Friend of FOOD52 Sarah Rich is a busy woman -- between the fantastic Longshot Magazine and a career writing for everyone from Gourmet to Wired, she's been traversed every corner of the food world. Her most recent project is Urban Farms, a new book with photography by Matthew Benson that we wrote about a few weeks ago.
We spoke to Sarah about her new book, the movement toward small-scale agriculture, and how you can get involved in the movement. Be sure to check out Urban Farms!1
This is the thirteenth in our biweekly series from Amy Pennington – urban farmer, founder of GoGo Green Garden, and author of Urban Pantry and Apartment Gardening – on how to start growing your own food, no matter how tiny your garden-to-be is.
Today: No backyard? No problem! Amy saves the day with easy DIY garden projects from things you already own -- spoons, wine boxes, milk crates, and more.
You asked and we answered! After our City Dirt column on plant propagation, a few of you wanted to know more about propagating figs. Here's more from our garden specialist Amy Pennington:
I think you'll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it:
Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you're in a local park.
Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node.
Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don't worry about stripping the bark, spacing or anything. You just need to place the cutting in a well-drained medium with space to grow.
Water, water, water! Moisture is key. Eventually, your cutting will grow smaller little leaves and develop a root system. You know it is ready for replanting or repotting when you give the plant a slight tug and it resists.
This is the twelfth in our biweekly series from Amy Pennington – urban farmer, founder of GoGo Green Garden, and author of Urban Pantry and Apartment Gardening – on how to start growing your own food, no matter how tiny your garden-to-be is.
Today: Coveting your neighbor's herb garden? Grab a pair of clippers, "borrow" a clipping or a root, and grow your own plants -- no seeds required.
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.
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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