THE READER
May 2005

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Customer Comments

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Book & Housewares News

Produce News: Planning the Local Season

Deli News: Creative Party Platters

Juice Bar & Bakery News:
Bakery Suggestions for Springtime

Health & Wellness News: Growing a Great Garden

Specials Information

Recipes & Drink Recommendations

Producer Profile: Voss Organics

Eat Locally, Think Globally \

Farm Fresh Atlas

Here Comes
the Sun: Solar Power at the
Co-op

Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference 2005 Staff Reflections, Part II

Newsbites

Community Calendar

HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Growing a Great Garden

by Amanda Biederman, WSGC Staff

Gardening season has officially begun! It’s time to grab those gardening gloves and start planning your garden space. For the first time, the Willy Street Co-op will be offering organic vegetable and herb starters direct to you for your planting needs. Two local farms, Weststar Farm and Voss Organics, will be supplying the Co-op with a wide variety of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, eggplant, onions, and many herbs. All of the starters can be found displayed outside in front of the Co-op. Cardboard flats will be offered to help carry your selections, and the starters are rung up at the registers inside with assigned PLU numbers, like produce and bulk. The Co-op also offers organic potting soil, canning jars, and other supplies to help with all your gardening projects.

Where to grow
Gardening is a rewarding experience in which you can enjoy the harvest of your efforts in your own home or yard. If yard space is not available to you, you may want to consider other options like renting space at a community garden or container gardening. Container gardening allows you to enjoy your plants even if you have limited space. As long as your plants have access to light and fresh air, you can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers almost anywhere indoors or outdoors.

Advantages to container gardening
With container gardening, you can watch your plants more closely, and offer them the extra attention they may not receive in the backyard. Plants can be grown to help accentuate your surroundings on windowsills, balconies, stairs, porches, and decks. Other advantages to container gardening are: you can control the environmental conditions, there are no worries over rabbits or other creatures feasting on your plants, and your plants can be moved easily for optimal growing conditions. If pests invade your plant, you can simply move it to another place to ensure other plants do not become infected.

Companion gardening
In container gardens, some plants, when put together, can help each other flourish. Companion gardening is a fun way to discover which plants help each other to thrive happily. For example, oregano repels insects that like to attack broccoli and enhances the taste of beans. Beans and peas are both oxygen-fixing legumes and, when planted with broccoli, cabbage, or kale, will give each other a boost to thrive happily. Nature is a wide variety of diverse environmental relationships, and your plants will thank you for the care you put into determining their surroundings.

Choosing your containers
Getting your garden started is easy and choosing what containers to use is fun. Deciding whether to have your potted plants indoors or outdoors is the first step. Be sure to know what kind of light or shade, moisture, and temperatures your plants thrive on. If you choose to keep your plants outdoors, be sure the containers drain well so that your garden does not drown during the rainy season. Keep in mind that the size, material, shape, and drainage of the container you use should be conducive to your plant’s health and environment. For example, terra cotta pots are great in that they allow your plant’s roots to breathe and they hold warmth. Plastic pots are lighter and can be cleaned more easily, but they’re less porous and don’t allow as much oxygen to the roots. It’s best to choose a good draining container, and some fail-proof saucers to capture the dripping water and dirt.

Timing your crops
When planting your crops, you may want to plant them at different times so that you can enjoy the harvest for a longer period. In outdoor gardens, raised beds offer better drainage for your plants, and it’s best to water before or after the sun is up and blazing. Plants, like people, burn when they’re exposed to water and the hot sun together. Sunken containers are an excellent way to prevent plants from spreading in outdoor gardens. Some plants, like sage and mint, spread easily and with a little containment, they can be kept to their own space.

Growing your own garden can
be a wonderful and fulfilling experience. There is nothing like making a fresh salad or a meal with the vegetables and herbs just picked from your own garden. Canning and pickling vegetables is also a great way to get through those colder days ahead. Springtime is officially here! Happy gardening!!!