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Harvesting seeds from your groceries

 
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I am trying to sprout kiwi seeds on damp paper in a ziplock bag.
 
pollinator
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Rebecca Norman wrote:However, at least one species of Zanthoxylum is native to North America and grows wild, and people seem to say the various species of that genus all have similar flavours and culinary uses, though not exactly the same flavour.


I had no idea of that, Rebecca, thanks for turning me onto a new variety search! :) Is that probably Zanthoxylum americanum, or northern prickly-ash? It looks like it doesn't grow this far south and west. I wonder if Zanthoxylum juniperinum, which grows in Mexico, would be more likely to do well here, or if it's too tropical (sounds like maybe it's a rain forest thing). Zanthoxylum mazatlanum grows in Sonora, Mexico -- maybe that's the most likely one up here, too, although it looks like its habitat may be coastal. Zanthoxylum clava-herculis grows in the south, including east Texas, but not this far west. Looks like it likes pine woods. I'd love to try the one from Sonora. Road trip! (Someday.)
 
Beth Wilder
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Beth Wilder wrote:Living near the border, we have access to a great Mexican grocery with a neat bulk section of herbs, spices, teas, and things. I had gotten some hibiscus there for tea but never would have thought to check for seeds. Thanks for the great idea, Thekla! I just went through what I have and found 34 seeds! I had also gotten some whole tamarind pods there. I just nibbled on some of the tart-sweet pulp to extricate five big seeds. I'm going to soak all these overnight and put them in seed starting mix tomorrow. I know it's really not the right time of year for this, but our monsoon always makes me feel like trying to grow everything.


Update! The hibiscus seeds from that bulk tea from the Mexican grocery are blowing my mind. I'm attaching a picture of my seed tray. At the far left are a couple of baby Passiflora incarnata, then a blank row where the Passiflora edulis hasn't come up (yet), then a row of tall Clitoria ternatea that I'm about to pot up, then a row of massed basil seedlings, then a couple of rows of hairy little seedlings of bronze fennel and cumin, then four blank rows (Opuntia, star anise, black pepper, and white pepper), and then... a full row of hibiscus! Every seed I planted is up. After soaking the seeds overnight, some split their hull and showed a little white tail, so I planted those and kept the rest soaking. After two nights, more had little white tails, so I planted those. Then I figured I had enough, so I composted the rest. (Now I wish I hadn't, but what are you going to do? Maybe they'll sprout in the compost.)

The tamarind and papaya seeds aren't up (yet). They're in toilet paper tube pots in a separate bin to ease transplant shock if they ever grow... (Something else that blew my mind: Take a toilet paper tube and a knife, slit the tube vertically at one end, making ~3/4" slits at 12, 3, 6, and 9, then fold and interlock the resulting tabs like you're shutting a box that you don't want to come open on its own, flip the tube over, fill it with damp potting soil, place in a bin with other tube pots for mutual support. When you want to transplant, you can either leave the tube in the ground to dissolve or peel it away from the roots carefully along that diagonal cut those tubes have. The rest of you probably know all about this, but dadnabit I didn't, and it's pretty darned exciting.)
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How much is that seedling tray in the window?
How much is that seedling tray in the window?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Beth Wilder wrote:

Beth Wilder wrote:Take a toilet paper tube and a knife, slit the tube vertically at one end, making ~3/4" slits at 12, 3, 6, and 9, then fold and interlock the resulting tabs like you're shutting a box that you don't want to come open on its own, flip the tube over, fill it with damp potting soil, place in a bin with other tube pots for mutual support. When you want to transplant, you can either leave the tube in the ground to dissolve or peel it away from the roots carefully along that diagonal cut those tubes have. The rest of you probably know all about this, but dadnabit I didn't, and it's pretty darned exciting.)



Excellent tip, Beth.  How about posting this part in recycling forum?  I use a paper potter and turn newspaper into little pots.  Not as sturdy as a toilet roll but I can sit and make dozens while watching videos (always like to keep my hands busy) and then use them, as you say, for things that are sensitive to transplanting.  I have found them good for carrots and parsnips, and if I make them taller, broad beans.  I have had several disasters with broad bean seedlings being eaten by voles so this year I will start my winter crop off in paper tubes and see if I have better luck!

