My Babies are Growing Up!

I spent a few days last week potting up my seedlings.  My tomatoes were the first to graduate to plastic cups and they are thriving with the added nutrients and room to stretch their feet.  Most of them look like actual tomato plants now, with lovely stocky stems.  The broccoli and cauliflower seem to be happy as well, growing quicker and straighter.  A few days ago, the peppers, cilantro and dill moved up.  They seem to be stretching out and enjoying their newfound freedom as well.  The cilantro is no longer laying on it’s side, and neither is the dill.  Could be that I yelled at them and told them that lazy seedlings don’t get to go out to the garden.

Real estate under the grow lights is starting to become a problem though.  If anything else needs to be potted up in the next month, it will have to grow by a windowsill, which in our house is still relatively shady.

The experience of starting these plants from seeds has been far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.  Last fall, when the idea to start a vegetable garden took root, I thought for sure it was a whim, the enthusiasm for which would fade.   If anything it has grown.  The idea that I can feed my family tasty, nutritious, fresh, organic food from something as tiny as a tomato or pepper seed is amazing.  God help the poor bunny or squirrel that decides that my plants are a salad bar.  They have become my little green babies.  I check on them multiple times a day, talk to them, pet them, rotate them.

I have big dreams for my two little square foot gardens.  I have dreams of adding more, and dreams of converting my family to fresher whole foods instead of the processed crap we have all become accustomed to.  My dreams went so far as to look into the possibility of raising chickens.  Alas, that one will not happen, as the regulations here prohibit it with our parcel of land.  Maybe I can invest in my friends chickens when they move.  They are building a house and along with the three quail she currently owns, is looking to add chickens.

Does everyone get so delirious after reading Michael Pollan?  I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and am nearly finished with In Defense of Food, and have found that I already follow some of his suggestions, and have done so out of instinct.  Years ago, I gave up on margarine, somehow I just knew butter was better.  I’m currently trying to find sources for stuff like real yogurt (sorry Dannon and Yoplait, you don’t qualify) and local eggs.  I could get more local milk, but unfortunately with two growing kids, I can’t really afford it.  It’s twice the price of “regular” milk (but tastes twice as good as well).  My ultimate goal is to wean my family off of convenience foods full of preservatives and goodness knows what else, and back to more whole foods.  I’m sure there are still times in our busy schedule when McDonald’s really is the only option, but with some careful planning, perhaps I can wean us off of that as well.  Not surprisingly, we all feel better when we eat real food, and we tend to lose weight and be healthier as a consequence.  I’ve lost more weight using olive oil and butter, and eating good cheese than I ever did using reduced fat margarine, or low fat cheese.  After only once eating fresh shredded parmesan, I can never, ever go back to the stuff out of the can.

Interestingly, I think the whole catalyst for this shift in thinking sprang from my trip to Paris a year ago.  My husband and I ate very well there, and after the second day we noticed something.  We noticed that the food tasted so good.  Better than anything I had in a long time.  Not only that, but we noticed that after a meal we felt good.  Not just good, but great.  Too many times after eating out here at home, we leave the restaurant overfull, bloated, and headachy.  Some of that I’m sure is from the huge portions, but I suspect it is more from lower quality food.  Since that trip, I am still in search of the perfect baguette.  I’m thinking I may have to learn how to bake bread and make it myself.

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