Weeds You Can Eat

Weeds You Can Eat

Many people say that the difference between a plant and a weed is judgement. This is especially true for these amazing plants that are often dismissed as weeds to be sent to the compost! This article will give you a brief description for the benefits of 6 common weeds that you can add to your diet.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Image via. LikeSuccess.com

Purslane

purslane2Weeds you can eat

This is a common garden weed that has tons of benefits! Purslane is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin C, iron, and calcium. You can eat the whole plant, which is crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. It adds a great crunch to salads and can be cooked in many different ways!

Check out these yummy ways to use purslane!

Dandelion

Weeds you can eat
Image via Fcps.edu

Dandelions are one of my favorite weeds; you can eat the whole plant, roots and all! The yellow flower portion of the plant has more beta-carotene than carrots, which is great for your eyesight! Additionally, Dandelions have vitamins A, B, C and D on top of having iron, potassium, and zinc!

Here are some great recipes for every part of the plant!

Amaranth

Weeds you can eat
Image via EatTheWeeds.com

Amaranth is a traditional foraged food in the Southwest by many Indigenous Americans. The seeds have high quality oil content called tocotrienols, which is a rare form of vitamin E. The seeds also have a significantly higher protein content than other grains. The leaves contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate as well as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and manganese.

Here are some recipes for Amaranth leaves and grains!

Mallow

Mallow1Mallow Leaves

Mallow Flowers
Images via GardenBetty.com

Mallow is frequently used in herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory, diuretic, demulcent, emollient, laxative and expectorant. The leaves have vitamins A and C as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and selenium. The whole plant is edible! The leaves, fruit, and flowers are good added to salads. The leaves produce a sticky substance when cooked that is similar to okra, so Mallow is also a great thickener for soups!

Here is a great recipe for Mallow Leaf and White Bean Burgers!

Lamb’s Quarters

Lamb's Quarters
Images via PBS.com

Lamb's Quarters

This weed is related to Quinoa, which you can see later in the season when it begins to go to seed. Often called wild spinach, Lamb’s Quarters is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, protein, and many other minerals!

You can use Lamb’s Quarters as a replacement for spinach or chard in your cooking!

Kudzu

Image via ScienceDaily.com
Image via ScienceDaily.com

This is an invasive species originating from Japan, found all over the Southern United States. Kudzu has been used in Chinese medicine to treat alcoholism, heart and circulatory problems, symptoms of menopause, as well as upper respiratory problems. Almost the whole plant is edible, from the root to the leaves. Do not eat the pods and seeds!

Here is more information and recipes for this amazing plant!

Knowing how to use these amazing plants can transform your weeding day into a fun harvest day! Give these plants a chance and enjoy your new tasty garden treats!

*** Make sure you wash every plant carefully, especially if you use pesticides and/or chemical fertilizers in your garden!

Benefits of Gardening

Benefits of Gardening

BeeSprout garden

Have you started your summer garden yet? Gardening is a wonderful pastime that can provide a solace from busy day-to-day life. Any gardener can express how satisfying it is to eat home-grown tomatoes and fresh herbs. In addition to amazing culinary experiences, gardening has numerous benefits! Gardening is fun, connects people to the earth, saves money, improves mental and physical health, and nurtures the environment. Here are some of the benefits of gardening:

  1. Growing your own vegetables and herbs saves you money on groceries!
  2. Studies have shown that having your home surrounded by green spaces can help cut down on heating and cooling costs!
  3. Having a garden increases property values and neighborhood satisfaction overall.
  4. Several studies have shown that gardening relieves stress.
  5. Bacteria that lives in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been proven to release serotonin, which makes people happier!BeeSprout garden
  6. Gardeners are 36% less likely to develop dementia.
  7. Being around plants can improve memory by up to 20%!
  8. Home grown food is often more nutritious than store-bought food, thus improving health overall.
  9. People who grow fruits and vegetables eat more fruits and vegetables!  
  10. Regular gardening reduces the chance of obesity and are 66% less likely to experience cardiac arrest; one study suggests that gardeners have lower BMI’s.
  11. Gardening can reduce carbon emissions and waste because it reduces the emissions that normally come from shipping and packaging produce!

Having a garden is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby as well as having many health benefits. It provides a mental reprieve from the stress of daily life. Having a garden can save money in addition to improving neighborhood satisfaction simply because of its aesthetic beauty. Having a garden can vastly improve your life, so get outside and start growing!  

BeeSprout Garden

Home Composting Guide

Home Composting Guide

Composting can be a wonderful addition to any backyard gardener’s skill set. Many people avoid composting, because they think it’ll be too hard or too gross – Neither of these things are true! When you have a compost method that works for you, composting can be really easy! Additionally, composting shouldn’t smell as long as you have the right balance of ingredients. This article will help breakdown the compost fear and help you get started on your very own adventure with compost!

 

What is Composting?

Composting is nature’s recycling system! This is when organic waste is broken down into smaller particles back into healthy soil for new plants to thrive off of. By having a compost pile in your garden you are helping this natural process occur and you’ll have extra healthy soil which means extra happy plants!

 

Why Compost?

