Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Few Words About Plants

 In keeping with my tip round-up, today I have a few suggestions about plants:

1.  Just because you can't grow tomatoes in the fall (at least at most North American latitudes) doesn't mean you can't garden.  Take a container of your choosing and throw in a few leftover lettuce seeds; there is plenty of time for an extra salad or two (or more) if you are careful about where you put the container and whether you cover it when it frosts.  The above lettuce bed is one that we scavenged from the curb when a neighbor was cleaning out a garage, and it should continue to produce lettuce for a few weeks yet, especially when we move it to the new patio/greenhouse (spoiler alert!).

2.  Herbs are usually pretty temperature sensitive, but that doesn't mean that you have to treat them with the care that you would an African violet.  Above you will see some mojito mint happily growing in a pot indoors.  Less than two weeks ago, I unceremoniously  yanked a root from the ground and laid it in this pot with some stem peeking out, and today I have enough mint to mix mojitos or put on baked fish.  You can try to bring any of your outdoor herbs inside; some will make the transition, some won't, but what do you have to lose?  One year I brought both rosemary and thyme inside; they ultimately died, but not before I got a few extra meals that included fresh herbs.

3.  While we are talking herbs, I encourage you not to yank your annuals out by the roots when they die back.  Last year, I got lazy and never managed to pull out the sage, but I mulched the bed.  Imagine my shock when the roots sent up new shoots and I had a bumper crop of sage this year with no investment in plants.  A friend had similar results with basil, which really surprises me.  This year I'll be cutting all my herbs back but not taking the root; if they don't sprout next year, I'll pull up the root.  In the meantime, anything that doesn't live will decompose and create compost for the soil.

4.  Lastly, think about what you can do to spread agriculture to your community, even in unlikely places.  Check out the work of organizations like Adopt A Farmbox, which provides raised boxes to schools and community organizations to grow their own food.  What would be better than every school in the country dedicating a little space and a few lessons to growing food?  I would celebrate the day that the lunch menu said "Salad grown by third grade classes," and the trays had something uber-local on them.  I'll bet the kids would eat their greens, too; certainly the third grade would.
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