 
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If you plan on saving supermarket potatoes for growing in the garden, the most commonly available commercial variety that yields true seed from potato berries is Yukon Gold. It is a small, yellow potato used for steaming and mashing. Here is an image from Wikipedia.
8401496E-70EC-4F53-97D0-76BE155F3900.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 8401496E-70EC-4F53-97D0-76BE155F3900.jpeg]
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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I would love to try Yukon Gold but I can't get them here.  I buy all my seed potatoes in from a firm overseas to get disease free pots.  If anyone in Europe wants their deets, pm me.
 
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Jesse D Henderson wrote:
A question about avocados: I've heard of germinating them by suspending them by toothpicks in water. I'm running that experiment right now. But what would happen if I just bury the whole thing? Sometimes I forget about an avocado and when I cut into it there are roots starting. Has anyone tried this method? I would think it's closer to what would happen in nature.



Re: the water method -- when we were kids, my siblings and I unknowingly did experiments with this. We each had our own avocado seed. Most of us followed the advice in the books and changed out the water every couple of days; I left my same water the whole time. It developed a film on top, looks kinda nasty (which was probably the reason the books say change it), but mine was the first seed to sprout, too.

I will add that chayote squash has also been known to have protruding roots or shoots if left to sit. I haven't planted it myself yet, but I have been advised that the best way is to plant the entire squash, uncut.
 
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Can I root Swiss chard leaf/stem bundles from stores?  How would I do that?  Just put the stem in water and change as needed, like lettuce or cabbage leaves?

What about rhubarb stalks?
 
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I like the way you're thinking Chris. I don't know the answer but think that the rhubarb might work. According to this blog. Celery is a cousin of rhubarb so it seems possible at least. I would probably add some rooting hormone to the water.
 
Chris Bright
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Mike Barkley wrote:I like the way you're thinking Chris. I don't know the answer but think that the rhubarb might work. According to this blog. Celery is a cousin of rhubarb so it seems possible at least. I would probably add some rooting hormone to the water.



A nearby chain, Sprouts, carries rhubarb and I quietly absconded with a bottle of rooting hormone from my father in law.  Hmmm...
 
Chris Bright
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So, tubers, just plant the tuber.  So if Sprouts has Japanese sweet potatoes in stock, I could grow one from the tuber?  That would be so cool.  Or regular sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc.  

Any root crop veggie, plant the root with the leaf/stem end up.  Carrots, parsnips, beats, radishes, turnips, etc.    Plant either whole or a couple of inches of the stem/leaf end in soil or in water.  Change water as needed.  This includes ginger, with nodes up.

Onions and garlic can be planted as is or just an inch of the root end.  

Stalks like celery, most fresh herbs, leaves of leafy greens like lettuce can be rooted from leaf or stem in water, change as needed.  This might or might not include rhubarb.  Leafy veggies like lettuce root from leaves, stemmed herbs like thyme and basil root from stem, leaves need to be out of water.  The end of a bunch of celery is the root end and goes in water or soil.  Try and see if the root end of rhubarb would do the same.  

Raw grains and seeds can be grown, including whole seed spices.  Any fruit with a seed can have the seed harvested, or the whole fruit planted, and grown.  Makes sense, as long as it is not heat or chemically treated, a seed is a seed.  Most of the trees mentioned were fruit trees of one kind or another and the seed, such as avocado pit, was used.  I might see about raw nuts and seeds next trip to Sprouts from the bulk bins.  Would brown and/or wild rice still have the embryo/germ tissue or would it be lost before it got to the store?  Snow and sugar peas are seed pods.  

Spore prints from whole mushrooms.  How do you inoculate spores from a print to get mushrooms?  Would tossing whole fruiting bodies in a wood chip or hugelkultur bed work?  Or a straw compost or other compost?  It would get the spores where they need to go.  

Did I miss any?  Great thread, thank you for the many ideas.

