produce

Lemon Blossoms Abound

Tis’ the season for lemon blossoms. I have one potted bush outside my patio that produces nicely. Last season, it produced almost half a dozen lemons. However this year, I’m hoping for much more.

Just look at these gorgeous blooms!

And every bloom equals a future lemon.

A few are currently bursting from the stem.

Gets you excited, doesn’t it? Which brings me to the bad news. I’m going to have to wait months before these babies are ready for picking! Ugh. Guess I’ll spend my time gazing upon them until then. If you’re interested in trying your hand at growing lemons, remember these important tips:

Lemons require LOTS of light. They are sensitive to the cold and need protection from frost. They prefer well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Keep soil evenly moist, though do water deeply at least once a week. And if you’re growing your lemon tree in a pot like me, remember to keep it outside when the blossoms are bursting. You need bees to complete this transformation from blossom to fruit. Happy gardening!

What’s In YOUR Produce?

We’ve all heard of the Dirty Dozen.  No, I’m not referring to some cops & robbers show.  I’m talking produce–fruits and veggies, specifically the kind we buy at the grocery store.  You know, the stuff we buy with the intention of feeding our family healthy meals?  Unfortunately, some of this produce we buy isn’t as healthy as we think.  Apples top the list as the most pesticide-laden produce of them all (so much for an “apple a day”) while other notables include: celery, peaches, bell peppers–

Bell peppers?  No wonder mine are so small compare to those beauties I pick up at the grocery store!  Packed with chemically engineered fertilizers, those green goddesses are as synthetically enhanced as the puffed up muscles of a steroid-ingesting body builder.  I mean, we all want to look good–our garden veggies included–but at what cost?  Are we really okay with subjecting our bodies to poison?

Not me.  This is simply one more reason to grow my own produce (as if I needed another!).  To continue, the list includes other lovelies such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, spinach and lettuce.  For the complete list, check the website for Environmental Working Group.  These folks will give you an updated run down on what’s bad for you, but also what’s good.  A few of the winners for sale at your local grocer include onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados (love these!), cabbage, sweet peas and more. 

However, I’d like to include one caveat regarding corn.  With so many hybrids and scientifically altered varieties out there, I’m steering my family clear of corn purchased from the market.  For all its health benefits (vitamins, anti-oxidants, cancer-prevention, etc.), it’s also one of the most genetically modified veggies.  Not good.  While I understand the reasons for this process, I don’t care.  If I’m going to eat healthy, I want to ingest pure, wholesome fruits and veggies which is why in my garden you’ll only find heirloom varieties of corn.  And of course, it’s 100 % organic.

So next time you’re meandering the beautiful colors in your produce section, think twice before plucking that gorgeous pepper from your market shelf and consider growing it yourself.  It’s not as hard as you might think and the rewards for you and your family?  Priceless. 

But if you must buy your produce, choose organic when it comes to the list of worst offenders.  Your body will thank you.

Abundant Harvest

Oh the joy!  You have gobs of cobs and tubs of spuds–another banner year in the garden.  Pull out the picnic basket and call on the neighbors, it’s time to celebrate!

But wait–

Uh, oh.  It’s all coming back to you.  Last year was a banner year, too.  And after you filled your bellies and those of your neighbors, packed your freezer and stacked your cellar, you STILL had food to spare.  Oh, despair!  What shall we do?

Fun and games, sing-song tone aside, food that goes to waste is something of a despair–but one that can be avoided.  But how?  You’ve given your excess produce to everyone you know.  There’s no place else to turn, no hands left open to give.

While that may be the case, you do have another place to turn.  With the help of an organization called Ample Harvest.org, you can now locate a fresh food pantry near you and donate your excess harvest to them.  Better yet, don’t wait until you have excess–donate some of what you have in your basket today!

With a network of pantries that spans clear across the United States, chances are good you’ll find one in your neighborhood.  And if you can’t, then by golly you need to start one.  It makes sense to do what we can, lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need.  And we gardeners know that fresh is always better–beats canned every day of the week.

So how about checking in with Ample Harvest and see how you can make a difference?  Talk about reaping what you sow–I have to believe there will be some good karma following you home after your fresh food pantry delivery.