Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Farmer Gal

One Million Acts of Green
The CBC just launched this eco-groovy site. Join. Participate. Help them get to one million acts of Green.

It’s cold. Ridiculously cold. Only last month I was wearing summer wear, and only last weekend I harvested the remaining thriving tomatoes, Swiss chard and spicy salad greens before the temperatures plummeted. All are gone save for some rogue cosmos brilliantly arching across soil that once nurtured potatoes, peas, carrots, onions and beets, along with the greens and tomatoes.

It was a very good garden year thanks to rainy El Nina and an excellent triple mix we added during the spring. While we did not produce enough food for freezing and canning to enjoy through the winter - the pears excepted - we put a slight dent in our summer grocery bill and got top nods for eating as local as your gonna get.

Since spring we did not buy lettuce and boy did we eat a lot of it. Our tomatoes have kept us in the red since August. We grew enough potatoes to last a month. The rest we enjoyed for a brief period, given their lifespan.

Our carrots and beets did not do as well as they should have because we didn’t cull them enough during their growing stage. We also get low marks on weeding.

Despite our laziness, we’re hooked! Gardening is good for earning green points, and great for the body. I cannot begin to describe to you the culinary joy of pulling up potatoes, washing them, par boiling and then lightly frying them in butter, garlic and a bit of lemon – then, placing them in my mouth and letting them melt. A potato never tasted so good.

There’s a reason for this.

The nutrient clock starts ticking once you pick or pluck a garden morsel. The sooner you eat them, the more nutrients you will receive. This may explain why produce from South America may not taste like anything at all (except if you’re in South America and eat them right when harvested). For more on this I encourage you to pick up Barbara Kingsolver's fabulous book, Animal, Mineral, Miracle, which chronicles her family's one year journey in local eating.

Next Steps

This Fall
  • We will expand the garden by about 40%
  • Add sheep manure and the compost stewing in our composter
  • Add more soil enhancers based on recommendations from our soil sample
  • Plant some garlic, which takes a year to harvest.

Next Spring

We’ll add more compost, a great mulch that helps with water retention
  • To avoid weeds, we’ll place newspaper down in between the beds. Newspaper will block the sunlight that plants need, curtailing weed growth. Eventually the newspaper will dissolve into the earth.
  • Carrots and beets will be given extra culling attention.
  • Next Summer

    Continue to buy locally, but load up on berries and veggies such as broccoli to freeze for the winter. That way we can continue to enjoy locally raised food and support our local farmer and economy.

    What’s the Big Deal?

    As I mentioned, you get better nutritional bang for your buck when you eat food right from your garden. And that affects taste. Veggies actually taste wonderful! You will also help reduce your food carbon miles. The average piece of produce travels between 1,500 too 2,500km to get to your table. Think that veggies and fruit taste a bit wooden? No wonder!!

    No matter what you have – a yard or a balcony – think about starting a modest edible garden for next spring. Pick an area that gets moderate sun. If it’s in your yard, cut a patch now and add manure and triple mix to get it going.

    Start small and build from there. Not sure what something looks like when growing? Plant it and find out! One of chief reasons I planted potatoes was to see what they look like when they grow. I knew they grew in the ground, but imagine my surprise when they produce very tall plants – so tall we had to secure them with stakes.

    In the News

    Taking out the trash
    This is after my own heart.

    Greenprint for the homes of the future

    Ottawa a top generator of toxic junk, report says
    Not surprised.

    Ban on pesticides may face NAFTA test

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Hi, Cheryl. I would love to plant a vegetable garden but out here in Victoria we are not allowed to cut down trees. My neighbour's 50 foot cedars put our back yard in almost total shade, and the falling needles create a very acidic soil. Only conducive to ferns, hostas and rhodos. I know from our experiences in Calgary trying to coax vegetables along in an east facing yard, sun really helps! It's rather ironic that the very ones who don't want trees cut down are the same ones that would encourage vegetable gardening and solar energy. Unfortunately for us the one precludes us from having the other.

    Do you remember your grandpa's garden in Kelowna? If he was still alive, he would give you great advice. His compost was great, and he always thinned his beets and carrots. And, he always planted radishes because they were the first to come in the spring. His pride and joy were the squash he could grow in his Richmond garden (before you were born). He use to plant right on top of the compost pile and they grew to be an enormous size. Too bad only he and your grandma were the only ones who would eat it. Now I love squash! Go figure!

    Love, Aunty Janice