Readers Respond

  Readers respond to “Garden Food For Thought” 
1. Kathy Said:
  I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks.
  You’re welcome. Thanks for the note.
2. Nancy Said:
  I am in total agreement. Those of us who get dirty can eat well, pass it on to our children just as you said, smell fresh flowers, save money, try unusual seasonings and best of all do not have to drive to the grocery store all of the time. Just browsing for dinner is a lot of fun and healthy too. Sometimes bad economic times find us having a different more wholesome kind of work/fun!
  Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, especially the “unusual seasonings”. Most kids eat only sugary and salty things. They miss out on the full range of tastes.
3. Charles Racine Jr. said:
  My dear Granddaddy, 1899-1965, always said “what this country needs is another good depression”.  Amen.
  My mother used to say the same.  You might enjoy my Queens blogs, parts 1 and 2.  Thank you.
4. Rev. Rolland French said:
  BRAVO!  RIGHT ON THE MONEY!  (But why the limit on recommended veggies?)  Surely a garden(s) like yours can live up to the demands!
Rev. Rolland French
  Thank you, Reverend.  My gorge rises if I eat too much fresh green stuff.  However, I’m working on it, believe me.
5. Tierney G. said:
  How true, I am a firm believer in eating as close to the ground, as I call it, as possible.  I also think going Vegan is the best way to keep health in check.  There are so many good vegan dishes out there.  The only obstacle is the price.  It is hard to believe that in a country of such abundance we still are paying more for fresh fruit and veggies!  No wonder so many are obese.Teaching kids to grow their own food is probably the best way to change a generation of people.  There is no comparison in the taste and crispness of fresh out of the garden or tree and grocery store produce.
  Dear Tierney:  True, indeed. Boiled potatoes and plain rice versus pasta, for starters. Radishes for spiciness, carrots, beets, and all the great lettuces available now.  How about the savory taste of fresh kohlrabi?  Dry beans are a godsend, if budget is a big issue.  I prefer the navy and Great Northern beans.  They’re so inexpensive, there’s no point in growing them myself. There’s also the “pinquito” bean that we used to enjoy while working out in Lompoc, CA.  Also, seitan (rubbery wheat gluten) is a delicious meat substitute, if you can find it.  We have a good Asian supermarket here in the Delaware Valley.  Shopping is like traveling there.
6. Tami Said:
  George – a great way to bring those fruits and veggies into your life is by making a “green” smoothie every day.  This is how I begin each and every day and it has done wonders to support my good health and immune system.  Here’s an east blender recipe.  (Always use organic and out of the garden when possible.)1 banana
2/3 C frozen blueberries
2/3 C frozen strawberries or mango slices, or ?
1 Tbl. Cold pressed flax seed oil
1 Tbl. Fiber blend of your choice
1 heaping Tbl. of a “green” powder (Barley Green, Kyo Green, Mega Green, etc.)
1.5-2 C baby spinach leaves
juice to the halfway mark of your blender
This is the order I add everything to my blender pitcher.  For the added health of your blender motor, I recommend putting the banana in the pitcher before the frozen fruit so the motor is in full force when the frozen stuff hits.  Sub in other fruits and other dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard and even carrot tops!  The greens with courser stems will liquefy better in a Veggie-Mix type blender.Your body will come to crave this.  This is all I need or desire until noon.  At 44 I look younger now than I did 5 years ago.Bon Appetite – Tami
  Tami – Thanks very much.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness.  I’ll try this recipe.  The only trouble is I can’t handle much acidity—can’t drink tea, for example.  But I love bananas and will improvise.  Thanks again.
