Start a Garden from Your Groceries

by Miranda Marquit · 16 comments

If you are interested in saving money on food, you don’t have to get into clipping coupons. You can, in fact, grow your own food. Indeed, gardening can be a great way to get a little exercise, spend some time outdoors, and eat healthier. From edible landscaping, to a more traditional garden, it’s possible to turn your next trip to the grocery store into a starter garden.

Before you make your meal from what you’ve bought at the store, take a few minutes to turn some of your produce into something you can plant. You’ll get more bang for your buck, and you’ll have a way of getting more food without needing to shop for it all the time. Realize that some produce items are better for this than others. You can even can or bottle some of the produce from your garden so that it lasts all year.

Bell (and Other Types) Peppers

While you are likely to get mixed results from planting these peppers, it’s still possible to grow them from seeds. When you slice up the pepper, save the seeds from the inside. Keep them in a cool, dry place so that they don’t rot. If you want, start them inside the house, in small pots. You can start them in a sunny window, and once the seedlings have grown, you can transplant them outside to your garden.

Green Onions

I love green onions to flavor my cooking. If you don’t know where to start, start with what you buy at the store. You can cut off the last inch of the onion, providing you with the roots, as well as the bulb. When you plant your green onions, cover the bulb completely, leaving a bit of stem to stick out of the dirt. If you want to get continuous production over the summer, just cut off the green part as it grows.


It’s fairly simple to prepare potatoes for planting. All you need to do is cut about an inch chunk from the potato. You do need to make sure the chunk you cut has at least one eye (two is better). Let the chunk sit for a couple of days. The now-exposed parts will skin over a bit, and the chunk will dry out. You can then plant the potato. Make sure that the side with the eyes is facing up.


Most of us, when we buy a bunch of celery, hack off the bottom and throw it on the compost heap. However, you can grow your own celery in the garden if you save it. This only works with a bunch, and not with individual stalks, since the bunch usually still has the root. Cut off the bottom inch of the bunch. Then, place it in a bowl, with the cut side facing up. Add enough water to completely cover the bottom of the celery bunch. After a few days, leaves and roots should appear. Once you see the leaves, you can plant the celery in the garden. Make sure to cover the root, but leave the leaves above the ground. You can cut of your celery stalks. The celery will keep on growing as long as the root is in the ground.

What are your tips for growing a garden from grocery produce?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

joe August 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

You can plant pineapple tops. There are lots of info online.

Tina August 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Joe: I’ve heard of that, but haven’t tried it yet. I’ll check it out!

I’m definitely going to try the celery!! Thanks!! I always run out of it. Would be nice to have some handy all the time.

I have done peppers and they come out great! Very easy to grow!! Just pinch back blossoms if you get more than 2 or three in a single cluster. The plant will winter-over for a second year – if you can keep them from freezing.

Yams and sweet potatoes work, too!! Since they’re so expensive now, it’s well worth it! I’ve never dried them out – always just stuck them straight in the dirt, though.

Rob Arnold August 28, 2012 at 1:09 am

I started my first garden this year, and I grew tomatoes. The problem is that my tomatoes were infested with fruit flies laying their egg sin the toms and destroying the fruit. I was told to use 7-dust on them but it seemed to do more damage to the plants and toms and it helped. I was told to make a mixture of lie and water and spray it on the plants each day. Is this a good idea or do you have a better Idea to to solve this issue? Next year I plan to grow about 2-4 rows of corn, the same with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers. I have a young black berry bush I purchased this year, but it did not produce any fruit as of yet and I have a 3′ fig tree that produced about 6 figs. We have 2 pineapple plants and they are doing fine. I am also going to plant some snow peas, string beans. Any ad vine on growing and ways to win the battle against bugs, worms and pest would be greatly appreciated. By the way my garden will be in Pensacola, FL. My back yard backs up to a wetland/swamp. Please help as this year, my first at this, resulted in having the best fed bugs and pests in the panhandle.

Thank you for anything you can do/advise me on this subject.
Rob Arnold

lauren Pine September 18, 2012 at 11:07 am

Grow your own garlic from the small cloves that too cumbersome to peel. Plant directly plant pointed side up in a paper cup filled with soil or planter mix. Transplant to garden when they have sprouted to 2 inches tall.

debb September 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

I like to grow heirloom toms. They taste so much better, but are expensive. My tip: buy smaller sizes since they are priced per lb.
Once cut, remove seeds and cover with water.
Overnight the “gunk” will separate from the seeds. Strain into fine mesh/cheesecloth, coffee filter; repeat if necessary.

Dry seeds overnight; store in clean, marked envelope. Start/plant in-season.

Leigh Perry December 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm

This is for Rob Arnold–

This is the best place for you, or anyone else in Florida, to start. It’s the University of Florida’s ag website. You will find info geared specifically to Florida pests and plants.

Lani Dyck January 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I’ve grown squash and pumpkin from produce bought at a grocery store. Save the seeds from this year’s crop for the next year. A carrot top can be planted and it will grow a seed head that can be used the following year.

