Saturday, March 15, 2008

Growing food

~ Pruned the Type 3 Clematis vines back
~ All seed orders are received except the backordered green pole beans from Johnny's.  Still need to order some asparagus crowns
~ Going to expand the vegetable garden this year by about 15 sq ft.  Garden plan is complete

Food prices are going up.  We worry about the pesticides used on the food we consume.  These are the two main reasons I grow vegetables.  I wish I had more space to have a very large garden.  Nothing would make me happier then to be able to grow ALL of our produce needs.  It would be a full-time job but so rewarding.  Last year our garden was about 12x25 and we grew 30 tomato plants, spinach, lettuce, carrots, onions, zucchini, bush beans, peppers and peas.  This year we plan to extend the garden to about 12x30 ft and grow 30 tomato plants, spinach, lettuce, carrots, radish, onions, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, peppers and pole beans.

I pay much attention in my garden plan, which as I mentioned above is already completed, to companion planting.  Some plants make good neighbors and actually benefit each other.  For instance, in this year's garden plan, I have placed the eggplants in a triangular shaped bed with the pole beans angled along the two north sides of the triangle.  Eggplants are plagued by Colorado potato beetles and pole beans repel this particular pest.  This is important to me because I do not use pesticides in my vegetable garden.  I try to not use pesticides anywhere but, man, those Japanese beetles sure do a job on my roses.  Actually, I don't use anything on them, just hand pick them off.  But I know how hard it is to watch a pest decimate a beautiful plant.  In the vegetable garden, it is crucial to not use any chemicals.  

I amend my soil every year with compost that I make or horse manure if I can get it.  I fertilize only with fish emulsion.  My primary pests have been squash bugs on the zucchini and gourds, flea beetles on the spinach and parsley worms on the dill.  For the squash bugs I check every day for the eggs on the undersides of the leaves.  Remove and crush the eggs and the squash bugs are controlled.  This year I am going to try using row covers to control the flea beetles.  And as for the parsley worms, they are actually the larvae of the Black Swallowtail butterfly, so I bring them inside and raise them until they pupate and then emerge and fly away.

My point is that it is not necessary to use harsh pesticides in a garden.  Ok, so some of the produce may be compromised, some may be lost.  Isn't that better than our health being compromised and our lives lost?  I believe that most people in this country could grow a majority of their own produce, reducing their grocery bills and improving their health.  I just don't understand why they choose to maintain their vast expanses of lawns with the help of the Chemlawn company.  I just cannot understand that way of thinking.


JumpinJude said...

Hi Snowy! I agree with you about the lawn... even if people don't want to grow their own food, or even plant a flower garden, they certainly don't need to artificially stimulate their lawns to grow and then keep them hooked as if on drugs. Our lawns were not meant to be green when it's at summer's hottest - they go brown and dormant for a reason. I don't want my kid rolling around on pesticides, I don't want them brought into the house on our feet, and I don't want the birds and animals to be sick due to my yard, either.

Ewokgirl said...

Hey, Snowy! Great blog!

I can tell you why some people do the Chemlawn thing. They don't know what else to do. Neither the hubby nor I are gardeners, and frankly, it's too hot to be outside in TX, IMO. Theoretically, I'd like to grow veggies, but I don't know how to do it.

Steven hired a chemlawn company years ago because he was having trouble with the lawn. We cancelled it after Calvin escaped the day after a treatment, ate some grass, then started throwing up profusely. Scared me so badly! I cancelled it that day.