 
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avocados will totally grow if planted. i put mine in the bokashi and then they get buried, they are constantly popping up (the frost will get them here, and even if it didn't they would get as big as my entire yard, so I rip them out). Chayote as well, the whole squash. In fact I just chuck it out in the back of my garden (on a border of GRAVEL, for pete's sake, not even bury it) and it usually takes.

@Chris, take your sweet potato and put it in a dark place. Cabinet under the sink, etc. I have a cabinet outside on my porch. It will eventually start sending out shoots (any potato will do the same). It may take a long time, and I've some duds that never sprouted. One they're out, I usually take the potato and cut part of it and put it in water for a few months, out in a half-sunny place. You could also plant the whole sprouty sweet potato in dirt, as demonstrated upthread. I've got a few bags of sweet potatoes started this way from tubers that accompanied me back from travels. You could also twist off the sprouts once they've leafed out and plant them (called slips) if you're trying to scale up. Plain potatoes, I've just planted them whole once they sprout, and then start hilling up (I plant them in sacks that I roll up as they grow).
 
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I don't think rhubarb or celery will sprout from a stalk. nor will lettuce, the masses of blogs which show this are actually showing the cut roots and base of the stem with the growth point regrowing. Since stalks of Rhubarb have neither a piece of the root nor a growth point I cannot see how it would root.

I have lemon grass which is now 6 years old that I grew from grocery stalks but again that is basically a complete plant just with the roots cut off.
 
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:I just bought soap nuts for the first time, and curious, asked the guy if you can grow them.  He said sometimes you find the seeds left in with the husks (which is what you use for washing) delved around and came out with one.  So this is my new variation on the "grow your groceries" project!



Sapindus has survived its first year!  I have no idea how cold-tolerant it is.
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Sapindus
Sapindus
 
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elle sagenev wrote:

Jesse D Henderson wrote:I'm loving these tips. I just got a volunteer potato plant from my compost pile.

A question about avocados: I've heard of germinating them by suspending them by toothpicks in water. I'm running that experiment right now. But what would happen if I just bury the whole thing? Sometimes I forget about an avocado and when I cut into it there are roots starting. Has anyone tried this method? I would think it's closer to what would happen in nature.

Then of course I'll have to figure out if the resulting tree will grow in North Carolina. I've heard there are cold hardy strains but I don't know if those avocados are in grocery stores.



I know of a gardener who tried both methods of avocado starting and liked the soil method better because it was less work. Don't bury it all the way and enjoy! They take FOREVER to germinate though.



Many years ago I planted an avocado seed in a pot outside and within weeks it had sprouted and grew on well.
 
Judy Jackson
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Tereza Okava you are right about the potatoes sprouting. I have them in a cupboard in my laundry and they sprout within weeks of being put in ther.However, I read somewhere the other day that if they are stored with onions it enhances the sprouting effect and mine are stored this way so mayyybe this is why they sprout so readily. This has now lead me to think would sweet potato do the same in that cupboard under the sink ??
 
Tereza Okava
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that`s interesting, Judy, I also store all those things together and I have the living (sprouting) proof right there in the kitchen at the moment... I take it as my reminder that I`m not eating sweet potatoes often enough!
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Mike Barkley wrote:I like the way you're thinking Chris. I don't know the answer but think that the rhubarb might work. According to this blog. Celery is a cousin of rhubarb so it seems possible at least. I would probably add some rooting hormone to the water.



If the blog  said Rhubarb and celery are related, she may have removed the quote now, because they aren't.  Rhubarb is related to docks and sorrel, celery is in the carrot family.  
 
Hester Winterbourne
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My latest experiment is peppercorns, which is a cheat because I've bought the seeds.  I don't know if store-bought ones would be heat treated or just too old to germinate.  But I thought at least if I buy sowing-seeds and get them to grow, I'll know if I've got the husbandry right if I want to try the spice cupboard.  And they do look a very attractive proposition as a productive houseplant!
 
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:My latest experiment is peppercorns, which is a cheat because I've bought the seeds.  I don't know if store-bought ones would be heat treated or just too old to germinate.  But I thought at least if I buy sowing-seeds and get them to grow, I'll know if I've got the husbandry right if I want to try the spice cupboard.  And they do look a very attractive proposition as a productive houseplant!



