Artisanal clay pots from Egypt can water your plants for up to a month

March 20, 2017 by  
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Gardeners who travel will love these absorbent clay pots from Egypt. Modeled after the Olla, an ancient ceramic pot prevalent throughout North Africa, the small vessels are designed to water plants for weeks at a time–using nothing but gravity. Clayola founder Rami Halim says 20 liters (5 gallons) of water can sustain six to eight plants for up to a month. The Clayola pots, connected via a pipe to a water source placed at a slightly higher elevation, are pushed into the soil until the colorful tops are flush with the surface. A small siphoning pump gets the water flow going and then gravity takes over from there. The porous clay vessel acts like a sponge that slowly releases a small amount of water into the soil – just when it starts to become thirsty. “As water evaporates from a plant’s leaves, it draws water from the soil and as the soil dries up water is drawn from the Clayola to the soil,” Rami said. “In effect the plant extracts the water it needs from each clay pot.” “After a while,” he added, “a plant’s root system will find the source of water and literally hug the Clayola, allowing for maximum water use.” Related: Solar terracotta water filter distills 5 liters of water a day Rami says Clayolas are ideal for travelers. Unlike those of us who tend to either starve or drown plants, this system guarantees “each plant gets the exact amount of water it needs at no risk of over or under irrigation.” And it is said to be 80 percent more efficient than conventional irrigation techniques. Just 3 x 5 inches, the Crayola has a tapered shape that serves multiple functions. Not only does it maximize watering surface at the top, but it also makes it easier to penetrate the surface of the soil. The colorful glazed tops prevent evaporation and enhance the design’s playful aesthetic. There are two reasons Clayola favors employing skilled artisans in Cairo to make their products, according to Rami. “The handmade imperfections are absolutely beautiful,” he said, “and this old world craft is efficient, elegant and produces a surprisingly durable product.” A box of six costs less than $30, plus shipping. For more information, check out Clayola’s Facebook page . + Clayola Egypt

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Artisanal clay pots from Egypt can water your plants for up to a month

Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

February 11, 2017 by  
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Kohlrabi Sounds like something to be shouted in Klingon, doesn’t it? No need to fear: kohlrabi won’t leap up and devour your face if you lean over it. This bizarre little “turnip cabbage” has a thick skin that needs to be peeled off before you get to its juicy little heart (which tastes quite a bit like broccoli stem), and its leaves can be cooked like collard greens or kale. Great recipes to try: Kohlrabi and zucchini fritters with sriracha mayo  – You can make fritters out of just about any vegetable, but these two pair together perfectly. Kohlrabi, cardamom, and coconut curry – Warming and filling, with just the right amount of heat. Shaved kohlrabi with apple and hazelnuts – This is a beautiful way to highlight kohlrabi’s mild sweetness and crunchiness. Spicy kohlrabi-kale kimchi – If you have more kohlrabi than you know what to do with and you’d like to use it up before it goes bad, make a batch of this kimchi and enjoy it later. Celeriac Root It looks like a tumor and tastes like celery, but what can you do with it? Quite a lot, actually. Celeriac is indeed part of the celery family, but is cultivated for its large root instead of its stalks. Great recipes to try: Celery root puree with balsamic beets and pearl onions – Buhhh. If anyone ever disparages vegan cuisine, feed them this, and it’ll blow their minds. Celeriac, fennel, and pear salad with lentils – Celery root’s refreshing crunch is echoed by both the fennel and sweet pear, and complemented by creamy, nutty Puy lentils. Celery root steaks with tomatillo salsa verde – Way to incorporate 2 CSA box items in one recipe! The savory meatiness of the root steak is brightened by spicy green salsa, and is a perfect summer dinner recipe. Celeriac and roasted garlic soup with parsley oil – This is a delicious, elegant soup that’s both perfect for cooler evenings, and for when you’re aiming to impress dinner guests. Or in-laws. Same idea. Rutabagas Also known as “Swedes”, rutabagas are root vegetables that likely originated by crossing a turnip with cabbage. Sounds bizarre, I know, but these tuberous powerhouses are quite versatile. They have a nutty sweetness from the cabbage, and the firm crunch normally associated with turnips. They can be used raw or cooked, and they make a great substitute for mashed potatoes for Paleo recipes, or for folks avoiding nightshade vegetables. Great recipes to try: Rutabaga fries – They’re low carb, vegan, AIP paleo compliant, and incredibly delicious. Spiralized rutabaga noodles – You can top them with anything you like. Try them with pesto and hazelnuts. Rutabaga hash with chilies and bacon – This can easily be made vegan with veg bacon or even toasted coconut. Latkes – An all-time favorite pancake, only made with rutabaga instead of potato. Fennel It looks like something from an alien landscape with its bulbous base and frilly hair, but fennel is a wonderful vegetable that’s quite versatile with a slight licorice flavor. You can eat it raw or cooked, and the green fronds are edible as well. Great recipes to try: Braised fennel with capers and olives – Magic happens when you combine the ingredients in this recipe. Arugula, fennel, and olive salad – A great mixture of textures, flavors, sweetness, and bite. Fennel, asparagus, and artichoke empanadas – This is a perfect way to showcase summer produce. Roasted fennel and onion gratinati – It’s as scrumptious with vegan almond cheese as it is with regular Parmesan. Garlic Scapes They may look like a tangle of skinny snakes, but these vibrant greens are garlic’s flower stalks, and they’re as delicious as their root bulb, only milder. Garlic scapes can be pureed into sauce, chopped and sautéed like green beans, added to frittatas… they’re really only limited by your own culinary creativity. Great recipes to try: Garlic scape pesto – One of the easiest and most delicious recipes for scapes. You can add in foraged greens like garlic mustard, lambsquarters, or dandelion leaves to. Summer vegetable strata – A brilliant way to use random bits from your CSA box in one delicious dish. Beet, garlic scape, and leek pizza – Pizza is fabulous no matter what you put on it, but these ingredients elevate it to an art form. Grilled garlic scape and asparagus soup with caramelized shallots – A lovely summer soup that’ll impress just about anyone. Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) These adorable little knuckle-shaped roots go quite nutty when you cook them, and are woefully under-used in most people’s kitchens. Not related to globe artichokes, these tubers are part of the sunflower family, and are packed with protein, potassium, iron, and calcium. Great recipes to try: Crispy Jerusalem artichokes with aged balsamic – Roasting the sunchokes brings out their natural sweetness, and the balsamic adds depth to their flavor. Roasted Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut, and thyme soup – All of these rich flavors harmonize into a luxurious, creamy soup. Baked Jerusalem artichoke chips – Who doesn’t love chips? These are low-carb, paleo, vegan, and have a low glycemic index too. Sunchoke banana cake with maple syrup drizzle – Like any other tuber, these add richness, moisture, and texture to baked goods. Tomatillos Most people who are unfamiliar with South American cuisine may never have encountered a tomatillo, but they’re definitely worth getting to know. Relatives of tomatoes and ground cherries (physalis), these papery-coated green gems have a great tart acidity that works beautifully for salsas and other sauces, and can be sweetened for preserves and jams. Great recipes to try: Watermelon, strawberry, and tomatillo salad – If this isn’t a perfect summer salad, I don’t know what is. Tomatillo and lime salsa verde – Sharp and fresh, it’s as good on huevos rancheros as it is scooped up with tortilla chips. Green shakshuka – One of our favorite brunch dishes. Tomatillo jam – It can be made thick or thin (as a spread or as a syrup for pancakes), and is ridiculously good. Radishes Although most people can identify radishes at a glance, these poor little roots often get relegated to salads. Regardless of whether you’ve received cherrybelle, watermelon, or even daikon radish, you’d be amazed at how their flavors change when they’ve been roasted with the aforementioned garlic and olive oil (or butter). Great recipes to try: Watermelon radish tea sandwiches – These radishes are bright pink and green, and are fabulous when sliced thinly on bread. Try these tea sandwiches for a light summer meal, or make open-faced versions for bridal showers. Mulor shaak (spicy sauteed radish greens) – Don’t toss those radish greens into the compost! They’re the tastiest part of the vegetable, and are divine when sauteed with oil and spices. Quick pickled radishes – This one is ideal if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat your radishes before they go bad: just make a quick pickle of them and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Cinnamon sugar radish chips – Although this one sounds a bit weird, the result is startlingly good. The radishes retain their warming bite, which is complemented perfectly by the cinnamon sugar. If you’ve come across some other veggies , herbs, or even fruits that have been new and fun to explore, feel free to share your recipes in the comments section below. Images by Stacy Spensley , ted_major , romana klee , ilovemypit , mom2rays , Green Mountain Girls Farm , stetted , and Oregon State University via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

The top 5 Inhabitat videos of the year

December 31, 2016 by  
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From foraging for mushrooms (and avoiding the poisonous ones) to eating your banana peels instead of throwing them away and touring NYC’s first micro apartment buildings , we had loads of fun bringing you all sorts of videos this year. Check out our top 5 videos of the year below and vote for your favorite. [poll id=118]

