It’s fun recalling our nation’s founding farmers

Hope you had a great 4th of July and got to enjoy some fireworks and special time with your family and friends. You may have even gotten to enjoy some pretty flowers at the Myriad Gardens, the Zoo, your neighborhood park or even in your own yard as part of the holiday celebrations. As we think back on the birth of our country all of our early presidents and most of the leaders who met in Philadelphia to form our country were avid gardeners and most were active farmers. If you ever have the chance, please make time to enjoy the gardens of George Washington at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. It is amazing the planning they put into their gardens and their passion to find new plants and new crops. They kept comprehensive records and it is fun to see the joy they expressed at the beauty of their flowers and trees and the excitement of their first harvest each season or from new crops.

That is one of the exciting things this year with so many new vegetable gardeners as we get to hear stories about the anticipation and the celebration of their first harvests. I have had many people talking about how red to let their tomatoes get before harvest and debating whether to eat the first tomato sliced, on a hamburger or in a salad.. There are great debates about how big to let the eggplant get before harvesting and when to pick the green beans and peppers. It is really fun to watch and hear the excitement of these new gardeners harvesting their own vegetables for the first time. An experienced gardener gets that same thrill from growing a new vegetable or flower species or succeeding with a plant that has not produced or grown well on a previous effort or in a different spot in the garden. When you are dealing with living things you also learn to deal with the frustrations of a cutworm eating through the stem and killing your tomato or sweet potato, the birds pecking into your tomatoes or the aphids overwhelming your peppers. It really makes you appreciate the challenges commercial farmers face.

Nothing beats growing gorgeous flowers or fresh vegetables and fruits in your own yard but if you can’t or aren’t growing your own local produce please consider buying as much locally grown produce as possible to support the local truck farmers and market gardeners. Many communities have opened their own farmers markets to make it easy for local vegetable growers and consumers to find each other. Local foods are picked more mature and so are usually tastier and even healthier than the usual good produce we Americans are blessed to enjoy.

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