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Gardening With Children Kids love to plant and dig in the garden. Do your children enjoy the outdoors with you?

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Old 03-09-2004, 07:27 PM
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chuckle Harvesting Leftovers

By Susan C. Hall


There are three necessary Pís for growing kitchen scraps: potting soil, a pot, and patience. The last P is hardly a virtue among the young, and unfortunately, it often takes a long time for some of the scraps to take root and flourish. But, as with anything you care for, the outcome is truly rewarding.

There are three necessary Pís for growing kitchen scraps: potting soil, a pot, and patience. The last P is hardly a virtue among the young, and unfortunately, it often takes a long time for some of the scraps to take root and flourish. But, as with anything you care for, the outcome is truly rewarding.

The suspension method works wonders with potatoes (regular and sweet), fresh ginger roots, and avocados.

For a beautiful vine-like plant, plant a potato. Choose a potato with plenty of eyes (those slight craters that tend to hold dirt) and suspend it (eyes up) in a jar of water, just so the bottom touches the water's surface. You can push toothpicks into the sides of the potato to hold it in place if the mouth of the jar is too big. Regular potatoes need a cool, dark place to sprout, while sweet ones prefer light and warm conditions. Once the roots have formed, carefully transfer the plant to a container full of potting soil and place in good light where itíll have plenty of room to grow up and out. A mother in Wisconsin wrote to report that the sweet potato they suspended has sprouted roots and hopes that when they plant it, it will grow to look like those decorative sweet potato vines available in nurseries. These plants are gorgeous, with large pink, white and green leaves. The sweet potatoes we've grown, however, simply have green leaves and is vine-like. Use the same suspension method for ginger root, keeping it in the same environment as you would with the sweet potato. Once it roots, transfer it to a pot filled with soil. The result: A handsome plant with glossy dark leaves.

A mother of grade school children wrote that they suspended a ginger root in a bowl with water, small enough for the root to rest on the edges of the bowl and still touch the water's surface. At first it simply looked slimy, but now they think they see roots sprouting. It will take a while to see the results, but itíll be rewarding.

An avocado can also be grown by the suspension method. Soak the stone (fat side down) in water for a couple days, peel it and place it into the potting soil, allowing the tip remain above the soil surface. The stone from the smaller, pear-shaped avocado works best. Avocados love light, so place in a sunny spot. It might take as long as several weeks for it to sprout. When it does, pinch the top inch off the soft growth to allow the side branches to form.

Carrots, beet roots, and turnips are easy to grow, too. Cut a slice from the top, leaving about an inch of the veggie root. Stand it, cut end down, in a saucer of water and keep it in full light. You can also plant these scraps directly into soil. Remove the outer leaves when you do so, and leave a bit of the root top above the soil surface.

A pineapple top can be encouraged to grow into a truly stunning houseplant with long, fleshy leaves, arching out from the center. Look for the freshest pineapple, paying special attention to the center leaves. Many of the outer leaves can be trimmed away and what is left will be out of sight once the plant begins to flourish.

Slice off the top, leaving about an inch of fruit attached. Trim away the flesh to the hard, stringy part in the center, the core. Now, let this dry for a couple days to prevent rotting. Cut away the very bottom leaves, and plant the pineapple in a damp, sandy mix. Keep it in a bright, warm spot in the house, and don't let the potting mixture get too wet. Soon, it will develop roots. Then it can be transferred to regular potting soil and treated like any other houseplant.

A mom in the Midwest said they were about to give up on their pineapple experiment because the outer leaves were curling and turning brown. "But I changed my mind," she says, "because just as I was about to throw it away, I noticed that the inner leaves were bright green, healthy looking and maybe even bigger than the last time I looked. A friend of mine once had a beautiful, mature pineapple plant about three feet high, which she started this way. We're hoping we'll have the same success."

If you can find fresh coffee beans, you can grow a lovely plant. The leaves are a coppery color when they first appear, but soon turn a dark and glossy green. The beans need warm, damp potting mixture to germinate, but once you have a coffee plant, keep it moderately warm and in the shade where it will also get plenty of air.

Try experimenting with other kitchen scraps, simply using a bit of common sense. For example, onions and garlic are bulbs are grown exactly as any other bulb (simply plant in healthy soil). If you aren't sure which side is up, put the bulb on its side. It'll figure it out all by itself.

The seeds from any fruit or vegetable will obviously grow a plant, but use seeds that are ripe. Let them dry out before planting so they don't rot in the soil. A mom from Iowa reported great success with grapefruit seeds. "I got a pretty indoor plant with shiny, dark leaves but, of course, it didn't bear any fruit."

As with any gardening venture, you'll have failures. But I believe these failures will be the exception.

Sometimes you'll see articles in activity books suggesting you plant these projects in cut-off milk cartons or trimmed plastic soda bottles or cottage cheese tubs. I don't recommend this because, like any houseplant, kitchen scraps need to be in a pot which will allow drainage.




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Old 06-22-2006, 11:07 AM
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Bumping Up for some cute ideas!
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Old 06-23-2006, 08:13 PM
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I love planting seeds from leftovers. This year I saved the seeds from a spaghetti squash and am still being reward with squashes months later.
Store bought tomatoes that are bruised reseed too just bury in dirt and watch them grow.

The After Dinner Gardening Book by Richard W. Langer has been my inspiration for almost twenty years.
It is a step by step guide to growing plants from seeds and pits of vegetables and fruit.
If you can find an old copy you will enjoy it.
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Old 06-23-2006, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sueanne
I love planting seeds from leftovers. This year I saved the seeds from a spaghetti squash and am still being reward with squashes months later.
Store bought tomatoes that are bruised reseed too just bury in dirt and watch them grow.

The After Dinner Gardening Book by Richard W. Langer has been my inspiration for almost twenty years.
It is a step by step guide to growing plants from seeds and pits of vegetables and fruit.
If you can find an old copy you will enjoy it.
________
Sueanne

Do you bury the whole tomato or do you need to dry the seeds, then plant? Can I do this in a container?

Im going to look for that book at my library. I have such a brown thumb but I would love to be able to grow something!

Thanks for the info!
Tami
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