Gardens, CSA’s, & Farmer’s Markets…Do You Use Them?

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Some of you might remember last May when we bought a CSA share from Plan B organic farms. It was our first time ever buying a CSA share and we were excited for local and organic food each week.

Well to clarify, it was mostly ME who was excited…but excitement is contagious and I think Eric secretly enjoyed it too.

…I think it was all the cooking I did!

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We quickly learned that there were things we loved about the CSA share and things that we didn’t love.

CSA PROS:

1) Value for dollar

At just $20 something dollars a week, we were given a huge box of organic produce. It would have cost much more had we purchased this at the grocery store. Even so, we wouldn’t have been able to find everything organic at the grocery store and I can bet it wouldn’t have been local either.

2) Support local organic farmers

3) Fresh & Crisp produce, better quality than what we find at grocery store

4) Our veggie consumption went way up and we felt amazing.

5) We tried so many new vegetables. Even scary ones!

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CSA CONS:

1) Lots of Repetition

By August/September we were getting tons and tons of potatoes and squash (among other things) and we got so sick of the repetition. I’m sure if we lived in a tropical climate, there would be a better selection of produce each week, but around here I think we are more limited.

2) No choice in what produce you get

We often found ourselves longing for some items that were in season and they never came                 (e.g., tomatoes).

3) Picking up the box each week

We opted not to get a delivery to save money. We found out only after we purchased the share that the pick-up location was a 25 minute drive from our house and it wasn’t overly convenient for us. Plan B does not disclose the pick-up location until your make the purchase. Obviously, this was a con for our particular circumstance, but pick-up location is still something to consider before buying.

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Our 2011 Produce Plan

This year, we decided that we are going to change things up and do things a bit differently!

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Our plan for the 2011 season is to:

1) Possibly plant a garden this Spring, time willing! 

2) Buy produce from the Milton Farmer’s Market. We aren’t working at the Oakville market this summer so we hope to attend the Milton Market (as customers!) as much as possible this year. It opens May 14th.

3) Buy produce from local organic farm. I recently discovered that there is an organic farm not too far from us. This organic farm lets you buy produce on Wednesday evenings and they will also be selling at the Milton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

(If we plant a garden, we won’t need to rely on the farm/market as much…but we’ll have to see!)

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If we manage to build a garden, I plan on showing the process on the blog. I really have NO CLUE how to build a veggie garden (and I don’t know a thing about vegetable gardening!), but my RMT has been teaching me a lot about it because she is a pro. :) I’m sure I can find some tutorials online too.

I hope our new plan will work out well this season. I will keep you updated on our progress!

Do you have a plan of how you will be buying your produce this Spring and Summer? Do you ever use a CSA, Farmer’s Market, local farm, or plant your own veggies? If you plant your own garden, how did you start it up?

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{ 206 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie @ Shining From Within April 12, 2011

I’m actually planning on growing my own garden too! I have some organic basil + tomatoes that I’m hoping to plant soon and I want to get some watermelon + other veggies too! I got my seeds at Home Depot (you’re fav place in the world ;)) so if you’re looking for seeds that’s a place to go. I hope I can see how you end up growing your garden. My dad sad he’s going to help me start one up (with the dirt, set-up, etc) so I’m looking forward to blogging my experiences too!
I’d love to find a local organic farm/farmer’s market… I’m on the hunt for one right now!

I can’t waaaait to start my garden.. I’m itching to get down and dirty :)

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Mandy April 12, 2011

I eliminated the cons in your list by signing up for KC Door to Door Organics (kc.doortodoororganics.com). They deliver and you can sub out items you don’t really want for something else. I love it!

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PR_Cal April 12, 2011

We have the same thing here in Edmonton (called The Organic Box). Delivered to your door, able to sub produce and also add on extra items such as dry goods, beans/legumes, etc.

Though in the summer, I enjoy being out at the market, so I might pause my order for a few months!

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TanyaS April 13, 2011

I have the Organic Box delivered too and loved it over the winter so I didn’t have to leave my house.

But in the summer I love a combination of farmers market and http://www.eatlocalfirst.com? You can purchase their Good Food Box for a grab bag of produce, or shop for produce, meats, legumes & other goodies indvidually. All 100% local to the Greater Edmonton Region.

