I never expected to become a gardener. It just held no interest for me. In fact, when we first moved into our house and I saw that it had a garden plot, I figured we would just plant some grass seed there. But my friend and domestic mentor, Judy, advised me to plant some potatoes at least, so the area wouldn't get full of weeds. She brought over some of her extra seed potatoes, as well as some seeds for carrots, beans, and zucchini. I had no idea what to do but I let her plant them for me. Well, when those plants started coming up, I was absolutely hooked! There was food growing in my yard! I hurried to the garden centre and added tomato plants and herbs to the garden as well.
There is simply nothing like tossing a salad made with vegetables you planted with your own hands. A store bought tomato can't compare to one plucked straight off the vine. When perennial fruits like rhubarb, raspberries, and strawberries rise again after a long winter, it feels like I'm welcoming old friends. I have learned so many fascinating things about soil, plants, and composting. And I've appreciated the calm and peace I feel when I tend to my garden.
I think it has also lowered our grocery bills! That's not a given, since there are costs to gardening as well. But I think there are ways to cut down on those costs, such as not rototilling, making compost instead of buying fertilizer, and growing as many plants as possible from seed. I have also tried to focus on growing fruits and vegetables that are among the most expensive in the store, such as lettuce, berries, and herbs. Considering that I try to be as organic as possible in the garden, I know I'm definitely saving money over what I'd pay in the organic produce section. Canning or freezing the excess can extend that savings throughout the year. To be honest though, saving money is just a nice byproduct--I garden because I love it!
I recently read the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, about her family's experience eating locally for a year. Most of what they ate came right from their Virginia farm, but they also bought local food from farmers in their area. It's an inspiring book, complete with essays by her biologist husband, and seasonal meal plans from her daughter. The family has a website here, with information about the book, recipes, and advice on eating locally.
Prairie Feast: A Writer's Journey Home for Dinner is on my list as well, especially since the author attempts the same sort of thing, in Saskatchewan! Amy Jo Ehman has a blog as well. It's just so satisfying to eat seasonal and local food. In addition to growing it and buying it ourselves, people are often willing to share! I frequently give people fresh greens or zucchini or rhubarb. Last fall, friends of ours told us to pick as many apples as we wanted from their tree. I froze bag after bag, and they're not gone yet!
Any other gardeners here? Perhaps you have a large garden plot, or perhaps you simply grow fresh herbs on your windowsill?
16 hours ago