7. Robert Demarest Said:
  Sounds good George.  However I read that McDonald’s is doing just fine, thank you, with their dollar meal. So are the chains that specialize in bar food—all kinds of cheese and sauces that add cheap calories.  Look at the TV ads and you’ll even see chocolate dips that come with your pizza.  They show lots of bacon, cheese, and creamy sauces with their inexpensive meals.  How do you fight these ad budgets?  Bob
  Dear Bob:  I know.  I can’t stand those ads. I even gave up TV last summer. Alas, publicly traded companies are responsible to their shareholders.  If only the “dollar meals” were less fatty…maybe “Mama McDonald” should step into the picture.  In fact, women executives should focus on the food and restaurant business.  Cheese—don’t get me started. It’s one of the worst things to eat on a regular basis.  And eating a lot of refined sugar is devastating to long-term health.  Thanks much.
8. Tony York Said:
  Hey George—
It must be working, we’re both ‘not dead yet’!
Cheers, TY in Petaluma, CA.
  Hey Tony—is that you?  If it is, folks, this is one of my buds from the tiny rural boarding school in Northern Arizona.  He, too, knows “Skunks and Pigs“.  He lived in the little cabin on the other side of the dry wash.  Vale, citizen.  I’ll give you a call.  Thanks, bro.
9. Mary Rowlands Said:
  No we do not need another depression!  Wasn’t that where the babies were drinking gypsum water from their bottles?  I don’t know how anyone could be so gross or cavalier as to say this.  Insofar as the good old days my mother-in-law has this to say. God gave you a brain, use it.  Back then the doctors hadn’t a clue as to what may be wrong with you.  Now they know and have some effective treatments.Trust me, you want to be in the here and now, but the resurrection of some of the values of the past wouldn’t be a bad idea!
  Dear Mary:  Thanks for your passionate response.  Speaking for my mom, she meant the return to self-reliance, a sort of “wake up call”—not an actual Great Depression. She went through it in the rural South.  It was a figure of speech, especially when she looked around at all the 1960s affluence.  Regarding medicine, I’m not sure.  My health plan is “Don’t get sick”.  However, I trust doctors completely when they wheel me on a gurney.  Food for thought, indeed.  Thanks again.
10. Ellen Kayner Said:
  Terrific blog—enjoy it every time.  Learn a lot too.  Keep up the great work.
  Thanks, Ellen, very nice of you.
11. Amira Said:
  I completely agree.  I have a small 11 X 12 ft. vegetable garden in my front lawn.  At first my neighbors thought I was a little crazy.  I have had a lot of success.  Now my neighbors are slowly joining me.  The garden is well kept and fruitful.  I encourage everyone to at least grow the one vegetable.  I understand that not everyone has the patience to grow seven different types of tomatoes.  One plant can feed a family of four.
  Amira—Absolutely true.  What a great garden you have.  Be careful to plant the veggies as close to the house as possible, to discourage both critters and delinquents.  However, keep them in the sun as much as possible. Also, I look at gardening chores as “drudgery divine”. Thank you very much.
12. Patty Said:
  I couldn’t agree more.  Homegrown produce is worth the time and effort.  Gardening gives such rich rewards in our strength and flexibility, it’s a tremendous stress relief to be out working in your yard.
  Dear Patty – My average ratio is about 1:25 for vegetable seed to grocery store costs for (barely) comparable produce.  (Waxy, tasteless cukes were “on sale” for a dollar each last week, yet I get about 20 per vine—from two seeds that cost 30 cents, a ratio of about 1 to 58.)  The fertilizer and wear/tear on tools is added, plus the sweat equity, which averages a few hours of hard work a week.  However, if you enjoy it, it’s a wash, and you’re still at 1:25 or $250.00 worth of produce from $10.00 worth of seed.  Sweet corn may be much less of a deal than the cukes, but the overall cost savings are phenomenal.  Thanks very much.
13. Tami Said:
14. Stacy Tully Said:
  I would never be able to eat a “baby” potato without thinking of my Great Aunt Bea.  Thanks for the thought!
  Stacy – Both my grandmas, “Mama Ann” and “Mother Ball” have similar effects on me, even after 30 years passing.  However, they were different, as their monikers suggest.  Both “took care of business”.  I miss them.  Thank you.