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Roanne April 12, 2011

I sometimes get my produce from the farmers market, I like it because most of it is local unfortunately it’s not organic. I really want to plant my own garden! Not sure if most seeds are GMO or if you can actually buy organic seeds, what kind of seeds do you use?

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Carolyn H. April 12, 2011

I started a garden last year. It is hard work, and difficult when I travel for work. I planted in the ground and in earth boxes. My earth boxes did amazing. The in-ground garden was rocking too until we got days and days of rain and the ground flooded and I lost everything. Bummer. I guess that is why you need raised beds?!? I don’t know. It is a fun experiment though, and I sure have lots more respect for organic farmers now!

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Angie @ Musings of a Violet Monkey April 12, 2011

I had an amazing 4×6 raised bed garden last year, along with a lot of pots/containers. This year I am adding an additional TWO 4×4 raised bed gardens to what I already had. I LOVE growing my own veggies and herbs. It is completely awesome, and I highly recommend it!
I also shop the local Farmers Markets for products that I don’t grow, eggs, local meat and just for the social aspect of it, as well.

~

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Chrissy (The New Me) April 12, 2011

I actually JUST posted about our new CSA this morning. It is our second one and a better fit than our first experience. While I agree with the repetition that can happen, I figure that’s just a part of eating in season. We supplement our basket with other stuff from the farmers’ market and the grocery store, but it’s fun to slip our CSA items into everything I make. Last night we had black bean and tofu enchiladas and I threw in our CSA chard because it was getting wilty. A delicious addition!

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jenna April 12, 2011

i always go back and forth about csa! I have never done invested in it because I thought it was a bit expensive and afraid the produce would go to waste since there is just 2.5 of us eating it. It wouldn’t be worth is for my family but I think the idea is good but needs to be changed up a bit to suite more people. I love the farmers market.

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Erin (Travel Eat Repeat) April 12, 2011

I love my CSA because it’s set up like a farmer’s market. You’re given different-sized baskets and instructed to fill one with veggies, one with fruit, etc. Choose all apples or none; lots of tomatoes or just one; whatever sounds good. It’s definitely more flexible than a traditional CSA and all for just $25/week!

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Lesley Lifting Life April 12, 2011

That’s our plan as well! I agree, CSA’s repetition gets boring, and I find, too, that I long for other variety that I never got, and then some food would go bad because we were tired of it, etcetera. We don’t know anything about gardening either, but it’s on our radar for the next few months … we’ll see how it goes! ;)

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Lauren April 12, 2011

I love farmers markets, especially because of the variety of produce you can find depending on the day and the vendors! That’s my favorite way to get fresh food. I’ve been a little skeptical of getting a CSA share because I feel like we would get bored with the produce and probably waste some of it, but one day I would like to give it a shot because it does seem like a good value.

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 12, 2011

Great topic Ange! I was thinking about finding a CSA, but like you said in your cons, I’m not sure the repetition is something I’d cope well with. I like having a big variety all the time! However, I’ve yet to price it out so I still plan to do a bit more research. My plan for this year is to go to the 2 local farmer’s markets more, as they tend to be cheap and it’s nice to know I’m supporting local businesses.

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Jennifer April 12, 2011

Planting a vegetable garden is great! I planted my first one last year and got a lot of great fresh veggies from it! We did have some stuff that just didn’t grow or ripen the way it should’ve, but it’s all a learning process, and it’s seriously so exciting to go outside and see like baby veggies growing lol. If you do plant a garden, definitely look into seed saving for next year, it’s so much more cost effective than buying new seeds or plants every year.

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Sarah-Mae @ Eat, Run, Knit April 12, 2011

I’m hoping on having a garden this spring/summer, as well as utilizing the local farmer’s market for as much as possible.
The sailorman and I have been talking a lot about the food we buy and both conclude that we’re not ready to try going 100% “locavore”, or feel the need to. We love coffee, baked goods, and BANANAS too much! However, we are going to try to source as much as humanly possible from our own property and the farm’s around us before we head to the supermarket – and once at the supermarket, we will try to buy as HUMANELY as possible as well.

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Laura@keepinghealthygettingstylish April 12, 2011

I have no garden as I live in a flat but luckily I have an organic farm shop a short drive away which is wonderful. I also get a fortnightly organic veg box delivery and love to visit local green grocers and markets but unfortunately they aren’t always organic. I do try and go for a balance between striving for organic but still getting a good variety!

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AGS @ West With Flight April 12, 2011

For starting up gardens: beginning with containers is a nice first step: herbs, tomatoes, sugar peas, etc. I’m not sure what your growing season is, but containers give you the most flexibility. Things like asparagus take 3 years to mature from the initial planting. . . so that requires a bit more of a commitment for gardening. I, frankly, have never moved beyond the container stage.

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Susan April 12, 2011

We do a combination…being in Northeast Florida, I originally thought our resources were limited, but I was wrong! We have a great farmer’s market year round, with great offerings! And there is a second farmer’s/arts market in “the big city” nearby.
AND we were able to get enough customers together to get the Jacksonville organic deliverer to come to our little island, so we now get 5lbs. of organic produce delivered every other week, $25. I love the variety I’ve been exposed to, but I do believe we were worn out by parsnips in the fall!
Last, we live in a condo, with a small patio. My husband, the farmer, grows swiss chard, collard greens, tomatoes, spicy peppers, brussel sprouts, and a bunch of different herbs for me!

BTW: I had my first vegan overnight oats for breakfast this morning! Wow! At first, I thought, I’m never going to eat all of this, but I did! Yum! And, I’m not hungry yet! Usually by this time I’m famished and eager to snack! I may alternate the oats with the Green Monsters each morning! Thank you for your recipes!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 12, 2011

Thanks for sharing! It sounds like you have some fantastic options over there! I am impressed that your husband grows all of that on a patio too! :)

Glad to hear you enjoyed the VOO. :)

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Devi April 12, 2011

We shop the farmer’s market every weekend when it’s in season. We also have a large garden. Our backyard is more food than grass. We started out small, square foot gardening with a single plot of tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini. Now we have 6 plots and grow the majority of our own produce. Heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, dried beans, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, a few varieties of potatoes and 5 or 6 different kinds of greens. We have raspberry and blackberry bushes and a separate herb garden as well. It’s a lot of work, but so much fun and so rewarding. I love growing the food we eat. My kids enjoy helping in the garden and it’s gotten them to eat and enjoy a wide variety of veg.

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Nikki T April 12, 2011

I’m in the same boat as you! I want to plant a garden this year…time wise, will it happen?? We’ll see! But, I also have no idea on where to start/how to garden veggies…Maybe we can learn together!?
The other option was joining Edmonton’s ‘The Organic Box’, which like some others mentioned, has a delievery or pick up service as well as the option to switch out things you may not want for other things…But the cost is definately a factor…
We’ll see what happens!

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Katy @ A Healthy Shot April 12, 2011

My family has always had a veggie garden, but last year we got more serious about it and ended up with TONS of fresh veggies! You can look up most of the instructions online and we also picked up some gardening magazines for some basic plans and planting tips. It was such a great feeling to make a complete meal with veggies from our yard, and I found out that kale can actually grow year round, even in snow!

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Melissa Wilkinson April 12, 2011

Last year I was part of a CSA but I won’t be joining this year for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. Plus I found the people from the pick-up to be snotty :(

So…..my produce plan for spring/summer is to buy from Farmer’s Markets. I am super lucky to live close to 3 different markets.

From time to time I order a Good Food Box. I love everything they stand for:
http://www.foodshare.net/goodfoodbox03.htm

I definitely don’t garden – I kill bamboo and cactuses!! Or is it cacti?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 12, 2011

I do too!!! lol. Doh!

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Melissa April 13, 2011

There may be hope for us! I stumbled upon the Toronto and Region Conversation website. They are offering free and low cost events on organic lawn care, gardening with plants native to Southern Ontario, recycling rain, garden design etc.
http://www.trcastewardshipevents.ca
It could be helpful?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 13, 2011

thanks!

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Leah @ L4L April 12, 2011

We signed up for a CSA for the first time this year. We got a really good deal on it. I’m sure we’ll be happy with it! We are also starting a very small (4′x6′) garden that will be mostly herbs and greens (kale, collards, chard) because I feel like that is what we go through the most and can save the most money. We will also supplement this with trips to the Farmer’s Market but probably not weekly like we did last summer. Maybe every couple of weeks. And I am certainly not against having to end up at the grocery store for a couple other produce items. We’ll never see bananas in this part of the world. ;)

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Autumn Tao April 12, 2011

For a while you spoke regularly about your business and the farmer’s market last year, but you’ve cut back significantly. I get that’s this is a healthy food and living blog, but I know I’m curious how your business is going and why you decided not to do the market again. Can you share?