I'm so interested in seeing how that turns out Hester!

This thread is my favourite. Inspired, I now have a tray of fenugreek sprouts that are thriving and every single one of my butternut squash seeds that I did a germination test with have sprouted. A little berry tray of black mustard germinated super well, but it's gone now as it's been a favourite to snip and throw into my lunch bowls. I recently did a germination test with some Kashmiri chili seeds (I can only find dried ones at a specialty grocery store at the other end of town), cumin and fennel. One of the kashmiri chilis started to grow, which is exciting - the other seeds didn't do so hot, but a few seem to have swelled up so I've planted those too. Will share the results!
 
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Hayley Stewart wrote:every single one of my butternut squash seeds that I did a germination test with have sprouted



Yes - this year my squash seeds have been very slow to germinate (including the buternut squash that never come to much), and I also coulnd't get potting mix as the garden centres were closed so I used some home-made compost to fill troughs ready for tomato plants.  I'm used to squash gerninating out of the home made compost, but way too late to be a viable proposition for a crop so I just ignore them.  But this year two have come up that are at the same size and healthier looking as my pathetic shop-seed ones, so I've potted them up ready to go up the allotment!
 
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I had great luck sprouting and growing grocery store potatoes.  My very first successful  harvest was a red potato that sprouted in the plastic bag; I planted it and eventually got 5 beautiful new potatoes, just in a flowerpot indoors.  I just planted a white potato in another (bigger) flowerpot.  
 
Lara Mig
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Oh, and I’m also growing some black eyed peas that I got out of a grocery store bag.  Every single one of the peas I planted sprouted very nicely.  
 
Ryan M Miller
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I don't know if anyone has already mentioned this on this thread, but you can take the top stem of a pineapple fruit and root it in soil to get a small fruit after a year and a half. The plant can be grown outside in tropical or mild subtropical climates as long as frosts are rare or nonexistent in winter. The first year fruits will be much smaller than supermarket pineapples but they will taste much better since they have been picked exactly then they're ripe rather than a few days before they're ripe. I have never successfully tried this trick yet, but I have seen a video of an Australian gardener on Youtube demonstrate this method. Below is a link to the gardener's video. I hope the link doesn't break a few years after my post here.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EONAtxxAANc
 
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Many years ago there was a US-based organization of folks who grow from pips (seeds) and various plant parts. They had a newsletter. I think the organization died out some time in the 90s. For some reason I believe they started either late 60s or early 70s. Anyone else remember this?
 
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Great article! Since I've been visiting a community seed swap for the past 4 years, my thoughts have also turned to saving seeds. I mostly save the one's I couldn't harvest in time, and those great little melons from the farmers market! Yummy!
 
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I've read that you have to be careful with seeds from the squash family, as accidental crosses can make the fruit of your plants quite toxic.  Even seed companies have fallen victim to this problem, with people buying packets of seeds for courgette, squash etc. and then being quite ill after eating fruit from the plants.  I'm not sure I'd want to risk eating produce from a plant grown from seeds that you've harvested from a supermarket/grocery store squash... although in most cases it would probably be fine.
 
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John Randall wrote:I've read that you have to be careful with seeds from the squash family, as accidental crosses can make the fruit of your plants quite toxic.  Even seed companies have fallen victim to this problem, with people buying packets of seeds for courgette, squash etc. and then being quite ill after eating fruit from the plants.  I'm not sure I'd want to risk eating produce from a plant grown from seeds that you've harvested from a supermarket/grocery store squash... although in most cases it would probably be fine.


As far as I know squashes can cross with the non-edible gourds and then this new cross fruit can be poisonous, or at least have a bad taste. i did eat one of those bad tasting squashes once, but did not get ill of it. Maybe sometimes they are more toxic, or maybe some people are more sensitive to it.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I like seeing this topic come back up again. I probably commented over a year ago. If I didn't, it was in a different but similar thread.
I do like trying to sow all kinds of seeds I find in food or on plants. Also to take cuttings if possible to try let them grow roots and then new plants. Not always succeeding, but still nice to try.
 
