New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

August 17, 2017 by  
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We know food waste is an issue, but often it’s all too easy to forget about that bag of lettuce in the back of your refrigerator until it rots. It turns out 40 percent of the salad British families buy each year ends up in the trash – but a new refrigerator camera could help slash that waste. The Smarter FridgeCam helps people monitor expiration dates and even suggests recipes – for far less than the price of a smart refrigerator. London-based company Smarter says their FridgeCam can turn any refrigerator into a smart one for £99.99, or $129.50. The wireless FridgeCam allows users to monitor what’s in their fridge from anywhere using an app . But the product doesn’t just snap a fridge selfie. It also tracks expiration dates, notifies users when it’s time to buy more of a product, and offers recipes to help them use up food . Related: Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future Smart refrigerators can cost thousands of dollars, but according to Smarter, the FridgeCam could save users as much as £400, or around $518, every year – meaning the device pays for itself in around three months. The company says their product will work with any refrigerator on the market right now, and their app works for iOS and Android. Smarter founder Christian Lane told The Guardian, “The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialed this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way.” The FridgeCam is currently available for pre-order here . It’s slated for a September launch, and Smarter says free shipping is available for the United Kingdom and United States. + Smarter FridgeCam Via The Guardian Images via Smarter Facebook

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New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

August 17, 2017 by  
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Meeting even basic needs in Gaza can be a challenge for the nearly 2 million people that live in the territory’s 141 square miles. Under  Israeli blockade, which prevents vital supplies from reaching Gaza and inhibits international trade, the Palestinians living there rely on resilience and innovation to survive with the resources they have. Squeezed out of arable land, many Gaza residents are farming upwards, on the rooftops of the dense urban Mediterranean territory. Rooftop farming is fairly new in Gaza. Starting in 2010, an urban farming project by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization equipped over 200 female-headed households with fish tanks, equipment, and supplies to build and maintain an aquaponics growing system, in which fish provide both edible protein and fertilizer for vegetables with roots growing into water, without soil. This initial design was adapted by others to suit their available resources and needs. The current model, designed and built by Palestinians, involves recycled plastic and wood being used to create garden beds, which are then planted with seeds from local farmers. Related: Gaza man’s DIY solar desalination machine can produce 2.6 gallons of fresh water every day The growing rooftop farming scene in Gaza is helping to met the needs of a population increasingly threatened by food insecurity. However, a garden is often more than simply the food that it produces. “There are many useful benefits with this project,” said Dr. Ahmad Saleh, an agricultural consultant, former professor, and community organizer who is helping to promote urban farming in Gaza. “Rooftop agriculture enables and empowers people. It allows them to find effective ways to confront environmental problems and helps create a healthier population.” Muhyeddin al-Kahlout, a former school director, sees his gardens as a social gathering spot. “We are experiencing severe power shortages and there is already a scarcity of recreational places,” he said. “Many of my friends liked the idea. Now they are starting to think about doing the same on their rooftops.” Via Sondos Walid / Electronic Intifada Images via  Mohamed Hajjar  and  David Berkowitz/Flickr

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Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

