DIY: Grow Your Own

Have you heard the story of the White House garden?

Michelle Obama got bit by the healthy lifestyle bug when her family found itself busy on the campaign trail, eating what was convenient instead of what was good. At first, she just bought more fruits and vegetables like a normal parent. But by the time the Obamas moved into the White House, Michelle was thinking about the big picture: where food grows, how it grows, how far it travels, and how people rarely know the answer to these questions. So Michelle established a White House garden to see for herself, and invited local elementary students to experience what proved to be an eye-opening growing season. This story is about one woman’s decision to reconsider industrial food production, and encourage a healthy, happy lifestyle in her family.

I picked up a book in a used bookstore, which is bound to be unpredictable and exciting, and was immediately intrigued by the “quasi-psychedelic cover” (I’m using quotes because Susan Sarandon’s son said that to me, but that’s another story). Two green hands, growing from a stalk, were cupped around an eye, which was nestled in a bud of many eyes. It was called “The Secret Life of Plants,” and it only got weirder. The authors proceeded to convince me that plants perceive intent, retain memories, have feelings, and respond to their caregiver’s love or lack thereof. Disconcertingly, mixed in with these unaccepted ideas were ideas that are becoming or are already fully accepted, which made me feel like the science of our times is still catching up to this book and everything in it is going to come true. Anyway, I really recommend the book. It made me really think about plants, and contextualized the organics movement as very moderate in comparison to much of the thought “The Secret Life of Plants” expounded.

Reactions against the agro-industrial machine have been coming hard and fast recently. High-profile documentaries, bestsellers, and a deluge of internet publications—even TED talks—have made these reactionaries into leaders. Although this home-grown revolution‘s leaders are stars, the nice thing about it is that the champion of the revolution is at home. So why not try it?

I decided to grow an avocado. They are delicious, nutritious (with lots of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E), and expensive, all of which make it a desirable house plant. They take 3-6 weeks to sprout, so I’m not there yet, but I’m learning patience and have resolved to settle in for the long haul. In the meantime, an oily avocado pit sitting in a shot glass is kind of cute, though perhaps only food for thought.

Sarah Trautman (@sarah_trautman) is a Carleton College junior. Aside from being the Midwest correspondent for Small Kitchen College, she likes Charles River night runs and a little bit of Trevor Hall.


First, enjoy an avocado. (See here or here.)

Then, gently rinse the pit in running water. Insert 3 toothpicks at even intervals around the middle, so that they are perpendicular to its sides. Put the avocado pit in a small glass, suspended from the rim of the glass by the toothpicks.

After 3-6 weeks, the avocado seed might sprout. It also might not, which is why I recommend either starting multiple pits… or just go ahead and use a real pot of dirt and grow something else.


Originally posted on Monday, December 26th, 2011

9 Responses to “DIY: Grow Your Own”

  1. Simon

    December 29th, 2011

    I liked your figures of merit for choosing houseplants (delicious, nutritious, expensive).

  2. Taney

    December 29th, 2011

    I’m so excited to try this, Now I have an excuse (not that one is really needed…) to eat avocados and hopefully try to grow one (or more)!

  3. Avocad O

    December 30th, 2011

    I can’t say I’m surprised you wrote an article on this book. But once again I ask – now that plants have feelings you’re confined to only munching on minerals – yum, nutritious. (and I think “a little bit of Trevor Hall” is quite the understatement)

  4. trautmasfan

    January 2nd, 2012

    hahahaha shout-out to jack

  5. trautmasfan

    January 2nd, 2012

    also shout-out to trevor :)

  6. trautmasfan

    January 2nd, 2012

    so many men!

  7. Nick's Mom

    January 9th, 2012

    I remember finding this book in a Goodwill and reading it in a single, disembodied evening. I love it that you wrote about it.


    No, actually, I think I read The Power of Prayer on Plants. Perhaps they are similar. Or not.

    I hope your avocado can overcome the discomfort of toothpicks and thrive. Keep us posted!

  8. Mary Infante

    January 15th, 2012

    I need a good down to earth read and this sounds like just the book. It also reminds me of the avocado plant in our window sill from my childhood.

  9. Tina

    July 17th, 2012

    TickleMe Plant
    and now you can grow a pet like plant that moves and closes its leaves like crazy when tickled then minutes later they re-open. best dorm plant ever,

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