January 5, 2011

We really like the changing seasons we have here — we have no desire to visit either the North or South Pole, much less live there — and having travelled millions of miles, mostly in an air-conditioned truck, I still love best the start of each of our four seasons, and can put up with the remaining short periods.

We hope you are enthused about growing flowers and vegetable gardens, and are studying seed, plant, and tree catalogs for knowledge and sources of what you would like to grow. There are more restrictions on growing and selling “organic vegetables than are required to grow and enjoy produce from your own garden, and there are more tools, supplies, instructions, seeds and plants available than ever before, to make gardening easier and more enjoyable; and it is good exercise, a good family activity, and economically favorable — so get started, and increase your activities and gardening.

You have read of vast amounts of commercially grown foods being recalled by processors,  and if you are like us, you sigh deeply when you realize (or are pretty sure) that you didn’t buy any of the bad stuff. Why in Heaven’s name shouldn’t we do more growing of our own food — there is a way! The sun shines everywhere! Soil is everywhere, and if you are confined, potting soil and pots can be set in any window, on any walkway or porch (although one allowing the sun to shine on the leaves will do the best job!)

One of the new produce things is ‘organic food,’ and if you are going to pay the price, you should know what the requirements are for labeling food “Organic,” and how you can be sure the ‘organic food’ you pay extra for is really ‘organic,’ and what to do if it is not, and who really decides, and who pays the damages if they occur. We like to buy locally grown produce that we can’t as easily produce, like mince meat, for instance, at farmer’s markets we trust.

There is interest now in growing ‘heirloom’ plants, and we do love Heirloom Brandywine tomatoes, for example. They produce uniformly large, luscious fruit that slice into sandwich bread-sized portions, and are easily canned to preserve for later consumption, or Christmas gifts to family and friends. ‘Heirloom’ varieties are different from modern garden varieties, because they breed true from collected seeds.

One should not collect seeds of hybrid varieties, because the offspring may not have the same characteristics as their parents had. In general, heirloom varieties may be more nutritious than modern hybrids (although a few modern hybrids have been produced that provide better nutrition).

We believe the heirlooms we grow taste better than we have found elsewhere, but that, of course, is a matter of taste — you don’t know until you try!! The choice is up to you, based on your thriftiness, energy, and ambition. My parents saved garden seeds from their own garden, started behind their kitchen stove, and while I, the only survivor, ain’t dead yet, the rest of their offsprings lived to be well into their nineties — and if I can stand it, I am willing to at least match their scores . . . good gardening

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