August 17, 2017 by  
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It’s garlic harvesting season, and those glorious, aromatic bulbs are now adorning farmer’s market stalls just about everywhere. Garlic isn’t just good for flavoring bread and warding off vampires: it has many great uses for your health, as well as around your home and garden. Read on to find out some of its more surprising uses, and develop an even greater love for this fine and fragrant bulb. 1. Ear Infection Remedy The ancient Egyptians used garlic for its many medicinal purposes, as did the Romans and Greeks, and it’s safe to assume that it was used for thousands of years before anyone decided to commit such knowledge to papyrus. Olive oil’s polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, while the allicin in garlic is anti-microbial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, so they work well together to treat bacterial as well as viral infections… much like the type that likes to nestle inside damp ear canals. What you’ll need and how to prepare it: The ratio of garlic to olive oil is 1:2, being 1 clove of garlic, minced (organic is preferable), to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The allicin in garlic stabilizes best in a liquid, but loses its potency quickly: be sure to use this pretty much immediately after being made. Step 1: Heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, and once warmed, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the minced garlic. Keep this on low heat for 20-30 minutes to draw the garlic’s healing properties into the oil without cooking it. Step 2: Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. You should be able to dip a fingertip into it without flinching. Step 3: Strain through cheesecloth or muslin, then use an eyedropper to administer 2-3 drops in the affected ear. Stop up the ear with a cotton ball and ask the sufferer to remain lying down for a few minutes to allow the oil to seep down through the eustachian tube.* Note: Garlic olive oil is also an effective treatment for ear mites in pet cats and dogs. Dip a cotton swab into the oil and apply to the affected ear, wait about 10 minutes, then use a clean swab to clean it away. The mites and eggs will be sloshed out, and remaining oil will help to treat the inflammation caused by their bites. Related: Researchers discover how nature makes powerful antibiotics that defy resistance 2. Topical Treatment for Cold Sores and Acne Those anti-just-about-everything properties mentioned above also work wonders for skin issues like acne breakouts and cold sores. You can just take a raw garlic clove, slice it, and rub the cut side on the affected area a couple of times a day to speed its healing. Another approach is to crush a couple of cloves through a press, and mix the garlic juice with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. Apply with a cotton ball and allow to dry on the skin. 3. Disinfecting Spray Cleaner Ideal for cleaning countertops in your kitchen or bathroom: fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar, and add 5 or 6 finely chopped garlic cloves. Let this steep for about an hour, then spray any surfaces you’d like disinfected. Feel free to add a few drops of grapefruit, orange, or lemon essential oil to both boost the cleansing properties and improve the scent overall. 4. Cough Syrup Garlic-infused honey is a startlingly effective cough syrup, especially for those dry, hacking coughs that can keep you up all night. Keeping in mind how quickly allicin’s potency dissipates, make this about 10 minutes before you’re ready to take it as a remedy. What you’ll need and how to make it: 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional) 1/2 cup honey (raw is preferable) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Mix everything together and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, and take a spoonful of it immediately. Related: DIY throat drops and cough syrup 5. Organic Pesticide for House and Garden Plants This wonderful allium’s anti-fungal and pesticidal properties means that it can work wonders as a wide-spectrum treatment for all kinds of plant-related issues. What you’ll need and how to make it: 1 large garlic bulb: remove the skins from all its cloves 2 liters of water 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap Step 1: Crush the garlic cloves well with a garlic press, and mix with the water. Let this steep for 8 to 12 hours. Step 2: Strain well, and then add the castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s unscented. Step 3: Pour into a spray bottle, and spray your affected plants. This should help to eliminate aphids, borers, caterpillars, white flies, and slugs, and deter them from returning. Repeat every couple of weeks as needed. 6. Glass Repair This only works if you have a tiny, thin crack in glass. Have you ever noticed how sticky garlic is? Well, it’s a natural adhesive! If you drop your iPad and it develops a thin crack, slice a piece of raw garlic and rub it into the break. It’s sticky enough that it’ll keep the broken sides together, at least until you can get the glass replaced properly. *As with any other home remedy, this is not guaranteed to cure advanced infections, and can possibly cause more damage if the eardrum is ruptured. If the infection seems serious, or if the sufferer is in a significant amount of pain, consult a healthcare professional. Images via Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers

August 16, 2017 by  
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Would you eat a burger made of mealworms? Coop , the second-largest supermarket chain in Switzerland , will start selling food made with insects . The country will be the first in Europe to allow sales of insect-based food for people, thanks to laws changed in May. Coop will sell insect burgers and balls from Switzerland-based startup Essento . Switzerland’s food safety laws allow sales of food made from mealworms, crickets , or grasshoppers. Coop will be selling Essento Insect Burgers and Essento Insect Balls, both made with mealworms. The burgers also contain rice, vegetables like leeks and celery, and spices like chili and oregano. The balls – which could be eaten inside pita bread, for example – are filled out with chickpeas, garlic, onions, parsley, and coriander. Related: BUG BUG cutlery set might just make you want to eat insects Coop Head of Category Management Silvio Baselgia said they’re Switzerland’s first retailer to sell Essento’s insect products, which the company has been developing for more than two years. Essento co-founder Christian Bärtsch said in a statement, “As food, insects are convincing in many respects: they have a high culinary potential, their production saves resources, and their nutritional profile is high quality. Thus insects are the perfect complement to a modern diet.” According to Essento’s website, mealworms don’t produce as many greenhouse gases as animal food sources like pigs or cows. 80 percent of insects are edible, as compared with 40 percent of cows, and raising insects requires less food and water. Insects are a good source of protein and also contain unsaturated fatty acids, the vitamins A, B, and B12, and minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron. Essento’s products will be on sale on August 21 in seven Coop stores to start, including branches in Zurich and Geneva. + Essento Via The Guardian and Coop Images via Essento Facebook and Coop

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Finnish scientists make food from electricity

