the rule, however.

    It never hurts to try!

    Tamara in RI


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