In this edible indoor gardening science project, even very young scientists can enjoy the fruits (actually vegetables) of their labors! But unlike a typical backyard garden planted from seeds, this version allows kids to regrow vegetables from scraps in only a few days.
*Note: The project instructions tell how to re-grow scallions, but it includes tips for growing other types of vegetables. Carrots will not grow new carrots, but they should grow new greens from the top. While carrot greens are edible, they tend to have a bitter taste. If you don’t care to eat them, they can be planted in potting soil once they have sprouted and be kept as house plants. The same is true for garlic. Sprouted potatoes and sweet potatoes are fun to watch grow, but require more steps to produce new potatoes.
How is it possible for a vegetable to grow, even after it has been harvested? Plants are living things. They can continue to grow roots and sprout stems and leaves even after they have been removed from soil or from the main part of the plant they came from. But what do plants need to grow? They need water and sunlight to start growing roots and shoots. Plants can grow in water for a while, but will eventually need soil to get the proper nutrients to continue growing well.
Scallions are easy to grow in water because they already have roots that quickly soak up water to help the plant grow. Carrots are a root, and while putting a cut carrot top in water will not grow a whole new carrot, the green shoots will grow from the top of the vegetable after several days.
Have you ever noticed an onion or bulb of garlic with a little green shoot coming out of the top? Sometimes vegetables begin to sprout if they aren’t used up quickly enough. The same is true of potatoes and sweet potatoes!
Have you ever planted a seed and waited for it to sprout something green above the soil? What happens below the soil? Roots grow down into the ground. In some plants, those roots grow larger and larger, becoming a vegetable that we can eat, such as a carrot or radish. Can you think of more examples of vegetables that grow as roots?
Some plants grow tall stems with small leaves and shallow roots. We eat the stems or stalks of one of these plants and sometimes use the leaves for seasoning or flavor in soups. Can you guess what vegetable this is? (Answer: Celery.)
What vegetables do you eat that are the leaves of the plants they grow on? Lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and other greens are examples of leaf vegetables.
We even sometimes eat the flower and seeds parts of plants! Broccoli and cauliflower heads are actually the flower part of their plants while peas and corn are seeds.