July 28, 2017 by  
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A team of researchers from Finland might have solved world hunger. The scientists just produced a single-cell protein from electricity and carbon dioxide, and it can be further developed for use as food or animal feed. Renewable energy sources such as solar can be used to produce the protein. The final product is a nutritious mix of more than 50 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates with the rest consisting of fats and nucleic acids. “In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine. One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein,” said Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Principal Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The Food from Electricity project is a collaboration between VTT and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). Related: Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos The next step for the researchers is pilot production to work on improving efficiency and to test scaling up for commercial use.  Currently, the production of one gram of protein takes around two weeks, using laboratory equipment that is about the size of a coffee cup. Pitkänen gives a 10-year timeframe for the product to become fully commercialized. “We are currently focusing on developing the technology: reactor concepts, technology, improving efficiency and controlling the process. Control of the process involves adjustment and modelling of renewable energy so as to enable the microbes to grow as well as possible. The idea is to develop the concept into a mass product, with a price that drops as the technology becomes more common. The schedule for commercialisation depends on the economy,” said Professor Jero Ahola of LUT. The technological breakthrough could in a decade not only provide plentiful cheap and nutritious food to people around the world, but also decrease global greenhouse gas emissions emitted from industrial livestock production. Producing animal feed could also free up land for other purposes such as forestry. + Protein produced from electricity to alleviate world hunger Via Futurism Images via LUT

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The Hatchery announces new $30M food incubator for ‘global culinary capital’

July 11, 2017 by  
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A food incubator planned for Chicago’s East Garfield Park could provide much-needed economic growth for a struggling community. Nearly 40 percent of households there live below the poverty level, according to the Chicago Tribune . But the $30 million facility, being built by The Hatchery , could create 150 jobs in its first year, and in five years offer 900 jobs. The organization expects to break ground on the facility later this year. The Hatchery is a non-profit food business incubator started by three Chicago organizations: Accion Chicago , IFF , and Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago . They offer financing, production space, and other resources for startup food businesses, and the new $30 million facility could help them assist even more people in the community. Related: Rooftop wheat fields elevate Chicago’s urban farming scene to exciting new heights 75 to 100 entrepreneurs will be able to start their businesses in The Hatchery’s planned space, which will be around 65,000 square feet. The City of Chicago is providing around $8 million for the venture, largely through tax increment financing, and large food companies like Kellogg Company and Conagra Foods have also pitched in undisclosed amounts. Shared kitchen spaces will help businesses get on their feet, and as they grow they’ll be able to rent one of the 56 private production spaces. Event spaces, meeting rooms, and food storage will also be found inside The Hatchery, where entrepreneurs will be able to receive coaching and training. Accion Chicago will relocate their headquarters to the new facility. Locals will be able to obtain job training or go to food classes there. The space will also host a neighborhood market. Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the project in a press release, saying, “Chicago is the global culinary capital and The Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world.” Construction is slated to begin in October or November of this year, and the space could open in 2018. + The Hatchery Chicago Via the Chicago Tribune Images via The Hatchery Chicago Twitter and The Hatchery Chicago Facebook

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Research shows the UK tosses out 1.4 million edible bananas – a day

May 17, 2017 by  
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Grocery stores to food banks to big corporations like Walmart and Hasbro have all taken measures to combat food waste . But there’s still a long way to go in the fight: new research from United Kingdom (UK) supermarket chain Sainsbury’s reveals daily Britons still throw away 1.4 million bananas that could have been consumed. The study found one third of the nation’s inhabitants would throw out a banana even if it just had a minor bruise. UK charity organization WRAP assembled the Sainsbury’s study, and the results weren’t good. One in 10 Brits would discard a piece of the fruit solely for having a bit of green on the skin. Millions of bananas are thrown away every day, even though they could still have been eaten. 61 percent of Britons don’t use discarded bananas in baking , according to Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe, and the grocery store is hoping to do something about that. Related: Stop throwing away banana peels – eat them instead Crewe said they’re creating an in-store area aimed at inspiring Brits to bake with bananas. They’ll launch these new pop-up banana rescue stations in over 500 stores across the nation. At the rescue station people can grab a Sainsbury’s recipe for banana bread, and find the tools they need to bake their own loaf like mixing bowls, baking tins, and blenders. Crewe said, “While we’re pleased with the success of the in-store trial, we’re determined to help shoppers reduce the number of bananas going to waste at home too.” In November the store announced a one million pound, or around $1.29 million, fund for the second phase of their Waste Less, Save More project. The first phase saw a pilot program in the town of Swadlincote, testing waste-saving ideas and technology the company said could save families around 350 pounds, or $452, on food bills each year and could slash the town’s waste by 50 percent. They’ve also taken actions like getting rid of multi-buy promotions in favor of a lower price structure. Via edie.net Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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Research shows the UK tosses out 1.4 million edible bananas – a day

