The jump in food prices -- and perhaps just the delight of growing Real Food -- has people gardening again, including me. Vegetable seed sales have overtaken flowers, community gardens are booming, and spending on vegetable gardens rose 25 percent last year, NPR reports.
I took the plunge three years ago, when I was working on my book, Organic Inc. Before that project, I had absolutely no interest in growing anything. But having met farmers around the country, I figured, "I could do that" and took the plunge.
The motivation wasn't economic, though clearly there was an economic benefit, since we were spending about $50 a week on fresh veggies. There's also a guilt factor, since much of that money was being spent at the farmers' market and the advice on how to grow these plants came from those same farmers I used to buy from on a regular basis.
Even though my spending is now way down, my farmer mentors are incredibly encouraging. When I admitted I was guilty asking for yet more advice, Jim Crawford of New Morning Farm replied: "I've got a lot of other people to buy my veggies."
The first year was abysmal, but things quickly improved. Last year was the first time I had a three season garden (spring, summer, and fall), courtesy of a planting schedule worked out with farmer Jim and another great farmer in our area, Heinz Thomet of Next Step Produce. That meant we bought very little produce from June through Thanksgiving last year.
This spring has been cool, so the tomatoes I started are still in flats, though the greens are going gangbusters. The picture above is of our first bok choy and full head lettuce, and the last of the spinach we've been eating since April. We've got a ton of lettuce coming in, from full heads to spring mix. There's nothing like eating lettuce you've picked out of the garden an hour before.
- Samuel Fromartz