Gardening is how I relax. It's another form of creating and playing with colors.When winter renders it too cold to tie dye, one of my favorite refuges is my seed catalog collection. I've dabbled in gardening for years, but never to the point of growing most of my own veggies through an entire season. This year, I decided to try doing just that. Then I had the idea to live blog my garden. It's not going to be big or fancy, and it may or may not be a delicious success. But since the whole point of a blog is for people to read it, here it is.
-- Oscar de la Renta
For me, tending a garden is a liberating act. I’m freer from the nutritionally void produce at the grocery store; studies show radical declines in the nutritional value of vegetables thanks to industrial, soil-depleting methods. I feel less responsible for the millions of tons of endocrine-disrupting, life-killing pesticides dumped on soil. Combining my garden yields with community supported agriculture, I know, really know, where a large percentage of my food comes from. A home garden is a form of peaceful protest, a way of participating less in a corporate food culture I think is harmful to our health and the environment.Couldn't have said it better myself.
Note that my USDA Plant Hardiness Zone here in Charlotte is 7b. The link has both a map and a handy function where you can enter your zip code to find out your plant hardiness zone. If you're not sure, find out and refer to your seed packets on the best time to plant. I'm in a relatively warm part of the US, so there's still plenty of time to start seeds for those in cooler climes.
After taking inventory of last year's leftover seeds, there wasn't a whole lot left on my shopping list. I had 19 varieties of heirloom tomato seeds, plus kale, chard and spinach I never got around to sowing last fall, two varieties of carrots, snap peas, five peppers, three basils, two nasturtiums, parsley, dill and cilantro. So far, I've only bought only a few seed packets: salad and spicy mesclun, beets, snap peas and cucumbers.
Then the planting began.
The tomatoes are going crazy, especially since I warmed up the environment. My firstborn:
Small-scale, heirloom gardening promotes plant diversity and sustainable practices like crop rotation and composting, and reduces demand for industrially grown food. It seems like a drop in the bucket when faced with million-acre monocultures, but America has revolutionized the food system with home gardens before, and can do it again. During World War II, home gardens accounted for nearly 50 percent of the nation’s food supply. One of the challenges, however, is that many heirloom varieties are hard to come by, and corporations such as Monsanto are taking over the seed market.There is no more peaceful protest than planting a seed.