Is anyone else out there as freaked out as I am about the insane cost of groceries? Here on Catalina Island all of our produce is brought over on a barge, in a refrigerated shipping container so it’s even more expensive than it is on the mainland. I couldn’t believe recently that one green bell pepper (yes green, not yellow or red) at our small market was almost two dollars!
I’m drawing on all the self-control I have to not roll right into a political/ socio-economic tirade. But be warned readers, I don’t know how much longer I can contain my frustration.
Anyway, to continue with the less controversial topic of gardening, since I’ve embarked on my juicer journey, I’ve obviously been buying a lot more fresh fruits and veggies than I have in the past which is a good thing. Last year I’d decided to start a vegetable garden but just never got around to it, which is the fate of many grand ideas. This Spring I bought two large garden containers that were $45 each and the fact that I couldn’t return them was just the miserly incentive I needed to actually do it.
The containers I bought at our local hardware store are intended for city dwellers or those with limited outdoor space, hence the name “City Pickers”. They’re about 1′ 9″ x 2′ about 9″ deep and one of their greatest features is that they’re on wheels! If you think your spinach might be getting a bit too much sun, just wheel it over to a shadier spot.
I found this feature especially convenient last week when our neighbors were having their thirty-foot palm trees trimmed. Large fronds were dive-bombing to the ground right where my garden was, so I just wheeled them out of harm’s way until the tree-trimming was finished.
Watering the plants in the container is fool-proof. There’s a plastic tube that rests on the bottom and comes through the soil at the top. The reservoir holds two gallons of water to replenish daily and a screen keeps the soil from direct contact with the water reservoir so the plants are never over watered (there’s an over-flow opening on each side). Just pour the water through the tube and it’s wicked up into the soil as needed.
I went into this project rather blindly since I’ve never actually grown vegetables before. I have plenty of experience with ornamental plants and even herbs but not veggies. My mom had a small vegetable garden in our back yard when we were kids, so she gave me some good general pointers. She, however, lives in the wet, humid north-east, US (NJ) and I live in the very sunny, dry south-west, US (CA), so it’s a very different experience.
I’ve planted tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, green onions and spinach. As expected the zucchini and tomatoes are thriving but the others are having a slow start. I think it’s too hot and sunny for the spinach so I’m thinking of moving that container. There are 5 baby tomatoes on the vine and the squash plants have sprouted beautiful orange flowers, some of which, I hope, will eventually become squash.
I haven’t had too many problems with pests but one young tomato was eaten by a cabbage worm (I think) and I have seen some aphids. I rinsed as many of the aphids off the leaves as I could, let them dry and sprayed a light mist of vegetable-oil based, organic pesticide to the leaves and it seems to have done the trick.
I’m hoping, in a couple of weeks, to have a great shot of me to post, biting into one of my own, home-grown, juicy, red, organic, tomatoes! Here’s hoping!