“To Grow or Not to Grow?” — that is the question.

“To Grow or Not to Grow?” — that is the question.

My family’s Food for a Year comes more from what inspires me than what is available in the grocery store aisle. For instance, one thing you may not know about me is: I LOVE to garden! I come by my love for gardening naturally.

My Grandma and Grandpa were excellent gardeners – my Grandpa was actually a farmer, had pigs, cows, grew rows of corn, beans, beets, turnips, squash, onions and tomatoes like you have never tasted – but he was equally talented at working the gardens, with Grandma’s help, direction and of course her “special” fertilizer mixture she called “barnyard”! Her hosta mounds were 4 feet around, the Shasta daisies were a vision of heaven (no bug dared go near those beauties!), her peonies … I am sure I will never see any more amazing, wisteria??? words simply can’t do those vines justice!

But two of my most favorites: a fragrant red rose bush and a white perennial hibiscus with a crimson center. They are my favorites because the last time I saw Grandpa he had marked those for me, we dug them out of his garden together and I brought them home and planted them in mine. That was in late summer – he died that winter. I have moved twice since that exchange and taken them with me every time. Oh, I am suddenly sad. I miss them both so very much!

When my hands are in the earth, I feel as close as I possibly can to both of them, dirty fingernails, achy back & full gardens – something we could all relate to and enjoy. So, it’s at those moments they don’t feel so far away. But, I am not even in the realm of gardener they were!! I hope to get there some day — but it won’t happen this season. 

So, what CAN be done if farming isn’t an option? Well, containers are an excellent place to start honing your gardening skills for several reasons:

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• The containers can be moved and rotated in order to meet sun/shade requirements

• MANY veggies do excellently in containers: lettuces, carrots, onions, peppers & tomatoes…and of course strawberries

• Herbs & containers are a perfect match. Most herbs tend to spread or seed too much, and if spreading and seeding aren’t the problem, a hard freeze is sure to do them in. Grow the herbs in a container from Spring through Fall & place them in a sunny corner of your garage over Winter. Both problems solved, double bonus!!

And let me just say — how great is it to pay $2 for an herb and have all the basil ((or whatever)) you can use all season long, even longer if you freeze the properly  — have you seen how much a few shriveled sprigs cost at the grocery store??? 

I am currently growing, chives, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, mint, lavender, lemongrass, dill & 2 types of parsley ((oh and a mystery herb pictured below next to the radicchio and dill, any guesses???!!)). In addition to my herbs, I am growing 2 types of beans, kale, spinach, radicchio, chard, carrots, green onions, strawberries & collards.

More radicchio, some yummy dill and what else do you see??? You may be surprised!
More radicchio, some yummy dill and what else do you see??? You may be surprised!

What is your answer to my question…”To grow or not to grow?’ I hope these tips will encourage you to stick your hands in the earth, cause you to recall stories and people of your past & inspire you to start gardening. Your “food for a year” will be so much better by answering “Yes!” ((so will your heart)).

Oh…and as far as the mystery plant pictured above goes- share your guesses, I will post the answer this evening!

*****The ANSWER is: CURRY! It is so pretty, a frosty green color pairs well the the bolder green of the dill and the purple radicchio & it smells so good and I can’t wait to use it!  Thanks for playing my guessing game!