|CRISPY FRENCH RADISHES FOR BREAKFAST WITH SWEET, CREAM BUTTER. THE DELIGHTS OF THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN BECOME REDEFINED THROUGH THE GENERATIONS, BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR GROWING HOME VEGGIES REMAIN THE SAME - CHOICE, TASTE AND FRESHNESS.|
I thought that I learned my lesson a long time ago, but I have to be honest and tell you that it has only been a recent realization - that given my lack of free time, and maybe, dare I say, age, I really don't need to grow every vegetable at home in my vegetable garden. A few years ago, I made the decision to only grow what I felt like growing, varying my little crops each year to either augment what I could buy at the market or farmstand, and to keep things interesting, to try something new every year.
There have been some very active posts on other gardening sites about why young people don't garden anymore, or, about how nurseries or large garden centers can attract young people to purchase gardening supplies. Many of the responses seemed to come from those 'young people' themselves, be they Gen X, Gen Y or Millennials, which tells me that the problem may not exactly be that young people don't want to garden, but that for many reasons, the issue isn't that they don't want to have a home garden, the reasons are often more about their opportunity to garden rather then their desires to garden.
|SOME OF MY RAISED BEDS, JUST STARTING TO PROVIDE SOME CROPS - THIS WEEKEND, SPINACH, RADISHES, LETTUCE AND GREEN ONIONS.|
Even though I am a late Baby Boomer, I associate more with Gen X yet even at that, my parents had me very late in their lives, so in a weird way, they were depression era gardeners, canning and victory gardens were an every day affair for them, so I really don't connect with any "generation" at all! I mean, my dad was born in 1914. Back then, this garden above, extended 200 feet back,and held nearly an acre of vegetables. When I was growing up in the 1960's and 1970's there were still 100 foot long rows of Broccoli, beans and Tomatoes, and everything was 'put-up' by my mom, - frankly, I don't know how they did it, except I now realize why they kept having kids well into their 50's! Cheap labor!
|YOUNG SPRING CABBAGE PLANTS, JUST SET OUT, WILL QUICKLY GROW INTO CONICAL HEADS BY LATE JUNE. MANY GARDENERS, INCLUDING ME, CONSIDER THESE SMALL, EARLY VARIETIES THE TASTIEST OF ALL CABBAGES FOR SLAW AND SALADS. NOTHING TASTES LIKE THESE TINY HEADS.|
|HEIRLOOM LETTUCE MAKES FOR A FAST SPRING CROP, BUT REMEMBER, IT ALMOST ALWAYS MUST BE HARVESTED AT THE SAME TIME, SO PLAN ACCORDINGLY, AND SO IN SUCCESSION.|
I only have time to grow my favorites, the essentials for me are fresh herbs like dill, both a green folial variety for potatoes and salads, and one variety for pickling, that can be allowed to grow tall, and to blossom and set seed. There are just some things one cannot always find fresh at the market. I also grow green onions, lettuce int he spring and fall, arugula, ( I sometimes grow mache, but I can buy nicer mache at Whole Foods, so often I skip it). My rules are based on what I can buy at the market or farmers market vs what I can grow, or, for convenience - fresh herbs like dill, mints, parsley, cilantro - yet I can hardly grow enough cilantro, so even that is sometimes only a luxury it I have a little room, I can buy it every other day at the market.
|SEEDLING GREEN BUNCHING ONIONS, PLANTED IN MARCH, ARE JUST STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A POTENTIAL CROP. BUNCHING ONIONS REQUIRE GOOD MOISTURE, SANDY SOIL AND COOL TEMPERATURES AS WELL AS A WELL WEEDED BED.|
There are just some things one cannot find fresh anywhere, or, if you do, they are still not as yummy as when fresh picked - these are the real luxuries - fresh baby turnips, heirloom red turnips, heirloom tomatoes, of course, because one must grow tomatoes and not pay $5.99 a pound. Baby cukes and pickling cukes just taste amazing, warm from the sun, eaten out in the garden with a salt shaker that you snuck out in your cargo shorts. A tomato, freshly picked also warm from the sun, tastes incredible with just a little salt from the same shaker, and the juice running down your arms. There is nothing in the world as delicious as freshly shucked sweet peas, the candy of the vegetable garden.
Young growers, first-time growers, those of you with kids--- plant even a few plants of something this year, who cares if you can only pick a bowl full of beans, sometimes its not about the volume or the cost savings, its about the total experience, the moment, the indulgence. In many ways, keeping even a single raised bed is very similar to stocking your own refrigerator - with snacks. It's highly personal, and no one should ever tell you what you should or should not buy ( even if I have in the past). You don't really have to grow a 60 foot row of peas, if you only have room for 6 plants. Those 6 plants will still provide you with joy, a few dozen pods of sweet peas to snack on, and some brief, moments of joy.