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A special Thank You to Farmers Pal for compiling this and posting on Facebook!! http://www.farmerspal.com/organic-products/art-and-crafts/page/1/
Pink and Red
You can use any number of options, but for a ton of color with almost no flavor, beets are your best bet. Use the juice from the canned kind, or make your own by either boiling or juicing the raw vegetable. Learn exactly how to make frosting colored by beets from Joy the Baker.
Alternately, you can also use any red fruit, like raspberries or pomegranate. Just know that these may change the flavor – which can be a great thing! Lemon cupcakes with real raspberry-infused frosting just so happen to be a favorite around these parts. To procure your dye, pulverize the berries in a food processor or blender, then strain out the colored liquid using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
Carrots are your best bet for achieving a perfectly peachy tint. Citrus may seem promising, but it doesn’t lend much color. Stick to carrots and you’re sure to be pleased. Just juice them (or buy fresh carrot juice), and don’t worry about the flavor. Carrots are naturally sweet! Itsy Bitsy Foodies offered a super tutorial on how to make food coloring from carrots.
For yellow you’ll need to hit the spice rack. Both saffron flowers and turmeric powder will create that sunny, summery hue. These are each intensely-colored spices, so a little goes a long way. Still, be careful, start with very small amounts, and taste as you add. I recommend these two recipes for yellow food coloring: Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy published an awesome recipe for making icing colored with saffron. Nouveau Raw published a delicious recipe for raw vegan frosting colored with turmeric. Check them out and then tell me how yellow and delicious they were.
Are you forever trying to find ways of getting greens into your kids? (Or into yourself?!) Well, how about . . . spinach in the frosting! That’s right, a little spinach will work like a charm, and doesn’t impart any flavor at all (PROMISE!).
You can use juice, or you can even use the whole leaves. I recommend that you try The Edible Perspective’s recipe for Green Monster Wipped Green Frosting, which includes two cups of spinach leaves.
Another option for that emerald tone involves a “health food” supplement called chlorophyll. Liquid chlorophyll is available in most alternative markets (co-ops, Whole Foods) and is quite inexpensive. Besides it’s purported health benefits, it’s a great option for natural food coloring.
Blue and Purple
And finally, the tricky twosome. Blues and purples can be a bit harder, but they certainly are possible. Blueberries and blackberries can be used in the same process as described above (for other berries, under “Pink and Red”). But your real best bet is a totally unexpected vegetable: cabbage!
That’s right! Red cabbage can be used to make both purple and blue food coloring. For the former, cut and boil the cabbage until the water is very dark and concentrated. This will give you a pretty purple dye.
For the latter, slowly stir in baking soda, a bit at a time. It will react with the cabbage juice and produce a perfectly pretty blue hue.
And as an alternative, you can use natural food dye in a savory recipe. Remember, food dye isn’t reserved just for sweets and treats!
Remember that working with natural coloring will be different than the artificially amplified colors you’re probably used to. In general you can expect a paler, more pastel-type of result. It is best if you experiment, play around with quantities and combinations, add a little at a time, and always taste as you go. Most importantly, let your creative juices flow, and have fun with it!
Fruit in a Bag – Strawberries June 21, 2012
The easiest, cheapest way to grow strawberries requires nothing more than an unused reusable shopping bag and a quick trip to a nursery for some strawberry plants and potting mix. The project can cost you less than $10 (you can’t even get two week’s worth of organic strawberries for that price!) and takes 20 minutes start to finish.
- 6 to 8 strawberry plants
- 1 sturdy reusable shopping bag
- 1 32-quart bag organic potting mix,
- 1 bottle liquid organic tomato food
- 1 sturdy crate or small outdoor table
1. Use your scissors to cut some drainage holes in the bottom of your bag.
2. Cut a horizontal slit about two inches long in the center of the bag’s front and in the center of its back.
3. Next, cut similar slits in the two long sides of your bag. Our bag is about 20 inches tall, so we cut two slits per side. Make the first slit a few inches above the base and the second slit at least 6 inches above the first. If your reusable bag is shorter, between 11 and 15 inches tall, just make a single slit in each side, about halfway between the top and the bottom of the bag.
4. Situate your sturdy crate or table somewhere that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day, and place the bag on it. Make sure the bag sits at least a foot off the ground, so the plants hang down without touching the ground, which helps keep them clean, disease free, and away from creepy crawlies who might chew on your berries.
