Why does your garden grow?

The following piece is part of a regular column in the local newspaper that Brenda writes, often inspired by our farm journey and adventures.  It first appeared in The Chautauqua in 2012.

Being spring and just past the May long weekend, a lot of my conversations seem to be about HOW our gardens are going: is it in? What did you plant? How are your transplants doing? However – I’ve started to realize an important question to ask is WHY is your garden growing?

I am not asking for a science lesson. I am interested in the motivations behind each of our gardening efforts. What made me think about this was seeing an ad for a contest for growing the BIGGEST vegetables this season: giant pumpkins, club-size zucchini, balloon size tomatoes, etc. My first thought was, how would those taste? It made me stop and remember that my goals for growing food (great tasting, healthy food to get us through as much of the year as possible) might not be the same for everyone. We all plant and tend our gardens based on our goals and the enjoyment we get from them. A friend was sharing with me her efforts to get the right size spaghetti squash for her family: the challenge being that if you pick them at the size you want but they aren’t ready to come off the vine, they don’t keep well.

I also tend to focus on growing things I can eat or use in the house (even the flowers I plant end up in salads) but while our garden and yard may not be a bounty of flowers and ornamentals, I thank those who do put those in: the pollinators need them. So about those giant vegetables, my patience won’t allow me to enter the contest but if anyone wants a taste tester for them – I’d happily submit my resume.

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