Can’t beat fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden

Vegetables straight from the garden have a much different flavour than those that are mass produced, packaged, stored and shipped to market. If the availability and cost were the same, people will choose garden fresh every time. Cost, land and availability play a big role in what people eat.

  • Feb. 19, 2015 9:17 p.m.

Vegetables straight from the garden have a much different flavour than those that are mass produced, packaged, stored and shipped to market.

If the availability and cost were the same, people will choose garden fresh every time. Cost, land and availability play a big role in what people eat.

With summer slowly approaching, it is time to decide where to purchase in-season fruits and vegetables.

Garden plots are available in most urban areas. Municipalities often have a number of plots that they rent out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Another alternative is to look for acreage owners or farmers who rent plots. Private plots may or may not be advertised. Often local garden centres or garden club members can point in the correct direction.

When renting a plot, ask what the person or municipality provides. Is there water readily available? Do they work in organic matter or is that up to the plot holder? What is the size and cost? When will the land be ready to plant? How do they deal with weedy plots. Is there a deadline on removing the produce in the fall? Are chemicals allowed?

First-time gardeners should ask if there is a mentor program, although most gardeners are willing to help and teach others who want to do the work and learn.

If possible, talk to another person who has gardened on the plot to see if the rules are followed and how well the crops grew last season. Weeds that were allowed to go to seed mean there will be plenty of weeding to be done this season.

Novice gardeners might want to join a community garden where everyone works together to make one large garden. There are assigned nights for working in the garden and for harvesting the produce. In this case, everyone shares equally. As the season progresses, there is usually more produce than people can eat fresh.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) takes the financial risk out of the gardener’s hands and shares it will people who want fresh produce. It in turn guarantees its members fresh produce all season, if the season is good. If there is crop failure, it is also shared with the participants.

The cost of joining a CSA garden varies, as does the produce and what is expected of the participants. For the most part, people receive a basket of food once a week from the start to end of the growing season. The size of basket depends on the contract, as well as how the garden is growing. Operations will either deliver the produce or expect it picked up at the garden gate.

Putting in hours working in the garden may be mandatory or on a volunteer basis. It depends on the operation.

Before signing onto a CSA, find out what produce is being planted. Are small fruits such as raspberries and strawberries included? Are the vegetables cleaned before they are placed in the baskets?

Don’t wait too long to sign up for CSA baskets as the numbers are limited to the amount of produce they can supply.

You-pick gardens are an option that allows the public to go out into the garden and harvest their own produce. You-picks are usually less expensive than farmers’ markets but it takes time.

Fresh produce is always a strong draw at farmers’ markets. Growers use tunnels and have product available before most home owners. As there are a number of stalls at the market, customers can make choices about quality and price. The way to pick a good stall is to go to the booth with the longest line. A bit of planning now will ensure that fresh produce is on the table next summer.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Delburne man found not guilty in connection with 2016 fatal rollover

Daniel Wayne Newsham had been on trial for manslaughter

Loan officer accused of $1 million fraud to plead guilty

Accused allegedly forged customer names to get loans while working at Sylvan Lake bank

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Ottawa is spending $1.6 billion to help struggling energy companies stay afloat,… Continue reading

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read