Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

How do you start a garden without really trying? Plant Your Pantry!

Starting a garden can be easy and affordable. Nicky Schauder shares how to start today by using items you already have in your kitchen. Whether you have a larger garden or simply grow vegetables and herbs in containers you can follow these easy gardening tips for planting your pantry and you’ll be harvesting fresh food in no time!

woman gardening

If every spring you say “This is the year I will finally grow my kitchen garden!” but never do, or if the thought of a garden is too daunting for you right now, then read on. This post was written with you in mind.

I know exactly what that garden overwhelm feels like. I used to think that gardening was too much work, especially back in 2006 and 2008 when the first and second of my 6 kids developed severe food allergies. Just trying to cook an entirely allergy-free menu (when I wasn’t even used to cooking at all) was like having a second job.

How could I even think of growing my own food when I hardly had time to make it myself?

But in my problem lay the solution. If I wanted my children to grow out of their allergies, we needed to make sure they were getting healthy, nutritious and therefore organic food.

Benefits of Gardening

Put Your Pantry in your garden

There are so many good reasons we could all benefit from growing our own food.

For one thing, eating organic helps us get rid of the toxins that accumulate in our bodies. In the book, “Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemical Out of Our Bodies and Our World” (Lourie & Smith, 2005), the authors recommend eating organic as one of the primary ways to eliminate environmental bodily toxins.

Organic food, however, is expensive. And any organic produce that is store-bought would have already lost a lot of the nutrients it originally had upon harvesting (assuming that it was ripe and ready for the picking at all!)

Another reason for growing at least some of your food is that we know that commercially available produce is less nutritious today than it was 30 years ago (Souci, Fachmann and Kraut, 2002). So much so that to consume the equivalent nutrition of one peach in 1951, you would have to eat 53 peaches today!

So even if you are able to grow only one thing, your homegrown fruit or vegetable would be incomparably more nutritious and possibly more delicious than its supermarket counterpart.

Personally, the other compelling reason I have for growing my own food is that the act of keeping a garden can lead me to contemplation and prayer.

Gardening helps me to stop and actually notice things. It keeps me from checking Facebook one last time. It helps me pause and reflect. Nowadays, we need to impose these “slow-it-down” moments on ourselves. What better way to kill two birds with one stone than to grow your own and slow it down.

Grow Slow

OK, so now that we have put in place the reasons that compel us to garden, where do we actually begin?

Since Kitchen Stewardship® is all about baby steps and manageable bites, what better way to start than small? We need to find confidence until we can eventually integrate gardening into the rhythm of our daily lives.

Here’s the good news. Everything you need to grow a garden may already be in your pantry or your fridge!  Here are a few examples.

How to Grow Your Own Bean Sprouts

Grow your own beans

RELATED: Have you ever tried sprouting your dried beans before cooking them? It’s a great way to reduce its flatulent effects.

Mung beans planted

If you already sprout your beans in water simply move some of the sprouted beans to some organic soil and watch them grow. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy and plant the beans as deep as its size.

Mung beans sprouting

The beans will soon grow into seedlings.

Mung beans harvested

After only a week of growing, you can harvest them and add them to soups or stir fry.

If you live in warmer climates, you can also grow your very own bean plants by transplanting them outdoors. If you live in temperate zones, you can also grow your bean plants indoors in a 14-inch pot or larger planter during winter.

How to Grow Mint from a Cutting

Grow your own mint

Mint, when bought as a live plant is one of the easiest plants to cultivate as the roots will grow runners. It is generally very prolific (which also means it will take over an area if not placed in a pot). It makes a great perennial patio plant, perfect for cutting fresh for recipes and tea.

If you’ve recently bought mint from the grocery store, you can actually re-grow it! The best way is to remove the bottom leaves of a cutting (so you have a longer stem) and stick it in a cup of water. Wait 2-4 weeks for it to grow roots in the water. Once it forms a root, wait a few more days for the roots to get stronger. When you see that you have a cluster of roots dab a little honey onto the fragile root area and stick gently into a pot of organic soil. The honey can help the mint deal with the shock of transplanting from water to soil.

Keep the soil moist and water regularly as it grows!

RELATED: Use your fresh mint to make this easy Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mint Salad Recipe!

