Magazine article Sunset

Mountain Garden Notebook

Magazine article Sunset

Mountain Garden Notebook

Article excerpt

When I look out on my winter garden, with its leafless trees standing stark against the sky (beds of annuals still lying dormant in seed packets on the kitchen table), I get the urge to plant something-and watch it grow quickly-right on my windowsill. That's when I head to the grocery store for produce that quickly reverts back to plant form: avocado, fresh ginger root, pineapple, and sweet potato. Growing these tropical wonders is a fun way for kids to learn about plants. Treat them as short-term experiments, unless you can provide the conditions and space to sustain their growth (a greenhouse is ideal).

Avocado. After eating the avocado, I wash the seed and let it dry for a few days. Then I insert toothpicks around the seed's equator and set it, pointed end up, half-submerged in a glass full of water. Roots and growth start in a few weeks.

Ginger I buy fresh common ginger (Zingiber officinale) and plant the thick root (actually a rhizome) in damp potting soil. Heat, humidity and lots of water make it sprout and grow.

Pineapple. This bromeliad is easy. I just cut off its leafy top with about an inch of fruit attached and set it in a saucer of water, where it roots like magic. …

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