Hayley Stewart
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Hayley Stewart wrote:I recently did a germination test with some Kashmiri chili seeds (I can only find dried ones at a specialty grocery store at the other end of town), cumin and fennel. One of the kashmiri chilis started to grow, which is exciting - the other seeds didn't do so hot, but a few seem to have swelled up so I've planted those too. Will share the results!



Welp, it's towards the end of the growing season here and thought I'd share an update!

Since the butternut squash test was such a success, my partner and I ended up giving all the plants away to a local community garden since we don't exactly have the space to grow them. Among my other grocery seed experiments were black beans and black lentils. Everything seemed to be doing well, but some major temperature fluctuations here really put our plants to the test and we had a lot of die back. All but one black bean plant survived but now it's just going NUTS. We've already been harvesting some seed - they're pretty small since it was just growing in a milk crate planter, but boy is it satisfying to find out how the beans grow and if they're compatible here!

Now, for my absolute favourite seed test... the Kashmiri chilis! We really weren't expecting anything to happen with them, but holy crap! These guys are thriving and setting big long fruit. I'm excited to continue to grow these since we use dried Kashmiri chillis in our cooking almost weekly and they're just so so hard to find here. We have two plants growing - one of which grew with distorted leaves but is setting a lot of fruit, and another that looks healthier but only has a few fruits on it. The plants are somewhat small since we left them in medium sized pots, so I'm looking forward to doing more tests with them down the line to see how big and healthy they can get.
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This plant we thought for sure wouldn't produce well because of his odd-shaped leaves... but nope. Look at him go.
This plant we thought for sure wouldn't produce well because of his odd-shaped leaves... but nope. Look at him go.
 
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When I was doing my master gardener training the instructor specifically warned against replanting potatoes and seeds from the grocery stores because you do not know where they came from, and what parasites of diseases might be attached.  If you are planning to grow from seed or resprout something you purchased I would try to stay as local as possible -- ie get them at a farmers market and ask where they came from.  Also, there are typically only 40 or so species and varieties of plants you find in a typical grocery store.  See if you can find heirloom species/varieties.  As a note, I learned about that after resproting lemon grass and yams (I know that the yams are local, but have no idea where the lemon grass came from).
 
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Re: growing a new pineapple from one you bought

Ryan M Miller wrote:I have never successfully tried this trick yet, but I have seen a video of an Australian gardener on Youtube demonstrate this method.



Thanks for the video Ryan. I came here looking for info and that video is perfect/hilarious.
"Just cut the top off and bung it in the ground"

I'm going to start one and see if we can grow it indoors (in Canada...). Apparently it takes 18months to grow a new fruit!
 
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When we first moved to this lovely gardening state, we tried rooting just about everything we could from grocery leavings - just for fun, you know.  Most things did not work.  They would grow for a bit but would peter out and never really want to become a plant.  Romaine, beets, carrots and butter lettuce were some of these.  We really only had success with two - potatoes and celery.  Potatoes were pretty easy to get started.  (Ok, I know you are not supposed to do this but they were free and we had room in the garden.) Some grew really fabulously well and some produced a few tiny potatoes and died. I've subsequently learned that potatoes have a predetermined lifespan.  When you buy potato starts, they are picked early from the ground when they still have a good amount of life left in them.  Most of what you buy in the grocery store does not.  Next year, I will buy potato starts and then maybe make my own from there by digging up some of the potatoes a bit early.  I have to say, potatoes are easy and good!  Celery was a surprise.  We rooted some from grocery store leftovers and most of them have done really well.  One has seeded, so I'm planning to harvest the seeds to either eat or grow new celery from, and the others are still growing so I'm thinking about overwintering them.  But they are all full on gorgeous big plants!  We have some onions growing too that look promising but I haven't reached a conclusion on them yet.  
The start to this thread was about growing plants from seeds from grocery store leavings.  I have to say I've had my best luck with growing vegies from volunteers from my compost pile, which is kind of like the same thing but a bit different.  The volunteers seem well adapted to, well actually love, my environment.


 
 
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