Archive for Gardening

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love everything about fall…not only am I super excited about baseball playoff season (go Phillies!), but I love leaves changing, pumpkin carving, the weather getting cooler, and all of the new seasonal produce at the farmer’s markets.

Fresh herbs and pomegranate plants

 
 

A variety of local honey

 

Delicious acorn squash

 

Last call for seasonal tomatoes!

I am also excited to introduce Kristen Gallagher as a guest blogger on “Fresh From the Farm.” Kristen enjoys local foods and photography- what better combination could I ask for? She is going to post some lovely seasonal produce picks each month for us to enjoy, so be sure to check it out!

This month, Kristen ventured out to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh and took lovely end-of-summer pictures of the fresh produce. Let’s see what she found:

Bright purple beets

Bursting with berries

Artisinal bread, straight from the bakery

 
 

Sweet muscadine grapes

 

Kristen Gallagher is a Museum Studies student at Meredith College. Currently, she spends her free time volunteering at the NC Museum of Natural Science, photographing plants and things, and painting. She is trying to cook with more local food and is always on the lookout for people to go to the Farmer’s Market with. She hopes to one day keep beehives, chickens and her own garden.

cell – 704 619 1414
email – kristenmg.art@gmail.com

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Bringing It To The Table: Part 2

I will continue my discussion on Wendell Berry’s book, “Bringing It To The Table,” which I have been reading as part of my Food and Society class curriculum. I was so excited to read this book, as it relates perfectly to the content of my blog!

Wendell Berry explains that people in modern society need to “eat responsibly.” This term can mean many things to different people, however, Berry states that to eat responsibly is to understand and enact, so far as one can, the complex relationship between man and food. As confusing as this sounds, he has provided a simple list that everyone can do to be more responsible with their food:

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a window, grow something to eat in it. Therefore, you will appreciate the food fully, having known it all its life.

2. Prepare your own foods. You will be able to instill “quality control” and have some knowledge of what has bee added to the food you are eating.

3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home. In other words, EAT FRESH AND LOCAL FOODS!

4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist. So, know your farmer, know your food. Maximize your use of CSA boxes and farmer’s markets!

5. Learn as much as you can of the economy and technology of industrial food prodution. For instance what has been added to the foods you are eating?

6. Learn what is involved in the best types of farming and gardening.

7. Learn as much as you can, through direct observation and experience, of the life histories of the food species.

(Excerpt taken from pg. 232)

What are your thoughts on this current passage? Are there any additional tips that should be added to this list? If so, share them here!

 

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Bringing It To The Table: Part 1

I am currently enrolled in a graduate course called “Food and Society” at Meredith College, a discussion-based course that focuses on the evolution of food, what the world eats, and the impact the agricultural and industrial revolution had on our current eating habits. I am only three weeks into the course, and I am hooked! I have been reading such interesting books and articles related to cavemen and hunter-gatherers, paleolithic nutrition, the agricultural revolution, and much more.

I wanted to share my latest reading assignment with you. I know, you are probably thinking that I am going to bore you with mundane graduate school information, but this particular passage relates directly to our shared interest in farming and local foods. I strongly recommend reading Wendell Berry’s “Bringing It To The Table,” which focuses on farming and food. Wendell encourages his readers to “eat responsibly,” which means that you eat with understanding and with gratitude. He states that

“a significant part of the pleasure of eating is one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health.”

Amen! I couldn’t agree more to this statement.

Check out a fascinating excerpt from Wendell Berry’s book, taken from the Chapter entitled, “The Pleasures of Eating” (pages 227-234).

“I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act…Most urban shoppers would tell ou that food is produced on farms. But most of them do not know what farms, or what kind of farms, or where the farms are, or what knowledge or skills are involved in farming. They apparently have little doubt that farms will continue to produce, but they do not know how or over what obstacles. For them, then, food is pretty much an abstract idea- something they do not know or imagine- until it appears on the grocery shelf or on the table.

