<![CDATA[Keep It Simple, Sandra - Growing Your Own Food]]>Thu, 18 Feb 2016 11:48:58 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Growing Season Is Here!]]>Sat, 30 May 2015 17:09:20 GMThttp://theartofcare.weebly.com/growing-your-own-food/growing-season-is-hereCheck out THIS POST to see how my produce garden has started.  This year I'm doing two different gardens:  One outdoor garden using a plot of land on my parents' farm.  The other is a container garden on my balcony. 
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<![CDATA[Mid-Summer Check-In]]>Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:47:04 GMThttp://theartofcare.weebly.com/growing-your-own-food/mid-summer-check-in
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My vegetable garden!
I’m really enjoying growing my own food.  It’s not as time-consuming or overwhelming as I thought it would be.  And the best part?  My plants are actually growing.  Like, a lot!  And they're producing food!  Who would have thought?

For my first attempt at vegetable gardening, I was lucky enough that my Dad gave me a small plot of land on his farm.  (Although next year, I think I will do more container vegetable gardening on my own balcony)  I only have a few plants, mainly because my parents already grow a lot, and can just get fresh produce from them.  This year I planted:  4 bell pepper plants, 2 beefsteak tomato plants, 1 sugar snap peas, 1 watermelon, 1 cucumber, 1 zucchini (summer squash), 1 spaghetti squash, and 1 yellow zucchini (summer squash).

In addition to my garden, I have planter boxes of fresh herbs, including thyme, oregano, parsley, chives, basil, mint and rosemary.

I have been doing a good job of keeping up with the weeding, and I’m finding that the more work you do at the beginning of the season, the less you have to do as the season goes on.  I have also learned a thing or two about the actual plants I’m tending to.

For one thing, squash plants really do like to take over!  The zucchini plants are massive, with huge, thick stalks.  It’s a good thing they are next to my spaghetti squash, because that thing just grows and meanders all over the darn place!  I keep having to redirect its path.  If it was beside a smaller, weaker plant, like my tomatoes or sugar snap peas, they probably would have been suffocated and strangled to death by now by my monster spaghetti squash.

Speaking of sugar snap peas, next year I’m going to plant a bunch!  This year I stuck with one plant and although I got a good handful of peapods a few weeks ago, the plant doesn’t seem to be producing anymore.  I guess it’s done for the season.  That’s a shame, because they were really super tasty and great to eat right off the vine.

So far, my tomatoes and peppers have not yet produced and it will be a while before the spaghetti squash and watermelon are ready.  But I’ve had immense good luck with zucchini – If you don’t believe me, look at the number of zucchini recipes I’ve posted in the last couple of weeks.  I have so much zucchini I don’t know what to do with it right now!  It really is the best plant to get you started on vegetable gardening.

Check out more pictures of my growing garden below.  I also took some snaps of my brothers’ and parents’ gardens nearby.

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Summer Squash
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Picked today
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My growing spaghetti squash
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Growing tomatoes
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More tomatoes
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Bell peppers - should be ready soon!
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Mine and my brothers' rows - notice the number of weeds in my brother's garden. Tsk Tsk.
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Look at how nice my parents' rows are next to ours!
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Fresh raspberries! Just picked today!
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Raspberries
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Banana peppers in my parents' garden
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These tomatoes are gonna help to make about 400 jars of my mom's tomato sauce by the end of the summer!
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<![CDATA[Growing Up on a Farm - My First Experiences with Real Food]]>Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:15:45 GMThttp://theartofcare.weebly.com/growing-your-own-food/growing-up-on-a-farm-my-first-experiences-with-real-food
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Just ONE of the many vegetable gardens on my parents' farm.
I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm.  We always had fresh produce like tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, corn, peas, beans, peppers, onions, potatoes, apples, pears, cherries, and so much more growing in the summer and early fall.  We raised our own beef, pork and chicken.  We had farm fresh eggs almost everyday for breakfast.  We learned how to preserve a lot of tomato sauces, jams, pickled vegetables, and we also learned how to make our own cheese.

Pretty sweet right?  But for me, I hated it! 

I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, because all I really wanted was to live in the suburbs like my friends.  I wanted our house to be sandwiched between two other houses.  I wanted to have neighbours.  I wanted those neighbours to be so close I could reach out the window and high-five them.  And I wanted those neighbours to be people rather than cows or corn-stalks.  I wanted to be able to walk home from school everyday with my friends rather than take the hour-long bus ride back to “the country.”  And I wanted to be able to run outside everyday after dinner to play in the street with my friends or go bike riding in the neighbourhood, rather than make arrangements before hand to have someone drive me into the city for a planned visit.

And as for the food?  Sure, it tasted great, but I was actually pretty self-conscious about our homegrown, chemical free, natural foods, because it wasn't like the foods my friends ate.  I remember bringing an egg salad sandwich to school for lunch one day.  Of course, the egg salad my mom made was from the fresh eggs she picked from the farm probably that same day.  Have you ever compared farm fresh eggs to store bought ones?  If not, try cracking them both into a bowl and seeing the difference.  Farm fresh eggs have a dark yellow, almost orange-like hue.  They have a much bigger yolk, and they smell different too.  And the taste?  Well, let's just say I don't ever have to put too much seasoning on farm fresh eggs like I do with store-bought.  And before you say anything, I know store-bought eggs also come from a farm (technically), but they travel over such great distances, over such a long period of time, that they really do lose their freshness.  Not to mention the fact that you can never be sure how the chickens were raised and whether or not some genetic modification, or steroid injections, or chemical additives have been added into the chicken feed, or the chickens themselves.  That all has an effect on what comes out of a cracked egg.

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Can you guess which of these eggs came fresh from a farm? If you guessed the one on the right, you're correct! Click on the picture to read a great post about farm fresh eggs vs store bought eggs, from "My Crazy Country Life."
But I digress.  Back to my story.  When I brought my egg salad to school, a friend of mine looked at it and said "Ewww... what is that?"  Egg salad, I told her.  "No guff," (cuz we said "no guff" in the 80's) "mine is egg salad.  Why does yours look like that?"  Of course she was referring to the fact that my egg salad had a dark yellow hue to it, whereas hers was pale yellow, almost white.  And hers was loaded with mayo.  We didn't use too much mayo in our egg salad, because a little really went a long way with our eggs.  My friend took one final look at my egg salad, rolled her eyes and said "Gag me." Cuz, we said that in the 80's too.

From then on, I really hated how different our farm fresh food was.  I was embarrassed that our meat didn't come from stores, and I hated, absolutely hated, all the work that had to go into making our homemade sauces.  (Weeding in the tomato garden, and slicing tomatoes in a big tub of cold water were not my idea of fun)  I had no idea that the apple I picked from the tree in our backyard was far superior nutritionally than the ones my friends bought at the stores.  Because all I could see was how it wasn't as shiny and red as those ones, and sometimes there were even tiny bug bites on our apples! (because of course, my dad didn't use any pesticides)

Fast forward to today.  I am so thankful for my early years on the farm.  Now that I've actually started looking at the quality of the food I eat, I have become increasingly distrustful of the growing practices or processing of foods at the grocery store.  I'm so grateful that I don't have to start from scratch in making the switch to real food.  All I really needed to do was go back home.

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