Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why Grow Your Own Vegetables

Why do I grow my own vegetables and why do I want to write about it? The simple answer to these questions is that I get a great deal of pleasure from growing my own food and sharing it with friends and family. I can't imagine a life without gardening.

Vegetable gardening can be hard, lonely, tedious and frustrating. Mother nature is often a cruel partner. However, the rewards far outweigh the cost. Spending more time outside breathing fresh air is a reward in and of  itself.  It's a pleasure to do something physical, to work with my hands, to coax the earth to do my bidding.

I have to admit that I am still in awe of the magic created by the act of putting a seed in the ground, watching it emerge and developing into something good to eat. Every year I can't wait to get the growing season started. It begins with the arrival of the seed catalogs, just after Christmas. If you're old enough to remember receiving the Sears Christmas Catalog when you were a child, then you can get a sense for the level of my excitement as I scan each catalog in search of some new hybrid tomato or an easy to grow melon.

Planning the new garden, ordering seeds, creating a seed starting schedule; these are all activities that keep me thinking of spring while the snow falls and the wind howls outside. To see a tray full of young healthy seedlings growing under the lights during the bleak months does wonders for the soul.

Once the gardening season moves outdoors I am in heaven. The smell of the earth, the warm feeling of the sun, the very act of planting seeds in the ground are tasks filled with hope and optimizium. Harvesting begins in April with the emergence of asparagus. We harvest asparagus almost every day for two months. Nobody eats better than we do.

The first peas are cause for celebration. Home grown, fresh off the vine, sweet and tender; this is what I'm talking about. These celebrations are repeated with each vegetable that comes into it's season.

As summer approaches our focus turns to entertaining. The garden surrounds a patio which is the site of many memorable dinner parties with family and friends. We live for these occasions. We mix flowers with the vegetables and border the garden with fruit trees and berry bushes. It is dining in the Garden of Eden. This is the best reason to grow your own vegetables. Sharing the best food you can eat with your favorite people is what life is all about.

Most chefs will tell you that fresh is best. That is most definitely true for crops like peas, haricot vert, celery, corn, beets, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, and leaf crops. When you grow your own you can pick fresh minutes before you eat, knowing that your vegetables are not laden with chemicals. Given the frequency of tainted vegetables in the marketplace I am so happy to able to eat my own healthy, clean, and tasty crops.

I've been gardening for nearly twenty five years. In recent years I have been asked frequently to offer advice to friends and acquaintances about gardening related issues. This is an encouraging trend. For many years I labored alone, the only person I knew who gardened. Now, everybody wants to garden. This blog is a response to that interest. If you are already a gardener or an aspiring gardener I intend to share my knowledge and experience with you. I don't know everything. Infact, there is a lot I don't know. Please feel free to share your knowledge with me. My intention is to post at least once a week throughout the season. Future posts will include essays on this year's winter harvest, seed starting, tips for growing tomatoes, crop rotation, composting, soil amendments, and how to grow specific vegetables. In future posts I will include photos. Stay tuned.
Welcome.
All the best,
Greg

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