Friday, July 22, 2011

Never throw away a celery base again!

Celery bases recycled.
Somewhere along the line, I read that you can create celery starts from the base of your grocery store bought celery stalks.  What a wonderful idea!  I had bought two organic celery bunches.  The base ends have a bit too much root and fiber for my cooking, so I usually cut them off and compost them. 

I had already started cutting off green onion bases and planting them directly into the ground of my garden.  These onion roots easily restart.  Now, I have a little section of my garden amongst my herbs of green onions that I can harvest anytime and still have onions growing at the same time.  Maybe this bed will start off shooting and I will end up with even more.  All from nothing but an idea that one should look for any way in the garden to keep its resources at the highest use possible.  Taking a vegetable from the garden and eating it is the highest use I can think of.  Throwing the scraps or cuttings in the compost isn't so bad.  At least that plant matter will rot and nourish the garden some enough to grow more veggies for me to eat.  But wait, let's not throw that onion root into the compost when I can replant it and get vegetables to eat directly.  That's keeping the onion resource at its highest productivity.  This is a core permaculture concept.  Maximize your garden.  Minimize your work.  Don't waste energy moving resources.  Relax.  Have a home brew.

So, when I heard I could do the same with celery root cuttings, I was thrilled.  Instead of tossing the celery base into the compost bin, walking it back to the compost, and waiting 6 months for it to downgrade into organic matter for me to wheelbarrow back to the garden and then grow other plants, I took the easier path.  I put the celery bases in a bowl of water on top of my refrigerator.  Two steps to the cupboard for the bowl, a stop at the sink for water and three steps to the refrigerator.  One motion to lift the bowl with the cradled celery roots to the top of the refrigerator, and one equal and opposite motion to remove a bottle of home brew from the refrigerator.

I did check on the bowl every now and then to make sure it had enough water and that the cat didn't play with it.  Along side the celery bowl, I had calendula flowers drying and an the ever disappearing camomile flowers drying for tea.  I don't drink home brew exclusively!

Before long, the center of the celery base will grow a new stalk.  After about a week, tiny white roots will appear outside the base.  It's time to move it out to the garden.  Nobody told me to harden off this plant.  Its not like it's a seedling.  It really is the old celery root that has been brutally chopped off to make my dinner.  I pop the base into a hole of heavily laden organic soil, cover and then I water.  I hope to have two celery plants with minimal effort.

Why does this surprise me so?  I have started potatoes from eye cuttings and even started avocado seeds with toothpicks suspending the seed in water.  Maybe it is because there is no seed involved.  It was trash.  I had made the jump in seeing the trash as recyclable organic matter for my compost, but I had not seen the potential of it as a new plant ready for the garden. Some one had to tell me.  I would love to remember the blog or comment that told me.  I would credit them, I would.  I should have been looking for such opportunities.  I should be a better gardener, a better urban homesteader, a better permaculurist.  But at least the idea sunk in.  Note to self: drink less beer.  A little less.

My new celery plants look great in the garden.  Either the bugs or I will be very happy with them.  I am already happy to have tried a new idea.

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