Garden growing

Everything’s coming up roses here… I mean turnips. Our garden is looking fabulous. We bought heirloom organic seeds from Southern Exposure Seed exchange, http://www.southernexposure.com/, a seed catalogue which sells heirloom and organic seeds, and which is partially run by Twin Oaks, a community in Virginia that we’re going to visit in October. Heirloom seeds are important because they represent a greater variety of plants than are normally commercially available, varieties that people long ago cultivated for their different qualities. You might be familiar with heirloom tomatoes, which are a completely different tomato experience from the perfectly round, red, balls you buy at the supermarket. Heirloom plants have character and taste, and more importantly, nutrients. In his book In Defense of Food Michael Pollen suggests that heirloom plants might have twice the number of antioxidants and other important nutrients that regular, mass-produced, picture-perfect, genetically bred plants have. That’s because while those plants were being babied and sprayed with pesticides, the heirlooms had to survive generations of insect attacks and disease exposure. It’s the same protections the plants make against insects and disease exposure that helps our bodies fight off attacks.

Anyways, we planted our garden a little late- two weeks into May- and with the exception of the cabbage, which didn’t come up at all, and the basil, which wants a warmer climate and so is still uber-tiny, our garden is bursting. We have already thinned all of the beds and another thinning is coming up soon. (I used to feel bad about thinnings until I realized you could eat them. Most of our plants are greens and baby greens are super delicious.) And we mulched the gardens with cut grass, to keep the weeds under control and to retain moisture in the soil. It hasn’t rained once in two weeks! I know because I water the gardens every day and I keep hoping for a rainy day so I’ll have some time off.

I love gardening- it’s such an awesome way to get a connection to your food. You see it as a seed, as a baby plant, you care for it, then you dig it up and wash the dirt off and cook it and eat it. One of the rewards of working with whole foods is that you really get a feel for where your food comes from. I know what tofu is because I made the tofu from soybeans. I know what whole wheat looks like because I ground the wheat to make the flour. And this is just taking it one step back. Someday I’d love to have a hand in growing all the crops I eat. I want to know what’s it’s like to work in a rice paddy, an apple orchard, a field of beans. What is more human than eating? And what is more animal than knowing what your food looks like?

In other news, Alex is excited about trying to get personal chef work. We’ve already got one lead, and a wine tasting set up where he’s going to showcase his food. I hope it works for him because he’s an awesome chef and it’s amazing to have food which is so healthy and so delicious. And, when he’s got a big gig I’ll get to come along and be a sous-chef and dessert-chef. I designed posters for him, and business cards, and we hung them up around the upper cape, so I’m also his graphics designer and his chauffeur. With a support staff like that, how can he fail?

 

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