Monthly Archives: May 2014

16 Foods That Will Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps

By Andy Whiteley, Co- Founder of Wake Up World
Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it!
There’s nothing like eating your own homegrown veggies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.
It’s fun. And very simple…if you know how to do it.
Just remember…the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy and free of chemical and genetic meddling.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.
Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.
Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.
After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.
Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear.

Ginger

Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.
Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.
Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Potatoes

Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.
Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.

Garlic

You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.
As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Sweet Potatoes

When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.
To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.

Mushroom

Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.
Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).

Pineapple

To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.
Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.

And one for the kids….. ‘Pet’ Carrot Tops!!

I call this a ‘pet’ because the plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant. The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant. But it makes an attractive flowering plant for the kitchen, and they’re easy and lots of fun to grow…for kids of all ages!
Cut the top off your carrot, leaving about an inch of vegetable at the root. Stick toothpicks into the sides of the carrot stump and balance it in a glass or jar. Fill the glass with water so that the level reaches the bottom of the cutting. Leave the glass in filtered, not direct, sunlight and ensure water is topped up to keep the bottom of your cutting wet. You’ll see roots sprout in a few days, and you can transplant your ‘pet’ carrot into soil after a week or so.
Your success re-growing lovely fresh vegies from scrap may vary, depending on your climate, the season, soil quality and sunlight available in your home or garden. And some vegies just propagate easier than others do. In my experience, a bit of trial and error is required, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Get your hands dirty. It’s lots of fun! And there’s nothing like eating your own home-grown veggies.

Big Idaho Potato Commercial

Earlier this year the Idaho Potato Commission set their massive 6-ton potato out on a tour of America, turning heads and raising awareness for Meals On Wheels along the way.  The IPC and the Potato Truck team recently filmed a fun commercial that aired on ESPN during Boise State University’s opening football game.



Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your House for Halloween

Hosting a hoard of ghost and goblins for Halloween? No party is complete without spooky decorations, but most of the stuff now crowding the store aisles is made from plastic, toxic paints and synthetic fabrics.

Setting the stage for a scary Halloween party doesn’t require all of this spending and waste. In fact, you can create some truly festive Halloween decorations with stuff you already have lying around the house and have lots of fun doing it!

Invite some friends over for a pre-party craft-making night and bask in the knowledge that most of these 9 eco-friendly Halloween decorations can be recycled or simply dismantled when the holiday is over:

1. Upcycled Egg Carton Bats

If you’re an egg eating family, you probably send an egg carton into the recycling bin every week. Save a few, add some non-toxic paint and ribbon, and you’ll have these adorable upcycled bats from Happy Clippings.

2. Thrift-Store Scarecrow

Scarecrows are the perfect way to dress up your porch or yard, but why spend the money to buy one pre-made? Dig out some unused clothes from your basement (flannel shirts, funny dresses and work jumpers work best) or find some appropriate garments at the local thrift store. Stuff with leaves and other yard waste from your own lawn. Tie off arm and leg openings with string before stuffing into boots and gloves. Once your scarecrow body is properly positioned, top off with a pumpkin head and hat.

3. Upcycled Milk Jug Skeleton

Gather up seven empty plastic milk jugs and you’ll have the perfect materials for this jolly hanging skeleton from Make Zine.

4. Mini Cheesecloth Ghosts

Leave it to Martha Stewart to turn every day waste into adorable table decorations. Layers of starched cheesecloth, some used paper towel rolls and a little wire give these little specters their haunting postures. Tutorial here.
5. DIY Halloween Garland

If you have some cardboard or office paper sitting in the recycling bin, this simple Halloween garland from 6ftMama is the perfect way to give it a second life.

6. Mad Scientist Lab

Use Mason jars or upcycled pickle, olive and baby food jars to create a mad scientist tablescape. Toss food, animals toys or other strange objects into the jars, fill with water and non-toxic food coloring, and you’ll have a shelf full of freakish Halloween experiments. Check out the tutorial at MoneyCrashers for step-by-step instructions.

7. Mini-Pumpkin Wreath

For those who prefer a more classic seasonal look, this mini pumpkin wreath from Armelle Blog is the perfect DIY project. Best of all, it’s easy to disassemble and compost when Halloween’s over.

8. DIY Reusable Halloween Window Decals

All you need is a roll of recycled paper and some eco-friendly paint to make these super-spooky homemade window silhouettes from Inhabitat. Once the holiday’s over, just roll them up and save for next year.