How to Grow Rosemary from a Cutting

Grow your own rosemary

You can easily grow rosemary just as you do mint. Remove the bottom leaves of a cutting (so you have a longer stem) and stick it in a cup of water. Wait 2-4 weeks for it to grow roots in water. Once it forms a root, wait a few more days for the roots to get stronger. When you see that you have a cluster of roots dab a little honey onto the fragile root area and stick gently into a pot of organic soil. The honey can help the mint deal with the shock of transplanting from water to soil.

Related: Rosemary plants are perfect for container gardens!

How to Save Seeds from Tomatoes

Grow your own tomatoes

The next time you buy “fresh” whole tomatoes (not canned) from the supermarket make sure that they are organic. It is important that they are or else you might be growing GMO varieties that never rot off the vine!

A Master Gardener once showed me a picture of a new tomato plant growing from a whole tomato that never rotted. Scary.

Save the organic tomato seeds.  

Do you ever come across recipes that call for separating the tomato seeds from the tomato flesh? Perfect! If you are like me and try to shortcut this extra step, you can pride yourself in actually following the recipe this time now that you have a second reason to separate the seeds.

Rinse the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer and dry on a paper towel. Once dried, you can start them indoors as early as February by sowing them in a pot or tray. But do not transplant outdoors until the early summer.

Related: 8 Things I Plant with my Tomatoes to Make Them Grow Better

How to Re-Grow Ginger

Grow your own ginger

Ginger is one plant that grows best in the tropics but in temperate climates can be grown in a pot and kept indoors during the winter months. Some growers say it takes 8-10 months to harvest. I have seen it fully grown in the ground here in the Northeast by late summer and return again next year. Ginger roots will go dormant in the winter and provided it is a mild one, may reappear as a stronger ginger plant the following year.

To grow ginger you must purchase ones that have pointy “eyes” or “buds” already protruding from the ginger’s body. I like getting my ginger from Asian supermarkets. Somehow they are not as old and dried up as the regular grocery ones. If yours already has buds, that’s the perfect one to use. In the end, use whatever fresh ginger you have on hand.

Soak it in water and then place it into a pot as deep as its size with the eyes pointing up. Make sure the soil it is growing in is rich and moist. You must be patient with this one as it will grow slowly in our temperate regions, but once it’s palm-like fronds shoot up from your pot it will be well worth the wait.

woman gardening

4 Extra Tips for an Easy Garden

1. Water

I like to put my pantry plants close to the kitchen so that I notice them. Also, I can easily dump the leftover water cups that my children don’t drink into the growing pots. If the water from the sink is not soapy, I use that to water the plants as well.

Many of these plants grow very well in containers that you can place on your patio or deck!

2. Sun

Remember the plants need sun too, so place them as close to a window as possible if you’re growing them indoors. 

RECOMMENDED: I love these little pots for windowsill gardens or something like this indoor herb garden with grow-light if you can’t easily place your plants by the window.

3. Soil

Use organic, compost-rich soil. This will help your plant get the nutrients it needs to grow properly and give you the best harvest possible. 

4. Disposition

Be patient. Be positive.

The truth is there is so much more you can plant from your pantry and this is just a start! Re-growing food you already have is a frugal first step to gardening. It’s so easy and barely takes any time at all.

What foods have you re-grown before?


Tips for a successful garden this season. Easily grow your garden using items you have already! Quick and easy for anyone.Nicky Schauder and her husband Dave run Permaculture Gardens, a website dedicated to educating and motivating suburban families to grow their own food. Together with their 6 kids, they managed to harvest more than a hundred pounds of produce last year on their postage stamp townhome garden. They are passionate about helping you do the same (or better)!

Every month, they teach lazy gardening through their “Grow Your Own Food” webinars, you can Sign-up and learn how to “Grow Your Own Food!”

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

14 thoughts on “How do you start a garden without really trying? Plant Your Pantry!”

  1. Great job, encouraging more people to garden, even if it’s in a pot. Two points.
    First, I’ve heard that beans don’t actually transplant well, so if you want plants and not sprouts, I suggest directly sowing in the ground. Peas are a cool weather crop and can be planted in spring, but beans need warmth so wait until near beginning of summer.
    Secondly, for saving tomato seeds they should first be fermented with a bit of the pulp in water for a few days until they start looking nasty. Then rinse them well. Any seeds that float should be discarded, but the sinkers should be good. Dry them on a paper towel as suggested.

