March 18, 2012
1. How long have you been gardening?Probably since I moved out of my parents' house. I watched my mom gardening as I was growing up. I've gardened pretty much everywhere, except for a brief time we lived in a trailer home. There just wasn't anyplace available, but basically, if it is at all possible for me to garden, I try. I love the whole process, the cyclical nature of gardening and being a part of it.2. Have you always grown vegetables?When I first got married, I did mostly flowers. My husband was the one who grew the veggies. Over time, I've taken over the vegetable patch.3. Why do you grow your own vegetables?I garden for many reasons. One reason is that I wanted more control over what goes into what I eat. I have a history of many food allergies and in the year that I was completely avoiding multiple botanical food families, I learned a lot about the food industry — more than I ever wanted to know. Ignorance is truly bliss in this case. We also want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. 4. What do you plant and how much?We plant burgundy bush beans — they are like regular beans but are purple. They are not as prone to the bush beetle. I used to do tomatoes, but most of our family has allergy issues with them, so we don't plant very many anymore. I plant cucumbers, zucchini, dry beans of some kind, herbs, beets, onions — a little bit of everything. I like to experiment.5. Some of those are heirloom varieties, aren't they? What are heirloom vegetables?We try to do heirloom, although we have some hybrids too. With heirlooms, you can save the seeds and plant them next year. Sometimes I do that, and sometimes I don't because I like to try different things. They have better flavor, especially the heirloom tomatoes and lettuces. There is also a lot more variety than you can find at the grocery store.6. How early do you start your seeds?Usually mid- to late March for the ones I start indoors. I don't have a setup with lights, so I usually put them in the one room that is very sunny and that works pretty well. I put seeds in the garden on Mother's Day. Last year, it was really wet, so I was late getting things planted. I was so desperate to get something in that I planted cucumbers and zucchini in a tiny patch that was a bit drier. My husband thought I was crazy, but those were the best cucumbers we ever had!7. Do you use any special equipment?Not really — I mean sunny windows are about the extent of it. You can buy those seed kits, and I've done that. You can also do it on the cheap. This year, I put the seeds into empty toilet paper tubes, and then I guess dirt and a trowel are about it.8. Do you can or freeze any of your produce?I've been freezing for a while. I started experimenting with drying things last year. I have an Excalibur food dehydrator and I dried corn, onions, apples — those were not from our farm but purchased in the fall — summer squash. I also made some freezer pickles and froze some basil. Oh, and I shredded zucchini and froze it — I use that mostly for zucchini brownies. There are links to most of these things on my blog — livinghealthyinthemodernworld.blogspot.com. This year, because the genetically modified corn is going to start being sold at stores, I want to freeze enough corn to last us through the winter, too.9. How big is your garden?I don't know the exact size, but it is a pretty large plot out there. My husband has his own plot because his pet vegetable is corn. He's been working with a type called Mandan Bride — it's an heirloom variety — for about 13 years. He's dried and reused the seeds to plant each year. 10. So, do your kids like vegetables?I have three kids. The oldest two are boys and our youngest is a girl. My oldest loves vegetables; my second boy is more picky and the youngest just sort of follows the rest. She does love cherry tomatoes though and will go out and eat them right out of the garden.11. What's your favorite vegetable?It used to be tomatoes, but I found out I'm allergic to those. Now, I really like fresh green beans and also chard. I always have to have squash too because there are so many varieties. 12. What's the best thing about gardening?Providing for ourselves and knowing that it is organic, but not having to pay the high price for that at the store. It's a good way to exercise, and it just gives you a sense of satisfaction that you did this.