Talk Dirt(y) To Me

Talk Dirt(y) To Me

A Designed Life

With Cecile Levee

Sunday, May 24, 2020

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Gone are the days when the only time the haute and fab would be caught with dirt under their dainty little digits would be when dusting the safari dirt off their designer boots during a Champagne-fuelled search for the big five on a private reserve.

That was then, not so long ago before luxury was redefined, even if only for now. The new “luxe speak” is all about sustainability; being kind and gentle to the environment so the environment can in turn sustain us. It's growing what you eat, eating what you grow. And most important, sharing what you grow so everyone can eat at the table.

Sustainability is everyone's responsibility, even small changes and small input can start a movement that teaches everyone how to fish, instead of us just giving a fish. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

Here are some small ways you can cast your fishing net and start regenerating your foods to help feed your family, friends and, hopefully, a community.

Most vegetables are fairly easy to grow from cuttings, scraps and seeds and without having the fortune of owning your own estate.

Lettuce, cabbage and bok choy are very easy to grow from scraps. Place scrap leaves or root part with about an inch left on the root in a bowl or glass with a little water. Place the bowl somewhere that gets good sunlight, and spritz the leaves with water a couple of times each week. After 3 or 4 days, roots should start to appear along with new leaves. Now you can transplant your lettuce, cabbage or bok choy in soil.

Onions are also easy to grow indoors or outdoors. Cut the root off the onion about an inch. Cover lightly with potting soil and keep in a sunny area.

For scallions, simply put the white base with the roots intact in a container of water and place in direct sunlight. Change the water every other day and the green will keep growing. Just cut what you need and leave it to continue growing.

Garlic can regenerate from just one clove. Plant it with the roots facing down in potting soil. Garlic likes plenty of direct sun. Once you notice new shoots, cut the shoots back and your plant will produce a bulb. You can also replant from the new bulb.

For cilantro, just place the stem in a glass of water and leave in a sunny area. When the roots grow a couple of inches long, you can transplant into a pot and you will notice new sprigs in a few weeks.

For basil, cut a stem about four inches long. Place stem in a glass of water with the leaves well above the water line. Place glass in a bright area but not in direct sunlight. Roots will begin to form in a few days; when the roots reach a few inches long, they are ready for transplanting in soil.

For ginger root, stick a piece in potting soil, making sure the buds are facing up. You should have new shoots and new roots in about a week and once this happens you can pull it up and use it again. Always save a piece of the rhizome (creeping rootstalk or rootstalks) so that you can replant and keep growing more ginger.

Tomatoes can be grown from the seeds. Rinse the seeds and let them dry. Plant in rich potting soil, and allow the seeds to grow a few inches tall before transplanting them outdoors.They need lots of sunlight and need to be watered a few times per week.

Celery is one of the easiest vegetables to grow from scraps. Cut off the bottom and place it in a bowl with a small amount of warm water. Place the bowl in direct sunlight and after a week, you should begin to see leaves appearing and growing along the bottom. It is now ready to be transplanted in soil and pretty soon you will have fully grown celery.

Bean sprouts, soak about a tablespoon of the beans in a jar with shallow water. Leave overnight, drain off the water and place beans back in the container. Cover the container with a towel overnight and rinse them the next morning. Keep repeating until the sprouts begin to sprout and reach the size that you like.

Peppers can also grow from the seeds. Plant them in potting soil or in your garden and keep them in direct sunlight. Peppers grow really fast and don't need a lot of care and attention. Once you have a crop, you can save some of the seeds and repeat your planting.

For lemongrass, place the root in a glass bowl or jar with enough water to cover it and leave it in the sun. After a week, you should notice new growth then it is ready for transplant to a pot or in your garden.

For pumpkin, spread the seeds in a sunny area outside and cover them with soil. You can also plant a whole pumpkin; just fill it with soil and plant.

Potatoes can grow from potato peels. Your peels must have eyes on them. Cut the peels into two-inch pieces, making sure each piece has at least two or three eyes. Allow them to dry overnight and then plant, digging about four inches deep in the soil. Ensure the eyes are facing up when planted. It will take a few weeks before the potato plant to begin to grow.

Sweet potatoes can be grown just like regular potatoes. Cut the sweet potato in half and suspend it using toothpicks above a container of shallow water. Roots and sprouts will begin to appear in a few days. Once the sprouts reach about four inches or so in length, twist them off and put them in a container of water. When the roots from the container reach about an inch in length, you can plant them in soil.

For pineapple, cut the top off and insert a few toothpicks to hold it above a container filled with water. Place the container in direct sunlight. Change the water every other day and fill so that the water reaches the base. Roots should appear in about a week and are now ready to transplant into potting soil.

For avocado, wash the seed and use toothpicks to suspend over water in a bowl or jar with the water high enough to cover the bottom inch of the seed. Keep the container in a warm place but not in direct sunlight. Check the water every day and top up as needed. It can take as long as six weeks for the stem and roots to appear, and when the stem is about 6 inches in length you will need to cut it back to 3 inches. When leaves begin to appear, you can transplant the seed in the ground, be sure to leave about half of the seed above the ground.

So, let's slip on those Hunter boots, Panama hats, an ultra chic or two handcrafted basket from our straw boss Richard at Round Hill Hotel (by the way, they have a fabulous, sustainable, organic garden from which they feed their Pretty People) or from BeenyBud Jamaica exquisite basket collection to pivot you from Farmer Jack to Farmer Jacques.

You can find Cecile Levee talking about wines on her YouTube channel Wine With Me (for beginners) with Cecile Levee and musing about everything designed with the hashtag #adesignedlifewithcecilelevee:

IG: @cecilelevee

FB: Cecile Neita Levee

IG: @winewithmeja

IG: @adesignedlifeja

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