Supermarket Gardening - How to Repurpose Food





Introduction: Supermarket Gardening - How to Repurpose Food

Did you know there are a lot of vegetables and herbs you can "repurpose" from the supermarket?

This instructable will be about  garlic, potatoes, and boiling onions. But you can also do pineapple, celery, lettuce, mango, avocado, lemon, scallions... the list is quite large. Now, do every repurposed edible survive and give a good yield? not always, but it is worth a try.

Lets repurpose!!!

For your "ingredients" you can choose any of these:
- Boiling onions, red, yellow or white.
- Potatoes, any kind
- Garlic

Step 1: Garlic

The easiest veggie to repurpose!

Buy a head of garlic. You can look for sprouting ones, but it is not necessary. Set them out in indirect sunlight for 2 weeks or so. That starts the sprouting process. Even without any visible green poking out you still can plant them.

Dig a hole in your garden in early Spring or late fall (they can overwinter in your garden). Plant the clove with the pointy end up. Cover completely with dirt. Water. In the 9 years I've been gardening I have yet to find a way to kill garlic with overzealous gardening practices. They are near indestructible, be it from over watering or drought, pests, weeds... you name it and garlic can withstand it.

They need about 6 months in the ground to form a bulb and mature. When the tops yellow out it is time to harvest. Loosen the soil around the plant with a pitch fork, careful not to dig into the bulb. Garlic is hard to dig up, if you just pull on the tops they will break and the bulb will stay nice and snug into the earth. Let them cure for a few days in a dry place.

Bring them in and enjoy your bounty!

For all things garlic:

Step 2: Onions

One of my favorite cooking ingredients and oh so easy to repurpose.

When at the grocery store in the end of Winter/begining of Spring look at the boiling or pearl onions. Do you see any green poking out of the little onions? if you spot a bag with a couple of sprouting onions, buy it.  A supermarket worker looked at me in horror when I purchased 3 bags with "spoiled" onions, onions they would just throw away. 

So you have your pearl or boiling onions with little green tips on them. Set them in a plate and leave them in a warm room with indirect light (meaning not in the direct sunlight, that will kill them). Let them sprout for a week or two. Get your garden bed ready with lots of compost. Onions like a well fed, well drained bed. They also like early Spring and can stand some cold. 

To plant them just dig a little hole, plop them in with the sprout head up, cover with dirt and water. Keep it moist but not soaked and in a week of so you'll see the leaves poking through! 

In the very late Summer or early Fall the onion top will start to yellow. That means it is time to harvest. Pull the onions up and let them "cure" on the garden bed for a week. If it is going to rain that week bring your crop to cure into a dry room. You can braid them or snip the dry tops for storage. 

For everything Onion look here:

Step 3: Potatos

Who doesn't love young potatoes fresh out of the garden? and if you have not tasted it, then you are missing out big time.

Much like the onions, when you are at the food store look at the potatoes, do any of them seem to be sprouting? if not, don't despair! they just need a little TLC. Even without TLC you'll sometimes open a bag of potatoes and find sprouts on them. Don't throw them out! even if it is the dead of winter and you think you can't possible garden. If there is a will, there is a way.

Set your potatoes (sprout or not) in a plate. Put the plate in a warm room without direct sunlight (they will rot with direct light). Now the magic happens! in the next week, or two... and lets be real sometimes 3 weeks you'll notice little knobs popping out of your potato's "eye". Each knob will be a sprout. You can plant a potato as is or slice it to double your amount of seeds. If you slice them, leave them to dry out for at least 24 hours. Slugs and grubs love fresh cut potatoes.

Once your potato sprouted you can put them in the garden (early Spring is prime time) or you can plant them in interesting things like a ceramic pot, thrash bag, barrel, tire, bale of hay... if it can hold soil (sometimes even without soil!) you can grow potatoes in it.

Potatoes like a slightly acidic soil and not too much water. Whatever you grow your potatoes in, make sure there is good drainage. 

Did a whole in your soil (be it in  a pot, garden, tire, bucket...) add a healthy sprinkle of Bone meal, wedge your potato in there with the sprout facing up. Cover with soil and water it well this first time.  In a drought, water weekly. Now wait...

When the potato plant has flowers it means you can harvest baby boilers, and when the plant turns yellow you can harvest fully mature spuds. Eat fresh or store in a dark spot for future use. 

For all things potatoes:

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    31 Discussions

    Ahahaha! Recently I found a rotten potato in my cupboard and I remembered that it was from the first time I read this instructable a while ago. I put it in there to get eyes but forgot about it... it's still there, rotting away... whoops ?

    1 reply

    Also I have continually tried planting garlic but it dies every time I put it in soil. The soil isn't dry or soggy, the bulbs are in indirect light. After a week or so the little green top gets limp and dies, but when I dig them up I notice that the roots are well established. Why don't they love me enough to live? -_-

    I am in love with your instructable, It has by far the most information about growing that I can ever dream of. however, you said garlic is nearly indestructable, i killed mine... I think it drowned.

    One wonderful side-effect of planting garlic cloves in the garden is that many pests cannot stand the smell. That means more veges for you and your family!

    growing sunflowers can be a lot of fun. From the potato picture it looks like you have little ones at home. Growing a flower that towers over them is awe inspiring. $.25 worth of seeds can grow a lot of flowers. I have sowed them start in the ground and have also started them in plastic drinking cups... Both work well!

    I dont understand the onionplanting. You buy a sprouted onion that u can plant and that then should give a new onion. Wouldnt it be more effective to buy a non 'spoiled' o ion to begin with and just eat thay one? Or am i missing something

    3 replies

    You buy a small onion (very small) that has sprouted. When those small onions sprout, the grocery store throws it out. By planting that small onion and letting it grow up to a 1/4 or 1/3 of a pound, you are saving some money, enjoying some gardening time and doing some recycling.

    How is that?

    makes sense. I do it already with my big onions that have sprouted. they just give great flowers and I use the seeds for new onions

    I've planted the seeds from a supermarket chilli, so far i've got around 15 chilli plants growing very well :) all indoors though, they appear to hate it outside

    1 reply

    That is impressive! did the chills ever make it outside? they like really warm weather. You could use an empty gallon of water container as a green house.


    4 years ago

    Thank you fir this instructable. I already planted garlic and its growing so well and next will be the potatoes. Again, thank you so much.

    1 reply

    So happy it is working for you!!! I also planted some last fall and I am hoping to harvest about 200 heads this Summer. Let us know how your harvest goes.

    Solid Instructable! I've been container gardening for years and haven't tried potatoes or onions yet but after reading this I'll give it a shot, garlic too!

    1 reply

    Thank you! you are braver then me, containers scare me, I tend to kill everything in a pot.

    I harvested the potatoes on the smaller container and got 10 small baby potatoes. It was only enough for one person to eat. Had I been patient for another month or so, those 10 small potatoes could have been enough for a whole meal.

    Another thing I just discovered is to plant the onions very shallow, otherwise they won't form a bulb. I spent hours outside yesterday digging around the onions trying to save the harvest. But that is the life of gardener right? live and learn.