Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gardening is the Original GREEN

I'm not sure why I was so completely mortified in 6th grade when my mom told the whole school that I loved to garden the night I was named student of the year.  Why was that soooo embarrassing then?  (Looking back, I should have been more embarrassed by that crazy 1980's dress I was wearing!)  Gardening has been a part of my life forever.  My parents both grew up on farms, everyone I knew had a garden.  We'd go to visit an uncle and spend the morning picking or planting together.  My cousins own a huge commercial farm.  It's in my blood.  It might just be in my children's blood too!


 


I'm one of those gardeners who buys the leftover seeds at the end of the growing season.  You know, the ones in a basket tucked under some shelf that you have to get someone to help you find because you just know they're hiding somewhere?  I take my kids and for 25 cents per pack I let them go wild.  Big spender, right?

Well, I've amassed quite the collection of seeds, as you can imagine.  Seeds last well beyond the date on the package, by the way, they just have a lower germination rate, so plant a few extra if you're using older seeds.  I've got some from 5 years ago that are still sprouting for me!  Vegetables, perennials, annuals, herbs... I've got them all.  Some I start as early as January, in little clean yogurt cups with the kids.  Some I plant as soon as the ground is ready, like my peas & lettuces.  Some I share.  I mean, am I really going to plant 80 organic turnips?  (OK, the truth is I would LOVE to plant that many.  I love turnips more than anyone should.  I just don't have enough garden space for it.  Enough land, yes, but not enough of it is garden.  I'll have to work on hubby to get more space!)  To continue with the turnips as an example, BTW, if your garden helper is say, 3 yrs old and you let her plant the seeds, don't be surprised when only 5 come up.  I'm just saying :)



This year I've already shared over a dozen strawberry plants.  I've handed out onion sets.  I have pepper plants to share, and most likely after my trip to Urban Oaks this weekend, I'll have an extra tomato plant or two to pass along.  The list of perennials I'm willing to share is pretty extensive.  Come harvesting season, this one in particular, I'll have LOTS of veggies & fruits to share, especially while I'm away and I've invited family & friends to come and harvest.  As long as no one touches my asparagus - it's not ready to harvest for another year!



                                    


My goal in the summer time is not to buy any produce from grocery stores, with the exception of organic lemons.  I grow a good variety of things, and what I don't grow I buy from farmer's markets.  I'm already harvesting my own lettuces & spinach, and let me just say that none of my friends should have to buy mint for mojitos or for tea for the entire summer!





My non-gardening friends sometimes ask why I'm out there so much.  It seems like a no-brainer, but also it's the way I grew up.  Let's see...I can put in veggies & herbs for a fraction of the cost of buying them at the chain grocery store (after they've been sitting in a warehouse somewhere, and had to be trucked in from out of state.)  I know they're organic.  I can walk out my door and have a salad ready in minutes.  I like teaching my children where food comes from, and I LOVE that they're outdoors digging in the dirt instead of inside in front of any screen.  I like the way fresh warm strawberries taste right off the plant - the berries at the supermarket are flavorless in comparison.  I like composting all of my kitchen scraps (and coffee grounds - sometimes I pick up bags of still warm grounds from Starbucks on my way out the door!) and opening the bottom of my Earth Machine composter and finding that rich black compost at the bottom makes me feel so GREEN!  We've really reduced the amount of garbage we produce the past few years thanks to recycling and composting.  Most of all, I like the idea of being somewhat self-sustaining, and of being able to share.      

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