5. Now fill your bag with potting mix to the level of the lowest slits (or the single slit if your bag is shorter). Pick up the bag and thump it down firmly to settle the soil.
6. Working from the inside, poke the leaves and the crown (the thick center section between the roots and the leaves) of one plant through each slit and spread the roots out.
7. If you have a taller bag (taller than 15 inches), continue filling the bag with potting mix up to the next level of slits, and repeat step 4.
8. Fill the remainder of your bag with potting mix to within 2 inches of the top, and thump the bag one last time to settle your mix. Spread out the roots of your last two plants on top of the mix, and cover the roots with mix, filling the bag within ½ inch of the top. Just make sure the crown of each plant is out of the potting mix and its roots are completely covered.
9. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist; in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day. Should the potting mix get very dry, set the entire bag in a sink or tub filled with a couple inches of water, and let the bag’s contents soak up water until the mix is moist right up to the top, usually within a few hours.
10. Rotate your bag 180 degrees every two to three days, so all the plants get sun exposure. Once a week, feed the plants with organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
Then, just wait for your berries to appear! Once you see flowers, you can expect ripe berries in just a couple of weeks. Wait until each berry is evenly colored and a tiny bit soft before you harvest.
Don’t toss your bag or the plants once they stop producing fruit, either. Move it into a sheltered, unheated location that’s protected from cold. Water it once a month, and move it back outdoors next spring and there will be another organic crop with NO hassle.
1. Lay the bag flat and poke drainage holes all over one side. Flip it over, smooth the bag into an even layer, and use a sharp knife or scissors to cut out a rectangle about two thirds the size of the top of the bag.
2. Plant lettuce, spinach, radish, or other seeds in the exposed soil mix, following their packets’ instructions. Water and feed as for potatoes.
3. Harvest just the outside leaves of the plants to extend your yield; as the plants keep growing, you can keep harvesting. Or tuck in a seed or two when you do remove a whole plant so you’ll reap another round of greens. You can start growing greens (and radishes, too) in very early spring, as soon as the nights don’t drop much below freezing. Greens appreciate some shade in the heat of summer, so during the hottest months you may want to move your salad bag to a spot that becomes shady in the afternoon.
Whatever you choose to grow, at the end of the season, dump the bag of used soil into a raised bed or more permanent container or spread it in a corner of your yard that needs it.
1. Buy a bag of organic potting soil, cut a few drainage holes in the bottom of it, and then stand the bag where you want to grow your crop. (Put it in a watertight tray if you don’t want to stain the surface beneath.) Potatoes are very hardy, so it’s safe to keep the bag outside as long as the nighttime temperature doesn’t drop much below freezing.
2. Cut open the top of the bag. Tuck two small potatoes about 4 inches deep into the potting mix. If you live near a garden center, you may be able to buy “seed” potatoes; if not, or if you are looking for variety, try using a couple of small organic potatoes from your supermarket (potatoes that are already sprouting are ideal). Water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Feed with a liquid organic fertilizer every few weeks.
3. When flowers start to pop up on your potato plants, you can pull out a few “new” potatoes by rooting gently around in the soil with your fingers. Or harvest the whole lot anytime, before the plants start to turn yellow. Harvesting is easy: Just tip over the bag onto a sheet of plastic and pick out the fruits of your labor (no digging required). If you have space, you may want to start a new bag every few weeks from very early spring through early summer, to extend your harvest. If thinking “potato” doesn’t make your mouth water, chances are you’ve never tasted the difference between store-bought and fresh-from-the-garden potatoes.
In only a few weeks this quick-and-easy container salad garden will start serving up fresh goodies. Add cherry tomatoes and there are your salads.
pot is about 12 inches tall and 12 inches across at the top
- somewhere outside
- > 8 hours of daily sun
- Check out another easy container veggie garden that also works in this size container.
- bucket or 12′ diameter x 12″deep pot or Dollar Store upside down planter made from recycled shopping bags.
- 1 plant will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits
- 1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery).
- 1 tomato cage. 1 20 quart bag organic potting mix. Some organic plant feed
grow just one plant, and it will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits.