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The top 5 Inhabitat videos of the year

Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

August 24, 2016 by  
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®Flickr/ David Edwards The cucamelon,  Melothria scabra , is similar to a cucumber with a crisp bite and an aromatic, citrusy flavor. Its petite striped appearance lends it a number of alternative nicknames, from ” Sandia de Raton” (” Mouse Melon”) to “Mexican Sour Gherkin.” Image via Underwood Gardens Can’t find cucamelons at your farmer’s market? While August is probably too late in the summer to start growing your own (unless you live in Hawaii or the very warmest parts of the Southern US), you can bookmark these green cuties in your favorite seed catalog and look forward to starting the seedlings early next spring . Cucamelons are reputedly easy to grow and even if your garden consists of containers on a balcony, you can still grow them up a trellis or inside a tomato cage. RELATED: 30 easy and delicious popsicle recipes While you might be tempted to Instagram them instead of cooking, you can slice up tiny cucamelons to make a refreshing, colorful radish salad. If you don’t want to slice up the adorable baby watermelons, you can also serve them whole as a garnish on a summer cocktail – try spearing a cucamelon on a swizzle stick and serving it with a refreshing mint julep. Image via Snaplant Cucamelon-Radish Salad Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need about 14-16 cucamelons, 5 radishes, rice vinegar, fresh dill, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Step Two: Slice and mix Slice the cucamelons lengthwise and add them to a salad bowl. Slice the radishes into thin rounds and mix in. Drizzle the salad with about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Toss with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with fresh dill fronds and serve. Serves 4. RELATED: 6 super easy gardening projects to do this weekend Can’t find any cucamelons to cook with? Try one of these refreshing summer recipes made with watermelon or cucumber instead, and bring along to your next BBQ or picnic. Image via Pixabay Frozen Watermelon Smoothie Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need one small seedless watermelon, or about 4 cups of diced watermelon with seeds removed, 2 bananas, 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 one-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root. Step Two: Freeze Pop cubed watermelon in the freezer for a couple hours, or until completely frozen. You can prepare extra frozen watermelon in plastic bags or food storage containers so its ready to use later. Step Three: Blend Fire up your blender and drop in the coconut water and peeled ginger. Blend until the ginger is well chopped. Add the 2 bananas and blend. Finally, add the frozen watermelon and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve in a glass with a straw and enjoy! Serves 4. Image via Wikimedia Yogurt-Cucumber Dip Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need: 2 cups of Greek yogurt, 2 large cucumbers (or 4 small Persian cucumbers), 1 small clove garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill. Step Two: Grate and dice If you’re using regular large grocery-store cucumbers, you’ll need to peel the thick, bitter skin off first. If you’re using thin-skinned Persian cucumbers, you can simply wash them and chop off the ends. Using a box grater, grate all of your cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumbers gently and drain off any excess water and juice. Finely dice the small clove of garlic. Step Three: Mix dip In a bowl, mix the two cups of Greek yogurt with the grated cucumber, diced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, and chopped dill. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and some ground black pepper and taste, adding more if desired. Let the dip sit in a covered dish in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or freshly warmed baguette or pita bread.

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Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

Turning Cities Into Urban Gardening Micro Food Producers

July 26, 2016 by  
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Cities face immense challenges when creating attractive green spaces for their inhabitants, striving to create beautiful, engaging public space while also walking the narrow tightrope of budget and resource allocation. Formerly, city landscaping…

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Turning Cities Into Urban Gardening Micro Food Producers

Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

May 2, 2016 by  
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Urban farming is a trend that appears to be here to stay, and is even catching on at airports, shipping containers and rooftops. I recently attended a lively session at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference in Lexington,…

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Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

Vibrant new community garden reforms a crime-ridden London corner

March 15, 2016 by  
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Farming preschool would teach kids how to grow their own food

February 29, 2016 by  
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Lush green oasis and rooftop farm will reinvent Paris streets

February 12, 2016 by  
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Make your own personal scallion farm by regrowing your kitchen scraps

January 20, 2016 by  
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Wait! Before you throw those scallion ends away, did you know that you can use them to regrow green onions all year-round ? See how easy it is to save money and never have to buy scallions again by following our easy DIY project using recycled materials that will take about ten minutes to do. Watch our video after the jump for the full tutorial. Read the rest of Make your own personal scallion farm by regrowing your kitchen scraps

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