15. Erica Said:
  I just planted our lettuces today.  Yes, we can grow lettuce in the winter here in Zone 7.  My seven year old daughter likes to know “Did this come from our garden?”  I believe that once you taste real fresh food it’s hard to enjoy fast food.  Even with limited space there are many vegetables and herbs that will grow happily in pots.
  Erica – Thanks. Winter lettuce sounds fantastic. Once, after I swore off meat, dairy, salt and anything fried for several months, I had to attend a heavy-duty business dinner and behave in a conventional manner.  I bit into a creamy fried polenta appetizer and it was so disgusting that I almost spit it out—a shocking revelation of the lousy food I’d been eating for so long.  The saltiness was off the chart.  Unforgettable experience that I recommend to everyone.  Thanks again.
16. Becky Duthie Said:
  Becky – Thank you so much.
17. Mercer Ervin Said:
  THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  It’s too bad more people don’t realize this.  Love your article, keep the faith.
  Thank you, Mercer.  I hope we can get the word out to more folks.
18. Joanne Roth Said:
  I am teaching a class at Univ. of Georgia’s Learning in Retirement and my next class will be dealing with exactly what you are talking about here.  I am approaching it through the techniques of “Forest Gardening” coined by Robert Hart, United Kingdom.  Most in my classes are either Master Gardeners or long time gardeners, and have existing gardens to work with, thus do not have to deal, necessarily, with establishing species and the symbiosis of the mixed species is a huge benefit to all the plants.  I feel that more people would benefit from this technique in gardening.
  Dear Joanne – Thanks for the tip.  I’m intrigued by “Forest Gardening”—what a brilliant notion.  I shall read up on it.  Diversity is essential to both interest and plant health.  We call them “confetti beds” here at Fordhook.  Good luck with your upcoming class.  I wish there were a lot more folks like you.
19. V Silas Said:
  Here-here and very well stated.
  Thanks much, V. Silas.
20. Bob Souvestre Said:
  I wholeheartedly support both container and in-ground production of vegetables and flowers.  Anyone can enjoy the beauty and quality of homegrown produce regardless of their living accommodations.  Increased awareness is good for the industry and the consumer—a win-win situation all around.  Let’s educate ourselves and our youth about the benefits of eating fresh.
  Dear Bob – So true!  The key is education.  K-12 school is the obvious place to start.  Cut back on the “pizza parties” and limit the soft drinks.  And, for goodness sake, restore daily P.E.  Urban gardens are a bit tougher than suburban ones, due to crime.  Police departments should sponsor community gardens.  Thanks, Bob.
21. Susan Said:
  I look forward to your writing.  My grandmother’s wisdom is with me when I read your articles.  Thanks.
  Susan – Thanks so much for your kindness.
22. Raun Norquist Said:
  Dear sir,
You’ve hit the nail on the head.  It was a 1950’s advertising campaign that began to tell us preparing our own food was a waste of time.  That was such a slippery slope to the place we are now where our “food” dollars are spent on advertising, fuel and packaging.
I’m with you.  I even wrote a little cook book called, “Maybe You Can’t Fix the World But You Can Fix Dinner”, all recipes that take less time than take-out and are better for you and more gratifying in that you have done this for yourself, and cost less.  EAT HERE!  Most tomatoes travel 2,500 miles before they hit a store shelf.Raun Norquist
  Dear Mr. Norquist – Thank you, you’ve stirred my curiosity.  Was there a specific company or group that promoted buying prepared over preparing?  Slippery slope indeed.  Furthermore, I’m going to look for your book on the internet.  Great title.  I like to say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees, it grows on vegetable plants”.  Thanks again and please stay in touch.
23. Mark Pauly Said:
  Where I live, the possibility of a garden to raise vegetables is virtually nil because of the overwhelming deer population.  Local and state government seem unwilling to confront this problem, which poses severe public health issues as well.
