Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CSA Newsletter: Food Not Lawns 3 22 09

Food Not Lawns is the catchy title of a very useful book. In it, subtitled How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, author Heather Coburn Flores makes a persuasive case for homeowners to turn their home turf into edible gardens. Whether you’ve got a front yard, a back yard, or even just a sunny strip along the side: one you get beyond the green lawn, the potential for really going green expands with every square foot of soil.

There are decorative edible flowers, like nasturtiums, that can grow between rows of vegetables. A trellis lush with climbing bean vines draws in bees and hummingbirds while forming a natural screen for privacy--much more delicious than a board fence or box hedge. (Scarlett runners produce prodigiously, first bright-red flowers, then succulent flat beans which can be eaten fresh or left to mature into bright pink-and-black shelling beans.)

Children find root vegetables irresistible--the mystery of what’s hidden under the soil, the surprise that something as ordinary as a carrot or a radish actually lives deep in the dirt, the thrill of pulling on a handful of leaves and yanking out a full-grown carrot or fat red beet.

Even the Obamas are taking Flores’ advice. Not the whole White House lawn, but one section (over by the girls’ swing set) is going to be turned into an organic garden. It will double as an edible schoolyard for local D.C. schoolchildren, who’s not only get to weed and water but will take their harvest into the White House kitchens and learn how to cook (and eat) their dirt-fresh bounty.

By doing this, the Obamas set a great example for families all across the country. Maybe you don’t have the space to grow all your own squash and potatoes. But you can probably grow several months of salads, courtesy of a pack of mixed salad-green seeds, a sprawling cherry tomato plant, perhaps a sugar-snap pea vine or two. Kids who’ve gotten dirty planting, watering, poking at and picking their own vegetables are much more likely to eat (and like) their veggies. Why not plant some seeds today and see what grows?


Avocados? Tomatoes? Isn’t this supposed to be a fruit CSA? By common definition, both avocados and tomatoes are, technically, fruit, even if you wouldn’t bake them in a pie. (Although we have seen--and tasted--both green-tomato and creamy avocado-chocolate pies!) Much like a peach or a cherry, the avocado’s single pit contains all its tree’s genetic information.

Given enough time and space, you could grow your own avocado tree from the avocado in your box this week--although it’s probably more feasible to grow a simple houseplant instead. After you’ve eaten your avocado, poke three or four toothpicks into the pit, equally spaced like spokes on a wheel. Use the toothpicks to suspend the pit (wide side down) over a glass of water, keeping the bottom submerged. Watch the roots grow from the pit; when you’ve got a sturdy-looking tangle, plant in a generous-sized pot with the tip of the pit sticking out of the soil.

These organic tomatoes got a jump on summer by growing in warm greenhouses rather than out in the chilly spring breezes.

So, what's in the box this week?

Avocado ~ Haas Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Grapefruit~ Star Ruby
South Texas Organics, Mission, TX

Apple~ Fuji
Deneven Apples, Santa Cruz, CA or Bruce Rider, Watsonville, CA

Orange ~ Navel
Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Tangelo ~ Minneola
Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Wilgenburg Greenhouses, Dinuba, CA

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