Thursday, February 21, 2013

Want Fresh? Valerie Comer Shows You How!

Valerie Comer
My friend Valerie Comer is known for her organic gardening and canning, so when I asked her to write something, she didn't hesitate to share some tips that can help anyone. Enjoy!

Here's what Valerie has to say:

I've had a vegetable garden nearly every year for over three decades. There's just something I crave about fresh herbs, mixed greens, snap peas, and tomatoes. We live on a farm so there is plenty of room to grow whatever strikes our fancy, but I know not everyone is so lucky. Still, everyone with a desire to can grow something.

Live in an apartment? If you have a balcony, you can add hanging baskets with mini tomatoes. Rail-hung baskets are perfect for lettuce, spinach, or herbs. Several planters, set on the deck, can hold eggplants or peppers. You might even be able to coax a few pole beans to climb twine stretched from the roof above. If you don't have a balcony, many herbs grow well in pots on your windowsill. Rosemary, basil, and parsley are easy for beginners.

Have a small patch of yard? Try a raised bed or two, each no more than four feet wide--or two, if against a fence--so you can easily reach without climbing inside. Choose pole beans over bush beans for two reasons--you get more food per square foot, and pole beans keep producing for a longer season. You can grow quite a lot in a few raised beds if you succession plant, which means that when an early crop, like radishes or lettuce, comes out, you plant another crop in its place.

Have ample space? Don't bite off more than you can chew! Start with a few raised beds and add another next year if you are eager to grow more. Add fruit or nut trees, or perhaps you can grow soft fruit. Raspberries are one of my favorites for a large yard.

Seek out organic, heirloom seeds if you possibly can, and choose organic soils and amendments. If you care enough about your family's food to grow your own, you'll want the highest quality possible. Don't be lured in by hybrids bred for greater yields. Go for flavor and variety. You won't be sorry!

Most people consider a housekeeper the first domestic helper they'd hire. Others might add a nanny or a cook. Me? Those would be great, though this grandmother is not in need of a nanny these days. But what I'd really like is a gardener.

You may think I'd want him or her to tend the vegetables in my expansive plot, but you'd be wrong. Oh, I might complain there are too many mosquitoes, or it's too hot or too cold or too rainy, but that doesn't mean I want to pawn off the job on someone else.

No, I never seem to have time to tend my flowerbeds, though I'd love to have a riot of color out my kitchen window and along my sidewalk. I crave a patio surrounding a fountain, itself hugged by happy blooms of various shapes, sizes, and hues. But when I have time, it's the vegetable garden that demands my attention.

Anyone got a landscape gardener to loan me? I'll be happy to provide fresh, flavorful meals as payment! Apply in comments below.

Valerie Comer is a fiction author and a blogger where food meets faith. She and her husband of over 30 years farm, garden, and keep bees on a small farm in Western Canada, where they grow much of their own food, preserving vast amounts of it by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. She believes taking good care of both the planet and her family is an act of worship and thankfulness to God the Creator. Valerie writes contemporary romantic fiction (such as Rainbow's End –Barbour, 2012) as a natural offshoot of her passion for local food. To find out more, visit her , subscribe to her blog, or join her newsletter list.


Valerie Comer said...

Thanks for inviting me, Debby!

Julie said...

Great article. Love all the information!

CatMom said...

I really enjoyed reading Valerie's post---makes me want to get my fingers into the dirt and plant!
Blessings, Patti Jo