Posts published on July 2013

Grafting in the Garden

Articles, Gardening, Newsletter

Vegetable grafting is the big craze in home gardens this year! Though the process is centuries old it is only recently that this method has become popular among home gardeners. By bonding the rootstock of one plant to the top portion of another you can create a “Frankenplant” resistant to stress, resilient to disease, and eminently more productive.

What is grafting?

Grafting in its simplest terms is the bonding together of two plants’ vascular tissue. The rootstock of one plant is bonded to the top portion, or scion, of another with the intention of retaining the desirable characteristics of both. For hundreds of years this process has been used to grow woody plants and during the last century farmers in Southeast Asia have begun using it in the cultivation of food crops. It is only within the last few years that home gardeners have started to use this method to grow durable and bountiful vegetable plants.

What kinds of plant can be grafted together?

While it is possible for inter-species grafting to take successfully, plants of the same species will readily bond. Grafting is however very common between genera, allowing us to graft things like a tomato and eggplant together. It should be noted that grafting does not produce hybrids, rather two distinct plants bonded together at one point.

What are the benefits of grafting?

Plants are grafted especially to have increased resilience against stress and soil borne disease, like bacterial wilt and nematodes. It will produce the delicious fruit variety of the scion but with a carefully selected rootstock can produce 50% more yield.

How is grafting done?

There are various methods of grafting but the simplest for novice gardeners is tube grafting. A rootstock is chosen for qualities like fruitfulness, the ability to grow in certain types of soil and genetic fitness. A scion is chosen for the qualities of its fruit, like taste, color or size.

The seed of the rootstock is planted a day or two before the scion so that the root stock is stronger and bigger than the scion. When they are roughly 4” tall and the rootstock is topped and a small slice is made down the center. The scion is cut from its roots, inserted into the slit of the rootstock and a grafting tube is then used to secure the two together. The new plant must then be kept in humidity and temperature controlled environment until it is able to fully heal. Keeping the incision free of bacteria is imperative to the success of a graft.

The portion of the plant below the point of grafting will continue to display characteristics of the rootstock while the portion above will receive nutrients from the stock. Typically the rootstock’s limbs are trimmed back and what’s left for harvesting is the delicious fruit of the scion.

 


Product Spotlight: Mad Farmer Root Pouch

Articles, products

 

What is a Root Pouch?

Root Pouch is a fabric planting container made from recycled plastic water bottles. They have several different fabric densities, colors, and patterns depending on what the need and decor is. They are safe to use in growing edibles as well as decorative plants. Perfect for drip systems, overheads and hydroponic flood trays, as well as the use for the home grower.


Why fabric pots?

Root Pouch fabric is a mixture of PETE (recycled plastic water bottles) and natural fibers that creates a mesh like surface. Once roots reach the fabric it signals the plant to send out new roots, instead of circling and strangling the plant like other containers. Thus creating super dense, fibrous healthy root systems for plants. Root Pouch containers achieve a superior root system over the traditional plastic pot. These natural fibers mixed into the netting of the fabric will retain moisture much more evenly around the pot.


Why Root Pouch over other fabric pots?

Root Pouch is the only fabric pot on the market made from recycled plastic water bottles and mixed with natural fibers, such as jute and cotton. It has always been a frustrating feat to want to purchase and use earth friendly items, but when they are usually far more expensive then their less earth friendly counterpart it is sometimes difficult to do. Root Pouch decided to keep their prices low and affordable. Growing in Root Pouch not only takes the water bottles out of the landfill, but it also diminishes the use of the traditional black plastic pots (that also end up in the landfills), lessening the carbon footprint. 


Root Pouches are not only earth friendly and affordable but they also create an ideal environment for the plant to grow in. Their handles and stitching are industrial strength and make planting and growing in them that much easier.


Does the recycled material leech contaminants into my plants?

No. Root Pouch uses recycled plastic water bottles (known as PETE) in the making of their fabric. PETE is a plastic resin made from water bottles that have the recycled symbol surrounding the number 1, which is FDA-approved as safe to drink and eat out of. PETE is used along with natural fibers because of its strength, thermal-stability and its resistance to UV rays.

DIY Vinyl Record Hanging Planter

Articles, Lifestyle, Newsletter

 

There are endless ways of re-purposing items around our homes to create unique gardens. For this DIY I used scratched vinyl records to create retro-inspired hanging planters. These planters are easy to make because of the low temperature malleability of vinyl but for the same reason should not be hung in direct sunlight or in places of extreme heat.

The materials you will need are:

  • Oven
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Oven Safe Bowl
  • Oven Mitt
  • Drill
  • Quick Link
  • (4) 2ft lengths of Chain (I used Black Everbilt Jack Chain from HomeDepot)
  • Vinyl Record (Some records have high sentimental or monetary value- Be certain that you want to destroy the record you use.)

 

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place oven-safe bowl upside down on top of cookie tray in the oven.

3. Center your record on top of the upside-down bowl.

4. Let the record heat up for 2-3 minutes. The vinyl should start to droop.

5. Remove tray from oven, be sure to wear oven mitts.

6. Flip record upside down and mold into the desired shape and let the record cool completely.

7. Drill four holes as evenly as possible apart 1” from rim of record.

8. Hook jack-chain through holes. I was able to pry the chain open by hand but for heavier chain this may require pliers.

9. Connect chains at top with quick link.

10. Hang and add plant.

RECIPE: Chunky Vegan Chili Stew (Gluten Free, Oil Free)

Articles, Lifestyle, Newsletter

Warm summer weather is synonymous with gearing up for backyard barbeques which means loads of hot dogs and ketchup. In fact, Americans eat nearly 20 billions hot dogs a year – mostly during July 4th festivities. This year, think about adding a healthy side dish to your summer spread to offset all those dogs! This chili recipe is vegan, gluten free and contains no oil. Its loaded with protein and fresh veggies you can grow in your own backyard.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 2 1/2 tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tbs. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper

 

*Tip: If you do not have all of these chili spices on hand it can get pretty expensive buying them individually from the grocery store. Some markets, such as Sprouts and food Co-operatives, sell spices in bulk. Buying spices in bulk allows you to get just the right amount of spices needed for a recipe. Additionally, other larger super market chains, such as Ralph’s and Vons, will have most of these spices for $0.99 in the ethnic food section. This tip has saved me tons of money on spices and has allowed me to experiment with a lot more recipes (especially Indian dishes).

 

Directions:

1. Roughly chop the celery, carrots and onion.

2. Drain the liquid from one can of black beans into a soup pot and add 1/2 cup of water. Turn heat to medium high. Add the celery, carrots, onion and bay leaves.

3. Saute’ the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes, or just until soft. While sauteing, sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper.

4. After the vegetables are soft remove the bay leaves and add the 4 cans of diced tomatoes, garlic and spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder) to the pot. Stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

5. At this point, add in both cans of black beans (one full and one strained). If liquid levels are looking low, add another 1/2 cup of water to the pot. Continue cooking at a simmer for 20 minutes.

6. After 20 minutes add the corn and edamame to the chili. Cook for another 5-10 minutes at a simmer.

7. When chili is done, take off the heat and serve. The chili can be served with toppings such as sour cream, cheese, green onion and red onion.

Serves: 8-10