  1. Composting helps reduce food waste!
  2. It provides healthy soil for your garden by fixing the pH levels and promoting healthy bacteria!
  3. Without food decomposing in your trash your house will smell better and you can take out the trash less often!
  4. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint!
  5. Composting helps the environment!
  6. You will save money on store bought fertilizers!
  7. Composting helps with moisture retention, so you’ll use less water in your garden!
  8. It attracts earthworms, which help aerate soil and aerated soil makes plants happy!

 

Compost Ingredients:

You should alternate two main layers of material in your compost pile. These layers are referred to as green layers (which add nitrogen) and brown layers (which add carbon). In your compost, you’ll want to have equal parts of both so ensure a healthy balance. If these layers are done correctly your compost should not smell bad and it will heat up and break down faster!

The green layer consists of garden plants, food scraps, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. If your compost isn’t hot enough, add more greens!

The brown layer consists of dried leaves, newspaper, small wood clippings, sawdust, etc. If your compost is starting to smell bad, add more browns!

 

Compost Methods:

There are countless variations on composting! With so many options it can be hard to determine how you want to proceed.  Here are some of the most popular compost options:

 

Vermicomposting –

Vermicomposting is what most people imagine when they think of composting. This method uses red worms (note – grubs and night crawlers will not work) to help break down small amounts of organic matter. One pound of these worms can break down about half a pound of organic matter every day. Worm bins are easy to build, or if you’re not feeling exceptionally handy they are available to purchase!

Vermicomposting is best for people living in moderate climates or those who are willing to have their compost bins indoors, as the worms are sensitive to direct sunlight and temperatures under 55 degrees and over 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thankfully, this method doesn’t require much space and can even be done in apartments! This process only takes about 3-4 months for useable compost to be produced.

Worm bin for vermicomposting composting method for home garden

Bin Method-

Many backyard gardeners prefer this method, as it takes up less space and keeps the compost contained. Depending on the style of the bin, you’ll utilize different techniques and strategies. Always start with a layer of brown material, layer with green materials, add a layer of soil, and then add another of brown. Make sure to add some water and keep your compost pile moist. Once this is established, you can continuously add to your compost pile, making sure that you have enough of each type of material. To ensure that your compost is happily decomposing properly, water it on occasion to ensure that it is always moist and take care to turn the compost every couple of weeks. If you have a barrel shaped bin, turning the compost is significantly easier. This method takes about 3 months to produce healthy soil.

Bin method for composting in home garden

Pile Method-

If you don’t want to build or invest in a compost bin you can easily create a compost pile in your yard! Clear a space that is at least 3 feet by 3 feet wide. Start with a layer of coarse dry brown materials, then layer of green stuff, then a layer of soil, and top it off with a final layer of brown stuff. Water the compost pile, and let it sit. You’ll want your compost pile to get at least three feet high, so make sure you’re continuously adding to it.

Every week, make sure to water the compost to it is always moist. Every couple weeks, you’ll want to grab a pitchfork and turn your compost pile. These two steps ensure that the compost will continue to break down at a helpful and steady rate.  On average, this method takes about three months to produce happy compost that you can use in your garden.

Composting in home garden with pile method

Trench Composting-

This is by far the easiest method. Simply collect your food scraps for a couple weeks. When you have enough you can go your to your garden and find a section that you aren’t currently using. You’ll then dig a trench in one of your unused beds and then bury all your scraps in it! It will take about a month or so before the waste decomposes and you’ll be able to plant in that bed with healthy happy soil!

 

Common Mistakes:

  1. Don’t start too small – you need a lot of organic material for a proper breakdown!
  2. Use lots of different materials – your compost needs more than just food waste.
  3. Don’t put meat, fat, or bone products into your compost!
  4. Keep your compost moist – water is essential for the breakdown of organic materials.
  5. Make sure you are turning your compost regularly; air is a key component for decomposition.
  6. Do not add weeds to your compost! If the compost doesn’t get hot enough, they won’t fully break down and you’ll be essentially replanting weeds in your garden.

Now that you have learned the basics of composting you are ready to start planning your compost options in your own home! Composting isn’t nearly as scary or complicated as people think. With the right ingredients and some extra enthusiasm, you can start the process and have healthy happy soil for your garden. Start composting – the earth, your pocketbook, and your plants will thank you!

 

Food Scraps You Can Regrow in Your Garden

Food Scraps You Can Regrow in Your Garden

Eating local produce is an amazing way to reduce your carbon footprint. On average, the produce you buy from a grocery store has already traveled 4,108 miles by the time it gets to your kitchen (http://www.foodmiles.com/)!  You can decrease food miles by buying from local farmer’s markets, but this can get expensive.

One way to cut back on these costs is by growing your own food at home. An easy and fun way to start this process is by regrowing food from food scraps! This helps decrease food waste, decrease your carbon footprint, and save money!