Kat January 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Do you know those big tomato spurs that grow off to the side? Usually we cut those off and discard them, but if you put it immediately in water after cutting, then make a deep hole with the end of your broom, for example, fill the hole with water and put the cut spur in as far as it will go, it will grow a new tomato plant! I do this every year to get a new crop of tomatoes later in the year instead of planting a new plant or reseeding. Believe me, it works. I’ve been doing it for about thirty years!

Caryn January 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Try carrots! Same technique as celery.

RichG January 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

It may be some what irresponsible to use your grocery produce to start a garden at your home because it is highly likely the produce you buy comes from other countries. When you plant your green onions that came from Mexico, you are allowing that strain of plant to take root in your local ecosystem, which can have some fairly devastating consequences if not taken into consideration.

I do applaud anyone starting a hobby garden or growing their own produce, but if we keep planting the same things over and over again, we will lose the bio diversity of our local ecosystems.

Madonna W January 16, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I live in Outback Queensland Australia, and I have planted new seeds from packets and am having some success as they are growing. I am also having success with capsicums (peppers) from seeds out of capsicums bought at the store, they are growing in the potting mix. I am even trying lemon seeds, prunes, apples or pears and tomatoes. Let you know how it goes.

Nef January 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Actually, what RichG says is very important, but only if you will be planting produce that will continue to live through the winter, will reseed itself, sucker or will die back to the roots only to grow back in the spring. Most garden vegetables die off in colder climates unless you take steps to overwinter them and my experience with overwintering is that the plants are seldom healthy enough to live into a third year.

Madonna W, if you are interested in growing fruit trees from seed, you might want to go with peaches and apricots (they grow better from seed and produce fruit that are closer to type than apples or pears) and for citrus, you can’t beat Key Lime for early fruiting, compact plants and true to type growth.

Annie January 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

After you cut the chive part of your onions, drop what’s left into a cup of water, and place it in a window. The chives will start growing again, for your next potato.

Carla January 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

Rick, yes it’s risky to try to grow from grocery produce especially in off seasons. You can try local farmers’ markets and the organic section in the store to avoid some of the issues with hybrids and Genetically modified (GMO) products.

Rob, buy some stuff from called Surround. Spray it on your veggie/fruit plants when you have small fruits and again once a weeks as the fruits grow. (Might not be good on the blackberries since they would trap the surround between the tiny bubbles.) Surround will stop much of the bug problem by preventing pests from entering the fruit. It’s ugly stuff to use though so if you don’t want to spray your stuff white, try dusting with Diatomaceous Earth (DE) (buy a plastic duster bottle to make it easy or use a sock as a dustbag) which you can buy at local Tractor Supply or Garden Centers (some) or online. Moist yards mean more bugs. You can sprinkle DE on soil surface around plants as well and it will stop larva from moving to plants. But it will kill good bugs as well. We have tiny ‘fruit’ flies that get into houseplants here so I just put a thin layer of sand in my pots to keep them from laying eggs. Works like a charm. These flies lay eggs in decaying compost and soil so preventing eggs from hatching is your best bet. So it’s kind of catch-22. Try it and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work, don’t use it. But if you have tons of hot sun and little rain, sand is not a good option because it can burn plants outside.

You could also look into backyard chickens. My chicks keep the bugs out of my yard for the most part. They don’t eat tiny flies because they can’t catch them but they eat a ton of different ones and you can use their manure in your compost pile to heat it up. Put up fencing to keep them corralled though. And shut them in a sturdy coop at night to keep out predators. They will peck at tomatoes though so may want to fence the plants so the chicks can get near but not near enough. One of my chicks favorite treats.

These methods are organic ones. I don’t use chemicals in my garden. I just moved to our first house last year and I don’t have my yard or garden in order yet but my chickens have cleaned up the horrid roach and earwing populations that were infesting the grass and mulch beds.

For the blackberry bush, you probably need a 2nd variety to get fruit. Some varieties require a pollinator.

Ok I see you are growing corn, they are heavy feeders so grow your pole green beans between the corn stalks. They’ll trail up your stalks AND provide nitrogen naturally without fertilizing.

You can check out and as sites for excellent magazines and information if you don’t want to use chemicals. Also I’m a lifetime member of National Home Gardening Club ( so you can try there as well. You have to pay for membership to get to the advice articles and such but they have some free stuff there.

Hope this helps!

cobb January 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I have a suggestion for Rob Arnold’s post. Try planting some natural bug deterrent plants through out your garden. Dill, marigolds, onions, garlic, and radishes are a few I have used. Not a fix all but they help.

Guy Aron July 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

You might want to check out the possible health hazards of diatomaceous earth (suggested in a post for dusting onto plants). When we moved to our house it had a pool with a DE filter, which I have since replaced with a sand filter. I seem to remember that DE is suspected of being carcinogenic; not good stuff to be breathing in or putting on your plants!

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