Adventures in Vegetable Gardening
I have finally committed to growing my own vegetables. I only recently started taking an interest in gardening in the past year or so and I've never considered myself the "green thumb" type.
The news of late regarding the food we eat, where it originates and what type of process it goes through before it hits our plates has become a concern for me. Also, after digging into my back yard flower gardens I am feeling confident about my newfound abilities. Maybe I just took some of the mystique out of the process by simply picking up a shovel. From there it was new beds, fall bulbs, shrubs, mulching, tons of annuals.
Back to the veggies: Still feeling a little shaky in my ability to grow food that would actually feed and nourish my family, I reached out to family friend Jason Saling, an organic farmer and viticulturist with over 15 years experience managing world-class vineyards in Northern California. Thankfully, Jason kept it simple: "Veggies love full sun, lots of water and nitrogen." Ok. check, check and check. "For raised beds fill them with your native topsoil and then compost the be-jeezus out of them, and keep doing that." He suggested pelleted chicken manure if I could find it, or some other type of high nitrogen organic fertilizer.
While I map out my larger beds, I'm starting small: in containers, located conveniently between my kitchen and the grill. My current crop includes cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, two kinds of lettuce (mâche and red leaf), dill, parsley, chives and tomatoes. I purchased my seedlings at a local nursery (Sam Bridge in Greenwich, CT) and used non-GMO "safe seeds" from Botanical Interests. I chose Coast of Maine organic potting soil.
Helpful Gardening Tips and Links:
Seeds: Botanical Interest, Hudson Valley Seeds and Hudson Valley Seed Library are three great resources for seed shopping and information. All three signed the safe seed pledge and are dedicated to sustainable agriculture.
Sprout Robot: My gardening Yoda. What to plant, when to plant and where to plant it.
- Grow, Cook, Eat by Willi Galloway. Inspirational with beautiful photography.
- Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardening Made Simple by Raymond Nones. Nones, a self described "penny pincher" and organic practitioner lives and gardens in Queens, NY.
Trying to get a handle on the GMO debate isn't easy, but worth keeping up with:
- Mark Bittman: Why Do GMO's Need Protection?
- In A Grain of Golden Rice, A World of Controversy over GMO Foods.