Can you dig it?

Friday, April 19, 2013

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Little is more tasty, nutritious and satisfying than fresh, homemade meals made from garden-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. Even modest amounts of time and space can help feed a family year round. “The simplest methods of gardening work best,” said Barbara Damrosch, organic gardening expert and co–author of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, which serves as both a garden guide and a healthful cookbook. “There is very little you can’t accomplish in the garden if you trust the systems that are already in place.” Damrosch and co-author Eliot Coleman contend that organic vegetable gardening is not only healthful but is also good for the planet and can make aserious dent in food expenses. Here are some tips for anyone looking to grow and cook their own food:

• When choosing what to grow, consider available space. Salad crops, for example, provide the most variety in a garden of limited size. Consider prioritizing crops whose flavor is most notably lacking in supermarket varieties, such as tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and melons.

• Plant-family groupings are very important in planning how to rotate crops in a garden from year to year, and much of the techniques that work for one vegetable apply equally well to its cousins.

• Don’t let weeds get the upper hand, or getting rid of them can seem almost impossible. The ideal time to control weeds is when they are tiny, right after they first appear. Take the extra time to plant in straight lines, which can help with weed control.

• Veteran gardeners tend to be supportive resources to newcomers. Let friends with green thumbs share their enthusiasm and expertise. Or get involved in an organic community garden, where there is no shortage of experienced gardeners to consult.

• Pass up the modern habit of eating any crop, any time of year by letting your garden feed you. Fruits and vegetables that come from halfway around the world were often harvested far too early and can have a disappointing, bland taste. By planning meals from your garden, you’ll become a more creative, improvisational cook.

More gardening tips can be found at fourseasonfarm.com.

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