Sunday, February 20, 2011
Food for Thought
Warning: personal reflections ahead. My mood as I type this is "confused."
This will be the third year that I plant vegetables for my edible backyard garden. I have A LOT of leftover seeds from last year. I don't like waste--whether it's resources, time, energy, food, seeds, whatever. That's why I'm going to see if my year-old seeds will live past the expiration date on the package. I'm going to start some of them indoors this week and see what happens.
My garden is small, my crops mainly grow in containers, and I still feel a little clumsy and unsure of myself sometimes. When I moved to a place that had room for a container garden, I was so excited to go out and buy seeds to plant. I got some for free at a nursery. It was so late in the season that the cashier gave me some for free after I purchased a couple of potted plants! I stocked up on supplies at Home Depot, and bought some seeds there. They carry burpee brand. I also bought supplies and seeds at Target and from smaller nurseries around the area. Because I felt very much like I was experimenting, I did not want to invest a lot of money in a project that could be a total failure, so I mainly purchased pots, soil, and other supplies from the big stores that carry a lot of stuff at lower prices than a nursery. I'll buy seed packets from anywhere, even the grocery store, since the cost doesn't seem that different--not enough to make me drive out of my way to avoid a nursery just to buy a cheaper pack of seeds from a hardware store. I even bought soil and vegetable plant seedlings from a high school that was selling garden stuff as a fundraiser (note to self: all those plants died, and the soil seemed contaminated with something, so I won't be doing that again. Sorry high school! I'll still buy your flowers!)
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was surfing the web and read about a seed exchange day on Feb 5 (I had no idea this occurred! I'll be so prepared next year). Those stories somehow led me to this article about burpee seeds. In the weeks that have followed I have also come across other garden blogs that mention where they buy seeds from--mostly from local nurseries, it seems, but not really from stores or brands that I recognize. The thought of buying and sowing seeds and potting plants used to make me happy. It was exciting! Now it seems a little overwhelming. Am I buying bad seeds? Or bad plants? Am I supporting local businesses enough? I thought I was trying to do a good thing--plant my own vegetables. It's economical, "green," and much healthier than buying veggies from the store, right? I don't even use pesticides--last summer I fed more bugs than people! But now this adds another dimension of worry, kind of like worrying about processed foods and chemicals on your grapes and greenhouses gases and making sure there are no nuts in the food you make for the little kids in your family. I guess having your own simple edible garden isn't really that simple, is it?