City Dirt

More on Potatoes (In or Out of Bags)

By • May 29, 2012 • 0 Comments

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Are you growing potatoes in a bag this summer? Here's more on everyone's favorite starchy tuber from our garden specialist Amy Pennington:

Potatoes grow underground and are considered a "tuber" -- a plant that is enlarged to store nutrients and has the ability to make a new plant. Potatoes, yams and even dahlias are considered tubers. So why do you need to know what at tuber is?

Here is some great info for all your science nerds to help shed light on the growth pattern of potatoes. Ultimately, this information is meant to help you -- if you’re going to build a potato-loving system that is highly productive, you've got to think like the plant!

You care about what a tuber is because tubers produce plants from a stolon (a sub-soil, sprout-like, horizontal root). The stolon is formed from the axils of the plant -- the place where the stem and leaves connect. I bet you thought potatoes form and grow off of a piece of cut potato? Well instead, potatoes actually grow between the original seed piece you plant, and the above-ground leaves. They're the stem of the plant, not the root.

Potatoes are a member of the Nightshade family (alongside tomatoes, eggplant, and of course, the deadly nightshade), some of which are toxic plants. Nightshades are prone to soil disease and must be rotated around the garden year after year in order to minimize problems with the soil. For a home gardener working in beds, this means diligent planning or designating an area outside your beds for potatoes. (Good news! If you grow in bags on your patio, you don't have to worry about this!)

Lastly, here's an alternative to using soil to mound your potato plant: you can also layer the stem in straw. That's right — just straw. It acts as a growing medium for the potatoes — a clean, unmessy growing medium. No cleaning off soil when you harvest, as potatoes will grow directly into the straw. Even better, in warm climates (down south, for instance), the straw layers help moderate temperatures and insulate the bag, which is perfect for potatoes that don't do well in the heat.

What are your tips for growing potatoes?

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5 Questions

Love Vegetables? You'll Love Herbivoracious

By • May 29, 2012 • 0 Comments

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Here's what you encounter when you visit the website for Michael Natkin's new book, Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes, based on his blog of the same name: "I Don’t Care if you are a Vegetarian, Omnivore, Carnivore, Vegan, Pescetarian, or Flexitarian!"

And it's true! Whether you're a lifelong vegetarian or just looking to work more meatless meals into your diet, Natkin's refreshing and beautiful recipes are a wonderful place to get started. We spoke with him about how he came to food blogging after a years-long career in computer graphics, what it was like transforming a blog into a book idea, and more. Be sure to check out Herbivoracious (the blog), and find out more about Herbivoracious (the cookbook)!

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Menu Ideas

5 Things You Never Thought You Could Grill

By • May 28, 2012 • 0 Comments

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This weekend marks the start of a few notable things: the beginning of summer, the point at which people begin sneaking out early from their Friday workdays, and perhaps most importantly, the dusting off of backyard grills.

We may not be able to help make your weekend longer, but we can help when it comes to cooking over an open flame. If you’re tired of conventional, familiar Memorial Day fare, (pasta salads, chicken, pasta salads with chicken), here are five new dishes you never thought would work well with smoke. This Memorial Day, go rogue: grill what no one else is grilling.

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Behind the Scenes

Too Many Cooks: Strawberries and Salads

By • May 25, 2012 • 1 Comment

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You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

And now for your Memorial Day weekend sendoff: a look into how we spent the past week. It was a good one, full of garden harvests, baked goods, and cheese. Here's to a great weekend ahead -- see you next week!

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