“Patrons of the food industry, who have tended more and more to be mere consumers- passive, uncritical, and dependent…the food industrialists have by now persuaded millions of consumers to prefer food that is already prepared. They will grow, deliver, and cook your food for you and beg you to eat it. That they do not yet offer to insert it, prechewed, into your mouth is only because they have found no profitable way to do so.

“…The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical- in short, a victim. When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous.

“The dreamer in this dream home will perforce know nothing about the kind or quality of their food, or where it came from, or how it was produced and prepared, or what ingredients, additives, and residues it contains- unless, that is, the dreamer undertakes a close and constant study of the food industry, in which case he or she might wake up and play an active and responsible part in the economy of food.”

What are your thoughts on this passive and the modern food movement? Share your thoughts and opinions here!

 

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Grow Lots in Pots!

Since beginning my graduate project back in April, I have attempted to grow my own herbal garden in order to learn the ins-and-outs about gardening and to understand the effort involved in growing local foods. Needless to say, I have already learned that I do not have  green thumb, and growing an herbal garden in an apartment complex is a difficult task!

Here are some of our potted herbs, along with our beloved garden gnome, respectively named "Gnomeo"

During the spring, I purchased some “Bonnie Plants” at the Home Depot in Fayetteville, NC. Between my boyfriend Ryan and I, we have tried to grow cilantro, stevia, sweet basil, texas tarragon, strawberries, mesclun lettuce, jalapeno peppers, and a new addition of thyme. I have to admit that we have not had much success with our potted garden, but we did design some pretty creative clay pots for them to grow in 🙂  We have enjoyed a few strawberries from our hanging pot, along with some basil and thyme for weekend pasta dinners. Nonetheless, I think I will leave the gardening up to the people who do it best, and purchase fresh herbs at the farmer’s markets. At least I tried, and I will still be supporting local farmers in the area!

Although I do not have a green thumb, I would imagine that most of my readers do! So I would love to share some gardening and potting tips from Bonnie Plants themselves! Here are 5 steps for a successful and bountiful garden!

1. Use a premium quality potting mix. Don’t skimp here. A quality mix holds moisture but drains well, giving plant roots the perfect balance of air, moisture, and stability to grow a great harvest. Read bag labels to look for quality ingredients: sphagnum peat moss, aged (composted) bark, perlite, lime or dolomite, and sometimes moisture-holding crystals. Quality potting mix stays fluffy all season long. It does not contain actual dirt that would compact with frequent watering.

2. Pick the right pot. It should be affordable to buy and fill, but large enough to accommodate your plants as they mature. When in doubt, bigger is always better. Be sure that the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom.

3. Feed your plants. Even if your potting mix came with fertilizer already mixed in, you may need to feed your plants. Some potting mixes include just enough fertilizer to give plants a charge when they’re starting. Mixes designed to feed for several months run out sooner in hot weather with frequent watering. Add timed-release granules or try a soluble fertilizer- a good one to try is Bonnie Plant’s Herb & Vegetable Plant Food.

4. Put pots in a sunny spot. At least 6 hours is best. The sun drives energy for production and for making sugars, acids, and other compounds responsible for the fullest flavor. Make sure pots on a deck or porch get enough sunlight.

5. Water regularly. Vegetables are at least 90% water. To produce well, they may need daily watering in hot weather. The easiest way to do this is set up a drip system on a timer. It’s a little more work on the front end, but it makes for as close to auto-pilot watering as you can get. (Most herbs, except the big-leaved ones like basil, can get by with a little less water.)

When snipping herbs for fresh recipes, use these herb harvest tips:

Basil: To harvest leaves from young basil plants, pinch off only the lower leaves. You can pinch the tips of the growing stems as the plant gets bigger.

Cilantro: Cut the leafy stems near the ground, and harvest no more than one-third of the plant. When weather warms, cilantro begins to flower and the foliage becomes sparse, feathery, and less flavorful.

Chives: Clip tubular leaves from the outside of the plant to about one-half inch above the soil. Though the flowers are edible, pinching off flowers buds will allow the plant to produce more leaves.

What types of herbs, fruits, vegetables are you successful at growing in your home garden? Share any tips you have here!

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