  Dear Mark – Thanks for raising an important problem.  I have noticed that planting close to the house helps.  I have many deer (25 or so) and combat them with an eight-foot post and wire string fence, plus two dogs.  I tried everything short of this, and nothing worked except the fence and proximity to the house.  The dogs are helpful, but not essential.  No fence—no vegetables.  I’d like the government to allow me to reduce the deer population, euphemistically speaking, but that’s not in the cards.  Any tips?  Thanks again.
24. Arielle Malek Said:
  Thank you for your fabulous and amazing comments.  So very thoughtful helpful, simple and right.
  Thank you.  I’m overwhelmed.
25. Christopher Said:
  George – worked on a photographic project titled “Harvest” for 20 years and felt you would appreciate the nature of the work.  The young girl in the beginning of the presentation is the young woman near the end.  Just submitted the body of work to the Honnickman Foundation for its First Book Prize and will find out is I’m a finalist Nov. 15.  Really appreciate your web log!
  Dear Christopher – I shall peruse your website with great interest. Good luck in the contest and thank you very much for reading our blog.
26. Gordon Hale Said:
  The trouble with eating fresh fruit is in the finding.  Most of the fruit in the grocery stores is picked green or just barely ripening.  The taste just isn’t the same as tree ripened and some of it never ripens.  Fruit trees are a tremendous problem here I North Texas because of the diseases and pests.  If the borers don’t get the trees, anthracnose or cotton root rot, or all of the various pests will.  I am in agreement with your statements but it is difficult.
  Dear Mr. Hale – North Texas sounds tough.  I agree that store-bought fruit is awful.  Perhaps your local extension agents will get the word out to the fruit breeders to put more resistant traits in their new lines.  Try supplementing tree fruit with a patch of “small fruit”—the berry bushes, grapes, strawberries.  Good luck and thanks much.
27. Victoria Green Said:
  Fabulous!  I grew up in a gardening family and on my own I have always had a garden or at least a pot full of tomato plants wherever I have lived.  Fresh and live are great for the soul.
  Dear Victoria – “Food for the body, flowers for the soul.”  Tomatoes are an old Aztec fruit.  Sounds like you had a great childhood.  Do you have a row of cutting flowers?  We have nice zinnias at Burpee.  Thanks very much for your note.
28. John Acuff Said:
  I have an old apple tree here on the farm and I just finished two baked apples with cinnamon and splenda.  Awesome.  I was so appreciative of your words.  The crash may be really good for us.  I have not had a garden in years except flowers, bulbs and shrubs.  This next season I will have one again.  Thanks for what is a really Christian message.
John Acuff
Country Lawyer
  Dear Mr. Acuff – Thank you much.  I too enjoy Splenda on occasion, though in general I haven’t a sweet tooth.  Like you, perhaps, I was raised in a somewhat strict Christian household, so it rubs off at times, to good effect, I eternally hope.  Indeed, the crash will be instructive, if nothing else.  I hope the truly weak don’t suffer.  Best of luck with your garden resurrection.
29. Terry K Said:
  The benefit of connection cannot be overlooked.  My nephews love eating figs from our “fig Newton bush” and feeding corn to our few laying hens.  So many kids are out of touch with the reality of food production.  Gardening teaches them.Waste is a huge problem as well.  We buy and grow foods with good intents, but often let good things go to waste.  Try eating what needs to be eaten (rather than eating what you want to eat).  You’ll find a whole new way of planning meals and saving money.