One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted

May 16, 2017 by  
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There’s a lonely island in the Pacific Ocean that has no human inhabitants, yet it’s completely covered in trash. Henderson Island is so remote, humans only visit it for research every five to 10 years. But the island is also home to the highest density of plastic debris found anywhere on Earth, according to the University of Tasmania . Scientists found the island’s beaches are polluted with around 671 pieces of trash per 10 square feet. No humans live on Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands that are British territories in the southern Pacific Ocean. Henderson Island is 3,106 miles away from the closest major population center. But it’s located near the middle of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current, and waste from South America rolls up on its shores. Jennifer Lavers of the university and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds , with colleague Alexander Bond, recently found an estimated 37.7 pieces of plastic on the remote island. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain Lavers said, “What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans .” The research was published online yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . The amount of trash shocked Lavers, who told The Guardian she’s seen plastic pollution around the world but still expected Henderson’s remote location to provide it some protection. Instead, she found a staggering amount of garbage and hundreds of crabs dwelling in our trash. She told The Guardian, “This plastic is old, it’s brittle, it’s sharp, it’s toxic. It was really quite tragic seeing these gorgeous crabs scuttling about, living in our waste.” She estimates 3,570 new pieces of trash wash up on Henderson Island every single day on just one of the island’s beaches. Around 17 metric tons of plastic has likely been deposited on the island, based on sampling at five different sites. She said 55 percent of the seabirds in the world are at risk – two of the species at risk live on Henderson. Via the University of Tasmania and The Guardian Images via Jennifer Lavers/University of Tasmania and Wikimedia Commons

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

May 9, 2017 by  
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What if instead of prescribing medicine to treat a disease , doctors could prescribe fresh food to help prevent one? Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is testing their food prescription idea with Fresh Food Pharmacy, a service that currently provides diabetic, food insecure patients with recipes and nutritious fare. It turns out giving away healthy food for free is not only socially beneficial, but could ultimately save the healthcare system a decent amount of money. The Fresh Food Pharmacy brims with whole grains, fresh produce, lean meats and fish, greens, and low-fat dairy products. Patients aren’t just handed food, but provided a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, recipes , and instructions on how to make nutritious meals. They receive enough food for five days. Related: HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Fight Childhood Obesity by Offering Healthy Snacks Some people thought handing out free food might rack up a hefty price tag. But diabetes costs are greater than $240 billion a year in the United States. In contrast, Geisinger Health System will pay around $1,000 a year for each diabetes patient in the food pharmacy program. The Geisinger team is tracking hemoglobin A1C levels to help see how much the Fresh Food Pharmacy could save them. CEO David Feinberg estimates each point of decrease in hemoglobin A1C could save them around $8,000, and many of the around 180 patients in the pilot program have seen a drop of three points. America’s health care system today is often termed a disease care system instead; physician Mitesh Patel of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said, “We wait until people get sick and then spend a lot of resources helping them get better.” But he says the Fresh Food Pharmacy offers social and financial incentives to actually help people make a change in their own health. The Fresh Food Pharmacy has made a huge difference for Type 2 diabetes patient Tom Shicowich. He said he used to stop at Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner, or heat up a frozen meal. Now he cooks meals at home with his girlfriend. He’s lost around 45 pounds. And his A1C level has changed significantly. The threshold for Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5. Shicowich’s A1C level was almost 11 a year ago; today it has plummeted to the high-six range. Via NPR Images via Peyri Herrera on Flickr and Geisinger Health System

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5 surprisingly easy edible gardening projects for Spring

