“True wealth is the riches of the earth on your table.”
April 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
Gardening and cooking are intimately connected in my life. Both are creative processes that feed the body and the soul. To be involved in the creation of food from planting, harvesting, and preparing is extremely rewarding. I enjoy the aesthetic consideration of planning the garden. I love pouring over the endless possibilities of seeds to be sown. And while I am not a great cook, I love the pictures in cookbooks and designing my own meals with what I have available on my farm.
Your garden does not need to be very big to sustain a family. A small plot filled with a few veggies will do. What about that front yard? Do you really need all that lawn to mow? Do you see some batch of dirt to the side of the house? Perhaps, containers filled with edibles on the apartment balcony. Even a windowsill filled with herbs will be rewarding once plucked and added to your favorite dish.
My garden is far from the neat rows and blocks such as I created in Ohio. This Hawaiian garden is definitely more a “portage” that organically (both figuratively and literally) evolves based on the available space. In goes some celery if that tomato plant expires yet again. Fresh lettuce seedlings go in each week to cover our needs. My raised beds are far from uniform as I stack lava rocks to work around roots and the un-level ground. Right now, the lemon cucumbers are climbing on makeshift trellises built from bamboo and coffee limbs. My hope is that I’ll enjoy a few fruits despite the melon fly that makes growing zucchini and other similar plants next to impossible. Hard to believe – I know – especially when in Ohio you couldn’t give that vegetable away come summer. What I wouldn’t do for a basket of zucks and toms in August. And I’m still searching for the hardy tomato. I think I might be on to something here with the volunteers that came up around the garden from the compost I used a few months ago. They’ll be a small variety but so appreciated if they make it to the table.
I have new loves in the garden: papaya, white pineapple, poha and thimble berries, tree tomatoes and this small, sweet red pepper given to me by a neighbor when I lamented the fact that all the peppers I usually grew in Ohio didn’t seem to like the conditions here in Hawaii. While I have a year-round growing season, gardening has been a challenge for me. There is either too much rain – not enough – too many strange bugs – or blights I can’t identify. Gardening is a lot of trial and error here. Before, I planted in spring by way of holidays just like my father did and his father did. The potatoes went in on St. Patrick’s Day. Cold crops such as the broccoli and cauliflower went in on Good Friday. After Mother’s Day, I could transplant the tomatoes. Now, it is more about the rain cycles than the temperature and that too is a lot less predictable with the world’s changing weather patterns. I’ll pay attention and record my findings for subsequent years.
It’s well into spring now on the mainland and time to cultivate a garden for you and your family. Time to dig in the dirt and thumb through old recipes for something new to create for the table. We have time for these two life sustaining practices. For they are essential, rewarding, and nourish us from the inside out. When Thomas Jefferson wrote, “True wealth is the riches of the earth on your table,” the eighteenth century required household gardens and small farms for the new nation’s food supply. More than two hundred years later, we have an industrial food system that is rich in greed and poor in health. This spring, make a difference. Decide to grow and prepare some of your own food and take time to enjoy it with your family. It is a small step but it has a profound impact. And the best part, you just might tap into a new source of wealth.
Please share the names of some of your favorite seeds you like to grow, your favorite garden catalogs, and I always enjoy a new veggie recipe!