Presto, a garden from your refrigerator

by Stephie McCarthy

AEver notice that some items in the produce market still have roots? Some are roots, for instance beets, turnips, radishes, and many others. You can make a fun instant kitchen garden this Autumn with green onions, lettuce, beets, and peas, that will be beautiful to see and a nice resource for snipping just what you need for a garnish or to add to your meal.

Beets and Lettuce

That's right. You can snip just what you need, and let the re-established plant go on to live another day! Give them a little protection this winter, and these four have a good chance of popping up again early next spring: onions, lettuce, beets, and peas:

Instant garden

• Plant a bunch of green onions or scallions. Use the green tops in the cool months. Snip the fresh green blades as needed, and leave the bulbs to come back in the Spring, at which time you'll have fresh onion tops to snip until early Summer.

Onions and Lettuce

•Buy beautiful lettuce with roots (hydroponic Boston lettuce is one example), use the outside leaves in the kitchen, then plant the center head. With a little winter protection, lettuce will last through the colder months, produce brand new outer leaves, and with luck, come up again in the spring when it's main purpose is to flower and produce new lettuce seeds.


• Small beets planted in a cluster in a container or raised bed will send up beautifully colored leaves that can be used in the kitchen, while the roots stay undisturbed underground. Planted in containers, beets can multiply and produce lots more mini-beets for that can be used in salads or many other dishes. These are my red beet planted in a balcony container and my sweet gardening companion, The Poppet looking on.

beet greens

• Put fresh peas under a layer of soil in the cool months, and they will soon send up beautiful, tender shoots, a gourmet's delight.


Others produce to try this Fall might include baby leeks, turnips, and radishes, individual garlic cloves, baby horseradish, and fingerling potatoes. Beware of the horseradish, though. Once it is established it is very difficult to remove. Many other plants from the grocery store are best started in the Spring or summer. Not all the produce I've tried gave great results, but others have done well and all have have been fun and interesting to try!


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