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Planting the Seed

Planting the seed of gardening in my world was the fact that I grew up with a mother who helped run a local food co-op in the suburbs of Cincinnati and my parents to this day run the food shelf at their church in Cincinnati.

Planting the seed of gardening in my world was the fact that I grew up with a mother who helped run a local food co-op in the suburbs of Cincinnati and my parents to this day run the food shelf at their church in Cincinnati.

Although I was always a bit picky and unadventurous with food in my younger years, later in life I would live in food forward cities such as San Diego and Chicago, which offer many easily accessible and affordable ways to acquire fresh fruit and vegetables. While living in those cities I have cooked in restaurants and at home with many of these various fresh ingredients and I grew to love and depend on them. One problem existed, however, and that was the fact that I had never tried to grow any of the food that is so enjoyable when eaten as fresh as possible.

Living in the Brainerd lakes area I notice the farmers markets (and frequent the Nisswa Legion for the farmers market many Thursday mornings), as well as the new trend in healthier eating reaching the area; albeit slightly later than the rest of the areas I have previously lived and worked; and it made me realize that I should get involved in creating fresh food for those that I work and live with.

Zorbaz on Gull Lake owner and operator Lee Johnson and his wife, Amy, encouraged and made this possible by acquiring the black dirt and the area behind Zorbaz in order to try my hand at this. In turn, I visited the Nisswa Farmers Market and purchased several tomato plants and various herbs. Amy and Lee purchased packs of various vegetable seeds and gave me the freedom to figure things out on my own.

I did not have the most successful yields on my tomatoes aside from the Mexican midget strain of cherry tomatoes, which by the way are the tastiest in Minnesota. I am still producing small cucumbers to this day, as well as purple basil, lemon basil, thyme, rosemary, and salad greens, and hopefully jalapeños sometime soon. This allowed me to feed the employees at Zorbaz on Gull Lake many different fresh salads and treats, as well as create the finishing touches on our current pizza of the month with all the basil that I grew. Regardless of the yields, however, I learned valuable lessons in what grows well together, and more importantly what doesn't. I learned that I needed to plant things much earlier in the season, NEVER to plant cucumbers near ANYTHING, but that it is incredibly easy to grow your own vegetables since they virtually do all the work as long as water, sunshine, and some love (i.e. weeding and talking nicely to the plants) are plentiful.

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The most valuable part of my first experience gardening is that with some moral support, minimal capital, and the will to sweat a bit on the front end, the payoff is a healthier virtually free bounty of chemical-free delicious vegetables and countless smiles and appreciation from everyone who gets to taste and even just gaze upon a creation solely made by taking the first step - planting the seed.

For more information on how to begin a garden visit the websites at the end of the article, which were used in the process of building this garden. Also, the farmers at all of the farmers markets in the area are very kind and are more than willing to help aid in the growth of the plants they provide for you. For ideas on how to build your own gardens, don't be afraid to check out different ideas on Pinterest or other websites.

For more information

Go to www.mfvga.org/ for the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Check out www.extension.umn.edu/ for the University of Minnesota Extension:

Visit crowwingenergized.org/ for more on farmers markets in Crow Wing County, or other health events.

Related Topics: GARDENING
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