Friday, July 2, 2010

Want inspiration to grow your own food?

Want inspiration to grow your own food for yourself, your family and friends?

Do you ever eat McDonald's hamburgers or french fries?
Or know anyone who does?
Then you need to watch this video.
I don't eat fast food, but I believe that everyone should see this.
What were they thinking????

If you haven't started growing your own food, then this might inspire you to start.

You can even start small, with one tomato, zucchini, pepper and some basil.

This could be the basic ingredients for a pasta dish, steamed veggies over rice, a homemade pizza, or a great salad.  All you would need to add is pasta, rice, lettuce or flour.

So you say, why didn't you add lettuce to the list of things to grow. Well, it is high summer right now and in Sacramento lettuce doesn't do well with our hot summers. Save the lettuce for fall.

I only listed things that enjoy our temperatures and are very very easy to grow. In fact, if you have room, I would add bush or pole beans to the list of absolutely easy to grow veggies.

They just need to be planted in good soil which you have weeded first. Lightly mix your soil- top 6 to 8" with part of a bag of compost), water well after planting, place about an inch thick layer of compost (from the rest of the bag) on top and mulch with wood chips.

Why wood chips you say. Well, they help keep the soil at a constant temperature, because just like us, plant roots and the micro-organisms in the soil don't like swinging temperature extremes. Don't have wood chips available, well leaves collected from your fall drop work well too; they just don't last as long as the wood chips, but will last long enough for a seasonal garden. Pile the mulch about 3-4 inches thick on the moist soil and water well (you want them to break down over time to feed your soil/plants and you don't want them to blow away). Keep the mulch an inch or so away from the stem on your little plants.The mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil, which the plants like, and after the initial few days after planting, you won't have to water but every other, or every couple days. Just stick your finger into the mulch to the soil to see if it is still moist to the touch. The plants will also tell you when they need it, but don't be confused by their "full sun wilt" in the middle of the day, because they might still have moist enough soil. Zucchini really don't like the beating hot sun all day at all. I plant mine to receive just 1/2 day of intense sun. In a home garden, that is easier to do than a farm field.

Another thing to know about planting out little plants is they aren't used to the hot direct sun, so provide a little afternoon shade for them until they get established. I use shingles that I stick in the ground on the south or south western side of each little plant. They appreciate it. But you could use any material you have - like cardboard supported by a few stakes. No, I don't go out and buy stakes for this - I used branches I have trimmed or any other materials like that. I even use the metal spokes of an old antenna for stakes.

I almost forgot, some plants, like the tomatoes or pole beans do appreciate support. I have bought tomato cages, made my own from fencing wire that I bent into a cylinder, used poles and lumber, large limbs from pruning, and bamboo poles donated from friends. Just remember, if you use limbs, make sure they are not green/alive inside or you might be planting a new tree in you veggie bed. You may want to support your peppers and basil plants with a little stake too. Especially when your pepper plant is so laden with peppers that it want to pull the plant over (it is best to keep the peppers off the soil, so they don't get a soft spot).

This is a longer description than I intended, but I just kept thinking of new things that I have learned over time and want you to be successful. 

So this is a starter course in growing real food, real cheaply, for really not much time or energy.

Then the side effect is the Serotonin that is generated in your brain when you work with  the soil which makes you happy. I bet you always wondered why gardeners were happy. This is really good for kids too. Get them to pull weeds for you. But you won't have many weeds in your veggie garden because you put down mulch.

Have a wonderful, healthy summer. It is fun!

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