One of the comments on my last post (from Pamela) had a YouTube link of a young student demonstrating the difference when trying to sprout sweet potatoes (the “regular” ones wouldn’t sprout, the store bought “Organic” ones generated some weak growth, while the locally sourced tubers did quite well), along with the note that “Of course, growing your own is best, but some of us don’t have that luxury.”
I pretty much agree with both parts of her statement. I give pretty wide interpretation to the “don’t have that luxury” part. I think there’s a tendency to think of that meaning not having a large enough plot or enough time to tend to a full garden. But I think not having the luxury can also mean that if you want a tomato or strawberries in November, you’re not going to find that in your garden or the local Farmers’ Market. I assume if you’re here, we tend to agree that eating seasonally is best, but sometimes you just want those strawberries.
I also think that having access to a decent Farmers’ Market is the same as having that luxury. If a local producer is raising the food without chemicals, GMO seed, or other weirdness, there’s no magic missing compared to a strawberry grown in my own back yard. Odds are, it’s going to be better and more diverse, because they’re doing it as a vocation.
Without going into a full out rant, I’m also not enamored of the “Organic” label. It encompasses a lot of bureaucracy, paperwork, and expense that don’t have any positive relationship to the quality of the certified products. I know there are a lot of wonderful people who’ve jumped through those hoops, but there are also a lot who produce great food who can’t or won’t. There’s a grassroots alternative called “Certified Naturally Grown” that’s independent of the sundry government agencies that tend to help Big Food take over these certifications. Enough about that.
Okay, back to that first proposition — growing your own. I’ve kept a few “Square Foot Garden” style beds in the back yard the last couple of years. In the Midwest this year, between the cool temperatures and plenty of rain, if you couldn’t grow a garden, it’s just not in the cards for you!
I thought I’d share a couple of pictures. I’ve never grown potatoes before, because you normally “hill” them. Some people grow them in containers, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. However, out at Linda’s, where we build the compost pile with thrown-out produce, we had a number of light wooden crates that had been filled with green beans. I snatched a few of those, put about a dozen seed potato pieces in the bottom of each one, then covered them with some of that compost. As the plants took off, I kept adding compost until the boxes were full. This is what they looked like after the plants died back…
Harvesting was simply a matter of dragging the box over to a spot in the yard I wanted to dump some compost, then turning the box over and “rooting” out the potatoes.
Those are from one of the boxes. Not a huge haul, but I was pretty encouraged since it was my first try. Then they go in the basement to cure for a couple of weeks. The dirt stays on until they’re ready to cook. So, I assume do all of the probiotics!
I also had a great turnout with some Brussels Sprouts.
If you don’t think you like Brussels Sprouts, you’ve probably never had them roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Once some of the leaves start to turn a little black, that means the sugars are caramelizing.
My spaghetti squash turned out really good, too. Yeah, that’s old nylons they’re hanging in. No, not mine. Growing them vertically gives you a bigger harvest than letting them sprawl across the ground, and helps reduce access for the bugs. There’s still some peppers hiding out behind the squash.
Like I said, it was easy to grow veggies this year — even if you didn’t mean to. These cherry tomatoes “volunteered” and are growing right up in the middle of where my strawberries were earlier in the season.
It feels nice to see real food you’ve grown as Fall starts to ramp up. Having some success this year will inspire me this winter while I’m buying too many different kinds of veggies from the Seed Savers catalog. That’s okay, we’ve got a really good Farmers’ Market, so people that know what they’re doing can always bail me out, while I can still enjoy occasionally eating straight out of the garden.
The Older Brother