Spring Fever gets me to slow down a bit but it also gives me the itch to get out and get my hands dirty. My cleaning starts with the herb, flower and vegetable gardens. The cleaning debris goes right back in the compost after it has been looked at for bug eggs or mildew. But I really don’t have a problem with that because of my organic gardening practices – the good bugs and habitat take care of that for me.
My soil is pretty much ready to go because when we moved to San Diego I set aside a little plot of ground to start getting my soil ready to plant. I used that plot for my kitchen composting. The soil was so sandy that it would not hold moisture or anything else. We had our soil tested to see what we needed to feed it so it could feed our plants. (Check with your community agriculture department for information on where you can get your soil tested and make sure you can get a soil amendment analysis. San Diego Agriculture Department, 868-694-2739, only tests the soil for the PH and salt content. Recommendations: Clarkson Laboratory & Supply, Chula Vista – 619-425-1993; Soil and Plant Laboratory, Inc., Anaheim, Ca. – 714-282-8777.) We added what was advised and worked it until it became rich and loamy. It took some time but it was definitely worth it. Last year my backyard neighbor ask me how I got my tomatoes to grow so big when she could not even get the plants to grow. The sharing began!
We are a little a behind the 8-ball in Southern California but if you are at high altitudes or in the North you are just about ready to get started. Some of you are still getting cold weather and snow. If in doubt go to google with your questions or better yet get involved with your community garden club. They are more than willing to share information plus it is fun to know people with your same interest. Who doesn’t like to talk about what they have grown and their experiences. They can be a wealth of information.
We specialized in heirloom fruits and vegetables when we were growing organically at Terra Verde Farms. Plant your favorites but I do suggest you try heirloom vegetables and tomatoes. They are full of flavor, not always pretty. My daughter use to say “Beauty is skin deep, but flavor goes all the way to the taste buds!” I am talking about planting your favorite varieties that are ready for planting, not starting from seeds. We will get into that early next year. Starting your own plant from seeds is very rewarding.
Experiment and find the fruits and vegetables you like the best. I love Cherokee Purple, Purple Brandywine (any of the Brandywines are delicious), Black Krims, Box Car Willie, Abe Lincoln, Yellow Pear, Granny Smith and many, many more tomatoes. Can you tell I am a “Tomato Girl”? Green beans – my favorite is a French Maxibel Green Bean. Eggplant or okra, give me any of them. It is the same with radishes, greens and herbs. I love cooking and eating herbs. Sprouts are next on my list, but I have a pretty good source at the farmers’ market right now! If you don’t have the space or time, check your local growers and farmers’ markets. Try container gardening. They are not only pretty plants but you get to eat them. The farmers’ market and your fruits and vegetables are fresh and last so much longer than other sources. If you go to farmers’ markets plan what you need because everything looks so good that you want it all. Please don’t let your good fresh fruits and vegetables ruin in your refrigerator. Over 19% of the food grown goes to waste in our households. That is the same percentage that is lost in the field or is disposed of because it is not suitable to the eye to be sold to the consumers. That does not include the food thrown away in restaurants. Nineteen percent is a lot!
Think before you plant or buy. Your bounty will be great. Share food with others. That is the greatest gift of all!