Grocery Store Gardening

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
January 4, 2007

Shopping Cart With Fruits and VegetablesI'm often asked if the fruits and vegetables purchased from a grocery store can be planted to produce more food. The answer is, yes! And not only can you plant fruits and vegetables, but nuts and spices, too. As with traditional gardening, the key to successful "grocery store gardening" is to keep an open mind and possess a willingness to experiment. And above all, have fun!


Start With Organic Produce

Certain chemical residues on commercially produced fruits and vegetables can interfere with their ability to grow roots or sprout seeds. Potatoes, for example, are sometimes purposely treated after harvest to keep them from sprouting and to extend their shelf life. The same can be said for foods that have been irradiated. Avoid them. Start with organically grown produce. It does not guarantee that your food is 100% free of chemical residues, but at least it has been exposed to as few chemicals as possible.

Be Aware of Hybrids

No matter what type of produce you're trying to grow, unless it's labeled "heirloom" (sometimes found at farmer's markets), you have no way of knowing whether or not it has been cross pollinated. This means you may not get the results you expect, but try growing it anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised and you could wind up with something even better than you expected.

Growing A Grocery Store Garden

Here are simplified directions for growing various kinds of grocery store produce. In general, fruits and vegetables grow best in full sun. Use a soil-less mix or a high-quality potting soil mixed with vermiculite as your growing medium. Temperatures in the range of 70-80º F are usually ideal for germination. Try to keep soils evenly moist, without over-watering. Plants native to the tropics will appreciate an occasional misting. If you live in a cooler zone, move plants outdoors in the summer, but make sure to expose them to stronger light conditions gradually before leaving them out all day. Plants that remain in pots should be given a half-strength liquid fertilizer every few weeks once they reach a height of 8-12 inches tall.

Apples (also Cherries, Pears & Peaches)

Apple seeds need to be cold treated before they will sprout. Remove the seeds from the apple and allow them to cure for a few days. Place them in a plastic bag with damp sand or sphagnum moss and store them in the refrigerator for 3 months. After 3 months, plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep in a pot of moist, well-drained soil. Keep the pot in a sunny location. Seeds should sprout within 2-3 weeks. Apple trees cannot be grown indoors, so move seedlings outdoors in the early fall, giving them enough time to establish roots before winter.

Avocado (also Sweet Potato)

Carefully remove the flesh from the pit and clean it off. Push three or four toothpicks into the pit to suspend it (wide side down) over a glass filled with water. The pit should be submerged 1/2 inch into the water. Place the glass in a sunny window sill and roots should appear in a few weeks. Pits can also be started by planting them, wide side down, in a pot of moistened, well-drained potting soil.

Once seedlings reach 6-8 inches tall, transplant them into a larger pot and pinch back the top one inch of the stem to encourage bushier growth. In the case of sweet potatoes, plant or suspend the pointed (narrow) end down.

Beans, Peas & Non-Roasted Peanuts

Use dried beans (like for soups) and raw, non-roasted peanuts. Pod beans and peas purchased in the produce department contain immature seeds that will not grow. Soak in water overnight. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep in pots or sow directly outdoors after danger of the last frost has passed. Because legumes seldom produce when grown indoors, transplant container plants outdoors as soon as possible in early May or June.

Carrots, Turnips & Rutabagas

These root crops are biennials, which means they produce roots the first season and seeds the second season. If you want to harvest seeds from them, select healthy, fleshy root stock for planting and carry them over for a second season until they re-sprout. For most gardeners, it's far more economical just to purchase seeds for these crops. But if you have the desire (and the patience), it's possible to grow them for their seeds.

Citrus (Oranges, Tangerines, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, Kumquats, etc.)

This group produces plants that have a wonderful fragrance when kept indoors. Plant fresh seeds 1/2 inch deep in a pot of moist, well-drained potting soil. Place the pot in a sunny location and cover it with plastic to keep the soil moist. Seeds should sprout within 4 to 6 weeks. Once plants are a few inches high, remove the plastic. Let the soil dry slightly between each watering (keep kumquat soil evenly moist). Repot plants annually until they are growing in 8 to 10 inch pots.

Ginger & Horseradish

Select fleshy roots that are smooth and firm, not shriveled. Roots should have plenty of nodules on them. Cut the roots so that each slice contains a nodule. Lay it flat in a container and cover it with 1-2 inches of moist potting soil. Keep the pots moist and warm and watch for sprouts in a few weeks. Harvest rhizomes by digging them up when they reach the desired size.