Namaste.

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Jena April 13, 2011

I was curious about this too:) I was totally going to check out your stuff at the Oakville market this summer, but now I’ll order your delicious bars online.
I’m very interested to hear more about your gardening plans! I’m going to make a raised bed this weekend – gotta make use of my Dad while he’s in town!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 13, 2011

I decide not to blog a lot about the business because I don’t feel that this is really the place to go on and on about my business. I do mention when I have sales and whatnot. We’re not doing the market because we had no personal/social life last summer because of it and I was working 7 days a week, Not healthy for anyone. Also, I can’t keep up with online orders as it is!

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Autumn Tao April 13, 2011

I’m glad to hear your business is so successful. So many of us in blog-land are rooting for you, so it’s nice to hear the quick updates that you are finding success following your passion. You are an inspiration girl!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 15, 2011

Thanks Autumn!

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Charlie April 12, 2011

I really wanted to get the family farmer basket this summer but can’t afford it :(. I would definitely save on fruits & veggies and can pay 16$/week but can’t pay 300$ at the beginning of the summer. Since they ask that you pay for all summer in May, it’ll have to wait.
And I wish there was a farmer’s market near.

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Rebecca April 12, 2011

Thank you for posting this! I’m actually heading out on Saturday to look into a CSA near me and this information definitely helps! I’m in Buffalo, NY, so we would probably have the same repetitiveness that you experienced. I think this CSA has an open market, so I might just do that instead of investing. Thanks for sharing!!!

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Faith @ lovelyascharged April 12, 2011

I’m super excited to have found a Co-op in Orlando that lets you buy surplus on Thursdays! I cant wait to participate in that. Even though I cant really have a big garden in my apartment, I am going to be growing my own herbs…but on that note, do you know of any plants that could be grown in planters on my porch? I’ve got the perfect climate to grow but I would have to have everything in pots on my balcony :/

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kim April 20, 2011

yu can grow tomatoes in pots on your proch if ther is at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight there
you can also grow greens such as spinach and lettuce you can give dwarf beans a try too make sure the pots for the tomatoes are 12 inches at least and keep an eye on moisture potted plants tend to dry out quicker
hope this info helps i hve luck with tomatoes this way patio tomatoes work well
good luck to you

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Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen April 12, 2011

Our farmer’s market starts up around mid-May. I always love going, and picking up -maybe one or two things – but I can’t afford to buy a lot.

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Amy April 12, 2011

I would highly suggest checking out lasagna gardening — no weeds & LOTS of veggies. I don’t think a CSA plan would work for us because I plan all meals for 1-2 weeks ahead of time to save on waste, money and time. I looooooove farmer’s markets though! Can’t wait!

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Michelle April 12, 2011

We rely on the farmers market (1 mile from our house) for our meat and some produce. During the summer and fall, we get most of our produce from a local farm that offers work shares. So we can work on the farm for 4 hours on Saturday and leave with two CSA shares (one for my husband and one for me). This is a perfect option for us because it’s budget-friendly and lets us get our hands dirty!

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Felicia (a taste of health with balance) April 12, 2011

i’m fortunate enough to have a big garden with tons of veggies.. and everything else is purchased at the farmers market!

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JL Goes Vegan April 12, 2011

I looked into a local CSA and the delivery includes milk, eggs and honey, none of which I eat, and they were inflexible! So forget it! Last year we used the Farmer’s Market May – October. I loved it. While I plan to do that again, when possible I have discovered that my local grocery delivery (yes, I order groceries online!) has a local produce option in the spring / summer and I plan to use that on the weeks that I cannot make it to the the farmer’s market.

Your intro photo is stunning.

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Holly @ The Runny Egg April 12, 2011

I’m excited to get back to the Farmers Markets this spring/summer. I’ve heard from friends that CSA shares in MN are not the best — mostly corn and potatoes every week!

I’d love to have a garden. My mother in law has one and we get quite a bit of produce from her — lettuce, peppers, potatoes, etc. And my dad grows a ton of tomatoes so we are set there.

