garden views and books

I wasn't pleased with the last garden view I posted, so I'm giving it another go. This photo was taken this afternoon standing on a bench on our deck. Yes, going higher allows me to provide a better take on our garden space. Everything is lush. We've already had our first Roma tomatoes, and yellow Zucchini are already growing. Fresh squash sauteed in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt - yum!

This is the garden bed we are developing. It is currently a mixture of flowers (sunflowers, butterfly bush, zinnias, cosmos and morning glory - on the maypole) and vegetables (squash on the left, spinach and lettuce on the right). I'm imagining a different border and path around the maypole, but am only researching those aspects right now (as always, concerned with beauty AND frugality).

I am pleased with the Baker Creek Grandpa Admire's lettuce seeds that promised to be heat tolerant. Now, we haven't experienced 90 and 100 degree weather, yet, but this lettuce is growing well in the Midwest muggy June and doesn't wilt even in the mid-day heat. I love, love salads so having this meal option throughout the Summer is wonderful. Besides, aren't the leaves beautiful?

(You'll notice that there is good mixture of gardening and entertainment in our yard. I'm not sure what the children would do if we converted the entire lawn to one huge garden, although they have been inquiring about fruit trees.)

I'm always on the look out for a good read, gardening or fiction or juvenile, and recently came across the name of Joan Dye Gussow. I've been reading gardening blogs for a handful of years now, which is a great way to receive gardening  information, obviously, but bloggers are also great about sharing their author recommendations. I had not come across Gussow's name until reading a tweet by Michael Pollan. Yes, I use twitter to receive information. It's actually been invaluable to keep up to date on current events and themes that interest me. Anyway, after looking up Gussow's information I checked out her book This Organic Life from the library. 

Here are a few quotations from chapter one:

I arrived at adulthood without a hint that vegetable production might become central to my life.

Cash was desperately short; growing food seemed economically prudent.

I was an aging graduate student teaching two huge classes, working on my doctorate in nutrition education, and gaining a certain noteriety for saying that I thought the American food system was using resources unsustainably.

Although I would not say vegetable production is central to our lives, we have made it important to our lives. And I would not say cash has ever been short for us (although we have had lean times just like anyone else), but we lean toward the philosophy of living simply and frugally. Growing our vegetables complements that thinking. Neither my husband nor I have a background in science or nutrition, but we are aware that it is common now in our society not to each fresh food, and to lean toward a packaged, manufactured diet. 

Although Gussow's book references the two different homes she lived in with her husband (one in upstate New York and one on the Hudson River) and her career as a nutrition professor, the main point of her book is to capture what it meant to grow most of her own food in her own backyard. She didn't tend animals, so this focused on vegetables and fruit. It was an education of sorts reading this book and entertaining as the author is an excellent writer. 

Gussow is in her eighties now, still gardening and teaching. There are many big names in the food movement now (ever hear of Michael Pollan? who has also written great books which include Second Nature and The Omnivore's Dilemma), but it was interesting as a gardener to discover someone who came before the current, popular food movement who simply realized it's responsible and healthy to grow her own food, and did so.

Her book actually mentioned another author John Jeavons who wrote How to Grow More Vegetables. We're always trying to maximize our space, so this book I've now picked up at the library and am reading. It's not just blogs and tweets that provide good reading recommendations, books can do that too.