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Archive for the ‘Garden News’ Category

With my first “real” garden fully underway (I don’t count last year since we got such a late start in the house), I’m finally able to sit back, with calloused hands and tanned shoulders, to actually harvest some of what I’ve been growing!

June 23rd's Harvest

We’re kind of in a bit of a lull right now, as the very early radishes and lettuces are now gone, but we’re still waiting on the true warm weather vegetables. In the meantime, I got a small bunch of carrots, what is almost the last of the sugar snap peas, some green onion and spinach. The spinach has been remarkably heat resistant – much more so than my arugula and other greens. I noticed some seed stalks, though, yesterday, so it’ll be gone by this weekend.

I loved having my own sugar snap peas, but I feel a little disappointed in them. They didn’t really produce for as long as I would’ve hoped, and now I find myself lusting after the crisp taste of fresh snaps, right off the vine. And that, friends, is a taste you can never get from the supermarket.

I was worried about the onions – we had a warm spell, followed by a frost before it warmed up for good. I was concerned that they were going to send up seed stalks (a few did) and not form bulbs, but I just dug up a test one (which is where the green onion came from) and it looks like its starting to form nice, solid, juicy bulbs. Thank goodness — the boy desperately wanted onions, and I don’t know how I would’ve told him they weren’t going to work out.

Yea, I know...they're hybrids...I'm a hypocrite.

The carrots turned out fairly well, and there’s still more coming. I chose a “Short n Sweet” hybrid (I know I always go one about heirlooms but these has exactly the qualities I was looking for) because my soil is very rocky and a little heavy. The traditional, longer carrots were out, so I’m glad I found these. I called them “my accidental carrots,” because they took so painfully long to germinate that I all but gave up on them. I mostly stopped watering them, until one day, about a week later, I noticed the tiny seedlings sprouting. I obviously began watering them then! And, nevertheless, they seemed no worse for the wear. I think some plants are much more hardy than we give them credit for! Sometimes, its the ones I abuse and forget about that give me the best harvest. Go figure…

On a personal note, I wanted to devote much more time to keeping up the blog once the garden was settled in, so it only stands to reason that I got picked for an eight week grand jury duty term this summer! (Meaning I may have to stay late at my job some days, or worse…come in on Saturdays!) I’ve been trying (more or less) to stick to an every other day posting routine, but this monkey wrench may make it hard to do. So, if I miss a day, I didn’t forget about my readers in blogland, I’ll have new things for you as soon as I catch a moment! Till then, happy gardening!

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There is no doubt, that at least for me, gardening is not only a stress reliever, but also a positive use of my time. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than planting seeds, watching them grow and then reaping the rewards, in terms of beauty, nutrition, exercise and frugality. That is why the focus of today’s post is a little bit more technical, in part to make up for the rather “fluffy” poem I posted yesterday, but also as a basis for what I hope to be an interesting concept and discussion.

Is it possible, that hidden among all these benefits, is the more covert result of a decrease in criminal activity among areas that have more green space and gardens, both vegetable and otherwise? According to the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics‘ total crime index (covering nine crimes, all defined as “violent”), the incident rate per 100,000 people in rural areas 1,908.7. For areas defined as urban, this figure skyrockets to 4,409.1.

In the interest of providing a well-rounded analysis, there are other obvious reasons why the rate may be much higher for urban areas, including higher poverty rate, greater population density, ability to be more anonymous in a heavily populated area and natural conflicts that would arise as a result of a more diverse society.

For my purposes, however, I’d like to propose the idea that outdoor activity, specifically gardening, reduces crime. A common motive for many crimes (especially larceny, theft, burglary, prostitution and drug sales) lies in economic gain. Whether for the criminal artist themselves, or for the benefit of family, when resources are scarce, it would stand to reason that the potential for gain may outweigh the risk of getting caught.

Being that food is one of the most basic necessities, isn’t it possible that the ability to provide fresh and nutritious food for oneself and family would reduce the drive to commit such a crime?

Programs teaching urban residents basic farming and tools for self-sufficiency are cropping up all over the nation, but Michigan, which has rather unfortunately become the fishbowl of downtrodden contemporary society, is pioneering a new program just outside of Flint, to do just that with urban youth. Another program, Infuse Detroit, is engaged in a mission to take unused urban land and turn it into something beautiful and productive. Check out the video: (Just a note: This isn’t my video, I can’t take credit for it…it was made by Infuse Detroit)

If you’re still not convinced that gardening reduces crime, there are so many more reasons why its a notion to consider. The psychological effects alone of being in nature versus an urban environment provide enough material for an entire post in and of itself. I intend to do a post soon discussing this, but if you reeeally can’t wait, check out “To Dwell Among Friends: Personal Networks in Town and City.” Its a pretty in depth read, but has a lot of great information. Of course, I’ll be paraphrasing it in my post, so if you can wait until then, that’s cool too.

In the meantime, just a note: I’m not discounting urban life in any way. I went to school in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan and it was one of the best experiences of my life. What I am discounting, though, are empty lots, vacant alleys and barren rooftops. There are so many untapped resources not only in urban areas, but suburban and rural ones too.What if, instead of being relics of run down, post-industrial society, they could be vibrant, colorful beacons of hope and prosperity? (Besides, compared to many other campaigns and pieces of legislation that have come out in recent years, the cost would be minute, and the reward would be a potential better quality of life for everyone)

Are there any programs in your towns or cities geared towards getting the word out there about the positive effects of gardening? I live in a fairly rural area, so the cat’s pretty much out of the bag by me, but I love to hear stories about community gardens, school gardens and just about any urban greening project!

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So, probably because I’m a giant garden-geek, I decided to go a search of Google Trends, to see what people have been looking for relating to gardening.

Seems like those Brits have got us beat, since the term “gardening” is searched the most in the United Kingdom, with the United States coming in third after Singapore. Kudos to the US cities with the highest search numbers…  Portland, OR (#4), NYC (#6), Irvine, CA (#9) and Seattle, WA (#10).

In all collective world regions, the phrase “garden” has been relatively constant over the last six years, waxing and

The results of a Google Trends search for "arugula" over the last six years

waning with the change in season, as you would probably expect. It gets more interesting, though, when you search by more specific terms or locations and years.

Maybe we truly have become “The United States of Arugula,” because a quick Google Trends search of “arugula” shows a pretty substantial increaseover the last six years.

Are Middle Americans becoming foodies all of a sudden, or perhaps just trading in the Golden Arches for a little garden greenery? (No offense Middle America, I still love ya!) Meanwhile, searches for “brussels sprouts,” no matter what kids think of them, have increased steadily.

This one is a little but more subtle, but searches for “roses” have definitely decreased in the past few years. Come on boys, I know its a recession, but can’t a girl still get a little lovin’ once in a while? 

Unfortunately though, for reasons I can’t understand, searches for the phrase “gardening” have been decreasing every

year. What gives? I hope its not because search trends for “take out” are going through the roof.

The one ray of hope is the fact that those of you who are still searching the phrase “gardening,” are also searching for “heirloom seeds” like they’re going out of style – take that, Monsanto! Anyhoo, that’s probably enough garden-geekiness for one post today…time to work on moving New York from number six on the top searched gardening list to number five… 🙂

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