Get Growin!

12 05 2008

Like everyone, we were out in the garden and in the fields this weekend- just too gloriously perfect and hot to be inside, blogging!

I was reading the Llewellyn’s 2008 Magical Almanac in a quiet moment, and there was an excellent article about connecting with the earth. You can’t do this at the keyboard, but I think that many try to. You’ve got to get grubby and feel the soil upon which you stand between your toes. So that piece of reading made me think.

Then, as so often happens, I was given an amazing book about living off the land – ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ by Barbara Kingsolver (thanks again, M!!). She makes the point early on in the work that there are many children today who have no idea of the life-cycle of a plant, from sprout to flower to seeds, or indeed where vegetables come from. Less so in Britain, perhaps; but in America, there is a whole generation who find the idea that vegetables grow in dirt awful and unhygienic. See also this great post from Starhawk which expands on this point. And that’s all before you start explaining where meat comes from. Animals? Prepare for litigation – you’re traumatising my child!

All the work we did in the garden this weekend got me thinking about food production. We eat quantities of salads and tomatoes all summer long. Why not grow them ourselves? We live in the heart of a busy city – what better way of taking something back than using the free sunlight, water and dirt and producing something worthwhile? I have a blind spot where vegetable growing is concerned. If it’s a plant to please and smell nice, I can manage it. If it actually has to serve a useful purpose, well, something breaks down and I can’t see the point. If you analyse this as an attitude, it’s simply bizarre. So enough shilly-shallying! The thought of being able to gorge ourselves on flavoursome, juicy, tomatoey tomatoes (and face it, when can we buy those is Britain??) as well as putting up gallons of tomato sauce for the winter seems to be enough of an incentive. Plus basil, peppers and chillis and you have all the raw materials for hundreds of tasty meals.

At a stroke we could: reduce the food miles of the salad and tomatoes to nil. Produce properly organic salad vegetables, with probably enough spare to give away or barter for other things. Learn about heritage and rare varieties and grow for flavour, something commercial tomato growers fail to do.

Above all, we’re putting in place a system of seasonal growth for benefit and food, which will teach us more about our land and the uses it can be put to; and it will teach our young sprout that food doesn’t come from the supermarket – it comes from the earth.

 

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9 responses

12 05 2008
fox

Sounds like a wonderful plan! The kids got to go over to my mom’s earlier in the season and help her plant potatoes and peas knowing that they were going to get to eat them later. They were talking about how much fun and good it will be when they are ready and my daughter pipes up, “Yeah, but peas are yucky. I don’t want to eat those.” Hehe. Like mother like daughter. 😀

12 05 2008
Andy

Wonderful! I so want to grow my own veg. I have my name down for an allotment as my garden is really too small for the job, but it is something I want to do. I agree that we need to be out there, walking the land to connect with the land. I think there’s most certainly a place for being inside in meditation, ritual or whatever, but not at the expense of ignoring the glory of outside.

12 05 2008
The Green Witch

I’m all enthused! I found a packet of Tigerella tomato seeds in the cupboard that are still in date – they go into compost tomorrow!

They’ll be grown in boxes, about foot deep, a foot high and three long, knocked up from two by four.

Andy – I recommend a bok called The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater – his garden is about 12 by 20 foot and he grows tomatoes in tall, narrow terracotta pots on his terrace.

Fox, does your lovely girl really not like peas? Dip them in chocolate! 🙂

12 05 2008
Andy

Thanks GW, I will look out for it!

12 05 2008
Tess

At the moment my supposed vegetable space is taken up by a very, very (did I mention very?) healthy crop of nettles! You’ve inspired me to get on with pulling them up and planting something edible in their place.

I know you can make nettle tea and apparently cook them as vegetables, but I can’t say I fancy either option.

And thanks for the book recommendation.

12 05 2008
fox

Haha! TGW, you just made me gag! No neither she nor I like peas. The thought of chocolate covered green zits isn’t much more appealing than green zits by themselves. 😀

13 05 2008
The Green Witch

Nettles are a good cover crop, Tess – but a bit chewy and stingy for my liking! 🙂

I hope your garden patch gives you as much contentment as mine does. It’s just too easy to spend a day grubbing, fettling and talking to myself.

Fox, the very thought makes me somewhat queasy, I must admit! But you know that at some point, some bright marketing spark will think that covering peas in chocolate is a good idea.

13 05 2008
shamrockwitch

The soil we have to contend with is rocky to say the least- so we use grow bags for tomatoes- peppers and such. The herb patch did’nt need so much depth, same as the flower borders, so they are in the ground. Last year the strawberries were eaten by the blackbirds- so this year they are in hanging bags-( experimenting here ) with protective net. Whatever you do enjoy it and if & when you get to taste the goodies-( before the wild life get it) it will taste all the better.

14 05 2008
The Green Witch

Sounds like the skin of the earth is very thin where you are shamrockwitch! I like the idea of strawbs in baskets – I may borrow.

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