GROW YOUR OWN

As I ponder our food supply, the urgency of GROWING YOUR OWN is even more apparent. We normally get most of our greens from our garden or a friend’s CSA but it felt like we haven’t had enough greens lately. Last week I was all excited to buy huge bags of baby kale and greens from a big warehouse store. Proudly I made a stir-fry with more greens than ever, accompanied by a huge salad (that was “triple washed”, baked potato and organic chicken.  My family loved it!  The next day my sister called for help with her health and as soon as I mentioned the greens she said, “I am not putting chlorine on my children’s plates!”
      I researched… was she right?  She was right!!  Large scale farming has issues!  They mean well but have trouble controlling quality when greens come in from different fields by the ton so they spray with a chlorine water mix.  This is ORGANIC produce!!!  As I read the story of the mom who gave her 2yr old child a shake with raw spinach and he died – I want to throw up at the tragedy.   The company responsible put million dollar measures into place to prevent such an event.  They test a necessary percent of each batch

image

and throw away every week literally TONS of tainted greens!!  The odds are we won’t get a bad batch. UGH!!  How can we feed our family by Russian Roulette?! No, Thank you!! 
     The nutrients in Fruits and Veggies are CRITICAL to our health – and proven higher in organics!  (There is no research yet, but I am convinced that the produce I make compost for and so lovingly grow at home has even MORE nutritional value than regular organic – just like yours does – or will!)
   The cleanness of your greens I am sure will be higher – if you see a bird dropping on it you will wash it off – simple when it’s not on a HUGE scale!
   Fresheness is obviously better.  Organically grown and harvested without chemicals also means the beneficial bacteria on the plants is still intact – and ready to proliferate in your body or multiply in your ferment!  Researchers are proving that the anti-bacterial resistant “SuperBugs” are an issue today.  In our attempt at creating a sterile environment we are destroying good bugs with the pathogens.  How about returning to the simple notion of the, “Health of the Host” that Beauchamp spoke of?  Let’s focus on getting healthy and  encourage the beneficial bacteria in our world to proliferate – and stop using chlorine and other antibiotics (lit. Against Life) that destroy the biomes in and around us – and watch how our health improves!   The easiest steps to this end are growing your own and buying local produce.  Do it because you LOVE your family!

Red Mites on Tomatillos

This morning I saw little red dots all over the leaves of my one tomatillo plant. Up until this point it was gorgeous and amazingly green ~ having followed a crop of peas that must have fixed nitrogen well for the tomatillo.
The red mites left their damage by making a few leaves look more white than green. Upon closer inspection, the white almost looked like a webbing.
Research revealed the white was the damage the red mites leave behind ~ one site recommended destroying the plant! I tried three times to start tomatillos from seed this year. I am not sure why only this one plant in the third batch survived, but destroying it was not an option!
Further research revealed that red mites thrive in very dry environments ~ and can be drowned with sufficient water.
A short hose covered the South side of the plant revealing no red mites(!) during the evening inspection.
I also watered deeply and sprayed the tomatillo plant again in the middle of the hot day.

The Tomatillo plant ended up producing a few large harvests very late in the season!

Tomatoes 2011

Ahh, Tomatoes!!  Could we ever really produce enough to have extra for selling after we satisfy our appetite for eating them in the garden AND bringing them in for sandwiches AND making tomato sauce AND sharing with our neighbors?!

This year I thought it would happen.  The plants from last year survived the winter by covering the plants with blankets when frost threatened.

Tomato Plants that survived the Winter's three frosty nights!
Tomato Plants in the Early Spring

Only a few tips succumbed to frost-bite and the rest of the plants produced tomatoes VERY early in the season to get us through until the new plants began producing.

Now we are gathering handfuls of large, red tomatoes every day!  There are the two types that I planted ~ an heirloom variety with a funny shape and yummy flavor, and a beefsteak tomato that I got from a friend and saved the seeds from.  There are also some volunteer cherry tomatoes and funny pear-shaped tomatoes that appeared near the neighbor’s fence about 15′ from the main tomato plant garden!

Six days later we are having an abundant harvest of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes! Overcome by processing this abundance, I left a bag of imperfect ones for too many days.  Interestingly, below a smelly pile of soft, moldy tomatoes was a perfect, unmarred tomato!  Is this further proof of the Health of the Host being the most important factor?!

Growing and Propagating Raspberries

Raspberry plant Fall 2010

In fall of 2010 we purchased a raspberry plant from a local nursery.  The longest two canes had leaves with some reddish coloring, but we purchased it anyway to get us started.   Research showed that the red color could be a disease that may cause the need of destroying the plant, but not to be too hasty on making a decision, for it also might not be of any concern.  We planted it into our “magic” compost to see how it would do.

Research also showed that the ideal way to propagate raspberries was to leave the new shoots attached to the mother plant over the winter and separate them out in the Spring.  This allows the extra root system of the mother plant to nourish the new shoots longer before they are set out on their own.  Taking a slim shovel, early in the Spring, cut straight down between the mother plant and the new shoots.   The new shoots have one main feeder root that goes straight down and were also planted into straight compost.

Raspberry Plants Spring 2011

The red leaves of the mother plant were replaced in the Spring by health, new green leaves.  In May, flowers appeared on the two-year old shoots just as they were supposed to, but they never produced more than dried looking flowers.  We gave the plants one more year to see if the healthy soil could help bring fruitfulness to the new two-year old canes we would have.

Raspberries, Summer 2011

Sadly, these Raspberry plants never bore fruit. As soon as the flowers would begin to form fruit they would shrivel and dry up completely.

We purchased new Raspberry starts – this time Royalty Raspberries from Territorial Seed Company. Planted in our compost one of the plants produced the yummiest Raspberries the very first season – just months after planting the bare root starts!

Harvesting Onions & Details on Sun/water

Today, July 1, 2011, I harvested our little (big for us!) plot of onions.  In a 4′ x 8′ space there were 24 pulled at harvest time, about 5 pulled earlier in the season to eat as needed, and three remaining to reproduce for next year.  One of those has begun to form seeds and another looks like it is beginning to produce bulbs underground by splitting into many.

The onions that were planted closest to a two-story building got considerably less sun and it is visible in the size of the bulbs ~ they are MUCH smaller.  Earlier in the season, the shorter daylight exposure slowed the formation of bulbs making the onions look like humungous chives!