Growing Food

So… I like cooking with fresh food, as I told you in a previous post about grocery shopping. For those who don’t want to read the whole thing (though, I do recommend it) I basically say that purchasing fresh food costs less that pre-packaged stuff, and it’s healthier to boot. But… I don’t want to always have to buy my food – sometimes I want it for free.

There’s this group on Facebook called Grow Food Not Lawns, and some members of my family re-post things from them a lot. They have a lot of good ideas and interesting facts about plants and bugs and stuff. But, what I’m interested in, mostly, is eating what I grow.

My parents both like to garden, and they’re pretty good at it. My best friend and her mom love to garden, and they are just amazing at it! Me… well, I’m discovering that I’m not the brown thumb that I thought I was, but my parsley isn’t doing as well as I’d hoped. I have one picture of my beautiful pot of parsley, but I refuse to photograph the other three plants because they are mostly brown now – I think I drowned them.

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So, you may have realized it already, but this is the post where I’m showing off what I’ve managed to do. I’ve planted sage, eggplant…

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…the eggplant is the tiny one, and it still only has a few leaves. Turns out that eggplant needs long, hot days and Northern California really isn’t the right climate. But my sage has taken off! And, in addition to sage and eggplant, I have planted a tomato plant, a pear tree, cilantro, parsley, chives, sweet peppers, and basil.

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They’re all in pots because I haven’t had the tim *cough* money *cough* to make a raised planter for them. This garden has cost me a little over $60 so far, which may seem like a big outlay, but I feel it’s completely worth it for the following reasons:

  1. I can eat them! I like food, and I like loading up my boring potatoes with exciting things like chives! I’m Italian, so parsley and basil are required, and the pear was a splurge. I also have an aloe plant I didn’t mention before because it’s inside, but I want to eat the inner leaves to help my stomach maintain its lining (and for the occasional sunburn that my affianced is prone to). I can buy all this stuff, and it isn’t very hard to find some of it for very inexpensive at the right grocery store, but now I get the full flavors of fresh whenever I want!
  2. The activity of making this garden, caring for it, and harvesting from it has managed to keep me active. I’ve been on my feet more while tending the garden on my days off than when I didn’t have it because instead I would sit and watch Netflix. My fitbit has tracked an average of 800 more steps during regular maintenance, and over 1,000 when I’ve got something major I need to do, like planting.
  3. This next one sounds like an oxymoron, but the activity of keeping my garden keeps me busy enough that i don’t think about eating all the time. I am a bit addicted to food, I guess, and anything that will keep my mind off my stomach seriously helps me curb my urge to munch.
  4. Most importantly, though, I can help increase the bee, bug, and bird populations. By birds, I mean humming birds.
    1. Lots of people don’t like bees because they can be stung, and while people with allergies are certainly validated, but the rest of us are just being stupid because bees don’t go out of their way to sting people. In fact, it is a last recourse because they die immediately after. They are also really important to the health and prosperity of gardens because they help with cross pollination, which is what makes plants bear fruit and reproduce. Pollen
    2. There is an important ecosystem that happens in your garden with all of the bugs, spiders, and birds. I’m not an ecology person, but I remember the video I had to watch in science class that described it. In essence, spiders are actually good because they and the lady bugs eat the critters that will harm your plants. They also can help keep the bad pests away from your house, though they may try to get in themselves.
    3. Most importantly, though, bees and humming birds are becoming more and more rare, and we rely on them for pollination to grow our food. A lot of flowers that we buy from Home Depot and Lowes have been genetically modified enough that they no longer have the key things that bees and humming birds need in order to survive.

So, growing food plants is very important for you and for them. It supplies both of you with sustenance while still being beautiful! You can further create a healthy atmosphere by laying out water for them. Bees and other good bugs aren’t as good as birds at landing on the edge of a bird bath to dip in for a drink, so taking a shallow bowl, filling it with rocks, and filling it until the water barely touches near the top of the rocks goes a long way in helping them get to a reliable water source. Regular bird baths and bird feeders will draw birds (and squirrels and cats), and your back yard will become a very lively place indeed!

No. Seriously. A blue-jay’s family moved into the tree in my back yard, and they get into a screaming match every morning at about 4am. I’ve lived here for about 6 weeks now, I don’t have a bird bath, but the little I’ve done has already helped.

I even saw a humming bird the other day!

So, what do you like to plant? Also, what can I do with sage? That bush has taken off, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with so many sage leaves!

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