Growing fruits and vegetables from kitchen scraps

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Turn kitchen scraps into a bountiful garden to enjoy this summer.

Kitchen scrap gardening is a way to recycle and reuse while experimenting with leftover plant parts.

Some fruits and vegetables can be grown again and again with a little water and patience.

Avocado

After eating a ripe avocado, clean the seed and remove the seed coat (thin brown layer).

Find the pointed top of the avocado seed and insert three toothpicks into the top third of the avocado, spacing them equally.

Place the seed in a glass of water, and rest the toothpicks on the edge of the glass, with the water touching the bottom of the seed.

Change water every couple of days. Then watch for roots and sprouts to appear — this may take a month or so.

Once roots have filled the glass and shoots are six to eight inches tall, plant in a container of potting soil.

During summer months, the new avocado plant can be set outside but should be brought back inside if temperatures are below 45°F.

While a tree up to five feet may grow, fruit may take three or more years to develop and will be much smaller than commercially available.

Sweet potato

Start sweet potato vines in a similar manner to avocado, just cut the tuber in half and suspend it above the water.

After a few weeks, it can be transplanted to a container of soil.

Citrus

Orange, lemon and lime plants can easily be started by seeds taken from the fruit. Seeds should sprout in the moistened potting soil in two to four weeks.

Glossy, fragrant leaves will grow rapidly, but the fruit will not develop for a few years.

Pineapple

Start with a ripe pineapple with healthy, green leaves.

Cut an inch below the cluster of leaves and remove the rind and remaining fruit, leaving the tough core attached to the leaves.

Expose about an inch of the stalk by pulling off a few of the lower leaves.

Allow top to dry for several days. Plant top one inch deep in a mixture of peat, sand and perlite.

Place the container in bright, indirect light, and keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Roots should develop in six to eight weeks. Place plant outside during periods of frost-free weather.

Fruit will develop in two to three years.

Celery

Instead of discarding the bottom of the celery stalk, save it to grow again.

Cut about two inches above the bottom of the stalk.

Place the vase in a shallow bowl with one inch of water, and maintain the level at all times.

Change water every day to keep freshness. Roots and leaf growth from the center of the celery will appear in a few days.

After two to three weeks, the celery base is ready to be transferred to a planter of potting soil and covered completely except for the center leaf tips.

Other plants that be grown in a similar manner include lettuce, bok choy, cabbage and greens of carrots, turnips, radishes and beets.

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