Take A Stand For Gardening And Spread The Word

20170730_165852

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Why do we garden? Well there’s lots of reasons why – fresh food, exercise, cost, etc. But perhaps the biggest driver of our desire to garden can be summed up in one word – refusal. We refuse to put up with rock-hard, bland-tasting, vitamin- and mineral-depleted fruits and vegetables that are the standard fare at most grocery stores. We refuse to fill our mouths and bellies (and for that matter, those of our children) with pesticide-soaked, herbicide-infused, laboratory-altered produce. And lastly, we refuse to shell out our hard earned money for all of the aforementioned. We want our fruits and vegetables to taste fresh and provide a full complement of natural nutritive factors that our bodies need to survive and thrive. And we don’t want to live in fear that the produce we are putting into our mouths has been doused with cancer-causing chemicals or disease-laden poop fresh from the animal’s butt. When we grow fruits and vegetables ourselves, we know we have absolute control over what goes on it – or more importantly, what doesn’t go on it.

“What’s your point, Mark,” you may be saying to yourself. “I know all this already. I’m a gardener for the very reasons you just mentioned. And so are my family, my friends – heck, I belong to a whole club full of gardeners. You’re preaching to the choir.” And you’re right, I am. But there’s a reason for that. I want to first remind everyone why we do what we do. And then I want you to carry it one step further.

There’s a whole world out there that’s still dining on bland, pesticide-soaked, industrial produce. But we, as dedicated gardeners, can change this. How? By spreading the hobby of gardening among your family, friends, neighbors, and communities. And then by convincing your communities to spread it among other communities.

How can you accomplish this? Well, you can start by the simple act of sharing. Share your excess produce with your extended family, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of. You’ll be showing them what real food tastes like. After they bite into a fresh, home-grown tomato, it will be hard for them to go back to the bland, store-bought stuff.

Second, convince them to start their own garden. Encourage them to create their own production center for fresh, wholesome, pesticide-free food for their family. And then, just like the 1980’s commercial for Fabregé Organics, have them encourage two friends – then have them encourage two friends, and so on, and so on…

Just think what would happen if we became a nation of gardeners and stopped purchasing all that tasteless, pesticide-laced produce. We could bring all of those industrial producers to their knees by hitting them where it hurts – in the profit zone. Then maybe they’d start growing better fruits and vegetables.

A pipe dream? Probably. But certainly a goal worth aiming for.

One more thing. If you do convince your friends, neighbors, community, etc. to start gardening, and they find that they need some help, well, just tell them to contact your friendly neighborhood Garden Troubadour. Have trowel, will travel!

Support Your Local Farmers Market

Farmers Market

 

They show up every spring; they’re here through September or October; then they’re gone for the year. Nearly every town and city has one, and they are growing in popularity. I’m speaking, of course, about farmers markets, and, next to your own garden, they are one of the best sources of fresh fruits and vegetables you’ll find. In addition, you’ll find vendors that sell baked goods, meats, soaps, spices, eggs, and honey straight from the hive. Some even have live music provided by local talent.

 
Most farmers market vendors accept cash only as payment for their wares, but some will accept credit and debit cards. A few farmers markets are set up to accept food stamps and their equivalents — a wonderful way to provide good nutrition to lower income people.

 
But just as a movie theater needs butts in seats to survive, farmers markets need bodies in their booths to stay alive. So I encourage everyone to patronize their local farmers market. Yes, we should all plant our gardens and grow our own food. I encourage that; that’s what I’m all about. But a garden is merely a means to a goal — providing a consistent supply of fresh produce that hasn’t been tainted with potentially harmful chemicals. Farmers markets can be another means of helping you to reach that goal. Though you may have your own garden, your space for it is limited. As much as we may like to, we gardeners cannot grow everything. Furthermore, due to city ordinances, many of us cannot raise our own chickens or keep our own beehives. Farmers markets, with their wide array of fresh food offerings, can provide for us the items that we cannot produce for ourselves. And when you buy from a farmers market, you’re helping small family farm operations to stay in business.

 
So get yourself down to your local farmers market and avail yourself of all the wonderful fresh offerings. It’s good for you, good for your family, good for farmers, good for the economy, and good for America!

 
I’m The Garden Troubadour, and I approved this message!

What’s In It For Us?

Fruits-And-Vegetable-Image-Wallpaper

 

Fruits and vegetables. We grow them and we eat them. But why? The USDA says we should be consuming five or more servings per day. But what do they do for us — for our bodies? Why can’t we just forget about them and eat only hamburgers, brats, and bacon?

