“Life’s a garden — dig it.” ~ Joe Dirt. For me, the advent of spring has always been synonymous with a vegetable garden. My parents being of European rural upbringing, were steadfast believers in growing what you could, eating what you knew. I remember all the hard work involved. From the tilling of the backyard that I left my baby sister and I with very little grass to play on, to the planting of tomato seedlings almost OCD-like neatly in a row. From the the stringing up butcher’s twine along a cordon where the beans were seeded with way too much emphasis on spacing, to the constant attention to watering and weeding. All the time and labours involved made me feel like I was loosing a competition for my parent’s attention to the garden. Yes – it was certainly an important aspect in our family. But when the middle of summer came around, so to did the fruits of those labours. The bounty included tomatoes so ripe that you can smell them before you even cut into them. With beans so green, salad so crisp, onions so sweet and herbs as fragrant as perfume, it was an all out assault on the senses. Suddenly eating a salad made sense as a child. My mother’s minestrone soup had me going back for seconds. There was a definite difference – you could smell it, see it and taste it. Now that I am older, the undeniable fact remains. Eating healthier means eating closer to home. You cannot get closer than your own backyard. Every year I plant a garden, its somewhat of a tradition, but mostly it makes sense. Its relaxing, its fruitful, its healthy and it tastes good. Like when I was a child, my children notice and appreciate the difference. That’s enough reason for me. If you are still on the fence, here are some other reasons to plant your own garden.
First and foremost, growing your own fresh produce is undeniably green. Industrial food production — how the majority of produce found at our local grocery stores is grown — uses fossil fuels every step of the way. Transporting, processing, and packaging are all fossil fuel laden functions of industrial food production that can be eliminated by growing veggies in your own backyard. For those of you who lack the room, time, or ambition to grow your own, grab your reusable shopping bag and head on down to the farmer’s market on Wednesdays or Saturday mornings. You can still feel confident you are doing your part top be more green by purchasing locally grown foods as the transportation, processing, and packaging of these products are kept to a bare minimum, or simply just not needed. Growing your own vegetables is also more economical than buying them at the grocery store. Take an example of buying two jalapeno pepper plants at your local nursery for around $5. Now, These plants will yield roughly 120 peppers during the course of the summer, with just a little tap water every few weeks, If I were to purchase those 120 peppers at the supermarket, it would cost me upwards of $50. Think of all of the other veggies you and your family eat and imagine the money that could be saved by growing them yourself. Nothing upsets me more than when I’ve got my heart set on a Greek tomato & Feta salad, I go to the grocery store and have to settle on a barely ripe, lackluster tasting tomato to satisfy my craving. During the growing season there is no reason why you have to endure this truly traumatic experience. The deep red color, and unmatched sweetness of a garden-grown tomato accents perfectly the saltiness of Feta and the drizzle of an extra virgin olive oil. Same goes for bell peppers, sweet corn, sugar snap peas, and fresh green beans among many other summer favorites. They truly taste better. So … relax, enjoy, look at the weather, knock back a few fresh green beans, and listen to the birds singing all the way to the bank.
Here are a few links to help you along: