Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beans and Tomatoes - Gardening for Food

I wanted to show you what I harvested from my garden the other day - beans and a tomato! There are snow peas and some kind of green bean. I actually grew them from seeds I saved from last year's crop. You just let the beans get old until the beans get really big and the pod turns yellow. Then you pick them, let the seeds dry, and plant them the next year! I do this every time I forget to pick the beans and they get a bit too fibrous to eat :)

What I realized recently before the beans were ready to be picked, was that I'd starve if I had to survive off my garden. I have so many flowers, thanks to obsessive propagating, but really very little that I can eat. What I'd be subsisting on is chives, rosemary, basil leaves, and something gross like dandelions. For a few weeks, I'd have strawberries and blueberries. I think I should grow some lettuce and salad greens next year. Then I could at least eat those in case of an emergency.

Now I know how canning and jams began. It was probably to sell to negligent farmers like me that not only grow more flowers than food, but also occasionally forgot to water their potted plants during the hottest days of the summer. Eeeps! That would be me the past three days during this hot spell. Luckily, I only lost a few of my propagated flowers. They look so shivelled and sad now. I'm watering them feverishly now in hopes that they'll sprout a few green leaves from some magical, hidden life source inside the crispy brown stem.

Plants I Want To Grow Next Year For Food
1. Beans - (summer-late summer crop) Plant more than you think you need, and many varieties. They grow fast, and they have a non-stop crop for a good few weeks. Eat them while they're fresh, but you could probably can them too. Be sure to save seeds for the next year - the more the merrier.
2. Tomatoes - (late summer-fall crop)Buy a few plants, or start them super early in the season from seed. Grow both cherry tomato varieties and the larger ones. You can eat the cherry ones while the biggers ones are still ripening, and there are usually lots of them. Get roma tomato varieties for small-medium sized tomatoes earlier on. Eat them fresh for great flavour, but you can also can them and make tomato sauce.
3. Lettuces - (late spring-summer crop)Grow from seed and eat the leaves all growing season in salads and sandwiches. Grow many varieties, or choose the mixed seed packets.
4. Herbs - (spring-late fall) Basil is annual so you must buy a new one each year, but rosemary should last through a mild winter. Chives also come back each year. Cilantro/Chinese Parsley can be grown from coriander seeds from your spice rack, but most seeds will not grow so sow densely. Rue is perennial.
5. Zucchini - (late summer-fall crop) Buy at least 2-3 plants so that they can cross pollinate with each other to produce maximum zucchinis. You can also manually pollinate them with a paintbrush or cotton swab to increase crops. Once they start to produce zucchinis, you will have too many. Plan to share them with friends, to eat a lot of them, and to bake zucchini bread (mmmm).
6. Squash - (late summer-fall crop) also buy a few plants to increase cross-pollination. They tend to produce male and female flowers at different times for the same plant so it's good to have other squash plants to increase possibility of male and female flowers being open at the same time. The good thing about squash is that it can sit around for a while after being harvested. This increases the chance that you'll still have it around for winter months.
7. Strawberry - (summer-late summer crop) self-propagates to give you more plants each year, can survive through mild winters. Plant lots to give you lots of fresh summer fruits. Make jam when crop is most plentiful to last you year-round.
8. Blueberry - (late summer) only blooms once so keep more than one plant around in order to get more blueberries. Enjoy fresh, and make jam to last year-round.

Are there any other vegetables or fruits that you would recommend growing for food?


Barbara said...

you have a very cute blog!
Thanks for following mine!
I'll come back again to leave you some comments!

Sarah Knight said...

I've never had the gumption to oversee a garden. I was delighted to go outside the other day and find some ripe raspberries on our bushes... oh how I neglect them...