March 30, 2020

Propagating Produce

The grocery store has been slim pickings lately and so I’ve been propagating everything I can so that we have it in the future and we’re able to reduce the number of grocery trips needed.  Before all of this, we were the type of people who only bought two to three days of food at a time, hitting up the farmer’s market on Saturdays and never really kept many days’ worth of food at home.  With seven of us in the house, we crush about a gallon of milk a day and now that we need to reduce the number of trips we make to the store, it’s been tricky.   My garden is mostly seeds-only at this point and so we don’t really have any of our own food yet but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been rooting vegetables and lettuces to pop them in the garden.

butterleaf lettuce with root ball

For those of you not familiar with propagating vegetables & lettuces, it’s super simple.  You basically just chop off what you plan to eat and then save the base of the vegetable and pop it in a little water so that it takes root.  Once you’ve got roots going, you can stick them in the ground (if it’s warm enough) or in a pot and then just ‘ keep em them watered. Eventually, they’ll sprout new leaves/ stalks etc. and you can chop and eat!

So far in the past week or two, I’ve done it with romaine lettuce, butterleaf lettuce, celery, and carrots.

carrots taking root: they won’t product carrots at this point… only carrot tops -which I’ve now learned are delicious- and flowers- which are beautiful and look a lot like queen anne’s lace- and seeds – which can then be used to plant carrots.

SIDE NOTE: The grocery store was out of basil so I made a pesto out of carrot tops.

chopping carrot tops on the cutting board for pesto. I ditched the stems and used only the leaves.  I took another pile of leaves and sauteed them with garlic and it was amazing!!

It was SO. GOOD!!!!  (My husband makes fun of me because I compliment my own food but I tell him I’m just being honest lol.)

Here’s my quick recipe: 

(I’m Italian and in my family our recipes basically go “a little bit of this”  or a “handful of that” so forgive the loose amounts… just go with what feels and tastes right and you can always tweak by adding more of something else.)

  • Grind the following with a mortar & pestle until as fine as possible:
    -minced carrot tops- a cup or two-
  • -minced garlic cloves to taste (I like it really garlic-y)
  • -tiny handful of pine nuts
  • -a few tablespoons of olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
  • -shredded parmesan cheese
  • -salt & pepper to taste
  • I usually do the same thing with basil as the main ingredient and then add a little parsley or Italian parsley, but was really pleasantly surprised with how good the carrot tops were.  For so long, I had been throwing them away!!  I gave it to the kids over  pasta and they loved it.  I drizzled mine and Dave’s over sliced tomato “steaks” and it was awesome.

Anyway, I’ve set up a little zinc-topped table in my dining room with all of my things taking root along with seedlings for the garden:

I’m better about watering when it’s all together.  The easiest of them all was the butterleaf/ Boston bibb lettuce because it came with root balls and all I really had to do was stick them in the ground and water them.

little butterleaf lettuces stripped of all their leaves, soaking in water, waiting to be put back into the ground

Every year I only seem to get a couple of these in the ground- if that- but this year, I’m going to try to not letting a single one go to waste.   I did a HOMEWORK video on it & had help from Aurora.  (Gisele had planned to but ran away and played on the swings- ah vell! 🙂 )  It was super easy and was a fun distraction/ activity for all of us.

To watch this week’s HOMEWORK #19 “PRODUCE REPLANT” : CLICK HERE 

If you decide to join in, share your photos with #ididmyhomework on Instagram so everyone can see what you’ve been up to! Good luck and sending so much love to you all.


ps- I have posted a bunch of other HOMEWORKS over the past couple of months but haven’t posted them on the blog yet, so here’s a link to see all of the HOMEWORK episodes:

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