By David Gutierrez
People who are new to gardening sometimes feel intimidated by the leap of faith required to grow plants from seed. Others find it daunting to save seeds from their plants, but dislike the idea of purchasing new seeds for the same crops year after year.
Fortunately, there are a great number of food plants that can easily be regrown by saving and replanting just a small portion of the plant after harvest.
Like all vegetables, the following eight plants need light, water, air and nutrients (typically in the form of soil). Though many will thrive best outside, they can all be grown indoors, given sufficient light (five to six hours per day, including in winter), and good drainage.
Some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow are green onions. Nearly the entire plant is edible – the leaves taste like chives and the bulbs taste like onions – and if you submerge the inedible roots in water they will resprout into a full plant! So you can just grow the same onion again and again, and meanwhile add plenty of vitamin C and the super-antioxidant quercetin to your diet.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, can sprout from even a single leaf submerged in water.
Once the plant has formed roots, it should be transplanted. In addition to providing a distinctive flavour to your dishes, cilantro is also a potent antiseptic and antifungal, it aids digestion and helps remove toxic metals from the body.
Basil will also sprout into a full plant from just a single leaf, as long as the stem is just under two inches long. Once the new plant has doubled in size, it should be transplanted. Basil has been shown to lower levels of stress hormones, detoxify the liver, improve respiratory function, lower blood sugar and improve circulation. It is rich in iron and a potent anti-inflammatory.
Perhaps the greatest of the herbs is garlic, a superfood among superfoods. Garlic produces edible leaves, but it is most prized for its pungent bulbs. A single one of these bulbs, if placed in water, will sprout into a full plant.
Garlic is a potent immune booster and one of the broadest spectrum antimicrobial agents known. It has been shown to help prevent cancer and even shrink some cancerous tumours.
Perpetually growing veggies
You’ve heard that potatoes can be regrown from their eyes, but these veggies make that process look downright difficult!
You can regrow bok choy – which is an anti-inflammatory, lowers blood pressure and prevents cancer – by placing the roots in water. Transplant after one to two weeks and harvest again when it reaches full size.
Romaine lettuce needs a little more mass to grow back; save half the plant and place in water. It can be transplanted as soon as the leaves start growing back. You can pick and eat lettuce leaves as the plant grows, adding a rich source of vitamin C to your diet.
Carrots are famous for being rich in beta-carotenes that produce vitamin A, but did you know that beta-carotenes also have cancer-fighting properties? Best of all, carrots are incredibly easy to grow: Just save the top part that you are already cutting off and submerge it in water. Watch the roots and leaves grow almost at once!
You can use a similar trick with celery, submerging the base that is typically cut off and discarded. The celery can be replanted as soon as leaves appear in the centre of the plant. While it may have a reputation as having limited nutrient content, celery is actually very rich in micronutrients. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant, and contains plant compounds that have been shown to boost immune function and stop the growth of cancer cells.