Saturday, June 26, 2010
How Far Did Your Meal Travel?
The average American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to table. With so many recalls of food a Victory Garden, A Kitchen Garden or a few well-placed containers in an apartment window or on a balcony can help you take back control of what you eat. What you feed your family.
Organic gardening, foregoing the use of chemical pest controls, to preserve the nature-friendly atmosphere is a huge plus as well. There are many ways to feed yourself and your family and even your neighbors healthy fare.
Salad greens are one of the easiest to grow and supply fiber, calcium and vitamins such as A, C and K as the spicy lettuce-like Arugula (eruca sativa) does. This is a quick growing leaf (35 days) with many benefits. Cold and heat tolerant, it can be grown year around in zones7 and South from there. Its relatively short growing seed to maturity is ready when your radishes are making it an attractive salad choice.
All it needs is a fertile soil and full sun, although in the hottest part of mid-summer some shade is beneficial from the heat of the afternoon sun. Spinach, leaf lettuce, kale all seem to have similar needs.
Water plants deeply twice a week to keep the leaves from becoming too spicy-hot and so that the plant won’t bolt.
Since early plantings do bolt as the days lengthen, plant at 10 day intervals to ensure a lasting feast.
Recommended varieties are: Roquetté – an extremely frost tolerant variety or
Sputnik – a more mild-flavored variety with a wide range of leaf shapes which will add interest to any salad.
The arugula leaves can be substituted in most any recipe that calls for spinach, mustard greens, or Swiss chard. A very versatile vegetable, indeed. So why not give it a try. You may find a new favorite.
To protect your Arugula from the flea beetle you may want to use a row cover/caps.
Billie A Williams, Best-selling, award-winning author of Writing Wider, More Exercises in Creative Writing