Monday, June 20, 2011

Give Gardening a Chance!

I told myself I would focus on recipes and not turn this into a "preachy" blog about why you should eat healthfully and try to eat organic/natural/locally grown when possible, but I would like to share with you what I find to be the merits of growing my own food.

First, let's address the "but I don't have room for a garden" argument. You can start with just one or two items in a small area of your yard or even in a pot--container gardening is a great solution. I don't have near enough room as I would like for my garden, so for now, I have pots of chives, parsley, strawberries, habaneros and jalapenos. Last year I didn't have a garden at all and grew three different types of tomatoes in pots on our deck along with the habaneros my husband insisted on planting (he doesn't eat them). Even a couple of small herb pots on your windowsill is a great start. Another great option if you don't have the room you would like is looking into community gardens. My city has two community gardens (one happens to be right near my home) with 10' x 10' or 20' x 20' plots available for members of the community to reserve each growing season, and for only a $15-$20 fee.

For me, the biggest benefit of growing my own food is knowing exactly where it comes from and that it isn't drenched in pesticides or genetically modified (select your seeds/plants carefully). It doesn't have to be trucked or otherwise shipped here to be available to me, I simply walk outside and pick what I need. There is also a tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes from tending to the garden and the results being beautiful, healthful food to put on the table for my family. While this has really been my pet project because it involved the back-breaking work of tearing out the existing professional landscaping, the whole family is excited and getting involved in one way or another.  I will also decrease my trips to the grocery store, which has many benefits that include spending less money on food and gas.

Even though the only things I have harvested so far are five strawberries and several sprigs of parsley, I love to stand outside and just admire the beautiful green plants, many of which are starting to blossom. In the garden this year, I planted spinach, kale, broccoli, radishes, bell peppers, six varieties of tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, butternut squash, cucumbers, peas, snap peas, green beans, lima beans, celery, white onions, red onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts and romaine lettuce. Using what we can't eat right away and filling in where necessary with a bit of organic and locally grown produce from my farmers market, I am also going to give canning a try this year. I hope to can and freeze enough to get us through several months after our garden has stopped producing and the farmers market closes down.

These are some pictures I took just a few days ago. I will be picking some of the romaine lettuce tomorrow for a salad recipe I'm working on--it's so full and such a beautiful shade of green! Please ignore the obvious fact that my weeder desperately needs to get out there and finish working off the $50 she "accidentally" spent on game credits while using the iPod Touch. ;)


Butternut Squash


Romaine Lettuce

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