Growing from Groceries - Celery, Garlic, Potatoes, Ginger & Turmeric
Most of what we grow comes from either seeds we purchase (or save from the year before) or seedlings / starters we buy from various places around town - farmers markets, nurseries, garden center, etc.
Some, though, comes from the produce aisle at the grocery store. There are a few garden items that can be started with little to no effort and with little or no changes from how you buy them. Onions, garlic, potatoes (sweet and regular), celery, turmeric and ginger are our "regulars" each season.
One of our absolute favorites, and it uses the parts we don't really like as much in the kitchen, is garlic. We cook a lot and use a lot. The bulbs we buy at the store we move through quickly. If you use a lot of garlic you know that once you peel the skins and pull off the larger cloves the ones in the center begin to get smaller and smaller. There isn't anything wrong with them, the flavor is still great, but they are harder to peel and handle. They do have a great use in the garden though - simply push them in the ground and they'll grow a new garlic bulb!
These smaller cloves above are taken from the main bulb, pushed into the soil in the garden to grow the plants below.
When we regrow garlic we use the plants at different stages - early on after they send up their greens we pull some as needed to use as scallions - the bulb and the greens are great and have a flavor that combines onion and garlic.
Leave them in the soil longer and they grow more and more. These pictured were planted at the end of summer. They won't grow full bulbs this fall, it takes more time than that and they'll go dormant once we have a couple freezes. They will be fine in the garden, though, well into winter so we leave them there and just pull as needed. Over the years we've begun to do more and more of this - for one we have a lot of garlic we use in the kitchen, therefore a lot of smaller "inner" cloves to plant, plus we love having this fresh flavor right outside to add to dishes almost any time of year other than mid summer (when its too hot for them to grow).
Once garlic cloves are done and ready to all be pulled they'll tell you! The greens begin to fall, turn brown and generally show signs that they are done.
Another easy-to-grow from the kitchen item is celery.
Above are plants currently growing in our garden. These are sprouting up from the base of celery we've purchased at the store. They don't grow in really hot weather, but they pop up quickly and grow quickly in cooler weather - fall and spring for us. These are planted only a couple weeks ago.
GINGER AND TURMERIC
These spicy roots are used in all kinds of cooking, especially asian dishes. The ones we grow, pictured below, come from rhizomes we bought at the grocery store, split into smaller pieces and planted in the garden. Both ginger and turmeric are tropical plants and will only really grow in the summer (here). As fall deepends they begin to slow their growth and when it really begins to get cold it's time to harvest. We replant in late spring and let them grow all summer long - the longer the season they get the better and more plentiful the roots (what you harvest and eat) grown.
We use the ginger fresh and we we thinly slice, dehydrate and powder the turmeric. Even just a couple turmeric plants give us all we use - and we use a good amount - all year long.
Turmeric plant (top) and ginger plants (bottom).
One of the last items that can be bought from the grocery store and planted at home are potatoes. Our luck has been limited with regular potatoes, I'm told it just gets too hot overall in the summer for them to do well here, but our sweet potatoes practically go wild here. Any potatoe, once it's begun to sprout from sitting in the kitchen too long, will probably end up in our garden! We especially love sweet potatoes as they are really easy to grow and both the root - what you are used to - and the greens are edible. They require almost no maintenance other than cutting back the greens and since they grow low we plant them in the raised beds at the base of higher growing plants like peppers and okra to increase yields from smaller spaces.
Sweet potatoes vines spilling over the edge of the beds to the left and below