I am currently participating in an online book club over at Simple Mom. We have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The book is very well written and has inspired me to seek out local sources of food. I want to support local farmers. If you have read my blog in the past, you know that last summer we bought a whole hog from a local source and in the fall we bought 1/2 a cow.
Initially, I sought the local sources because I wanted a meat supply that was a less expensive and healthier choice. The idea of supporting the local farmer really didn't cross my mind. If you have a chance to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, you will understand that there is a greater impact of buying food from big suppliers than just price. We settle for inferior tasting food just to get a lower price. Really, the tomatoes in winter are tasteless.
We decided to try a garden again this year. When I moved into this house I was really excited because I knew I finally had enough room for a HUGH garden. My first attempts were dismal. The ground here is hard, red Georgia clay. I suspect that most of the topsoil was scraped away to grade the land for building houses.
So, this year I knew I wanted to try raised beds. These are the first two that my husband built for me. I decided on these designs by just looking up raised bed gardening on the Internet.
After building these beds, I happen to be looking on YouTube for raised bed gardening videos, and I found a great series of videos called Donna's Square Food Garden. I watched all her videos and went out and bought the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
My husband build four 4 x4 beds. One of them I gave to a friend who is also reading Barbara Kingslover's book. So far the results have been impressive. I already have two baby tomatoes growing on two different plants! I have a total of about 28 tomato plants. I many more that I stared from seed that I will be giving away. I also have squash, green beans, cilantro, spinach (not sure its going to make it--too hot already), cucumbers, and peppers. I still will be adding more squash, green beans and peppers. Here are pictures of the new beds. I still have lots of plants to add.
We have had great weather this spring. We seem to be finally coming out of the drought of the last few years. My blueberries are doing well. And--I have tons of apples on my apple tree this year. In the past I have only had 2-5 apples each year and I have never gotten to eat any. This year there are so many apples I can't count! I think the rains have really made the difference.
So, why not try growing a little of your own food this summer. If you can't grow then try to support your local farmer. Go pick strawberries, blueberries, peaches or look for a Community Supported Agriculture group where you can buy local, in season, produce. It will taste better and be better for you!
Here is the first video in the series on YouTube by Donna:
Be sure to watch all the videos as you have time. It is very instructional and inspiring. Good Luck!