Wednesday, June 11, 2008


This morning, when coffee and the New York Times hit my place at the table I was relieved for more than just the jolting dose of caffeine: The Dining Out section of the Times includes a subject which will become more important to every home soon, if it has not already. As you know, we prefer to "discuss" and "suggest" here at Blushing Hostess, it is preferable to lecturing. Vegetables growing in every yard is our double-dog secret goal on this blog, second only to the recipes to support your crop.

That probably does not surprise you as there are more subliminal messages about growing your own food here than product punches in Talladega Nights. We have been committed to this sort of growing (and African Violets) for generations as a family. There are small and large food yielding operations at all of our family homes: Some of us are variety growers, some herb and greens, some still thinking their preferences through.

I would like to tell you this is a wholly organic pursuit: This growing for our families and those of others who need the produce. But recently, two of the patches in question were crippled by dire pestilence and the experts hereabouts nixed my organic growing initiative: Higher yields mean more food. That will make a difference to another person down the line possibly. Consequently, we fought blight here with the chemical equivalent of nukes last week. Most of the plants are beginning to crawl back now. Unfortunately, the kales and lettuces are history but we've time there to begin again. The point is, grow food. Use chemicals if you truly must but be sure they are the sort that can be removed, not the sort that alter the plant from the outside all the way in.

In school when I was a child, Mrs. Finnegan had us place seeds in Dixie cups with a bit of soil from the school yard and a hole in the bottom for drainage. We placed our cups on the sunny window sill in the classroom and watered those seeds dutifully each day. It was amazing how quickly and surely they grew. Considering the amount of stuff Home Depot would have you believe you need to buy in order to get a seed to grow and flourish, it is even more impressive! Home Depot was not even a glimmer to the credit card companies then.

It will take a bit of effort, true. It will take next to no money to get a small patch started for yourself though. You can buy seedling plants (and for tomatoes, you should, they are really difficult to start) or go a less expensive route and buy seeds. Or, go an even less trod path and develop your own seed collection: Having squash for dinner (cheap and easy, try it)? Save the seeds you scoop from the centers, clean them off a bit, place them on a baking sheet, and leave them in the sun for a few days. Now you can start your own seed company. Don't say I never gave you business advice.

Don't believe me? I am still conducting this experiment because it is easy (I'm busy) and straightforward (little cups can be found everywhere) and because I need to prove it to you in order to be encouraging. You can do this, okay? Please try for me, it's about getting good green food into little bellies, and that should be Job 1.

Start small, a border garden, possibly. These are squash borders, rather than flowers. Vibrant, yes?

This is dinner.
Now, take a break. Go to Starbucks and get yourself a latte (I like skinny hazelnut) and look in the basket at the front of the store. They give out their used coffee grinds as fertilizer for free. Now your garden is fertilized, for free. Turn your free grounds into the soil. Water daily. Watch your dinner grow.

If you are really on the ball, you can compost all organically occurring kitchen waste (egg shells, coffee grinds, vegetable peels, etc.) into a pile in a corner of the garden. Allow it to decompose for a season and them pull it down and turn it into the ground as well.

I am finished discussing for today. Keep the Host and I apprised of your food growing progress.


Anonymous said...

OMG Catherine and JW just got your email. This is so wonderful! Love love love it!!! Riss

Anonymous said...