Friday, April 12, 2013

Sustainable Pin: Regrowing Romaine

Normally, I try to link these sustainable pin posts to a particular site or blog that was my original Pinterest inspiration, but I've seen today's idea so many times that I can't pick just one source.  I'm glad to see it and to contribute to the flock of people pinning and promoting this idea, because this is a game-changer.

You can regrown romaine lettuce by sticking the unused root end into some dirt.

Now, I know that regrowing some vegetables is not a shocking idea.  I've already hoed this ground, so to speak, when I talked about regrowing green onions.  But most of the regrowing-from-compost-leavings ideas involve veggies that are typically used in small quantities, like onion tops and celery (I have to try that one...).  This, however, is actual food.

Now, I'm excited for myself because I pretty much just jammed a couple of the bottom ends of romaine hearts into some moistened dirt in a pot in the sun room after Easter dinner, and about 10 days later I had some small, but legitimate, leaves.  Along with the mustard and spinach that are growing in the sun room, this is going to make for a tasty side salad this weekend.  (My romaine is larger than the picture shows, and I'll only take a leaf or two at first.)  But I think the implications go much farther.

This is the tip for every person who says they can't garden because they have no land, or they can't bend or reach, or they don't have a green thumb.  This is the tip for everyone who lives in a city apartment without any outdoor space who wonders what can ever be done on just a window sill.

This is the tip for every food pantry lucky enough to be able to hand out fresh greens; in fact, I call on someone to find those food pantries, and make sure they are stocked this spring with recycled plastic pots filled with potting mix.  Tell your patrons to take that romaine home, make a salad for dinner that night, and then jam that end into the dirt, water it, and put it in a sunny window.  Soon it will regrow.

Will it single handedly solve anyone's food or poverty crisis?  No.  Will it provide enough veggies for a family every day?  No.  Will it substantially reduce food transportation costs by allowing everyone to grow everything at home?  No.

But what it will do is put a leaf or two of lettuce on a sandwich where there is none currently.  It will save a few cents off the grocery bill in a kind of living coupon that is easy to cash.  It will teach someone that they can grow their own food and be just a little bit more self-sufficient than they were yesterday.  It will ignite an interest in botany, an interest in frugality, and an interest in independence.

I tell you, it may look like something for the compost pile, but I promise, this can be a game changer.

The Analysis
Fast:  Let me repeat:  Cut end off store bought romaine, jam into dirt, water, and leave.  Doesn't get much faster than that.

Cheap:  Given that the end of the romaine is otherwise headed for the compost, every leaf I harvest is pure, if small, profit.

Good:  I love tips like this, because they are a great way to foster the values of sustainability and self-sufficiency.
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  1. "Give man a lettuce leaf and he has a lettuce leaf, give him the end of that lettuce and a pot of dirt and he has salad every week." Lot's of stuff grows like this. If someone who never has tried gives growing a go from reading this then you have done good.

    Gosh, my English is terrible...but I can grow stuff so all is good. haha.


    1. I love your comment, Barb. And your English is just fine!

    2. Hello. Thank you for the information. I don't know your languages very much. Fogive me :(

    3. You are doing just fine, Ozlem Sahin! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I'm amazed by the results. Already , after 3 days new romaine leaves are growing just as you said.

  3. I have to tell you, this is a brilliant thing to find out about!
    E voila! My first ever homegrown lettuce, started from a stump in a jar, planted out in a big pot once the leaves started. I am now addicted to regrowing lettuce.

  4. Can't wait to start! Always too much for one person when I buy; sounds perfect to me.

  5. Just wondering if you have to use special soil or feed it special food. Is it just as nutritional as the lettuce you bought?

    1. Jenny:

      I just used regular potting soil (in fact, that in the photo may just be garden soil). Some people grow their lettuce "re-starts" in plain water, but I think it doesn't turn out as nutritious that way, although I don't have scientific proof. But if you just put it in garden or potting soil, it is still getting the soil nutrients and is growing like any other lettuce you would plant in the garden. These kinds of lettuce are really intended to be eaten by an animal and regrow, but we harvest the whole head for looks more than anything else.

    2. you can add nutrients. I know of Willar Water. Its amazing. you can add food grade peroxide, mineral drops and such - to boost the soil and plant productivity. these things mentioned also benefit outside for not using pesticide and such. Its a long topic. so, I was brief.

  6. thank you. fantastic to know. Yes I so agree, with everything you and everyone said. the food banks, the no space outside, and to me its the concept that its so natural, that it Can be done. wonderful!

  7. I eat Romaine lettuce Twice a day and I don't mean on stalk either! This will save me so much money and round travels for the lettuce! Thank you so much in advance and going to try this method! Jen