Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Urban Vegetable Gardening...

Vegetable gardens are popping up in urban areas throughout the US – including Galveston and the Texas Upper Gulf Coast. Although experts can’t quite agree on the primary motivation for this emerging trend, most have the following 3 factors on their list:

An increased awareness of the environment/ecology

Concerns about the quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables

An interest in becoming more sustainable/self sufficient

Regardless of the reason – vegetable gardens are becoming a visible part of the landscape.

Our semi-tropical environment here in Galveston is ideal for growing a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Fall/winter is the perfect time for Cole crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Mustard and turnip greens also do well. And of course there are a number of different herbs and lettuce varieties well suited for Island gardening. In spring and summer the tomato is king of the garden. But peppers, squash, cucumbers and potatoes are high on the list of garden favorites. Visit the Aggie Horticulture website for some great Fact Sheets on vegetable production. Also, for my money, Dr. Sam Cotner’s The Vegetable Book is the best resource for Texas vegetable gardening information.

In my neighborhood alone I ran across 3 great gardens with a host of fall planted vegetables (see pics). Some were using raised beds, some were right in the ground. All were obviously receiving TLC. Just goes to show – even on an island we can grow great fruits and vegetables.

Along with this increased interest in gardening, folks are incorporating a variety of “sustainable” cultural practices. (FYI - sustainable is the in vogue term now used in place of organic). Things like rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, “sensible” fertilizer use, composting, heirloom vegetables and so on. There’s no end to the many ways gardeners can preserve and protect our valuable natural resources.

I must admit – even though I don’t have a vegetable garden I have the gardening bug. I get it around this time every year when I see turnip and mustard greens at the grocery store. So – this past week I bought 2 beautiful bunches of mustard greens and some fresh turnips and made up a pot of greens and turnips. It looked great but tasted like !@#$. The greens were kind of tough and the turnips were over-cooked. So help me out here. What did I do wrong? Please give some suggestions on preparation. Thanks, GG


Emmy said...

You should blanch the (sliced) greens first in salted water, then remove them. Cook them down with whatever until almost tender and then toss in the diced turnips.

Alison said...

Looks like you have begun to build some great content on your blog! On the subject of backyard vegetable gardening, I've been informed by a local Master Gardener that the term du jour is "urban homesteading". With that in mind, here is information regarding the emerging art of stock tank gardening, which is more suitable for suburbanites who need to maintain a more sophisticated look to their landscapes. I wrote this back in November and subsequently harvested enormous broccoli on my first planting attempt.