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Grow a windowsill garden with your kids using food scraps (with a free printable)

The Kitchen Experiment Garden: Growing Plants from Food Scraps

The other day I walked into my mom friend’s kitchen and found the top of a pineapple sitting in a jar of water.  I thought it was odd so I immediately quizzed her about it and she politely told little-ol-woefully-uninformed-me that if you plant the top of a pineapple, it will sprout.  What?!

I was still digesting this info. a few days later when my contributor Kaley (a wonderfully creative mom in her own right) emailed to ask if she could do her next post on growing stuff from food scraps.  Clearly this was a thing – a very cool thing that kids are sure to love as it turns out.  Read on for all the details.

Question of the Day

What do you do with your your fruit and vegetable scraps? Do you use any of them to grow plants right now? Or are you more of a compost it and forget it kind of family?

Do you look at all of the food scraps going into the garbage or compost and wish you could do something with them? I always do.

And after reading that a lot of fruit and vegetable scraps will grow again, I went from throwing them in the compost to turning them into a mini science experiment in our kitchen. It is so easy, can be done with things that you already have (and were going to be thrown out anyway), and it’s super fun for the kids.

Kitchen Science Experiments for Kids - Growing with Food Scraps

I almost always have pineapples, green onions, and avocados on hand, so I started with those three. For containers, I used empty baby food jars, but you can use any little container you have in the kitchen.  Even a small drinking glass would work fine.

To keep my daughter engaged and excited about the experiment, I made a little chart for her to record the changes of our plants. We fill in our chart every few days, using drawings and sometimes a few words. You can alter this depending on the age of your child.

They can dictate to you, and you can write, you could take quick pictures on your smart phone, or they can draw what they see. To download your own chart to use in your kitchen experiment, click here.

Kitchen Science Experiment: Growing Food from Food Scraps with Kids - Free Printable included

Kitchen Science Experiment: Growing Food Scraps with Kids

Directions (using the foods that we used):

For the pineapple: Make sure that the top leaves of your pineapple are nice and green, and don’t look dried out. There are two ways to remove the top of your pineapple.  You can hold the crown (leaves) in one hand and the pineapple in the other and twist until the crown pops off, or you can just bang the crown against the edge of the counter until it pops off.

You can imagine which method is more fun for the kids. Peel off the bottom leaves until you have a nub about an inch long, and place it in a jar or glass of water so that just the bottom nub is immersed in the water. Change the water every few days.

Within a month you will start to see roots, and the top will have grown into a nice full plant.

Kitchen Science Experiment: Growing Food from Scraps with Kids

For the green onions: Trim off the bottom (root end) inch of your green onions and place them roots down in a small glass jar filled with water. Change the water every few days.

Within a few days they will start growing back into green onions again. Theses are so easy and quick to grow I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this forever.

Kitchen Science Experiments: Growing Food from Food Scraps with Kids

For the avocado: Remove the pit and wash it with water. Insert 4 toothpicks into the sides of the pit, then place over a small glass or jar filled with water so that the pit is suspended in the water with the larger side of the pit down.

Change the water each day and keep the water level constant. These take a few weeks to start growing roots, so be patient with them.

Kitchen Science Experiment: Growing from Food Scraps with Kids

The possibilities for this are endless. Use the vegetables and fruits that you use most. I think I am going to try carrots, ginger and potatoes next.

imagesWant more ideas? You can find growing instructions for a ton of different fruits and vegetables in Don’t Throw It, Grow It.


What do you do with your your fruit and vegetable scraps? Do you use any of them to grow plants right now? Or are you more of a compost it and forget it kind of family?


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Kaley is a photographer who spends her days starting lots of projects and finishing few of them. She lives in San Francisco with her awesomely creative daughter and her amazingly understanding husband.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

se7en April 23, 2013 at 5:13 am

Oh I can’t believe there is a book about window sill gardens!!! Thrilled to discover it and off to look for it!!! We have an ever and ongoing windowsill garden… if it is a plant and could potentially grow then we try it… I blogged about our window sill garden here: http://www.se7en.org.za/2011/03/08/saturday-spot-se7en-things-in-our-windowsill-garden-right-now


Kim April 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

So timely! My little boy planted an avocado seed – leftover from lunch – in our flowerbed yesterday. I’ll have him try again, now that I know the right way to do this!


Play Create Explore April 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

I’ve been wanting to do this with my kids! I can’t believe how much those onions grew in 5 days…how fun!


Ashley April 23, 2013 at 10:30 am
Trisha Hilberry April 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I am currently growing green onions on my patio. I started this little project last year and I love being able to get veggies from my own little apartment patio garden in the city! I also tried the avocado pit and just a tip: don’t get discouraged if you see nothing happen to it for a very long time! The roots took a while to form but what took the longest was the green growth. I think it took over 3 months before it started to produce anything on top of the seed but that also may be due to the fact that I live in Vancouver and we get a lot of overcast rainy days and maybe it needs more sun and heat for it to grow faster. After a year and a half my avocado plant is three feet tall!


Hilary April 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

In the summer we save our fruit and veggie scraps to feed a couple of pigs that my dad raises. My sister feeds her scraps to worms that she keeps in her dining room! You can see her post on my blog: http://www.inspiregr.com/2013/04/23/my-pet-worms-vermicompost/


stacie tamaki April 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Love this post! When my potatoes grow sprouts I plant them in my yard. One will turn into several. Also planted half of an unused yellow onion last year and now it’s four smaller onions. I’ve seen on Pinterest you can grow celery the same way as the onions in this post. Just stick the end in the ground and new stalks will shoot out the top.


Cheryl April 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Your kitchen Garden can also include Romain Lettuce and Celery. I am currently trying Boston Lettuce.


Carmen May 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I love this idea. Its so eco-friendly and such a money-saver. I started doing this with basil and mint! Now I have my own stash.

♥, Carmen


Ashley @ Forgetful Momma May 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm

We’ve been regrowing green onions for quite a while. We currently have roman lettuce and celery regrowing on our kitchen window sill along with our green onions.


miriam Wright December 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I don’t understand this, the part of the scallions that I use is the white bulbous part and a some of the light green stem. Also it will take years for the pineapple top and the avocado seed to make make a plant of any size.


Karen Lindell April 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Hi Kaley,
I am sharing this over on our Today I Ate A Rainbow FB page. I just started doing this as an experiment with my son a week ago as I was writing a blog post on Earth Day and reducing our food waste. Your photos are beautiful and I love the printable too! Thanks, Karen


Debbie April 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Potatoes , carrots, any root vegetables all work well. one of the prettiest ivy plants was a sweet potato vine. Just beautiful.


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