Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Take the Growing Challenge!

I'm taking the plunge and taking the Growing Challenge! Follow the link for details, but the gist is that you grow some new edible item from seed and agree to post at least once a week about gardening. The new items shouldn't be a problem; I'm trying celeriac and parsnips for the first time this year, as well as a couple new things not from seed (Jerusalem artichokes and a plum tree). The challenge will be to post weekly, especially as the gardening season gets underway in earnest. Already I've started spending lots of weekend hours in the garden, leaving minimal time for research and writing.

So why would I want to participate in something like this? I suppose because growing edibles is a cause near and dear to my heart. I got my start as a gardener when I was about four, helping my mother plant squash and tend our veggie garden. As a result, I always knew where food came from (including meat, since we raised cattle, chickens, ducks, and even a turkey once. Trust me, there's something to be said for ignorance in this case.) I also knew what vegetables were supposed to taste like; hence I've never been able to endure a store-bought tomato. Now that I'm older and no longer a starving student, I've started buying organic produce, because I hate the thought of exposing my family to a bunch of toxins. Having grown up in an agricultural area, with crop dusters dropping who-knows-what near my neighborhood, I also hate the thought of farm workers being exposed to so much poison. So I'll do what I can, and gardening is a part of that effort. If I grow it, I know what's (not) in it, I can grow varieties that aren't found in the grocery store... and I can save a ton of money. Organic produce is *expensive*, and so are weird veggies like leeks and parsnips that I like to eat but don't like to pay for.

So there you are--a rambling dissertation on why I grow edible stuff. Care to join me? You don't need a big yard. There's lots of great information on growing veggies in small spaces. Maybe I'll work up a post on that topic. In the meantime, do a little Googling and give it a try!


Meg said...

I'm in! I'll have to try to think of what I might want to plant that's new. Do you have any suggestions for things that might grow well in Seattle, Janet? I've done cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers (not much success there), lettuce, radishes, and peas. How do eggplant do in our neck of the woods? Bell peppers? Summer squash?

Janet said...

I'm not sure about eggplant. Summer squash should do the same as zucchini. Bell peppers are harder than hot peppers usually. You might try them near a driveway or south-facing wall for extra heat. Bush beans are really easy; pole beans are too if you have something to support them. Beets are easy, and carrots can be if you have soil without too many rocks or other obstacles. Winter squash is another easy one, and the bush types (like Table King) don't take up too much space. If you're into salad, try a pack of mesclun mix--easy and interesting.

Have fun!

Meg said...

Hmmm, mesclun mix sounds good. We did try lettuce for the first time last year but it was inedibly bitter and I still haven't figured out why.

Good to know on bell peppers. We have a little bed that is right up against the house and also gets blown on by the dryer vent, and we've had a couple of heat-loving things do okay there. Maybe I'll try bell peppers there this year. We used to grow those in Rhode Island when I was a kid, in about 5 different colors, and they were incredible!