I have blogged about gardening in my previous blog post, Gardening: Get Your Grandma On, but after my exciting weekend of “farming,” I decided to revisit the topic. (Note: My version of farming is the four vegetable plants and four herb plants that I grow in containers on my patio. Why yes, I am thinking about getting a tractor J ) For those of you youngens, yes this is what happens to you when you get old. Oh and this happens too…
Oh and this…
Anyways, back to gardening...
Why should I grow my own produce?
Well I could ramble on in complete sentences but that does not match my current mood, so I am going to leave you with bullet points:
- Cheaper than buying fruits and veggies (especially if you buy organic)
- Better for the environment
- Taste better
- Why not?!?
Beth’s Gardening Tips
Let me preface this section with this. I am no gardening expert, but I do play one on tv.
Sunlight: One of the biggest things to consider is sunlight. Most plants need about 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, so if you live in a heavily wooded area you may be out of luck. It is best to select an area that faces east, west, south to ensure your plants will get enough light. If you are directionally challenged, use Google maps to figure it out.
Water: Make sure you water your plants using potable water (city water or water out of your spigot). Established plants should be watered every other day or every third day. If your plants start to look limp, you should probably water them. It is best to water plants in the morning.
Soil: Your plants will only be as healthy as the soil you put them in.
What to plant: Here in Charlotte, if you plant watermelon in the fall you are just setting yourself up for failure. Just because you can get a watermelon year round in the grocery store does not mean they grow all year round here in Charlotte. I will give you a resource with more detail, but to be brief your summer crops include tomatoes, summer squash, cucumber, melons, and peppers. Fall crops include fall/winter squash, apples, pumpkins, kale, and so on. Not much grows in the winter besides hearty, dark leafy greens. Spring brings strawberries, asparagus, and lettuces.
Space: Different plants need different amount of plants. Before you go throwing 10 tomato plants in one pot, do a little research and maybe even read the seed packet or those little sticks that they stick in the seedling soil. Just a thought.
The above tips just scrape the surface of all things to consider when gardening. For more information, check out this great resource from Friendship Gardens: http://friendship-gardens.org/resources/gardening-101/
But Beth, I don’t have a lot of space
Neither do I! Luckily, for people like us, if your look up container gardening on Pintrest there are tons of cool ideas.
Local Produce on Campus
Well Beth if you are such a hippy why don’t we have any locally grown fruits and vegetables in our dining halls?!? I would say touché, but I will not because the world of food and the food industry is very complex. We actually do have some local produce in our cafeterias, albeit not consistently and is not marketed as such for a myriad of obstacles. However, even though it is not marketed as such, I am willing to bet my first unborn child that our sweet potatoes were grown in North Carolina. Dorky fact of the day: North Carolina produces over 40% of the nation’s sweet potatoes.
Anyways, incorporating more local produce into our food system is something I have been toying with since I began this job a little over a year and a half ago, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can find Cloister Honey, Smokey J’s Salsa, Roots & Branches Artisan Crackers, and Uncle Scott’s Root beer in both of our convenience stores on campus.
Breaking it down
Whether you have a black thumb or green thumb, or are old, young, hippy, not a hippy, country bumpkin, city kid, give gardening a try. Is it the most exciting thing in the world? Nope, but it is pretty painless and…
Plus, you can get your organic produce without the hefty price tag. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go plant my bacon seeds.
Until next time!
Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,