So now that I have my new book, Don't Throw It, Grow It! 68 Windowsill Plants From Kitchen Scraps by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsam, I'm trying a few new ones and a few that I have tried before.
A Avocado - Last time I managed to get three plants that got to about 18" -24" after about a year, and then kill them. I think I overwatered them, so I'll be careful this time.
Pineapple - I have tried this one before a few times and the stump just rots before the roots start. Hope springs eternal.
Passion fruit - tried it before and I now have four vigorous vines growing in my living room. I'll be putting one of them outside this week to see how it fares. I bought the fruit this time mostly as a treat, though. Really tasty! Love 'em .
Mango - When I tried this before I managed to get only one to sprout and it quickly expired, probably again due to over-watering. This time I have one sprouted already, but it's from the larger, green and red kind of mango. It's not my favorite. The book says that although it's not the best eating mango, the seed germinates much easier than the yellow one and the houseplant it produces is still terrific. I'm really hoping to get one of the yellow mangos to germinate! I've tried three so far. Two rotted in the cup I was soaking them in, and one rotted in the potting soil. I have two more in the fridge.
Prickly pear - I was surprised and excited to find some prickly pear cactus leaves
(nopales) at the produce store. So I bought one, cut it into thirds, let the pieces dry out for about a day and a half, and stuck the pieces
into some slightly moist potting soil. We'll see what happens. The leaves were only about $2 each.
Mamey Sapote - The sign said Names, but I think the sign got switched with another. After doing some research, I'm pretty sure it was the Mamey sapote.
Chica Zapote - Not totally sure what this actually is either. I bought three, but none of them had any seeds. They looked sort of like brownish green persimmons with roughish skins. Again, research is the word of the day. I think it's actually a sapodilla.
Litchis(Lychees) - I got about a dozen of these. They're similar to the longan berry and I had good success with those. They're still in the fridge next to the mangos.
Kiwis - I've been enjoying these brown furry treats for years and just never bothered to try the seeds. Looking forward to these, even though this particular type isn't hardy this far north. The vines are still supposed to be nice to look at.
Sweet potato - supposed to be a nice vine, and I'm hoping to get a couple of sweet potatoes out of the deal.
OFF THE RAFT
Cherries - Just to see what happens I saved some cherry pits from fresh cherries that were really good. (You know how sometimes you get cherries and they just have NO cherry flavor to them at all - I hate that.) I'm soaking them and then I'll throw them in some dirt.
And just for fun, I bought a 4" sassafras seedling. Maybe there is gumbo in my future. I also picked up some salsify because I've read about it in a bunch of my organic gardening books, but had never seen it in the grocery store. Well I found some seedlings at Lexington gardens and decided to give them a try. And lastly, some lemon verbena just because it smells so dang good.
Rhubarb flower update - Pretty impressive stalk. It's taller than I am! I'm glad I let it grow out. I'll try to take some pictures before it totally goes by.
I visited my uncle today to hook him up to the internet at his new place. He lives about 45 minutes west of me. On my way home I decided to take a small detour to Littleton, MA to try to make it over to Bonsai West and see the place in person. Unfortunately, I got there too late and they had already closed. So I started heading home. On my way, driving down a portion of Route 2A I rarely travel, I passed a book store I had never noticed before, Willow Books. Well, I still had the bonsai bug so I turned around and drove back to see what they had to offer in the way of bonsai titles.
Immediately through the door I found the clearance section and SCORE! (sort of) . I didn't find a single bonsai book (which I thought was weird), but I did find the following for only $7 each:
- the DVD "Smokey and the Bandit"
- the DVD "This Is Spinal Tap"
- The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh. If you don't know who this guy is by now, then you probably don't want to. He's a Scottish author and wrote, among other books, Trainspotting, that was turned into a movie starring Ewen McGregor. I think of him as a disturbed, Scottish Mark Twain, writing in the vernacular and slang and accents of the Scotts. His subjects include heroin addiction, mental illness, transvestism, suicide, murder, etc. Not particularly uplifting works, but filled with great characters and stories with lots of twists, turns and surprises. I'm really looking forward to reading this. I wish I could tell you what this book is about, but I never even bothered reading the book jacket. I saw his name and I just picked it up and brought it to the register with the rest of my treasures.
- The Cambridge Film Handbook for The Coen Brothers' "Fargo" (Jeeze, all these for only $7 each? Thanks a bunch! That's a pretty darn sweet deal then, dontchya think, hun? Yer darn tootin'! Yah, you betchya!) I had just watched the movie "Fargo" again last week, for about the 25th time. My brother turned me on to this movie and it's become one of my favorites. It's filled with great actors giving stellar performances as captivating characters in a fantastic story, etc.,... so when I saw this book about it, it leaped off the table into my arms.
And, the one for $10.95 I really want to tell you all about since it actually relates to gardening...
Don't Throw It, Grow It! 68 Windowsill Plants From Kitchen Scraps by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsam. As the title states, it's all about growing plants from foods you buy at the grocery store. Does that remind you of anybody? That's right, yeah, ME! I sure could have used this book over the last couple of years!
