Hello again! The blog today is dedicated to gardening. Why? Because MCC is in the running for a $250,000 grant to put together our Community Children's Garden! Click the green heading above to link to the voting page. There, you will find information about the garden and how we want to use the grant money. Please take this opportunity to check it out and vote.
So, what's 'wrong' with veggies at the store? Well, for one thing, all of things you see there are not in season all year long, so they are being shipped in from all over the world or grown out of season, requiring pesticides(contaminates groundwater), geting picked early (less flavor) to allow shipping time, then packaged for shipping (waste created). Then they get shipped (use fuel), sit at the store until ready (waste electricity/space), and then put out on the shelves. You then go to the store (use fuel), find what you want, put it in a bag (waste packaging), and take it home. (Whatever the store doesn't sell gets thrown out in the dumpster!). When you prep the veggies for dinner, you throw out the dead edges, wilted parts, and extra leaves (wasted organic matter) and then you cook it, essentially killing all the nutritious vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
So, what's so great about a garden? You can grow your own veggies without pesticides by using companion planting to benefit the soil and reduce pests naturally. You can just go out and pick them for use right away instead of going to the store and packaging them up to bring them home. Just think, fresh munchies that are always at your doorstep! You can prep them and save the food waste for your compost bin, which will later provide you with fresh and nutrient-filled soil for continued gardening, creating no wasted food matter. You will also get a lot of personal satisfaction from seeing the literal 'fruits' of your efforts, and when you have too much to use yourself, you can share them with friends and family.
It's not hard to garden, even for those that are unfamiliar or those that don't have space. Start small! Plant an herb or two that you like, and if you aren't sure of your gardening skills, plant one veggie that is easy to grow, like zuccini or cucumber. Once you see that you can grow it and you pick one, it will boost your confidence significantly and encourage you to add more variety. And use the Internet...you will find lots of useful information to get you started.
Very important in Arizona: do NOT use the package guidelines on seeds. We have a very specialized climate; when a package says 'full sun', it does not mean 'full Arizona summer sun', because then you just get a burned and dead plant. Check out the Phoenix Permaculture Guild. This place is amazing! They run on volunteers and donations, and they offer lots of free classes, all specific to Arizona climate issues. Their website is http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/. They have a wonderful 4-part veggie gardening class for beginners, herb classes, tree classes, and even classes to learn to harvest rainwater for your gardens. They have a FREE specialized planting calendar available, with details specific to Arizona. You will even find out from that calendar that you can grow veggies in Arizona all year long, unlike most other states that have frosts and freezes. (here's the link to the calendar: http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/forum/topics/2008067:Topic:6683)
If you can't do your own garden, please consider buying all your produce (and some other great items) at your local farmer's markets instead of big box grocery stores. This will support your local farmers, and you will enjoy knowing the people that grow your foods and being able to see where your food is coming from. You may even get to mingle with a few of your neighbors and make some new friends. See all the local farmer's markets here: http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/azfmcalendar.htm.
Watch the movie "Food, Inc." to learn more about the importance of knowing where your food comes from.
And finally, don't forget to click the green heading at the top of the blog to go and vote for the MCC Community Children's Garden grant!
Thanks for your interest, and happy gardening!!