 
Allow me to state this as plainly and directly as possible. The reason why we eat fruits and vegetables is for the same reason why we eat most any kind of substance classified as food. Our bodies need specific elements in order to synthesize and renew the substances that act as building blocks for our bones, muscles, teeth, skin, hair, and vital organs. Without a constant supply of those essential elements, our bodies would eventually wither and die.

 
I’ll say it again. Without a constant re-stocking of the vital elements that come from the food we eat, we would die. Check out. Shuffle off this mortal coil. Purchase a one-way ticket on the graveyard express. Furthermore, this withering and dying will be slow, agonizing, and painful.

 
We eat meat, fish, eggs, and beans for protein. Our bodies break down this protein into amino acids, which our bodies then use to assemble muscles, tissues, hair, nails, skin, etc.

 
We also eat meat and fish, along with tree nuts, oilseeds, and dairy products for essential fats, which our bodies break down to fatty acids, then re-assemble into cell membranes and adipose tissue. It’s also essential as a source of stored energy, and as a mechanism for absorption for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

 
And fruits and vegetable? What do they provide?

  • First and most important, fruits and vegetables are a source of water, which is critical for essential biochemical functions too numerous to list here.
  • Fruits and vegetables are a source of many of the vitamins and minerals which act as co-enzymes within our physiology. Without these co-enzymes, our bodies would not be able to function.
  • Fruits and vegetables are sources of antioxidants which protect the body from cancer and other diseases and oxidant stress. They also boost the immune system to help our bodies fight off these diseases and stress should they gain a foothold and begin to propagate.
  • Lastly, fruits and vegetables are sources of non-starch polysaccharides, which are a type of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. This dietary fiber absorbs excess water from the colon, which allows for smooth and easy passage of fecal matter from the body, and prevents the development of conditions like chronic constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and rectal fissures.

 

And no, you cannot get all of this from pills! Pills may provide the vitamins and minerals that are present in fruits and vegetables. But fruits and vegetables also contain many other as yet undiscovered nutritive factors which cannot be found in pills.

To maximize the nutritional benefit that we get from fruits and vegetables, we should consume those that are as fresh as possible. And there is nothing fresher than fruits and vegetables that you grow in your very own garden. Plus, they taste a whole lot better too.

That, my friends, is what’s in it for us.

So keep growing and eating those crunchy, delicious, mouth-watering fruits and vegetables. Grow them as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

Drowning in Zucchini; Flooded With Tomatoes

All of your hard work has paid off! All of the sweating, digging, and back-breaking work is producing dividends in the form of tempting mouth-pleasing tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, etc. But holy cow, you didn’t expect dividends like this! Your kitchen counter is overflowing with zucchini; your kitchen table is piled high and wide with tomatoes, and if you add one more cucumber to your refrigerator, it will explode. What in the world are you going to do with all of this?

DSCN7100 Zucchini Excess DSCN8102

DSCN5234 DSCN5890

Well, giving the excess to family and friends is usually the first solution. Most people love fresh fruits and vegetables (especially when they don’t have to pay for it) and are more than happy to take some of the excess off your hands. But this solution does have its limits, and eventually your friends and family will start barring the door when they see you coming with an armload of zucchini.

A second solution is to preserve the excess through canning, freezing, drying, or winter storage. Properly preserved produce can be stored away in your kitchen or basement. Then when you have a hankering for beans, carrots, or any other produce, you won’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store (perhaps in the snow?) to spend your hard earned money on inferior produce. Your own supply will be right there at your fingertips — and it will look and taste a whole lot better too.

Third, you can use the surplus harvest in a wide variety of recipes. Chutneys, salsas, salads, breads — the possibilities are endless. Don’t have any recipes? Check a cookbook out of your local library or download some recipes from the internet. You can prepare the recipes early in the week and have plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. Or you can bring the finished products to your next dinner party. While your friends are oohing and ahhing over what a tasty dish you’ve prepared, you can gain additional brownie points when you tell them that you not only prepared the dish from scratch, you also grew the vegetables yourself.

Lastly, you can always bring the excess to a food bank. Believe me, they can never have too much fresh produce, and they will be more than happy to take the excess off your hands. It’s a wonderful way to give away your surplus yield and also help those in your community who have fallen on hard times.

Having more produce than you can use is an excellent problem to have! Best of all it’s a problem with many wonderful solutions. So if your garden fruit and vegetable cup runneth over, then implement one of these solutions today.