    1. Hello Trudy!

      Thanks so much for the compliment and comments!

      Re: transplants. We have found the beans we use actually do transplant well in our experience. However, since God created a gazillion of these types of beans, perhaps the ones that don’t transplant are of a certain variety. I don’t know which kind as we have been pretty lucky. If you know them, I would love to take note of them and avoid them in the future.

      Fava beans are grown spring and fall. And even under hoops for zones like ours in the winter (zone 7).

      Peas actually like it warmer than favas and germinate when the temperature is consistently 40-45F. Most other known bean varieties like pole and bush beans are of course summer types and germinate at around 60F.

      I’ve made a workbook on seed germination called the Planting Calendar and am happy to share it with you good folks at KS if it will help.

      We use a John Jeavons method called Grow Bio-intensive for seed starting and transplanting. This is not what I suggest in this Plant Your Pantry blog as this is a baby step to full-on gardening. The Grow Bio-intensive however, method is amazingly effective! We also know certain seeds like carrots are best direct sow, but still use this method for most other seeds.

      Thanks for the tips on ???? tomatoes and for feedback! Good to know!

      Live abundantly,

      1. I haven’t actually tried transplanting beans simply because I heard they don’t like it. Also I’m usually getting around to planting at the last possible minute 😉 haha
        That planner looks pretty thorough and intense! I really need to get my act together and start planning ahead. Thanks for sharing what you use!

        1. I am so excited for your garden this year Trudy! And last minute or not, I know that it will be amazing because you care about the garden process. About the Planner, you are so welcome and I hope it helps.
          Grateful for you,

  2. Fruitful Kitchen

    We all love organic food. These plants look easy to grow. I will try to grow my own beans someday 🙂

  3. I am also interested to do home gardening. This is just amazing idea. Your post is really valuable to me. But I have an question, can I sow near to my house?

    1. Nicky Schauder

      Hey there Shania Janet! Yes, in fact you should sow near your house. Like the father of permaculture, Bill Mollison used to say (and I paraphrase):
      “When you wake up in the morning, put on your fuzzy slippers to go and get chives for your omlette, you don’t want them them to get wet!” Kitchen gardens should be close to home. 🙂 Love the question!

    2. Hi Shania Janet!!

      Yes you should sow near your house as the father of permaculture Bill Mollison once said, “One morning put on your fuzzy slippers, go outside and cut some chives for your omelette. If, when you get back inside, your fuzzy slippers are wet, your herbs are too far away.”

      (I was looking for that quote all over the interwebs so I didn’t have to reach for Permaculture Designers Manual and I found it referenced right here from a comment in a 2010 KS article. LOL!!!)

  4. Can you please tell me how to identify a gmo tomato at the store? All of my research says there are no gmo tomatoes currently being sold.

    1. That’s a very good question, Katie – I thought tomatoes were not approved for GMO either, but I do know they’re being experimented upon. Perhaps even highly hybridized tomatoes don’t work as well for planting? To ensure the best, organic would be worth the extra buck or two for these purposes IMO…

      I’ll see if the author can come over and comment too!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Nicole Schauder - Permaculture Gardens

        Hello Katie (& Katie Kimball)! This is more of a personal experience answer and may not be scientific but here goes:
        1. First select the organic fresh tomatoes. It is more likely that non-GMOs would come from those. And especially if bought from a Farmer’s Market or CSA where the farmer can vouch for his seeds/crop.
        2. Select those from a bunch of tomatoes that have slightly differing shades of red. I notice that the non-organic kinds are all the same exact shade like someone checked to make sure they all looked alike. So when the tomatoes are more diverse looking, I trust it more.
        Here is the post from a Master Gardener from Colorado that shows the ripe, unrotten tomato producing a new tomato.

    2. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

      Katie is correct: Although a tomato was the first GMO product approved for consumption, it was only on the market 1994-1997. No GMO tomatoes are being sold now.

      I think what Nicole is referring to is some other characteristic of mass-marketed non-organic tomatoes. It might be that they are coated with something that prevents decay, or that they are hybridized varieties that have a longer shelf life. At any rate, organic tomatoes are a wise choice just to avoid exposure to pesticides.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.