Grocery Store Gardening

by Ragtimelil

How to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs from the produce department of the grocery store.

Now that I have such limited gardening space, I am reluctant to buy packages of seeds. I don't have the space to plant every seed, and while I can save them, I have to store them somehow where they won't go bad. And seeds are one of those things that are getting more expensive.

Another solution is to grow things from food I buy at the grocery store. Many vegetables and fruits can be started from cuttings and seeds from food that I eat. I can plant a few at a time as I collect more bottles and buckets to grow more. I've listed here some of the vegetables and fruits I have tried growing and some I haven't tried but will soon.


GarlicFor years I've grown garlic from bulbs I buy in the produce section of the grocery store. They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Even when I lived in New England I could plant them in my garden in the fall and next spring I would have green garlic sprouts growing. I keep some  bulbs for cooking and plant some in the garden or a large pot. Simply plant it with the root side (the blunt side) down and don't plant it too deep and it's ready to grow.


Do you grow things from kitchen scraps?


 Onions are another easy one to grow. If you grow the slender green onions, you can have an endless supply. Whether you plant the green ones or a big bulb onion, simply cut the root end off and either set it in water or, especially with the green onions, just plant in soil.

Once the stalks of the bulb onions turn yellowish, I pull up and leave it outside to dry. Then it can be stored until needed. I like to braid the stalks and hang in the kitchen when I have a good supply.

I haven't tried replanting bulb onions a second time, but you certainly can do that with the green onions. I'm going to try this when I harvest these babies.

Onions     Onions


potato Potatoes are another easy vegetable to grow.

Some potatoes come treated with sprout retardant. You'll be able to tell pretty quickly if they have been treated or not. If there is good strong growth, you know that's the potato you want to plant. Cut the potato into sections with at least one eye in each section.  I've always been told not to do this a second year using the potatoes you grew from the starters, but I'm not sure why. In any case. It doesn't hurt to refresh your stock every other year.
Potato in a pot  - ready to put in a big container.
potatoes in a barrel

For maximum yield, you can plant in a tall container like a garbage can or barrel. Plant the sections in a layer of dirt in the bottom. As the vines grow, cover with light soil, straw or shavings. They will continue to produce potatoes as the grow upward. When the plants flower and start to look yellowish, check the top layer and see if there are potatoes under there. When you're ready to harvest, just dump the container over and pick out your potatoes.

Sweet Tater
Sweet Tater




I'm experimenting with sweet potatoes this year too. The growing season was too short in New England to grow them. That won't be a problem here in Texas.




I always wanted to try planting a mango seed. I just recently learned how to go about it. First - eat the mango being careful not to scrap the edges of the seed.
Some people have had good results just planting the seed as it is, but I wanted to remove the hard casing. Instructions said to gently scrap the pulp off so that you can see the casing. It's a vague triangle and you want to carefully pry the case apart by inserting a knife in the upper short side of the case. Don't pry too deep, just enough to get your fingers in there to pull it apart. I discovered that inside was a huge seed that resembled a giant lima bean. Plant it flat on its side.


It looks as if I will have a sprout pretty soon! I'm so excited. I can't wait to see what it will look like.
mango shoot


Sadly, I will probably never see fruit on my mango tree and if I do, it probably won't taste all that great. I read up on growing mangoes here and learned that the good fruit comes from grafted trees.


I've read that pineapple can be tricky to sprout. I've got one sitting in water and it doesn't seem to be doing much yet.

I bought a pineapple and twisted the green top gently. It came right out. Then I removed some of the leaves. I could see roots already sprouting between the layers of the leaves.pineapple
The instructions said to remove quite a few leaves since it needed its energy to grow roots.I then popped it in a jar of water and changed the water every few days to prevent rot.
I just read that I should have let the roots dry out for a couple of days. I didn't do that but it looks fine so far.


pineapple roots










Once it starts to grow more roots, I'll pot it in cactus soil. I could possibly get some pineapple fruit in two or three years.


