Grow A Grocery Garden

This activity comes to us from the educators at Prospect Park’s Lefferts Historic House. Check out the Lefferts at Home page for more.

Many of the groceries we buy end up being thrown out—the ends of our vegetables, seeds lost as we chop, and especially the containers that food comes in. Believe it or not, much of this can be reused, and we can reduce waste while turning our food scraps into a bountiful, Earth-friendly home garden.

In this activity, learn how to create a grocery garden—regrow your vegetable scraps and seeds in planters made from recycled plastic containers!


  • Leftover plastic containers with lids (yogurt, salad, hummus, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Seeds from leftover vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, etc.)
  • Bottoms of used vegetables (scallions, leeks, lettuce, etc.)
  • Soil (can be found at hardware stores and some grocery/department stores)
  • Gloves (not required)
  • Scoop or trowel (not required)

Step 1: Take a leftover plastic container and use scissors or something sharp to carefully poke a few evenly spaced, pea-sized drainage holes in the bottom. This will be your pot, and the container lid can be used as the dish underneath.

Grow A Grocery Garden 1

Step 2: Fill the container with soil and use your fingers to pack it down gently.

Step 3: If you’re using the bottom of a leftover plant, dig a hole in the soil and gently place the plant in, with the top poking out. Pack the dirt around the plant. If you are growing from seed, lay the seeds on top of the soil, doing your best to space them out.

Grow A Grocery Garden 2

Step 4: To water your garden, fill the tray underneath with water and let the soil soak it all up, or use a spray bottle. Make sure the seeds stay moist, and be sure to water the plants whenever the soil seems dry.

Step 5: Find a nice bright spot to let your garden grow!

Grow A Grocery Garden 3


Planting a large container: larger containers can hold multiple kinds of plants, just make sure there is enough space so they don’t get overcrowded.

Rooting Help: if your leftover plant doesn’t have roots, you can place it in water for several days to encourage growth. Using toothpicks, make sure only the bottom is submerged in water and the top can grow.

The plant will start to grow within a few days, sometimes even sooner. You can harvest whenever you want, but make sure there is some green leftover for the plant to continue to grow. When seeds sprout and get big enough, you can carefully transplant them into a larger pot. Try and experiment with different fruits and vegetables to see what works. Below are a few suggestions on what you can regrow. 

Grocery leftovers to re-grow:

  • Green onions/scallions
  • Lemongrass
  • Celery
  • Leeks 
  • Ginger
  • Potatoes
  • Onions (red/yellow/white)
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Anything sold with roots attached