I feel like I found something precious and valuable. It has in
it all the steps for selecting the fruits, collecting the seeds,
whether they can be dried, whether they need to be cold stratified,
germinating instructions and growing conditions - all the stuff I wish
I'd known before trying to grow many of the things I tried. Luckily for
me, some of the ones I've tried to grow are as easy as growing old. I won't go through the whole list of 68 in the book, but I want to name a few. I have tried several of them already - garlic, pineapple, cherimoya, pomegranate, mango, lemon, date palm and avocado and probably a few more. There are a bunch for which I have saved the seeds or tubers but haven't planted yet, like the tamarillo, ginger, and kiwi. I also found several that aren't in the book which I've tried to grow, or at least gathered the seeds, like the passion fruit, cranberry, longan berry, rambhutan and dragon fruit. The book has a whole section for herbs and spices, too. If this book didn't already exist, then I would have had to have written it myself! I'd really like to see the book expand to an even hundred plants. I can't wait to try the rest of all 68 in the book. Maybe the author will let me contribute for the third edition. Hmmmmm.... ;-)
I read a couple of things on the title pages that I thought were a little odd that don't really have anything to do with the content. First, the dedication is from Deborah Petersen posthumously to Millicent Selsam. The bookwas originally published 31 years ago in 1977, as The Don't Throw It, Grow It Book of Houseplants, with the authors listed in reverse order. So 30 years later, with the primary author dead, the second author republishes the book listing herself first. Am I too cynical? ;-)
I actually felt inspired turning my compost pile yesterday. It felt good to be doing some honest hard work in the yard again. I was going to post this in the Cheezy Poetry forum, but the subject
wasn't compost, and to be honest, I was feeling selfish today so I'm
posting it on my blog instead. I hope you enjoy it.
The day is warm, still young and bright. I'm out of work while still daylight! I rush back home to check my bin and see what sort of shape it's in.
I grab my fork and lift the lid To see what time and hard work did. I've thrown in leaves, and grass and twigs Veggie peels and rotten figs.
There's no bad smell, so that is good. But I still see leaves and bits of wood. It's not done, oh no, not yet. It will be soon, on that I'd bet.
So I start digging through the pile. I know that this will take a while. There's lot's of stuff, at least a ton. It's a good thing I think this is fun.
Otherwise this would just be work To be avoided or to shirk. But it's good exercise for me, And the compost that I get is free!
I plunge my fork into the leaves; I shift my grip and then I heave! What comes out just can't be beat: Four tines full of hoary heat!
Actinomycetes makes the scene: Bacteria that's white, not green. It's filamentous fibers grow through every leaf and blade I've mowed.
This thermophilic power play By this bacteria night and day Drives up the inner temperature To kill bad things just like Pasteur.
Lifting here and tossing there The compost sailing through the air From full bin 1 to empty 2 Mixes oxygen all through.
This helps wee beasties to respire and build more heat in my dark fire. They work alchemically even faster to make soil like an earth spellcaster.
After 30 minutes muscles hurt from turning waste into new dirt. So I decide to pack it in and cover up my compost bin.
One more week and compost's done Then I can shoot the starting gun And get my veggies all to race To be the first into my face.
Okay, so having a slighty smelly compost pile is hardly a crisis, but I managed to avert it none the less. I've turned it a couple of times since I originally built it and it was positively steaming when I turned it on Friday, and no smell at all. I'm so happy. I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible - My parents who instilled a love of gardening...my uncle who sold me his house before he passed away..the guys at Agway for always being so helpful....alright, I'll cut the cr@p. ;-)
Some of you have been asking for an update on my lettuce and cabbage that was growing under my PVC and plastic sheet greenhouse. Well I'm happy to say that two lettuce plants that were tucked next to some large rocks, in the corner under the plastic that stayed put when most of it was flapping in the wind, made it. That was a pretty cold snap we had back then, and I'm surprised that any survived. This year I'm going to be more thorough about making sure the edges are reliably weighed, tied, stapled, nailed, screwed and bolted down. I believe that I'd have a whole bed full of greens now if the plastic had stayed on. Hope springs eternal!
Side note - I stopped at Home Depot on the way home last night after dropping off my son and bought a small jade plant for $4. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but it came with a 4 inch terra cotta pot, so that's not too bad. I was actually looking for a cycad after seeing Gardening by the Yard this past weekend. It will probably wind up being a Sago palm since that's pretty much the only ones I see around my area, but I'd like to get something different. I found some sagos being sold as bonsai's at Home Depot for $16, but I don't want to pay that much for $2 plant and $2 pot from China.
And speaking of China, how come the only 2 inch terra cotta pots I can find come from China? The larger sizes are made in Italy and the US, but not the small ones. I suspect that's because the bulk of the cost for the smaller pots is the labor which is cheap over there. It's still irritating. I'll keep looking.