Clean fruit from seeds. Plant seeds in a pot, laying them down flat in 1 inch of moist potting soil. Cover the pot with plastic and place it in a warm, sunny location. Remove the plastic when seedlings reach 2 inches tall.


Clean coating off of seeds and plant 1/2 inch deep in a pot of moist potting soil. Cover the pot with plastic and place it in a warm, sunny location until the seeds sprout. Remove plastic when seedlings reach a few inches in height and continue to grow in a bright location.


Let seeds cure for a few days before planting them 1/2 inch deep in moist potting soil. Cover the pot with plastic and place the pot in a sunny window. Seeds will sprout in approximately 2 months. Keep the soil moist, but do not mist the plant.

Other Plants To Try

Coffee beans (non-roasted), tomatoes, wheat, rye, oats, lemon grass, taro, potatoes, green onions, garlic, pineapple, sunflowers, water chestnuts, popcorn, and raw spices (fennel, anise, sesame seed, celery seeds, etc.). In the case of peppers, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and eggplants, the seeds need to mature along with the fruit, so look for ripe or even overripe produce to use as seed stock.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
August 4, 2015

We usually don't think of hot house tomatoes as being as good as those grown in an open garden, and in the past, that was true. It's different, now.

Free Seed From Grocery Store Produce

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
September 27, 2011

The following five houseplants are worth growing just for the sheer fun of it. All share a few common features - they are obtained from planting seeds, pips, or plant tops from fruits and vegetables you buy for eating.

Plant in white pot against white background

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9 Questions

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March 9, 2015

Why can I not germinate seeds from store bought fruits and vegetables? Does this mean they were gassed before they got to the store?

By Robin


Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
March 9, 20150 found this helpful

I do not know what you mean by "gassed". Most grocery store and even farmer's market produce is grown from hybrid seeds. The seeds may not germinate or may revert back to an earlier hybrid plant.

Seeds that are sold for gardens are specifically developed for garden growing and usually do not revert back to earlier hybrids.

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January 27, 20180 found this helpful

Fruits and veggies coming from out of country are radiated lightly to kill off any foreign bacteria or pests that may hitch a ride. Try to buy local to get growables. Did you know you can grow grocery store mushrooms? Its a fun winter project.

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January 1, 20220 found this helpful

Show me please to growshroons

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July 24, 2011

I purchased some raspberries from the grocery store. They had a delightful taste and were a great size. Can you plant the seeds to start your own raspberry plants?

By Rolene


July 25, 20110 found this helpful

I am trying to grow some as we speak. Most fruits might be genitcally altered to not reproduce. I have grown lemon trees,apple, pomegranate, and melon plants from actual fruits though. I would try it and see, what do you have to lose? You might have a better chance if you found berries from a natural bush though. Good luck. I will let you know if myne sprout!

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July 26, 20110 found this helpful

Raspberries grow on canes. Never heard of anyone growing from seed but good luck!
Check this link:

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May 21, 2010

I found the instructions of how to plant onions from discarded bottoms. Unfortunately it didn't work for me. I will try again. Has anybody had luck with it?



Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 147 Feedbacks
May 21, 20101 found this helpful

step 1
You will need: onion, clean knife, cutting board, starter pot with potting soil (optional)

step 2
Slice Off Onion Bottom
Chop off the onion bottom with all the roots still intact. The more of a bottom you leave on, the better. Try for 1.5-2 inches of attached "meat". Allow to dry for a few hours to a couple days in a shaded, well-ventilated area to allow for callousing. Note: You might only need a few hours for callousing. If the cut portions are dry to the touch and slightly shriveled

step 3
Fill the starter pot 2/3 of the way full and compact. Create an indentation in the center to cradle the onion bottom and allow for good soil contact. Cover with 1-2 inches of soil. Water as needed. Note: You can skip the starter pot if you can't be bothered and plant it directly in the ground.

step 4
Once the onion bottom has developed a few leaves, remove from the pot. Remove old onion scales. Separate plants as needed by slicing between plants and leaving a portion of the roots attached. You may have more than 1 plant develop from a single onion bottom. Replant in a prepared growing bed. Cut leaves down to 1/3 of the size to allow the bulb to develop. good luck.

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February 26, 2012

This page is about growing an avocado from seed. A fun and rewarding indoor project can be starting an avocado pit.

Plump Avocado Seed Rooting into Jar

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