It’s All About the Process

Hello garden lovers! Some significant time has passed since the last blog post, which means it has practically been eons in garden years. I might be exaggerating a little, but it’s true that things have been living, dying, producing, rotting, wilting, pushing up through the ground, and flourishing all over the place. A quick recap of the major garden events since our last blog encounter:

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The compost worms at work in our bench!

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The cucumber harvest has continued to be prolific…perhaps too prolific for Grace and I and our volunteer pickle-makers. The mason jars have run out and Grace at one point resorted to packing whole pickles for lunch at Bellair and eating them corn on the cob style (dedication!) One of the workdays came and went with too many pickles and not enough volunteers to eat them, so I delivered a large cardboard box full of them to the Haven. It was rewarding to know some of these just-harvested veggies are going to people who don’t have the everyday pleasure of eating fresh food.

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With the wheelchair access bed pretty bare from a failed attempt at seeding Romaine in July heat, it was time to put in some fresh flowers to attract the eye of some of the new first years when they arrive.

Taylor and I sowed a new bed of carrots in freshly turned soil complemented by the garden’s own compost from the 8-bin rotation system! There were a few old pumpkin seeds in the compost still intact, and currently there’s a robust little pumpkin sprout in the middle of the bed flying solo until the carrots catch up.

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Carrot rows

Robert cleared out the bed housing the unspecified plant that’s been producing mini decorative pumpkins for our coffee tables and window sills. The plant was on it’s way out and the cleared bed will be used for broccoli. The broccoli was seeded in trays and will germinate and grow strong in a nice air conditioned environment for 5-6 weeks before being transplanted.

In the arena of flourishing and producing, we’ve got some beautiful peppers coming in and abundant cherry tomatoes.

I am thrilled to report that our larger tomatoes have finally turned ripe. They’ve been the perfect size and shape for weeks now, but have obstinately remained green–until now! I picked up some mozzarella from the store and fixed some tomato slices with cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s like candy. If fresh tomatoes were sold with cheese on a stand right by the cash register like candy bars are, I would definitely buy. The photo on the below right features sunflowers from the garden!

Unfortunately, we do have some blossom rot on one of our tomato varieties. Fortunately, only the first few tomatoes to ripen should be affected (according to Bellair Farm manager and farmer extraordinaire, Jamie.)

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Blossom rot, a common bacterial disease

Food author Michael Pollan talks about processed food in his chapter on making complex foods. Because crops like corn and soy are overproduced and flood the market, big companies have to find creative new ways to squeeze a profit. This is why corn is crushed, ground, pressed, filtered, dried, and refined in endless ways into cornstarch, corn syrup, and corn oil for cooking and food purposes, and adhesives, coatings, sizings, and plastics for industry. The kernel of corn that made the maltodextrin, xanthum gum, and glycerides–just a few of the many hidden names for corn tucked away into ingredient lists–could just have easily been made into the sticky tape that’s keeping the Bob Marley posters on the walls of freshman dorm rooms across the nation, if only it had been destined for another pipe in the labyrinth of a processing center (also known as a wet mill).

How companies like General Mills and Little Debbie keep their products exciting, profitable, and tasty depends on their crafting a unique concoction of these processed derivatives to create the Cocoa Puffs and Zebra Cakes that keep customers buying. It’s all about the process..(ed) foods.

This process, industry Process, with a capital ‘P’, is disheartening… but I find process, humble process with a little ‘p’, to be at the heart of what I’ve enjoyed most gardening this summer. The process of picking a variety, purchasing the seeds, preparing the bed, planting the seed, watering, weeding, and harvesting adds value to the final product of a ripened veggie in a way that processing a whole food into parts makes the quality cheaper in the world of food labs and snack food corporations.

Food for thought.

Come to the garden for some tomatoes if you want some literal food to power that brain of yours.

Until Sunday,

Elise

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