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Going green


TRACY HIGHLAND

Going green

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I TRY TO EAT about ten to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I don’t always make it, but I try. I’ve never really been into taking supplements; I prefer instead to get my nutrients straight from the source.

It’s a good habit. It’s also a cause of worry for my over-thinking brain. I eat twice the amount of fruits and vegetables that most people eat. That means I probably ingest more pesticides and chemicals than the average person too.  I would have loved to eat more organically over the years, but that just hadn’t been an option for me. 

Most of my greens and fruit are supermarket – bought and there isn’t a large selection of organic produce there.

With my dismal history, growing my own organic garden wasn’t an option for me either, until now. My confidence as a gardener has really grown in the last month. I’ve decided to expand again and make my garden a larger source of chemical-free food for my family.

Everything progressed beautifully this week, but the star has really been the collard greens. If you’ve been following, you will remember that the collards were attacked by slugs or snails just about two weeks ago. You would never know it now. The collard greens grew so much over the last few weeks that the pot was completely full. 

I consulted with Malaica, my gardening coach, and she suggested that I could harvest at least one. She advised me, over a WhatsApp video call, to remove one collard plant completely from the pot and leave the other one, which would continue to get larger. As the remaining one matured, I could just take the larger outer leaves from it as needed. It would continue to sprout new leaves from the inside, becoming a continuous source or greens.

Harvest?! She didn’t have to say it twice. I was so excited. I don’t know how long I thought it would be before I got to that point with my non-herb plants, but I certainly didn’t expect it this soon. Hubby was there to witness and take pictures, and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat as I pulled that bunch of collards from the earth.

I know some of you can’t understand why I’m making such a big deal about this, but this is THE FIRST thing in my life, after years of trying, that I have ever been able to plant, grow and harvest . . . . THE VERY FIRST. I almost can’t believe it. I was half expecting it to evaporate in my hands, but it didn’t.

I took it to the kitchen, washed it and after staring at it like a weirdo for a few minutes, I used some to make my green smoothie that morning. Yes, I made my smoothie with greens that were grown naturally, no pesticides, no chemical fertilisers, no sprays. I was on top of the world and immediately started planning my garden expansion. I want to at least be able to feed my smoothie habit.

With Malaica’s help, I’m setting up phase two of my garden this week. I still have the challenge of elevating the garden to keep it away from my dog, turtle, slugs and snails (they haven’t bothered to climb up the table.) She suggested one of the big wooden reels used to store electrical cable and I love the idea of the aesthetic of that in my garden.  If I can’t get the reel, then maybe I’ll look for another old table.

I’m following advice and keeping it simple. I’m planting some kale, more collard greens and arugula, and, as my lettuce seems to have made a comeback, I’ll add some varieties of that too. The aim is to have enough greens on hand to meet my dietary needs.

I also plan to try to grow 25 pounds of sweet potatoes in a 20- gallon bucket (I saw it on the Internet and I’m really intrigued), but that’s another story. I haven’t had the nerve to raise it with Malaica yet.  She’s not keen on gimmicks. I’m laughing already, imagining the look on her face when I broach the subject. As a matter of fact, it’s better if she reads it here first.

Do you have any suggestions for plants that are easy to grow that I can add to my garden? Do you have any tips for me? If you’re new to this like me and have started your kitchen garden, please tag me @tracyhighland in your pictures so I can have a look. Keep going. I’m so proud of you.

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