5 Old Foods To Throw In The Garden Instead of the Garbage

About two months ago, we were FINALLY getting our seedlings put into the garden. (It snows in May in Colorado, so we get started later than most folks.)

On one of the many trips inside the house to fetch a tool I’d forgotten, I noticed an old potato sporting many eyes in the pantry.

Normally this all-seeing potato would probably have ended up in the trash, but since we were in the process of gardening anyway, this time I decided to plant it.

I didn’t read any books or how-to guides for growing potatoes from, well, other potatoes. I just cut it into five sections, dug five holes and plopped ‘em in.

And now we have 5 healthy potato plants growing away in our garden! It was astonishingly easy, cost nothing and if I get even one potato from each plant it will be a total win.

This got me thinking about other “spoiled” or “unusable parts” plants that can be re-born in the garden.

Read on to discover more foods that should be planted, not tossed, when they begin to sprout because of age.

1. Garlic

5 Old Foods To Throw In The Garden Instead of the GarbageImage credit: energyandintensity via Flickr

If your fresh garlic has been sitting on the counter so long it’s beginning to sprout, carefully separate all the cloves, but don’t peel them. You’ll want the paper-like skin in tact for planting. Find a sunny spot with well-draining soil (containers work too!) and plant each clove with pointy tip or green sprout facing up, about one inch below the surface. 

You can begin to harvest the shoots (cutting off the tips as desired) once they’re about four inches tall, but never harvest more than a third of the plant. For maximum reward, however, I recommend waiting until the shoots reach at least eight to ten inches in height (about three months) and then harvesting the entire plant at once,” explains author Linda Ly.

2. Sweet Potato

5 Old Foods To Throw In The Garden Instead of the GarbageImage credit: danielle_scott via Flickr

Sweet potatoes put out a slightly different kind of “eye” than regular potatoes, called “slips.” When you see it start to form, you can do one of two things: encourage growth by cutting a few inches off the bottom of the potato and inserting toothpicks at one-inch intervals an inch up from the cut bottom. Immerse the cut end into a jar filled with water and wait for more roots to grow. Or, simply cut off the section that’s sprouted and plant it in the soil. The result will be a long, rambling vine with heart-shaped, lime green leaves.

Related Reading: 7 Good Reasons To Eat More Sweet Potatoes 

3. Ginger

5 Old Foods To Throw In The Garden Instead of the GarbageImage credit: blumenbiene via Flickr

If you have a piece of ginger root that’s starting to shrivel and dry out, bury it about one-half inch deep in moist potting soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Soon, it will produce palm-like leaves and eventually more edible ginger root below the soil!

4. Onion

5 Old Foods to Throw in the Garden Instead of the GarbageImage credit: slgc via Flickr

There are two popular statements about sprouted onions floating around the internet. One says, “You cannot eat onions that have sprouted; they are rotten,” and the other says ”If you plant a sprouted onion, it will produce flowers (which you can then harvest for seeds to plant next year), but it will not produce an onion bulb that you can eat.” This isn’t necessarily true, however, as blogger Anktangle has successfully grown new onions from sprouted ones for several years. Check out her site to see how she does it! (It’s SUPER simple.)

5. Pineapple

5 Old Foods to Throw in the Garden Instead of the GarbageImage credit: kungpaocowboy via Flickr

Is the top of your overripe pineapple getting dry and shrively? Don’t toss it! Remove a few of the bottom leaves until you have a small stump. After letting it air dry for two days, place the pineapple top over a jar of water, immersing the stump. Place in a warm location like a window sill and keep jar filled while roots form. It could take one to two months. After rooting, plant the pineapple in potting soil. “The result will be a lovely plant with striking sword-shaped leaves that may eventually produce flowers that bear small pineapple fruit,” explains Community Table.

Have you ever turned an old vegetable into a new one? Tell us about it in the comments!

Photo Credit: rusty_clark


Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams7 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R7 months ago


Ingrid A
Past Member 8 months ago

thank you

Renata B
Renata B8 months ago


Tanya W
Tanya W8 months ago

Sorry I am having problems with my device... which is why I don't post much on care2 at the moment. That was supposed to say *if we have enough cold weather for the garlic to bulb up remains to be seen. My garlic is getting tall and is healthy. I was reading that when the 12 leaves die back to 6 then it's ready to pick.

Tanya W
Tanya W8 months ago

I am also growing sprouting garlic as well as 2 whole heads from a heritage gardening association. Whether it's coldfeugh iñ Queensland this year to have them bulb up remains to be seen.

Tanya W
Tanya W8 months ago

I have. Potatoes grown from sprouting potatoes, onions and ginger

Tanya W
Tanya W8 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Fran F
Fran F8 months ago

Thanks for posting.