When I was a little girl, the thoughts of having to drive to my grandmother’s farm, hour and a half hours away, to stay in a farmhouse, without adequate plumbing; no running water and an out-house (an old fashion porta potty without the blue water), was less than appealing. Not to mention, I had to work during these visits. Yes that’s right, work! Pulling weeds, planting and picking, you name it my grandmother had me do it. For some strange reason it was always sooo hot, or so it seemed to a little girl, a bit spoiled by her big life in the city.
Yes, I was not appreciative, as I considered these tasks to be grueling experience, or so it seemed to a little girl, a bit spoiled by her big life in the city.
Now, I have grown to appreciate these hard working folks, farmers who each and every day are toiling in the fields to provide us with the foods we eat, proper nourishment for the body. Farm fresh and organic produce!
This Chinese proverb offers good wisdom: “Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals).”
Nowadays, I would give anything to have grandma Fran back, for one more moment in the blistering sun, to sit and to talk about her life experiences, to cook and share one more meal. I miss my grandma Fran, but I am grateful for the time I had with her and the lessons she was able to share with me, even if I was too young to realize it at the time.
This brings me to the crux of this throwback moment--how to plant and grow your own garden (herbs & veggies). They play a vital role in our daily lives. There are no substitutes for these essential ingredients, at least this is my philosophy and I am sticking to it.
Now that I am all grown up, you might be tempted to think that I am living in lush green acres, where the air is fresher and stars are brighter, but actually I am still a city gal, residential townhouse living with barely enough yard space for my miniature Dachshund to take a walk. Don’t get me wrong, I love my humble abode, with convenient shopping, central to everything (dining, hospital, school), friends and neighbors I have grown to love and can depend on.
PLANTING A SEED
No excuses, if I can so can you! Plant, silly! Have you ever wished you could have fresh veggies and herbs without leaving the comforts of your home? You can; if you invest some time and a little money, you can turn a small plot or even a balcony into a garden wonderland.
In this tough economic and GMO climate, I believe it is important to embrace sustainability, and planting your own garden is a great way of achieving this. In addition to saving money, you will have deliciously nutritious produce. Encourage your neighbor and make it a group effort, by planting different crops and sharing them when they are matured and ready.
NO KIDDING AROUND
Get the kids involved! Step away from the blinding lights, the video games, the televisions, the computer or whatever electronic distraction that may hinder you from this beneficial venture. Grab the kids, step outside and encourage your children, teach them a life skill and explain (lead by example) the importance of eating healthy.
So, now that the kicking and screaming has ceased, let the digging begin!
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Find the ideal space that will suit your gardening needs. Simply see what works best. Will it be the front or the backyard, or even the kitchen window sill? May your thoughts be filled with sunshine; or maybe your chosen delight doesn’t require much sunlight? These are very important things to consider.
DO IT YOURSELF
How to plant herbs and vegetables? The local library is a great resource; within those walls you can find tons of books with great ideas that can take your skills (or lack thereof) to a higher level, elevating you to GARDENER SUPREME! (I think this needs an echo.)
Ok, here are a few simple ideas that worked quite well for me and I know you won’t have any trouble implementing.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
You don’t have a lot of space and/or you don’t want to have to till the soil? You can use a raised garden box. My choice is made by Greenland Gardeners. It’s an eight by eight (8x8) raised garden box and assembly is a breeze. Once assembled, simply fill the box with organic soils (about four two-cubic foot bags). I get my soil and seeds at my local Kmart; they have a great gardening section. It is a one stop shop for plants and supplies. There I never feel overwhelmed by the latest and greatest products (they do have them), making it easy for me to get exactly what I need.
WHAT WORKS BEST
Now that the soil is in, get ready to plant the seeds or feel free to get live plants or germinate your own seedlings. Totally up to you. We planted spinach, okra, carrots, summer squash and turnips and took pictures. In less than four weeks our garden grew like a weed. Speaking of which, sometime it is best to be patient with weeds. Only remove if you can clearly identify them. Avoid removing too early, give them time to grow and they will identify themselves. Sounds like past relationships but you will avoid making the mistake of removing edible plants.
PLANTING IN POTS
There are many varieties of edible plants (such as tomatoes, peppers, and herbs) that will grow just fine in pots. Basil is a very hearty herb and does very well in small confines, growing very quickly. With fresh herbs at your finger tips, you can flavor your pasta and spice up that salad dressing.
There is something to be said about the Topsy Turvey (an upside-down planting device). I have to admit, I was a skeptic, but my tomato plants grow just fine in what I now affectionately call “My Turvey.” Heirlooms tomatoes are extremely delicious with olives, pine nuts, capers, and variegated basil vinaigrette, salt and pepper to taste (see picture at right).
You can plant and germinate seeds inside, and then transplant them outside later in the spring (should you live in cold climate). Keep them in manageable containers, then bring them in and continue to use them into the fall and winter season (a window sill would be ideal, think vibrant sunshine).
Maintaining a garden will be well worth it! Don’t waste another moment; start planting today!
Teach our children life lessons of sustainability that they can carry with them throughout their lives and pass on to the next generation.
"Grandma Fran lived to the ripe age of ninety-seven, a testament to her spirit and how well she ate"…