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Archive for July 12th, 2004

Grown on Our Own Farm

Monday, July 12th, 2004

Sunday night, I harvested my pot of leaf lettuce. I also harvested some baby leaves of swiss chard, and some amazingly healthy and huge parsley that was actually shading the swiss chard in my tiny garden.

I made salads with the above ingredients, plus some red bell pepper (thanks, mom!) and some flavored-baked tofu (added after I took the picture), and some gomasio, which is ground up sesame seeds with sea salt. I topped it with an absolutely wonderful olive oil that we had purchased at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor a while ago. Dinner was delightful!

Here are pictures of the garden from a distance, the garden close up (notice the huge, dark green parsley in the back, it must be 8 inches tall next to the swiss chard in front of it, which is about 2.5 inches), the lettuce in its container before I harvested it, and the best garden surprise yet this summer… a tomato that turned red overnight. I have seven tomatoes on this plant, one only an inch across, but this larger one decided to turn red. We decided to let it ripen a little more before picking it. I don’t even know how to tell if it is ready!!! I’m not much of a tomato eater but the plants are so beautiful I wanted to try it.

This food gardening stuff is really wonderful. I really enjoy it. This is the first year I’ve harvested anything but a few herbs and one lone bell pepper. I can see that I’ll be trying lettuce and tomatoes again next year, because they do fine with the sort of care I give. Plants that can’t be ignored for 2-3 days in a row, do not thrive in my yard. Yet Laura told me that I should not water every day, that the roots get stronger that way. I’m glad to know it. I won’t feel guilty any more!!!

Today I also bought some petunias, four nice plants that are almost a foot tall already, in white and salmon. I had one container on the front corner of the house that apparently gets too much sun for the impatiens to thrive, and the johnny-jump-ups are very scraggly there. I’m going to add these four petunias so that the pot won’t look scrawny for the rest of the year. The petunias in the sun on the back side of the house are thriving, so I’m hoping this pot which is a little less sunny will be OK for them as well. We’ll see. If it doesn’t work, next year I’ll try something else.

The title of today’s blog has meaning in my family. For a few years when I was in elementary school, my dad tried planting a few food items. We also had a good number of dwarf fruit trees in our yard. And every time we would eat something he’d grown, he’d say in a loud voice: “Grown on our own farm!” I thought it was just a saying, like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” After all, we were in suburbia and there was no farm within walking distance.

Well, I was wrong. Dad was echoing my mother’s father. Grandpa Bakken had been a principal of a school when the depression hit, so he went back to the farm where he was raised. That made sure he could feed his family of six, when others were struggling. Apparently Grandpa was very proud of his farm. So when they would eat food he (they) had grown, he would say: “Grown on our own farm!”

And now it’s my turn to say the same thing. I’m not in suburbia, I’m in a city neighborhood with a lot that can’t be all of 40 feet wide. Yet I still have some soil, unlike my friends in Chicago and Boston, and at least this year I am fully taking advantage of this fact.

It feels good to grow real food with one’s own hands. I loved eating our own produce for dinner… even though it was not quite enough, we thought it really tasted just great!