Butterfly Fund

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to grow food, from food you already have

How to grow more food from food you already have.
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Did you know that you have the possibility of free food already in your home?
You can plant food from the scraps of food that you use daily!
The following links that I am going to share with you, I have already done and some of them I use regularly.

Grow celery from celery. I personally have done this. The texture and taste of the celery that was re-grown from the pant in my opinion was a lot stronger and tougher than the original celery, but it does work well in soups and stews. I do this throughout the summer months when I can put it outside with my other plants. This is also a great way to always have fresh celery leaves. At the end of this last summer, I let the celery plants go to seed, and harvested those seeds for my spices. I am also using those seeds this year to see if I can grow more celery plants.

Growing green onions from green onions. I do this during the winter months. In my personal opinion, you can only do this a couple of times per planting as the onion greens that grow seem to get weaker in taste from the original plant. In the spring and summer, I grow my own outside. I also cultivate wild onions, that I harvest throughout the winter months, so I rarely purchase any green onions any more, unless I am specifically wanting to use the bulb part of the plant for a recipe.

Grow potatoes from the potatoes that start to bud in your pantry. You know that bag of potatoes that you forgot to use that is in your pantry? I know that you know what I am talking about! We have all done it. We have forgotten those last few potatoes in the bag. Did you know that you can grow more potatoes from those wimpy little spuds you have left? I have done this and I have friends that have done this. Potato plants are actually quite pretty. I do not recommend this as your main way to grow potatoes, but it is a fun project.

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.

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 & Turmeric
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.

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 veggies 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.
You may or may not get a pineapple from this plant, I personally have, but they are fun to grow and quite pretty. Also, if you have children, they will get a total kick out of this!