Updated: Sep 6, 2020
During this unusual time, it is likely you find yourself picking up new hobbies and trying to get creative with ways in which you connect to nature. There are many ways you can achieve this from the safety of your home since plants are so versatile and can be used in so many different ways. So here are some of our favorite ways to connect more with plants and nature during this pandemic. Everything you will need for these new activities can be easy to find in a local grocery store, your fridge, cabinets, or a local nursery!
1.Natural Dyes: Read our blog on natural dyes to learn ways in which you can use veggies, fruit, spices, and other plants as dye to avoid using toxic, harsh chemical dyes that aren’t readily available during this time. For a recap, fruits such as berries and avocados, vegetables such as beets and onions, and black beans as well as flowers can be used to create different color dyes. All you’ll need is a fixative consisting of vinegar, salt, and water, a natural fabric such as cotton, linen, or silk, and raw fruit, vegetables, and/or flowers boiled to tie dye the natural way. Since this is a non-toxic alternative to traditional dye, it can be done from the comfort of your home. So grab some veggies, fabric, and get dying!
2. Growing veggies from scraps: During this time, you can entertain yourself by watching a plant bloom from your very own vegetable scraps. This is an exciting activity for the whole family to do together and a great way to add more plants to your home. This is also a sustainable way to reuse vegetable scraps rather than simply tossing them in the garbage as waste. All you have to do is collect the scraps from your vegetables and follow these simple steps:
Lettuce, cabbage, and bok choy can be grown by cutting off the bottom of the stalks or heads and placing in a shallow bowl of water. Wait a few days, and these cuttings will start to sprout roots. Once you see the sprouts, you can transplant these cuttings into soil in a sunny spot inside or outside and watch them grow into full heads of lettuce, cabbage, and bok choy.
Garlic and chives can be grown from an individual garlic clove with the papery membrane. Garlic cloves can be put in a small bowl or cup of water at the bottom, and the roots will start to grow within a few days, then they can be transplanted in soil.
Carrot tops can be regrown by cutting off the end of a carrot and placing it in a shallow bowl of water. The greens will grow and can be harvested for salads, sauces, and other purposes.
Celery can be grown from scraps by cutting off the bottom 2 inches of the stalks, rinsing them off, and placing them in a shallow bowl of warm water with the cut part facing up. Place the bowl in a sunny spot and change the water every other day. In a few days growth will begin as tiny yellow leaves around the center and eventually will turn a dark green color. After a week or so, replant the celery into soil leaving the tips of the leaves uncovered. Keep the soil wet and soon the celery will continue to grow.
Avocados can simply be grown from the pit. Once you finish an avocado, keep the pit, wash and dry it, and then fill a glass with water just below the brim. Place the broad end of the pit pointing down towards the water, then put three toothpicks around the pit, and place the pit on the brim of the glass so that the avocado pit is about an inch in the water. Place the glass in a warm, indirect sunny spot, and change the water every week or so. In two to six weeks, the roots will start to sprout, and once the stem is about seven inches tall, cut it back to half and watch as leaves start to grow. Once this happens, transplant the pit into soil about ten inches in diameter and watch it grow into an avocado!
Potatoes are another easy vegetable to grow from scraps. Cut the potatoes or potato into two pieces and make sure that each half has at least an eye or two, which are small stems that sprout from the potatoes, and then let the pieces sit at room temperature overnight until they are dry. After they are dried out, plant the halves about a foot apart in 8 inches of soil and watch them grow!
Tomatoes can become a messy task to compost, so instead, save the seeds and plant them! After collecting the seeds, rinse them off, dry them thoroughly, and plant them in potting soil indoors. They will begin to sprout a few inches, and once this happens, transplant them outdoors. Place tomato plants in sunny spots and water them a few times a week.
You can do this activity with many vegetables and fruits in addition to those listed above!
3. Grow herbs: This has definitely been one of our favorite quarantine activities. Growing herbs can be a fun and relatively easy indoor activity. Herbs are a major part of cooking and a great addition to drinks. Herbs also have many healing properties which makes them a great plant to have on hand. Herbs are low maintenance plants, and they are easy to care for. Drainage is crucial for them to thrive, and most herbs flourish in six plus hours of direct sunlight daily. Make sure to try growing mint, chives, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage, and basil, all of which grow well indoors. We love checking up on our herb seedlings daily to see their progress. You can get seeds at a number of stores or you can look into growing herbs from their scraps!
4. Propagating Plants: We have been getting our hands dirty propagating some plants into new plant babies to add to our collection during this time. Propagating refers to taking cuttings of plants, usually pieces of stems, roots, and leaves to transplant and grow new plants. To do this, carefully cut a 5 inch stem just below a leaf and remove all but a couple of leaves at the top. Then, you can use water propagation, which is one of many ways to propagate plants. Water propagation is when the roots develop after you place the cuttings into a glass or jar of water. With water propagation, you can easily see once your cuttings are ready to be planted into a pot of soil. Pothos and Philodendron are some of the easiest plants to propagate this way, however these types of plants along with others, can skip the soil phase and stay in water to grow. Other easy to propagate plants include succulents, Wandering Jews, and Zz plants. If you propagate these plants into soil, expose them to more direct light and watch them grow into new plant babies!
5. Cook new plant-based meals that incorporate immune healing ingredients. Garlic, as talked about previously in our blog on garlic, is great for boosting immunity and is a delicious addition to foods. Before cooking with the garlic, crush or cut the garlic and let sit for 20 mins to let the active compound, allicin, activate, giving garlic its healing benefits. A favorite way to cook garlic is to roast garlic and use it as a dip or spread. To roast garlic, cut off the top end of the bunch and place in tin foil. Drizzle on oil of choice and spice it up, then roast it in an oven for 30 minutes. When done, the garlic cloves will be soft, spreadable, and delicious! Oregano is another great addition to food that helps to boost your immune system. A great way to use oregano is in a vegan creamy tomato soup. To make this soup, take your scrap-grown tomatoes, dice them up and cook with your homemade vegetable broth, spices, herbs, such as oregano, and onion. Once cooked, blend the ingredients with your cooked scrap-grown potatoes! Other recipes that you can make are pesto from the carrot greens you grew from carrot scraps, basil, and garlic. There are so many other great ways to incorporate vegetables, herbs, and spices into plant-based healing recipes!
As we've said before, plants and nature are healing, and during a time like now when you may not be able to get outside as much, why not bring nature to you in new, unique ways!