Friday, September 3, 2010

Keeping it fresh - and free

I'm in the process of moving to an apartment this week, and while I'm very happy with the place I've found, there is one thing that I will especially miss. While I'm no fan of yardwork and won't be seen anywhere near a lawnmower, I definitely love working in gardens. I've helped in my grandfather's garden since I was old enough to walk, pulling "weeds" that turned out to be carrot sprouts. And my parents, who've been kind enough to let me hermit in their basement, have a large backyard garden as well.

Gardens ask very little, and in return they give a lot. Excessive weeds can be a pain, but I just cultivate them under with the hoe or hand cultivator when I can. Watching plants bloom and prosper is a reward in itself, to say nothing of the taste of fresh frutis and vegetables in season. Why would I purchase a carton of weeks-old raspberries when I can wander out the back door and pick them for nothing? Or sort though overpriced beets when a few minutes' of digging can turn up enough for a meal, gratis?

This year, the garden has already yielded fresh tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries, peas, beans, and small grapes with tons of seeds. Watermelons (!!!), beets, strawberries, and carrots are not far behind. I'll be on hand to help with the harvesting, of course, but it won't feel like the garden is really mine. And, believe me, the food really does taste better when you've also shared in the work.

There's a room in my apartment that gets tons of light each day, so I'm wondering how much of it I can devote to a "potted garden" without infringing on my roommate's space. Hydroponic equipment is expensive and takes a lot of electricity, as does the self-monitoring "Aerogarden" (link forthcoming) - a little hydroponic machine that helps grow fresh herbs. But if I have enough sunlight, I can have fresh tomatoes year-round, too, right?

We'll see.

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