Monday, January 19, 2009

Seeds of Change

Monday, January 19, 2008

20 degrees warm here on the mountain and that's a fine change for what has been a colder than normal week. Three mornings were close to or colder than minus 20 so there's been quite a temperature spread. I just came home from White River and Hanover about an hour ago and there was snow all the way. There was also a little black ice here and there on the interstate that made things inter-state-esting. Right now large fluffy flakes drift by the millions bringing reality to the fact that Snowflake Bentley photographed over 5000 snowflakes that he said were all different. Next time you're out with the kids take a good hand magnifier and start counting!

Gardeners are writing regularly on their blogs now about the number of gardening and seed catalogs they are receiving. Something like 95% of all published catalogs, even in good times, get dumped unread. Part of the moral here is that if you like forests as we do, look on-line more and order that way too. Admittedly there is something nice about a stack of new catalogs to thumb through but we all have to be more cognizant of what we are doing with our resources.

Because of my membership with the Garden Writers Association I received some promotional pictures from Park Seed Company. The first pictures came on a CD of specially selected seeds for 2009 as judged by a seed overview group. That's what caught my eye and prompted me to write to Park Seed and ask for some pictures to use in my blogs. Parks has been around a long time, they understand customer service, and they responded immediately. Here goes!

That's a Cauliflower named Graffiti up top with a brilliant purple look, followed down below by three different tomatoes including Tomatoberry, Kellog's Beefsteak, and Chocolate Cherry. There's also an acorn-like small squash named Honey Bear at the end. I can envision the tomatoes sliced thin in a nice vinegar-mint dressing and the Honey Bears cut in half and filled with maple syrup, butter and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Baked squash can't be beat!

Last year I grew just a few vegetables but a few seeds made for lots of vegetables which found their way to the local food shelf and the senior citizens weekly meals program. I never personally met a single person who got any of the fresh produce but I did get reports that it was gone lickety split on pick up days. This is why I'm thinking about more vegetables this year so we can have a little more variety and we can send more food to those who need some help. These Park Seed varieties are new to the market and look interesting.

As you plan your gardens and make seed purchases, think through how many seeds you need for the size of your garden. If you have extra seed and a little spare space, think about growing a little extra produce to leave off at your food shelf. If that doesn't work for you, I guarantee you don't have to look too far down your street to find someone who would appreciate what you don't need. Fresh vegetables can't be beat. Seeds can create change and can help us rebuild relationships the way I remember them in the early fifties. Friends cared about neighbors and looked out for old folks. "Thank yous" were commonly heard. Wouldn't be too hard to get back to that point would it?

Today's miles have caught up with me for sure. I'm tired but I keep wondering what those Chocolate Cherry tomatoes taste like. Give this seed thing some thought and maybe you can help make a little change in someone's summer menu!

Winter garden greetings from the mountain above Peacham Pond. Karl the Wonder Dog is snoring on the rug by the stove. I'm thinking about some maple nut ice cream topped with two ounces of light amber maple syrup from Gadapes Sugar House in Danville. Then I'll be snoring too!

George Africa


Scott said...

I've been watching what seems to be a growing trend to return to the Victory Garden, and other micro-agriculture. What better way to do that than to share the food we grow and include with it a few seeds and a note about how to raise them?

I envision a world where we all garden, eating fresh foods, and getting all the exercise and fresh air we need just by staying at home. Finishing it all off with friends, a good meal, and some home-brewed beer.

George Africa said...

Hi Scott;

You are correct about renewed interest in gardening. I could tell gardening stories forever about how gardens I have started have helped hundreds of people for the rest of their lives. I once started a garden at a prison. It was intended to provide an introductory garden experience for inmates and produce fresh food for the kitchen. It was a tremendous success for all but one young man who committed a crime every late fall-early winter so he could be assured to be in the release program in the garden by spring.

I also started a garden one year to keep 15 troubled kids off the street. That program has evolved over 25 years and continues today. Starting with younger people guarantees we'll have more and more gardeners into the future.

For me there's a reward listening to people who have experienced their first garden. My friend Michelle had her first garden this year and it was evident how rewarding it was as she carried the production into canning and baking too For some they will start a garden themselves, for others they need a little encouragement. Gardeners should be the encouraging, confidence building force.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener