Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Favorite Things: Day 4

I'm a day late and a dollar short on this favorite things post but that's okay because we were outside...
hanging out with Jill & Ruby, getting advice on the care of my rhubarb plant,
admiring the progress of the onions,
and giving a pep talk to the tomato seedlings Ryan just planted.
I wish I could take credit for our lovely garden space, but I can't. It's all Ryan. He built the raised beds, started bricking in the walk-way, planted the seedlings indoors, and moved our compost bin into the garden where it is now safe from squirrels. I love the care he puts into the garden, from the planning of it and the ordering of seeds from Johnny's in late winter, to the actual hard work in breaking up the soil and laying everything out. It's a wonderful family project and the boys take turns taking the compost out, watering the seedlings, and weeding, once the growing season really gets going. Farm to table is something I grew up with in Virginia because my mom is such an avid gardener, and she would tell you that in addition to being a wonderful alternative therapy, it's a cost effective way to feed a family healthily and organically. "Farm to table" and "slow food" are new fangled names for a very old fashioned concept, long before the industrialization of food. I went to a food canning safety seminar at our local library recently and the woman leading the class said a great rule of thumb when buying food is that if it's something our great-grandmothers wouldn't recognize, it's probably not good for us either. I loved that! That hasn't stopped me from ordering a case of Organic Green & Black's Dark Chocolate from my local co-op, but you get the general idea.
I love what Jamie Oliver (the "naked chef") and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsley (of The River Cottage) as well as Alice Waters and other chefs are doing to encourage people to grow their own food, not only for the economic and health benefits, but for the valuable lessons it teaches kids (and adults) about where our food comes from, the miracle of a head of broccoli sprouting from a plant that started out as a tiny seed, and that the very best foods can come from your very own backyard. I think we've largely gotten away from the essentials and having a garden is one of the best ways for us personally to learn to eat seasonally, to learn to cook with what we have, and ultimately, to enjoy our food more for having grown it ourselves.


  1. So true. And I am so excited because I just received word today that I get a plot in the beautiful community garden across the street! (Just after I planted lettuce in a wine box, but oh well:) I cannot wait to let Rowan play in real dirt, and let him see the process of growth. I grew up with gardens and canning, and though I am COMPLETELY ignorant at this point, I feel like it just might make living in the city bearable again, for now:) I may be asking for advice.....

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  3. i so agree; i am only missing one essential ingredient; a yard - drat!

  4. Jen- do you have a community garden near you that you can join? or a CSA you can get produce from? those are great alternatives if you don't have a yard but also there is a great book out right now about growing everything you need in an inside planter that is no bigger than 4x2 or something equally small...not sure what your living space is like exactly but maybe that's an option?

    Axon- I'm not the green thumb my mom is and seem luckless when it comes to houseplants but with ryan at the helm of our garden, I'm hoping to learn much more each year. I only canned jams last year but am hoping to do a lot more this summer...we'll see! There is a wonderfully informative website about canning safely so you don't kill or poison your family that i'll pass along too.

  5. i go to the local farmers market every saturday morning & that's perfect for me right now! i've tried growing tomatoes indoors & for some reason, it just hasn't worked out.

  6. reason number onetrillionandone I must visit soon.
    can't wait to show you our plot and maybe ask a little advice ;)
    Way to go Ryan!
    (you to steph;)

  7. I love this post and wish I could garden this year. I loved having home-grown tomatoes all last summer!