Bill and I have had a vegetable garden (or gardens) for pretty much forever. At least, our forever. From the first little house we rented a dozen years ago or so until now. And we show no sign of stopping.
Every year, it seems, we add a new variety or three of something, or – like this year – build another raised bed. Or two.
It’s certainly work. But, unlike doing the dishes or laundry or dusting (ugh – my personal least favorite thing to do) or vacuuming or washing the floor, gardening gives you FOOD!
And the way I’m feeling about store-boughten food lately, the more we produce ourselves, the better.
The better because our produce is organic and fresher than fresh. Dinnertime rolls around and one of us goes outside with a big bowl and picks whatever needs picking. A couple of days ago, it was mostly spinach, two kinds of arugula, and some red leaf lettuce. And some asparagus. And probably some radishes. Oh, and kale.
Yesterday we moved into the back raised bed – the first one we built here – and started thinning all sorts of greenery.
See, when Bill started planting what we’re referring to this year as “The Salad Garden,” he had some help. Some short-in-stature help. My two kids and one from across the street.
So, rather than three or four seeds per little hole in the dirt, the kids put in, as far as we can tell, seven hundred and twelve. Per little hole in the dirt.
Thus, there needs to be some thinning.
So in yesterday’s big salad, we had spinach, two kinds of arugula, a variety of baby lettuces, some young broccoli rabe, tatsoi, mizuna, more asparagus, a couple of radishes…there could be other stuff, I just don’t remember.
We picked enough for two days’ worth of big salads. It’s only early May, and we’re already overwhelmed (almost) with greens.
And it’s fresher than anything we could buy anywhere, including a farmers’ market. (And cheaper, considering the way the prices are going up and up at the stores.)
It’s not shipped in from California. It’s not packaged in plastic. It’s not starting to rot in the middle where we can’t see it until we get it home and open it up and smell that tell-tale greens-gone-bad smell.
And it’s organic. We know where the seeds came from. We know what’s in our dirt. We make our compost. We know what’s in our fertilizer.
We’re a bit like the little red hen. We planted the seed, we watered the plant, we picked the lettuce, we ate the salad.
And we did it ourselves.
But maybe, in a weird way, it’s good that food prices are going up.
It’s definitely good that more people are becoming aware of – and outraged about – the fake stuff in so much of our food.
Maybe we need these sorts of kicks in the pants to really get motivated to change. To take charge of our food. It’s not rocket science. It’s gardening. It’s plain and simple food, with nothing fake in it.
I was talking briefly to a woman whose kids go to the same school as mine…she and her family are putting in their first ever vegetable garden this year.
Our friends across the street are expanding the raised bed in their yard so they can grow more.
I would bet lots of other people who have never gardened before are giving it a try this year. I bet people who never checked out a farmers market are checking dates and times to see where and when a market is open nearby.
And the thing I’ve been realizing is that even little changes are good. Grow some herbs in a pot on your sunniest window. Fresh herbs at the grocery store are so overpriced, why not grow some of your own? Got a bit more space? Grow some tomatoes in a pot on your porch. Fresh peas. Salad greens of all kinds. Strawberries. We grow most of ours in our older recycle bins.
Give it a try some time.
And chickens! More people are getting chickens, too. There’s nothing yummier than a fresh – truly fresh – egg. (If you like eggs. If you don’t, well, just trust me on that.)
All this stuff makes me so happy.
Just wanted to share that.