Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Time to Grow Your Own

I don't think there has ever been a better time to learn to grow your own fresh food - or to commit to growing more of it, if you are already gardening.  Times are tight and the last thing we need is more expensive groceries -- especially if those foods are lower quality -- and that is a problem folks may be facing this season.

This week CNN news reported that over 70% of the tomato crop in Florida was killed by cold weather -- along with green beans, early "summer" squash varieties and early sweet corn. Those are just the obvious veggies.  Citrus has been damaged, strawberries froze, avocado harvests will be affected.... in short, you can expect very expensive veggies all the way around this spring. Restaurants are already making tomatoes a "by request only" option on sandwiches. The same harvest problems extend to some of the southwestern agriculture states as well.

Herald Tribune, Florida Freeze Spikes Costs

Florida Ledger, Strawberry Blues

"The average wholesale price for a 25-pound box of tomatoes is now $30, up from $6.50 a year ago. Florida's growers would normally ship about 25 million pounds of tomatoes a week; right now, they're shipping less than a quarter of that, according to Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Grower's Exchange, a tomato farmer cooperative in Maitland."  TDS News   

Meanwhile, the earthquakes have decimated many of the wineries and vineyards in Chile and, in case you've been reading those little labels on your fruits and veggies, Chile is one of our major produce import sources.

What does this mean?  Well, at least briefly, Americans may have to recognize that produce is real, living stuff and its supply can't be guaranteed.  A majority of the fruits and vegetables we eat are not actually in season anywhere near us -- and the steady availability of things like strawberries, tomatoes and zucchini is the result of a very complex system of growers, distributors and transportation that may cover thousands of miles.  And it can all be stopped cold by a severe freeze.
But you can Grow Your Own - the best, the freshest, the most delightful food possible.  I am determinedly dedicated to the belief that most people, regardless of location and space (or lack of it) can have the fun and satisfaction of growing at least some of their fruits and vegetables themselves.  Not convinced?  Join me next Saturday, March 13, 10:30 am at the Pungo/Blackwater library for a free presentation on Edible Gardening - re-create your yard and gardens with beautiful, ornamental and health-giving fruits and vegetables. Get creative, get healthy... and grow some of your own groceries!

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The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.