Homegrown Hint: Plants in Your Pantry

Most gardeners know that they can save seeds from vegetables they’ve grown. For example, you can leave some edamame pods to dry on the bush. When the pods are browned and papery, and the seeds are dried, pick the pods, shell them and store the seeds over winter until it’s time to plant next year. What a lot of gardeners don’t realize is that dried seeds just like this can be found right in their kitchen pantry.

Frugal gardeners know that they can grow acres of vegetables from a few dollars’ worth of groceries. You can dry and save your edamame beans as an inexpensive source of plants for next year, but another option would be to use dried beans from the grocery.

Beans are essentially large seeds. Almost any kind of dried bean or pea you find in your pantry can be planted and grown. Dried kidney beans, black-eyed peas and pinto beans (clockwise from bottom) are just a few of the varieties you can plant.

Another option for kitchen gourmets is to raid the refrigerator. Beets that are past their prime can be planted and will produce tasty greens that are wonderful when slightly steamed. Dried-out cloves of garlic can be planted in the garden and in a few months will yield lots of fresh garlic bulbs. Ginger root, green onions and old potatoes can all be planted and grown.

Another fun source of seeds is your spice rack. Just about any dried whole spice seed will grow. Dill, sesame, fennel, anise and poppy can all be grown from seed.

You can sow spice seeds out-of-doors after the last frost, or you can start some in pots to grow on your windowsill over the winter. Fill pots with a moistened potting soil and plant with dill seeds or fennel seeds. Cover the seeds with 1/8″ of soil and set them in the windowsill to sprout. Once they germinate, thin them to one plant per pot. Then enjoy snipping fresh dill and fennel for the next few months.

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