9. Trash Bag Tarantula

With just a few materials you probably have lying around the house, you can create this creepy crawler from Spoonful for a lawn decoration. Use biodegradable garbage bags, or be very careful not to poke holes, and you can reuse them when Halloween is over.

[via care2]

6 Tips for Growing Winter Salad Greens

Summer’s over, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy fresh, delicious salad greens throughout the winter months. With just a few small adjustments to your gardening methods and techniques,you’ll be able to grow your own tasty winter salad greens all year round.

There are several hardy varieties of winter salad greens perfectly suited to colder climates. While the usual spring and summer varieties need warm weather, or a greenhouse, these leafy vegetables can be cultivated even in chilly temps. Learn how to sow seeds for winter salad greens with our easy gardening tips.

6 Tips for Growing Winter Salad Greens

1. Prepare your soil – If you’re growing your winter salad greens outside, find a sheltered and sunny spot in your garden. Or choose large and narrow containers or pots for growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel. It’s important to choose a spot (or pot) with good drainage as seedlings can freeze if left in pools of water. Sift your soil into a fine grade if using your own compost, and add any necessary nutrients such as lime or potassium to make potting soil.

2. Sowing the seeds
– The ideal time for sowing seeds is between early September and late November, depending on the first estimated frost date in your area. Sow your seeds in short and shallow rows, spaced as instructed on your seed packet. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water. If you have sown your seeds outside and a cold night is in the forecast, cover them with a fleece or cloches to protect them. For a continous supply of salad greens, sow seeds apporximately every 3 to 4 weeks.

3. Caring for your seedlings – Keep the soil moist but don’t let it get too wet, as the seedlings can die from the chill. Don’t water your winter salad greens in the evening or too early in the morning. 

4. Thinning your greens – If you have sown ample seed, your beds or pots will have likely have too many seedlings trying to grow in them. You can thin them so that the ones you’ve left have ample growing space. Use the thinned baby greens in a salad!

5. Harvesting your greens – Your winter salad greens are ready for harvest when they are about 4 inches tall. Harvest the outer leaves, letting the smaller inner leaves form to full size.

6.  Suggested varieties:

  • Arctic King Lettuce – a large butterhead type lettuce that is light green and crunchy.
  • Texsel Greens – fast-growing leaves similar to spinach, also known as Ethiopian greens.
  • Land Cress – an alternative to watercress, hardy and spicy. 
  • Rouge d’Hiver Lettuce – dark green and reddish leaves, tender and similar to red Romaine lettuce.
  • CanCan Endive – hardy and light green with a frisee type texture. 
  • Golden Purslane – Similar to the hardy Winter Purslane, but with golden leaves and red stems or a colorful salad.
  • Mizuna Greens – Japanese greens similar to arugula but less spicy and more tender.  
[via Organic Authority]

Benefits of Beets

Beets, these ruby red root vegetables provide so much nutritional benefits! Who doesn’t love the deep red color that beets provide.

Betacyanin

Betacyanin is a type of pigment that ranges from dark red to purple. Betacyanin is being studied for it’s anticancer and tumor fighting effects. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that increases the bodies immunity against different aliments. Beet juice is a great way to build immunity.

Betaine

Betaine is being studied from its ability to lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is linked to heart disease.

Fiber

Beet juice and beets have soluble fiber. This is my favorite type of fiber because soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach which could help control weight gain. Soluble fiber also is capable of lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Folate

Beets are packed with folate (provides 34% of the Daily Value) (Barone et. al, 2002). Folate is important for pregnant women, since it may prevent birth defects and promote brain development of unborn babies. Folate may also protects us against heart disease and cancer.

Anemia

Beets may also prevent anemia since it can foster red blood cells due to it’s components iron and folic acid. It’s also a natural blood purifier since it works to push toxins out of the blood.

Alkaline Elements

Due to it’s alkaline elements beets are a natural antacid.

Natural Laxative

Beets are a natural laxative and prevent constipation.

Lower Blood Pressure and Increase Athletic Performance

Beets are packed with nitrates. Many clinical studies have found that supplementing your diet with 2 cups of beet juice per day actually lowers your blood pressure. Besides lowering your blood pressure the nitrates found in beets enhance athletic performance by reducing your body’s need for oxygen during a workout.

Drinking 2 cups of beet juice before a workout is safer and healthier than taking caffeine and workout supplements. Workout supplements often have nitrite which is toxic at high levels.