Today I would like to start a new blog. I would like to write about topics that are more personal in nature as we already host a more factual blog about health and wellness related topics. I will attempt to include pertinent information that I feel is important to one’s health and well being.
This morning during breakfast I glanced at the calendar on my phone with the number 1 on it – May had arrived. I announced to my five-year-old son sitting across from me that it was the first day of May and he shot me a perplexed expression and said, “what does that mean”?! I jumped at the opportunity to share my excitement and communicated what May means to me. I told him it was a time for new beginnings, a time when plants sprout and grow and the world becomes green again.
The day before we had visited the annual Herb and Plant festival at the Farmers Market in Asheville that I attend religiously every year for as many years as I can remember. Growing up my family always had a vegetable garden and my mother was also a flower cultivator creating a colorful landscape filled with annuals and perennials. My dad was obsessed with tomatoes and maintained a plot of land reserved for his tomatoes that had been used by my great grandmother. So gardening and growing vegetables is deeply rooted in me.
The Market was abuzz with eager gardeners and growers from across North Carolina. I do not have a lot of room to garden at my house in Montford so I was looking for tomatoes, herbs and hot peppers and I persuaded my friend Jen to let me use some space in her garden so I also was going to pick up a few other veggies. First I visited the Sow True Seed booth from Asheville, then Roxboro and Hendersonville based sellers. Sow True had themed seed tins for sale – one for pizza and Asian meals and ones for sisters as well as a kid garden tin. The kid seeds were for fun colorful, interesting shaped fruits and veggies that were likely to grab a child’s attention and interest. I also soaked in tips on techniques to avoid blight from the Sow True proprietors. The past 3 years I have had trouble with this pesky and persistent fungus that devastated my crop of tomatoes at the worst moment – when the tomatoes hung big and green and promising but would never ripen completely. But there is something about Spring that engenders hope and each year I envision a beautiful bountiful crop of tomatoes armed with new knowledge. I asked the smiling Hendersonville based grower how the weekend was going and she said everyone was happy and excited about the spring and plants and their incipient gardens. She said gardening “feeds the spirit”! Sow true, Sow true!!
Gardening is healthful on many levels. It is excellent exercise and is an activity for all ages to enjoy – from toddler to older adults. Akin to caring for a child or animal, caring for growing plants gives one a raison d’etre! Fresh locally grown vegetables are more likely to contain all of their native nutrients and we have the most control in limiting exposure to chemicals. The tomato is the king of all summer vegetables in my eye. Its nutritional value includes abundant antioxidants such as flavonoids lycopene, zea-xanthin, beta carotene, and lutein as well as B and C vitamins, potassium, and minerals iron, calcium, and manganese. Antioxidants protect against cancer and heart disease as well as dementia.
Growing plants that feed and sustain our bodies as well as our spirits is essential to our existence and our happiness. Gardening builds community – we share our successes and our failures and tips that we learn through hard work – trial and error. It is about sustainability in other ways – we use our compost and our animal waste to produce the food that we eat. Just today I visited my hair stylist, Terra Marshall, for a 5-gallon bucket of chicken poop gathered from her 14 chickens that live in her back yard in West Asheville. It will go into my raised garden bit by bit to enrich the soil. My son fed her chickens compost and learned about the production of eggs and how they defend themselves and reproduce. Then he climbed into their tree house and tried out the zip line. Terra commented, “it takes a village” as we pulled out of their driveway. It sure does!
Please share any planting tips or spring garden recipes with us!