Sunday, April 17, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Almost one year ago we moved into our "long term home". The home that we built to how we want and where we hope to live for our child-rearing years. One of the major benefits of our home is that we live on the same cul-de-sac as 3 families that we are friends with. We call it the college dorm life for adults. Another benefit is that (at least in my mind) it is out in the country. I have cornfields in my back yard (although its just a 1 mile jog to reach town). But, with the balance of country and suburbia we are able to have a nice size yard for a development.

When we moved it I was all gung-ho about growing a vegetable garden but the 100 other projects that had to be done plus being in my 2nd trimester kind of put my vegetable garden on the back burner. This year, however, we have time! I decided to do a raised bed as there are many benefits such as soil quality, less weeds, higher temp of soil, etc. We built a 4 x 16 foot raised bed in our back yard but started the little seeds indoors a few weeks ago. I have been using the Farmers' Almanac as my reference guide. Apparently in Michigan my last chance of frost is May 5th so I can't really plant outdoors until then but we have our own little greenhouse growing in master bathroom window.

Here are our seedlings a week ago...

Here they are when we came back from CA....

Our seedlings are tomatoes, green/red/purple/yellow/orange peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce. We will additionally be planting carrots, snap peas and green beans straight to the ground. If all goes well this year, I plan to add an additional raised bed next year with fruits and berries and maybe a couple pear or apple trees (??)

So whats the point in growing your own produce?

Aside from the fact that I like to do things homemade, the faster your produce goes from the ground to the table, the more nutrients you are eating. The longer the transit for your produce, the more nutrient losses you will incur. For example, here in Michigan I try to buy at Farmers' Market or local produce as much as possible from about May - October. In the winter months I know that any "fresh" produce found in the grocery store was actually shipped from Guatamala or who knows where and likely was picked under-riped, artificially ripened by chemicals and lost a ton of nutrients in transit. For this reason, I often choose frozen vegetables in the winter since they are typically picked at the peak of their ripeness and flash-frozen, thereby retaining most of their nutrients.

I also enjoy canning fresh produce. In the past I have canned local peaches, homegrown tomatoes and made homemade applesauce and apple butter. This year I hope to venture into canning my own green beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc.

Do you grow anything in your garden?

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