The last twenty years have seen more and more people engaged in the activity of survival gardening. With new gardeners, it is a hit-or-miss situation as to whether or not they are successful, and unfortunately some will give up even before they begin. It is important for new gardeners to ask the right questions, like how can you pick asparagus the first year.
The answer to that question simply, is yes, but also no. These spears are a plant which will winter over nicely and come back stronger and better each year. Experienced gardeners will tell you that first-year spears can be harvested for about two weeks, then allow the rest to mature in order to have an even better harvest for the next season.
Broccoli is totally different, as it will die and only come back through the gathering of seeds. If one does not harvest the florets religiously, then it will make pretty yellow flowers and go to seed, but there will be no more floret to harvest. If the seeds are not harvested, then it is possible there will be no new broccoli in that area the next Spring.
In the South, sometimes broccoli will come back from seed the next Spring, but not always. Apparently the harsh summer months followed by at least one hard freeze in winter kills the seeds which might have come up the next year. One can harvest seeds, but only if your vegetables are an heirloom variety and not a GMO hybridized plant.
A really cute idea for new gardeners is to make a chicken run around the vegetable beds so that the chickens can take care of pests that might want to eat their harvest before they do. By creating an enclosure for the birds, the chickens get to run about and enjoy themselves, but they stay safe within the wire. This is an excellent approach to true organic gardening.
This is still a free-roaming chicken since most of these flightless birds have a small territory they would keep for themselves were they still their wild ancestors, the guinea hen. There are some areas where chickens are not permitted, but if one has adequate privacy fences and no crowing roosters, then the neighbors will be none the wiser. The hens will still produce eggs without the presence of noisy roosters.
Many people start gardens because it is important to them that their children have that experience. Others are gardening because they love the way it makes them feel. However, the primary reason people are growing their own food these days is to combat the presence of unmarked GMO foods all over our grocery stores.
Most commercial farms pick fruits and vegetables green and have them ripen in transit. It may have been a good idea, but in practice it has caused our foods to have less flavor than they used to. Young people do not even know what vine-ripened food tastes like, as their tomatoes, peaches, and potatoes do not have any real flavor, and are not as nutritious.
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