 

Here are some foods you can regrow from food scraps:

 

Greens (Bok Choy, Lettuce, Cabbage, Celery):

Take the base of your leafy greens in a small bowl full of about half an inch of water (with cabbage you can just place leftover leaves in the bowl). Place the bowl in an area with lots of sunlight. Replace the water once a day or every other day and mist the leaves with water. Once you see roots sprouting, transplant your greens into the garden. This process can be repeated indefinitely! With leafy greens, you can continuously pluck off leaves to use and as long as you leave some it will continue to produce for you!

 

Potatoes:

Cut your potato into small pieces, making sure that every section has at least two sprouts. Let the pieces sit out in a room temperature area until they are dry to the touch. Then, you can plant the sections outside about a foot apart in 8 inches of soil. In about a month they will start growing!

 

Pumpkins:

These are surprisingly easy to grow! All you have to do is take the seeds, dry them out, and plant them in a sunny area outside. If you have a whole pumpkin, you can even plant that in your yard!

 

Tomatoes:

Next time you cut open a tomato, save some of the seeds! Rinse off the tomato seeds and allow them to dry on a paper towel. Then, plant them in an indoor planter and keep the soil moist. Once the sprouts are a few inches high, you can transplant them outdoors in a sunny area. Water them a few times a week.

 

Pineapples:

BeeSprout shows how you can grow a pineapple from food scraps in your garden.

This one can take up to two years for your re-planted pineapple to start producing fruit! Make sure you have a pineapple with happy green leaves. Remove the leafy top and suspend it with toothpicks in a container with water. Make sure that the water touches the base of the pineapple at all times. Place this in a sunny area and change the water every few days.

Roots will start to appear in a few weeks. Once they are fully formed, replant the pineapple in soil with lots of sun!

Tip: If you live in a colder area, keep your pineapple inside.

 

Onions:

These are extremely easy to grow! Simply cut off the base of the onion (leaving about half an inch of onion) and plant it in a sunny area. The roots will regenerate and once they do you can remove the old onion and allow the roots to grow into a new plant.

 

Mushrooms:

Mushrooms are a little tricky, because they need to be planted in a warm and humid area. Simply cut off the caps, and place the stems into some soil. Leave the top exposed and the base will produce a new head!

 

Lemongrass:

For these, simply cut off the tops of the stalks and place them in water. Change the water every few days. In a few weeks, roots will begin to sprout. Once the stems have grown strongly, you can plant the stalks into soil in a warm area of your garden.

 

Hot Peppers:

Peppers are another easy thing to grow! Simply save seeds, let them dry out, and plant them in a sunny area.

 

Green Onions, Leeks, Scallions:

These are extra wonderful for food scraps saving! Simply take the green parts of these veggies and place them in a jar full of water in a sunny space. Change the water every 3-4 days. In about a week the plant should replenish itself and you can use it right away! Make sure to leave the roots in the water and you can easily continue this cycle!

 

Ginger:

Place a chunk of ginger in indirect sunlight with the smaller buds facing down. The ginger will sprout new shoots and roots and can continue to be harvested as a whole and reused in this way!

 

Garlic/Garlic Sprouts:

This can be done in two different ways!

You can easily replant garlic by placing a clove in a sunny area of the soil with the bottom of the clove facing downwards. The garlic will begin to sprout, you can either cut off the tops and have garlic sprouts that way, or you can wait until the tops die and you’ll have a whole new clove.

Alternatively, you can place a garlic clove(or a whole bulb) into a jar with a little bit of water in the bottom. Make sure the water covers the bottom of the cloves but do not fully submerge them or the garlic will likely rot. Be sure to place the garlic in a sunny area and change the water every other day. Once they reach about three inches tall you can begin to chop off up to a third of the tops at a time and they will continue to replenish themselves.

 

Basil and Cilantro:

Fresh herbs can be very expensive, so being able to grow your own is a fantastic experience! These plants can easily regrow their roots and create new plants. Just place the stems (with a couple of leaves still on top) in a bowl of water in a sunny area. Be sure to change the water every other day.  Once the roots sprout, you can plant the stems into the soil. Within a few months these stems will turn into a whole new plant that you can continuously harvest leaves from. As long as you don’t overharvest the leaves, you’ll continuously have fresh herbs.

 

Root Vegetables (Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, and Turnips):

These are extremely easy to grow! Simply cut off the tops and place them in some water. Change the water every few days. Once the tops being to resprout and roots begin to form, you can place them outside in a garden bed and they will grow!

 

Avocados:

BeeSprout shows how to grow an avocado from food scrapsThis is another tricky one! If the seed is too damaged at all it will not be able to grow and not every avocado will grow regardless. First, clean off the avocado pit, then stick toothpicks through the sides at an equal distance. Now, balance the pit with the toothpicks in a wide-mouthed jar with the pointy end facing up. Fill the jar with water so about half of the avocado seed is covered at all times. Finally, place the jar in a sunny area and replace the water every couple days. Within a couple months, the pit will begin to split and the avocado will start to grow roots and a stem. Be patient, and once you see leaves grow you can plant the avocado into soil. Make sure about half the pit it above ground.

 

Go forth, and regrow your food scraps with confidence.

Regrowing plants from food scraps is a rewarding and amazingly easy way to utilize existing produce and help cut down on food waste! Most of these techniques can continuously produce new food. This process saves you money and helps save the earth!