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Caroline April 12, 2011

I would love to join a CSA! I think all the new veggies would be exciting, but my husband is still easing into the veggie world and slowly talking himself out of imaginary food allergies. So he’s not on board yet, and really, we’re both too busy (work+school) to find the time to cook all of those veggies anyway. So we’ll still be using the local farmers market. I love the Saturday morning tradition of going, buying coffee, and wandering around looking at all the pretty, healthy food. I hear there’s someone selling local honey this year too! Our started two weeks ago and I’m determined to make it this weekend, even if I have to go solo.

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Liz April 12, 2011

We grow our own tomatoes, beans, peas, herbs, and lettuce in containers on our fourth-floor terrace (yay urban gardening!) and belong to a fabulous CSA – New York is somewhat south of you, so we get a better selection longer, but it does get a little repetitive near the end. I try to think of it as a challenge to get creative about using stuff up :)

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Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks April 12, 2011

I belong to a CSA. I chose it because it is local (they are based in my neighborhood!) and they don’t require me to buy a subscription. I do have a regular delivery schedule (every other week), but I buy each box individually ($33/box) so I can feel free to skip a delivery when I need to. I also love that they will deliver to my job or my apartment, depending on what I need, at no extra cost.

The repetition can get taxing. I am so glad I haven’t seen a squash in a few weeks!! But overall, I enjoy it. My farmers are totally friendly, I get a decent selection and have branched out and tried things I normally wouldn’t have. They also have agreements with other farms and I get the option of having organic free range eggs included, or meat or most recently, kombucha! It’s cool!

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Tawney April 12, 2011

I tend to kill houseplants, but I’ve successfully grown several batches of wheatgrass so I’m going to try a very small garden this year. It may only have one vegetable – kale! Keep it simple, no? :) Our farmers market is only open Saturdays’, and that’s a hiking day so I miss out on the market. Several friends have HUGE gardens so I’ve been lucky enough to graze at their place.

Just made VOO for the first time and licked my bowl clean this morning! Chocolate protein powder added to the classic recipe, with the lovely goo layered with papaya jam…

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Sarah @ veggie-kids.blogspot.com/ April 12, 2011

Living in the Bay Area, we have many more choices with CSA’s, however, I still ran into some of the same “cons” you did (no more squash please!!). Anyway, I used to be clueless in the gardening department but over the last year or so have learned so much (through trial & error too). We now have a great garden full of edible flowers, herbs, fruits & veggies. It’s actually kind of addictive b/c I just bought 6 more plants to add to the mix (peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc.). I can’t wait to see more about how you get started! Oh, be sure to get a compost going though too b/c that is the magic that makes your garden grow!
Sarah
veggie-kids.blogspot

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Heidi @ Food Doodles April 12, 2011

That’s awesome that you’re thinking of planting a garden. I’ve had a garden for 3 years, this will be the fourth. I love it! It does take a lot of time though. I find most of my work is after I’ve planted and just keeping the weeds down. It’s endless, but so worth it. You just have to jump into it. Till up your land and plot out what you want and where and then plant. The thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect, you can put all different plants together except for a few major ones(read your packages). If you start from seed, some things need to be started inside earlier and you’ll need to find out when your last frost is because a lot of things can’t be planted outside till then. I’m thinking of sharing my garden on my blog but I still don’t know if anyone would be interested. We don’t have a csa here but I do shop at the farmers market and even still the grocery store to fill in the gaps.

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Maxine April 12, 2011

Gardening is so fun! Last year, I started small, so things that were not easy to find at the market: tomatillos, pasilla peppers, and herbs. This year, I have grown it to include things like amaranth, arugula, 4 types of tomatoes, mustard greens, kale, and cabbage.
I like to start mine from seed, which I did a few weeks ago and use containers but many of my friends use raised beds, which are successfull.
It takes time, but by mid-July, you should have stuff! Have fun!

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Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope April 12, 2011

This is a great post Angela! It’s fun to experiment with the different sustainable options out there and find what works for you, and we’re all unique with our own lifestyles, so it takes some trial and error to find the best option! My family used to have a garden when I was little, and it was so much fun to watch everything grow and know that you grew what you were eating yourself. Plus, the veggies were SO fresh and delicious!!!

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Amy @ purewellnessamy April 12, 2011

Hi Angela – two really good gardening books:

Crockett’s Victory Garden (possibly THE vegetable gardening book), by James underwood Crockett
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Have fun!

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