  Terry K – You have identified one of the big problems, the “perceived cost”.  Food in the US is extraordinarily cheap.  However, many folks think food is expensive, so they hoard it on sale and then plan all sorts of large farm meals for their mostly sedentary families.  I hate to return to dry beans, but they are incredible.   I had a childhood friend, Bill Ingraham, whose Dad was a Navy cook, and the family had a huge pot of beans on the back of the stove at all times.  Bill never went hungry.  Plus, it was a perfect food for building childhood health.  Tasty too; his parents had to shoo us away.  If they ever had to throw it out, they were “wasting” cents rather than dollars.People stuff themselves these days.  It’s a shame to see kids imitating their uneducated parents.  Yet food is, after all, the original life long pleasure, so it’s easy to develop bad habits.  However, it isn’t too hard, also, to change and develop good habits.  In fact, I was surprised how easy it was to get off “bad food”.  Took me only a month or so.  Thanks very much.
30. Martha/All the Dirt on Gardening Said:
  I have to confess that one of the reasons I decided to learn about gardening is the improvement of health into old age.  People who garden are healthy longer into old age and those who grow fruits and vegetables for their own consumption are less likely to be sick.  The learning curve has been steep since I didn’t begin taking classes and then garden writing until retirement.  It’s been worth all the financial costs, exhaustion at the end of the workdays and frustration.
  Martha – Thanks.  Indeed, the statistics are extraordinary.  Basically, adults don’t have to eat very much.  Calories, carbs, a bit of protein and fat, water and roughage to metabolize, and that’s it.  I visited rural Pakistan five years ago and saw no fat people; they work hard, eat little and live long lives.  “Junk food” is inconceivable to them.  Infant mortality is high only due to animal-related diseases from their traditional proximity to livestock.  That trip was an eye-opener.  Thanks again and good luck with your new garden.
31. Jen Said:
  Paulo Coelho in “The Alchemist” suggests that when you want something the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.  It seems the universe is conspiring with a consistent message for my health.  I’m in the process of reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food:  An Eater’s Manifesto” as well as “Super Baby Food” on preparing food for my six month old.  Now your message echoes what I’m already realizing to be true.  So thank you!  I started a small garden this past summer that I plan to triple, if not quadruple, next year.  I would greatly appreciate any advice/suggestions you provide in your blog.  Thank you for contributing to my universe!
  Dear Jen – I shall look up Mr. Coelho’s book, it sounds fascinating.  I’m privileged to help you as best I can.  Your local climate is important, so be sure you know it very well.  My advice is take it a bit easy on garden expansion.  If my ratio is correct, a garden of 15 X 15 can easily feed a large family with spring and summer produce.  Too much work is a bit hard on the schedule, so plan as best you can, and good luck.
32. Lynn in NC Said:
  It’s a beautiful fall day and I am headed for the garden as I have no work today.  I have just recently planted garlic and broccoli alongside a path.  The forest garden idea is calling me.  I agree wholeheartedly that the recession is a good thing for bringing us back to simplicity and health.
  Dear Lynn – Generally I agree about hard times.  They can be “good times”, unless your mutual fund is going to send a kid to school, or buy a retirement cottage.  That’s the rub.  Good times are also good, and it’s a bit of a shame that we often learn the hard way.  But, “if the shoe fits”.  Please read “The Lompoc Connection” for a mention of a broccoli meal.  You might enjoy it.  I love North Carolina, in part because it is next to my beloved South Carolina.  Thanks much and good luck with the garden. 
33. Helen Nicolelis Said:
  Since we have a major deer problem on Long Island, I grow tomatoes and herbs on my deck.  It is so rewarding to harvest and use them the same day.
  Dear Helen – You just solved a lot of people’s deer problems.  Tomatoes grow quickly and well on sunny decks as well as in the warm soil of a large pot, tub or urn.  Burpee sells an excellent range of transplants—perfect for containers—in the catalogue or on the internet.  Thanks much.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 at 11:56 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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One Response to “Readers Respond”

  1. Fontaina said:

    Mr. Ball Greetings!
    I anxiously await each and every one of your entries to this fine journal. I simply refuse to call such fine renderings a blog.

    You are one of the best essayists I have had the privilege of reading. You must certainly make your alum, DePaul proud.

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