Well, never thought I’d say this, but my kitchen windowsill has become a veritable garden of regrowing kitchen scraps. This comes as a source of great amusement to my husband, who knows that I have the blackest of thumbs and have killed every houseplant I ever owned… including a fake one. I’m not kidding. We shelled out $300 for a silk and plastic ficus plant and all the leaves fell off. My gardener pals kept encouraging me to join in until I broke it to them that I actually managed to kill mint, that heretofore unkillable weed. They left me alone after that.
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Easy never tasted so awesome.
So, it was no small triumph when I found I was able to regenerate scallions from cuttings. In this time of no-waste cooking, when we all should be loath to discard scraps of anything, I followed along on social media as everyone I knew was taking their little scallion ends and plunking them in water and watching new scallions emerge. I wasn’t particularly hopeful, but I tried it, and it actually worked!
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Which of course led me down the rabbit hole of what else I might be able to propagate in little ramekins of water.
Romaine can regenerate!
Romaine lettuce is one of those magical vegetables that will allow you to regrow some new leaves from the base (its lettuce cousins escarole, green or red leaf, and butter have the same power to regenerate as well). And while it will never result in a full new head of lettuce, you should be able to get enough new growth out of every base to serve as enough lettuce to top a couple of sandwiches or supplement a new salad.
If you, like me, tend to buy and use romaine in the three-pack, you can get enough lettuce out of those three bases for a medium salad for one or a small salad for two. It might seem like a lot of fuss for minimal reward, but at a time when fresh produce is hard to come by, and waste feels extra wasteful, those bonus leaves are exciting. It is fun to watch them grow, especially if you have kids, and all you need to do is to change out the water every other day or so. In about 7 to 10 days, you’ll have a small harvest.
Here’s all you need to do.
How to regenerate romaine lettuce
- Cut about the bottom two inches off your head of romaine.
- Place it in a small bowl or ramekin of cold water, with the bottom inch to inch-and-a-half submerged and the top poking out.
- Place on a windowsill and change the water every other day.
- In 7-10 days, harvest and discard the base, which will have given all it has to give and can now be put to rest with gratitude.
That’s literally it! If you've got some good soil, a handy pot, and a shady place for it all, you can also try your hand at transferring the regenerated head into the soil for even more growth! Check out the details, here, and happy gardening!
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