Cuttings, Seeds and Stumps

basilSome herbs grow well from cuttings. I am about to try this as I need to fill in some spaces where the lettuce is going by. You can buy the herbs in the produce section. Try to find some that have roots already started. Some that are said to grow well from cuttings are rosemary, basil, tarragon and coriander.  


Ginger can be grown directly in soil as is since it's a root. I don't use a lot of ginger, but it's good to have on hand and would be interesting to try.




Beans and seeds such as lemon, orange, squash and some peppers can be started in a pot.
I've got some gourds growing from seeds that I saved from a dried gourd. Gourds aren't exactly food, but it will be interesting to see if I get any gourds and if I can dry them

Romaine lettuce is one vegetable  I haven't tried growing yet but it sounds simple enough even for me. Simply cut off the stump and set it in water and keep in a cool, sunny place until it sprouts. Then harvest or plant in a pot of soil.

I've still got a ton of leaf lettuce in my bottle garden to use up so I won't be trying this right away.


 And we don't want to forget the avocado. I don't know anyone who actually got it big enough to produce fruit but it makes a fine houseplant. If you are one of the few who have never grown one, clean off the seed with water but don't remove the brown seed covering. Poke three or four toothpicks in the sides of the seed so you can suspend the bottom half of the seed in a jar of water. Change the water every few days.

Once it sprouts root and grows leaves and a stalk, you can plant it in soil. Keep the top half of the seed above the soil. I'm told some will produce fruit in 3 years or so, but like mango, the good fruit comes from grafted trees. Sometimes they need friends for pollination. I think I"m going to get an avocado next trip to the grocery store.

I've been really inspired to grow more vegetables using whatever I can save from the kitchen. Part of the fun is experimenting and learning what will grow easily and what isn't practical. Part of it is just trying to save money by using what I already have.

I'll be back with updates when I have more pictures of my grocery store garden.

One last tip, You can take cuttings from your tomato plants and root them.

Updated: 05/27/2014, Ragtimelil
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Ragtimelil on 09/06/2013

My mango tree is growing well. It's fun to see it grow even if it doesn't produce good fruit. I have been trying to grow figs from cuttings, but I'm not sure it's taking root. And everyone in the world can grow avocados except me.

MaggiePowell on 09/06/2013

My father owned a wholesale nursery when I was growing up, and I remember some of the interesting places he'd collect his "stock". Papaya seeds came from the papayas we got from the grocery store. Figs are easily grown from cuttings. You are right though, the best Avocados, Mangos, and especially Apples come from grafted trees.
Maybe that can be your next experiment? grin.

Ragtimelil on 06/30/2013

Just wondering how it compared to where I am. Couldn't much grow sweet potatoes in New Hampshire. The season was just too short. I'm looking forward to my first crop (even if it's just ONE)

CherylsArt on 06/30/2013

I just didn't think to mention it. It's in zone 6.

Ragtimelil on 06/30/2013

They're looking good. It's nice to see the progression from year to year. I like adding a little more gardening space every year. What zone are you in? (or did I miss it?)

CherylsArt on 06/30/2013

I transplanted the sweet potatoes in to the garden, and they like their new home. You can see their picture here:

Ragtimelil on 06/21/2013

It's pretty unpredictable here too. I don't seem to be able to grow tomatoes down here in Texas either. I've never had a problem before but mine all seem to wilt.

Ragtimelil on 06/08/2013

I know people start roses from cuttings. Never done it myself but I'm trying one now.

AngelaJohnson on 06/08/2013

My sister does a great job in getting new plants to grow from old fashioned rose bushes (the kind that still smell good). She uses rooting hormone (root starter) - just dips the cut end into the powder and then plants it in good potting soil Root starter will probably help out with planting vegetable roots, too.

Ragtimelil on 05/30/2013

I'd love to know how your sweet potatoes are doing! Keep us posted.

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