Saturday, February 2, 2008

Gardening Thoughts in February

For the last few years, I've heard that gardeners should start planting tomato seeds in February in order to set out some sturdy seedlings by Mother's Day. I've never done it yet and always ended up standing in line over at the local garden shop in May. Let's see if I get my act together and get some on the windowsill this month!

Last summer, Environmentalist Daughter convinced a couple of us to go in with her for a share of weekly summer organic produce from a local farm. The farm had drop-off points all over the city with one conveniently near her, so she would get our box of fruits and veggies on Saturday, divide it up, and the rest of us would get ours later that weekend.

What I liked was trying new items, including some I'd never heard of, like Asian melon. What I didn't like was that some veggies were already limp by the time I got them. Meanwhile, I had already set out my own backyard garden, and was ready for tomatoes, green beans, kale, spinach, beets, peas and radishes. Luckily, you can never have too many tomatoes, so I was still able to use everything. But this year, I'm sticking to the backyard garden.

I'm a child of North Dakota and Minnesota, and grew up thinking everyone ate strawberry-rhubarb sauce for breakfast. Unfortunately, my two rhubarb plants have withered and died, and it takes at least one year of growing uncut to give a plant a good start. So no sauce for us this year.

If anyone else is looking at the seeds in the drugstore now, you might want to read an account by novelist Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Tells how she moved from the Southwest to Appalachia with her husband and two daughters and they decided to eat only food grown or raised within 40 miles or so (locavores?). How they did it, what they had to do without, etc., is mighty interesting.


  1. I've started planning my garden too. It's a sure sign of spring! I planted some lovely new rhubarb and didn't cut it last year (self-denial). I'm having trouble with the strawberries though. It wasn't sunny enough for them last year and they were sour!

  2. I read a great book along the same lines recently: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. He talks about how industry has processed food to the point where it would be unrecognizable to people from even a few generations ago, and that processed foods are seriously damaging our health and the environment. The book advocates eating whole, fresh, local, organic and home-made foods as much as possible. It's definitely got me thinking about what I eat! Raising a home garden or shopping from a local farm is a great way to combat this issue!

    :) Sarah

  3. OK! Interested in coming out to plant or weed this year? Remember the story of the Little Red Hen. ;-)

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  5. it's a true challenge to eat local AND organic these days...the prices have soared beyond belief.

    the first things that usually grew in minnesota/north dakota were, interestingly enough, GREENS...think of those pore winter-starved bodies feasting on fresh greens.

    the things that took the longest to grow (carrots, onions, potatoes, apples) also stayed edible the longest with minimal refrigeration.

    and how about tomatoes?? the sheer overabundance and the need to can or lose them gave us so many wonderful meals of spaghetti or chili on cold nights.


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