1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery)
1 tomato cage, the largest size your retailer carries. (a tomato cage is just what you guess: wire mesh you place around your tomato plant to support it as it grows. Depending on the variety, cherry tomatoes can grow as tall as 10 feet. Just avoid any that look as though they’re covered in plastic. That’s usually vinyl, a toxic plastic that can expose your plants to lead and other undesirable substances.)
1 20-quart bag of organic potting mix.
1. Drill ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edge, plus another few in the center bottom so excess water can drain. If you’ve bought a planter with drainage holes already, you can skip this step.
2. Pick a location. For best fruiting, you need a location where the plant will get at least 8 hours of direct sun each day (the roots can be in the shade). You can skip the tomato cage—and save a little cash—if you have a spot close to a balcony or railing, which you can use to support the tomato vines.
3. If you do go with a cage, insert the pointy end into the planter, and then fill the planter with potting mix.
4. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.
5. Dig a small hole in the center of the planting mix. Carefully remove your tomato plant from its original pot (unless the pot is designed to dissolve), and slide it into the hole, planting it deep enough so only the top four to six leaves show once you cover it back up with potting mix.
6. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed your plant organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
7. As the plant grows, the branches will start to poke through the holes in your tomato cage. Push them back inside so the plant doesn’t droop.
Time to Pick!
Most cherry tomato plants will start flowering in about a month. You’ll see flowers appear that are followed by tiny green fruits. After a few weeks, those turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes you can harvest. A really ripe cherry tomato will come off its stem very easily and is well worth waiting an extra day for, so hold off on picking them. Pluck individual ripe fruits every day for best results. With luck, your plant will continue to produce right up until frost. If the weather turns unseasonably cool or an early frost threatens, tuck an old sheet over and around the plant to extend your harvest season.
1 packet lettuce seeds (or 1 six-pack seedlings from a nursery)
1 pound onion “sets” (or 1 packet onion seeds)
1 packet cucumber seeds (or one seedling from a nursery)
1 64-quart bag organic potting mix
1 bottle liquid organic plant food
1. Poke ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edges of the pan so excess water can drain. (If you put the holes in the flat bottom and then put the planter on a flat surface, it may not drain as well.)
2. Put your planter where you want it and then fill it with potting mix. Trust me, it is easier to carry the potting mix in its bag than in the planter.
3. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.
4. Plant two cucumber seeds (or the cucumber seedling) in the center. Poke two shallow holes an inch or so apart with your finger, drop a seed into each, and cover. (If both sprout you’ll snip off the smaller seedling after a few weeks, leaving just one plant.)
5. Plant your lettuce in two horizontal rows about 3 inches away from each of the pan’s shorter ends. Use your finger to draw each row and then sprinkle a couple of seeds near each end and in the middle, or plant a seedling in each location. Press lettuce seeds firmly into the potting mix with the ball of your finger, but don’t cover them, as lettuce often germinates better if it has light shining on it. Water carefully around the lettuce seeds until the seedlings appear and send down roots, so as not to wash the tiny seeds away.
6. Plant your onions along the two remaining sides. Plant six to 12 of your onion sets, or about 12 to 24 seeds (that should keep you well supplied with green onions on a weekly basis) 1 inch from the edge of your container, about 4 to 6 inches apart. Make sure the pointed end of each set is up and completely buried. Repeat this step once a week, placing the new sets or seeds at least an inch away from onions that are already growing.
7. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
Time to pick!
• In about three weeks you can gently pull out or snip off extra lettuce seedlings, leaving the most productive plant in each spot, and eat up the “thinnings” in a salad. A week or two later, you can start harvesting your full-grown lettuce leaves. Gently bend them down and away from the plant so the leaves separate from the stem, leaving the center of the plant and the roots intact. By harvesting only the outer leaves, your six plants will continue to feed you for many weeks, or even all summer and late into the fall. If the center of the lettuce plants start to grow tall, that means they’re preparing to flower, and the leaves will get bitter. Plant more lettuce seeds right away to replace those plants, and cut the old plants off at the surface of the soil.
• Onions will be ready to harvest in as little as three weeks, a bit longer if grown from seeds. They’re ready to eat when they are as big as you want them. Leave them longer and the bottoms will start to thicken into bulbs. If you continue to plant more sets (or seeds) every week, you will have green onions to harvest all spring, summer, and autumn.