Have you ever wondered, would that avocado pit grow if I planted it? What about a spring onion or a sweet potato? Chances are, given the right conditions they will germinate and sprout and, in some cases, bring new fruits or veggies to eat.
Seeds and pits are tough little things, they’ll sit tight in some cases, dry and waiting for the right conditions to grow. Take the patient pea, Dr Silverton the author of “An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds” noted that “In 1940 when the Natural History Museum in London was bombed and the fire brigade played their hoses upon the ashes, seeds of the legume Albizia cheerfully woke up and germinated on the herbarium sheet where they had been placed in 1793.”
We are in the camp of that there are no real green thumbs out there, if you give the right light, fertilizer, water and container filled with the right stuff you’ll be growing something in no time. We have included some of our favourites, for you to give a go at home, so raid the fridge, the spice rack and cupboards and bring your veggies back to life.
The Sweet Potato
Fish out from the fridge the old sweet potato and cut it in half. It might feel strange, but the potato is a tuber and it will grow just as well in half. Fill a jar with lukewarm water that is at least 4 inches deep, big enough for the potato roots to grow downwards.
Take out some sturdy toothpicks, which you’ll prod in intervals around the potato one to two inches from the bottom cut end of the sweet potato.
Pop the potato in the jar of water and leave on a sunny windowsill inside. Keep the water clean, changing once or twice weekly and in a couple of weeks you will see roots begin to emerge, leaves will grow out of the top and in turn make vines that will scramble up window if you let them. The leaves themselves are edible and you can use them in a salad or a stew.
Once the vine is growing strong and you have a bush of roots, you can replant in the ground for more vines and eventually more sweet potatoes.
Slice off the ends of the bulbs, leaving roots attached. Stand the bulbs root-end down in a small glass or jar (we prefer glass as we can see the roots grow). Set on a windowsill and keep the roots wet. After a few days, green shoots will emerge from the tops of the bulbs. Keep the roots submerged and change water at least once a week and watch them stretch out. Move on to a small pot of soil and in a few weeks, you’ll have grow new spring onions to eat!
Once you’ve finished your avocado, wash and dry the pit. Fill a jar with water, almost to the brim. Find the broad end of the pit. This is the end that will point down into the water where it will root. Press three toothpicks around the pit, piercing the skin but not too far in. These will suspend the pit from the rim of the jar. Place the toothpicks so about one inch of the avocado pit is in the water. Place the jar in a warm, sunny spot, but out of direct sunlight. A windowsill is pretty ideal.
Top up the water as needed. Your pit should start to sprout roots and a stem in two to six weeks. If you don’t see any growth by then, start over with another pit. Once the stem reaches six to seven inches tall, cut it back by half. When the roots have grown thick and the stem has leaves again, plant in soil in a pot about ten inches in diameter, leaving half the seed still exposed above the soil.
Chop off the base of the bok choy, much like you would slice the base of a bunch of celery. Place the bok choy in a bowl or saucer of warm water, with the cut side facing up. Set the bowl on a windowsill inside that gets some sunlight. Change the water every day or two. And soon you will see new leaves appear and roots on the bottom. In time, when they grow enough roots, replant in pots with soil and enjoy your new leaves over a stir-fry.