This is the sixteenth 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: It's hard to believe, but fall is on its way. Amy tells us what to plant now for the perfect patio harvest come cold weather.
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. For more on propagation of other plants, read the full City Dirt post!
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.
Between Nicholas Day's family cookbooks, tips for trying new foods, Amanda's kids' lunches, and eating by example, we talk a lot about eating with and cooking for kids here on FOOD52. Today we have a digital solution to your lunchbox woes: LaLa Lunchbox, a new app for iPhone that brings parents and kids together to plan and pack lunches. With the philosophy that kids who plan their own meals grow up to be better eaters, LaLa Lunchbox combines adorable graphics with truly helpful tools for busy families. Kids feel empowered because they get to choose their own meals, parents save money (the app generates a grocery list for you -- no more wasted, unwanted food), and everyone saves time -- both in the mornings when packing lunches and at the store. It's interactive, it's educational, and it can be 100% personalized to your pantry. You can easily add your kids' favorite dishes -- whether that's mac and cheese or pickled ramp and cream cheese sandwiches -- to the database, and you can share your children's lunch ideas via Facebook, Twitter, or email. ("You'll never guess what our oldest picked for lunch -- maybe yours will like it too!")
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?