March 30, 2017 by  
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Spring has officially sprung and it’s a great time to renew your connection to this beautiful planet we call home. One great way to deepen your connection with the earth is to get outdoors, digging in the dirt and planting food to green the land and provide sustenance for yourself and your family. Newbie gardeners may feel apprehensive about trying to grow edible plants, but there are many simple gardening projects that are easy to do, both indoors and out. From planting fruit trees, to growing leftover herbs , to creating a butterfly garden, here are eight great beginner gardening projects to get you started in deepening your connection to the earth and understanding how to provide for yourself. GROW YOUR OWN TOMATOES INDOORS Who doesn’t love the taste of home-grown cherry tomatoes? While growing tomato plants may seem daunting to a newbie gardener, they are actually surprisingly easy plants to cultivate, either indoors or out. I’ve grown many tomato plants indoors, in window gardens, both in New York City and in San Francisco (two places with wildly different climates), so it doesn’t really matter where you live, if you want to grow delicious tomatoes – you just need to grow them indoors. The trick to successful tomatoes is starting them in the spring with seedlings and then understanding that they require a lot of sun, heat and water to ripen to sweet delicious tomatoes, so you need a bright window (ideally south facing) and daily watering once they start fruiting. I picked my tomato seedlings up at my local Home Depot , but you can find them at most garden centers in the spring. Tomato plants are self-pollinating – which means they don’t need pollinators or other plants to grow fruit, but if you are indoors (without a lot of bees flying about) you can aid the pollination process along by shaking the flowers gently every day or using an electric toothbrush to vibrate them. START A KITCHEN SCRAP SCALLION GARDEN Did you know you can regrow new scallion plants from the bottom end of leftover scallion scraps? Check out Inhabitat editor Yuka Yoneda’s great DIY scallion farm tutorial on how to do this in 10 minutes, using a recycled plastic container, an exacto knife, and your scallion scraps. Why be wasteful when you can be resourceful!? This trick also works (albeit with a slightly different technique) using old onions or garlic that have sprouted. You can plant and sprout onions and garlic and then chop up their greens on an ongoing basis when you need chives. PLANT AN APPLE TREE An apple a day keeps the doctor away – or so goes the old saying, dating back to a Welsh proverb from 1860 . Apples really are good for you, and they’re nature’s perfect snack; tasty, crispy, easily transportable, and they keep well for a long time. They’re also relatively easy to grow in almost every climate in the US. The trick with apples is to understand the concept of chill hours, and know what types of apples grow best in your local climate. Every cultivar of apple needs a certain number of cold winter frost hours (chill hours) to produce fruit in the spring. Some cultivars need more than others and can only be grown in climates where it gets very cold in the winter such as the Northeast (sadly my favorite type, the Honeycrisp apple , falls in this category). Other types, such as Fuji Apple , can be grown in mild climates like that of San Francisco, which don’t get a lot of chill hours. Sapling apple trees can be found at most local garden centers. I got a fabulous multi-variety grafted tree from my local Home Depot. PLANT A POLLINATOR GARDEN WITH NATIVE FLOWERS If you’re wondering why this one is listed under “edible” – it’s important to understand how crucial pollinators are to our food supply . Honeybees , bumblebees and butterflies help pollinate plants, including many of the farmed ones that we eat as food, such as apples, citrus, cherries, pears, soybeans, almonds, peaches, melons, corn, blueberries, coffee, chocolate. Without pollinators , we wouldn’t be able to enjoy much of the food we eat today. And you may have heard that our most important food-crop pollinator , bees, have been dying in large numbers, leading to colony collage disorder. You can support bees, butterflies and other pollinators by planting an organic pollinator garden of native flowers, so your local bees and butterflies have nectar to eat, and then in turn, can help pollinate food for you to eat! Mixes of native pollinator seeds can be found in most garden centers. If you are concerned about colony collapse disorder, don’t use chemical pesticides in your garden (especially neonicotinoids ). Instead use natural pest management techniques, such as bringing in ladybugs , lacewings, mantises, and other predator bugs that eat pests. GROW CITRUS FROM SEED You can easily buy a lemon or an orange tree from a local garden center , but growing your own citrus tree from seed is so much more fun! It is really easy to grow citrus from seeds – watch the video above to see how to do it! The trick to caring for citrus is to understand its growing requirements. Citrus are tropical and subtropical fruits, which mean they need a lot of sunlight and heat. You can grown citrus outdoors year round in Florida and California, but if you live in a climate with colder winters, you’ll need to grow your citrus indoors in pots you can bring into your house before frost. Citrus also generally requires a lot of fertilizer with high nitrogen – some growers like to use special citrus fertilizer . If you want a citrus plant that will produce reliable fruit you’ll need to purchase a commercially grafted variety from a store, like this bad boy . Citrus hybridizes readily, which means that citrus plants you grow from seed could produce some weird hybrid unknown fruit – could be good, or very bad. It also takes many years of growth before a tree grown from seed will set flowers and fruit. Grow your own citrus from seed > GROW AVOCADO FROM SEED In a testament to the growing popularity of avocados, Inhabitat’s most popular post of all time is a guide to growing avocado from seed . Growing avocados from seed is definitely more challenging than growing citrus, but the challenge is part of the fun. Check out this perennially popular how-to for the avocado-growing technique that works for me every time. Similar to the other fruit trees we discussed in this article, if you want an avocado tree that reliably produces good fruit, you should buy a commercially grafted tree. Avocados grown from seed can take ten years to bear fruit, and the fruit is most likely a hybrid, and will not taste like the Hass Avocado from whence the seed came. But growing from seed is so rewarding! Grow your own avocado from seed >

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