Finding the Joy of Growing Your Own Food
Not everyone starts out with a green thumb, and not everyone actually enjoys growing their own food. For some greenies it's the sheer sensation of digging bare hands right into the soil that puts an instant smile on a person's face. While for others it's not the dirt, it's not the small shoots that begin to peek out into the world of sunshine, nor is it the sight of the ripened harvest , but rather it's the joy of tasting a freshly picked ripe tomato in a fresh leaf salad, or tasting the sliced warm cucumber that just made it to the pickings list.
No matter where or when you find your joy, it all comes back to the food.
Who would find joy digging and playing in the dirt knowing their harvest would bring only shriveled tasteless tomatoes or dried out cantaloupe? What joy would there be in picking bug ridden eggplant that already smells rotten before it had a chance to get ripe?
The answer - there isn't a soul who would enjoy that at all.
In the end it always comes back to the quality of food.
Hold the Chemicals Please...
One of the great benefits to having your own garden is the ability to be a guilt-free micro-manager. You have full control over what you grow and how you grow it. It's great to say your garden is "organic", but there are a number of considerations to take into account before anything is technically organic. This doesn't mean however that you can't mimic what USDA Organic Guidelines require - and frankly, make yours better.
A chemical free garden means chemical free foods. Foods get their nutrients from the soil and they don't have the ability to filter out the bad stuff from the good stuff. That means you have to do it by not using it to begin with.
There are natural ways to accomplish the effects that chemicals have... which is to prevent insects from destroying your precious valuables. One way is companion planting. You'll need to do some research on this based on the foods you want to grow. Some plants do well around other plants because of the types of bugs which are attracted to them.
For example, planting tomatoes and basil next to each other is a common companion arrangement. Another example is planting cilantro around potatoes or anise as the cilantro repels spider mites which like to feast on these other plants. Planting flowers that attract insects such as ladybugs is a good idea because they feast on aphids.
Another method is to use natural repellants which use natural ingredients such as spices and herbs - for example garlic and red chili pepper among other ingredients to spray on plants to keep bugs away. You can either make your own concoction, find recipes online or even find organic products in stores.
Save More Green in the Form of Cost!
Starting a garden can be as expensive or inexpensive as you deem appropriate. But once the groundwork is laid it's mainly a one shot deal except for maintenance costs. However the food cost savings alone will help.
Consider growing asparagus in the early Spring - these tall ladies can easily go for $2.99 a pound at a store - and that's considered a good price and it's not organic! Tomatoes - a must have for every garden, goes for $3.99 a pound or more on average. And herbs... a few sprigs of Rosemary for $2.99 or more - with your own Rosemary bush you'll have all you need year round for the same price which is how much the original plant cost!
Give Me Something to Brag About
The biggest joy is found however when you reap the rewards of your work. Just like finishing a home project, this one is no different. You have something you want to show off and serving dinner is no longer just dinner, but it's become almost an art show - something you want to put on display and say, "Now here are the beans which I grew and picked today... and to your right you'll see the tomatoes which I planted in early May."
Those who enjoy food understand what good homegrown natural food is. It's fresh, it's flavorful, it's free of chemicals and lastly... it delivers a true overflowing cup of joy.
Easy Fresh Italian Recipe:
Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil A few (3-5) Fresh Tomatoes (Roma preferably, but even a hearty batch of cherry tomatoes will do) Garlic Fresh Basil Pasta (any variety) Italian grated cheese (Romano or Parmesan) Directions: 1. In a large frying pan add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat.
2. Add in chopped garlic and saute until fragrant about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic!
3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and stir frequently until the tomatoes have reduced and form a nice thin sauce
4. Meanwhile - cook your pasta and when finished add into the sauce and toss. Leave some pasta water off to the side in case the pasta is too dry.
5. Serve and top with the fresh basil and some grated Italian cheese and enjoy!
Article contributed by Liz Krause of SimpleItalianCooking.com, a website featuring simple and easy Italian recipes. She has her own newsletter where she shares cooking tips and tricks plus recipes she's learned over the years. Having never learned how to cook until she got married, she started with their Italian family recipes and she discovered the best Italian foods use simple and fresh ingredients!