Thursday, 2 May 2013

Plant A Row, Grow A Row: What Do I Plant?

I don't know if you're like me... but I have been dying to get into my garden to get planting for our Plant A Row, Grow A Row partnership with the Edmonton Food Bank. With spring planting time just around the corner, many of you are probably wondering what you should plant in that extra row in your backyard garden. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Weight... the higher the yield, the more good it will do for the food bank. Plant vegetables that grow on high yielding plants like potatoes.

2. Storability... root vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, eating apples and onions are able to last weeks, if not months, in cold storage. The food bank is equipped to handle these appropriately and store these well for their clients.

3. Cooking ease... by and large, food bank clients need foods that are simple to cook. These can include potatoes and carrots which are easily boiled. Or cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and apples that can be eaten raw. Just remember that lettuce grows very quickly and bolts in the heat... so it can be tricky to grow & time for a fall harvest date.

4. What would be a treat? The food bank would love to see items like lettuce, tomatoes, beans and peas, despite their short shelf life. Please be sure to pick these the day of the market... or the night before at the very most, and store them in a cool, dark location before delivering them to our market and into the hands of the Food Bank volunteers.

5. Nothing that needs to be baked... The Food Bank has asked that we not include fresh foods that need to be baked or canned as this is beyond the means of most of their clients. Unfortunately that means no crab apples, and no rhubarb.

And if you want to have a taste of what is to come, visit our greenhouse growers at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers' Market. They have clever ways of getting a jump on the season and getting great quality items to our plates long before our own backyard attempts bear fruit!

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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