Saving Mother Earth
On a misty Sunday morning, long before my neighbors have sipped their first cup of coffee, I make my way up the hill to work magic. I have everything I need, gloves, tools, water, dirt and a plan.
My husband is the mastermind of the plan, conceived many years ago. I am just the helper. Together we stand and survey the expanse of land before us and know what we have to do. We are about to create our vegetable garden.
We have tender seedlings ready to go into their new home after spending some weeks under grow lights in the basement where they have been coaxed them from seeds into life. And we have seeds that will be sown directly into the ground. It always amazes me how something so tiny as a peppercorn, placed in the ground, can come crashing through the earth’s crust and claim its place as a living plant in the garden.
I have learned so much about growing vegetables and each year the garden has grown in size from just a small plot to a 60 x 30 foot garden that supplies us with enough vegetables to literally feed the neighborhood.
I want to be truthful. Our garden has ruined us. It has made us critical of store bought produce and acutely aware of how lucky we are to be able to grow our own vegetables. Yes, we have become food snobs. We demand fresh and pesticide free foods. We cannot abide mediocrity when it comes to what we put on the table.
All of this attitude is not without sacrifice for organizing, planting, maintaining, harvesting and putting food by is not for those without dedication or ambition. In a word, a vegetable garden is WORK. And don’t think it is cheaper to have a garden than spend money at the grocery store. It is more expensive when you add up the hours, cost of equipment, plants and seeds, along with fertilizer, black plastic to keep out the weeds and well, you get the picture.
So why do we do it? Because we know better. We know that our food supply has been tinkered with by the giant agribusinesses whose goal is to make money at the expense of our well being. Genetically modified foods known as GMO’s are the norm. If you don’t believe me, just look at the number of farmers markets that have exploded across the country. People know that eating local is better and they trust their local farmers to provide honest food. And they are wiling to pay for it.
I am willing to work hard to ensure that my family eats wholesome food. And I have extended that goal to include the national audience for the PBS series, Ciao Italia, for which I have been the host for as many years. In that time I have introduced millions of viewers to our home garden and made it a part of the series. I have taken viewers into the garden and showed them how vegetables grow, how to harvest them and above all, how to use them in cooking.
I realize that not everyone has a plot of land in which to grow as many vegetables as we do.
If you do not have a garden, get to know when your local farmer’s market is available or utilize your local supermarket but be choosy and buy as local and in season as possible.
What the garden has taught me is to seize the moment and capture the freshness of vegetables at their peak. Our garden has evolved over the last twenty-five years. And I have evolved with it, adopting the waste not want not attitude, using everything in the garden. I have learned patience from the garden, wonder and beauty.
Happy garden season!