By Alan on Jan 25 in Blog tagged Ample Harvest, Dennis Adamson, Dinner Garden, for the needy, free, FREE Newsletter, Gary Openheimer, harvest, Holly Hershberg, Master Gardener, NEED SEEDS, One Heart, solution to hunger, start planting now, The Family | Comments Off
Start Planning Now to Plant or Harvest for the Needy
Week 55 – By Dennis Adamson, Master Gardener
A reader in the United Kingdom said, “In the UK, where I live …in the Autumn I see orchards of apples and pears allowed to simply fall to the ground and rot…the waste infuriates me.”
Alan was so excited that he personally contacted Gary Oppenheimer, the executive director of AmpleHarvest.org, and talked to him for some time about how we can help them in our area. Gary was the one that directed Alan to Dinnergarden.org. Gary also said that the thefamily.com and OneHeart.org could help them get the word out to communities about their organization and help them get more pantries.
I followed Gary’s recommendation to check out The Dinner Garden at the above website. I was impressed by what I found there and if you haven’t already gone to this site, I would strongly recommend you doing so. If you watched the CNN video that Alan put in last weeks article, you were introduced to an amazing person, Holly Hershberg. She tells how her husband lost his job in 2008. This prompted them to start a garden. From this, Holly came up with a plan to help families and communities could weather the tough times by growing produce themselves. She doesn’t just talk the talk, like I do, but she walks the walk.
The first thing that she did was providing individuals with seeds for free! From their site under what they call the Dinner Menu you find Need Seeds? When you click on it you find a few locations where you can get free seeds. If you don’t live near one of the sites you can find under these, ‘Don’t live in these places?’ Please note that due to incredibly high demand, we have a waiting list of over 45,000 families while we wait for additional funding for supplies. The wait may be over a year. If you would like to request seeds, please complete to our Seed Request Form. (The site also gives ways that donors can help provide more seeds)
Secondly, gardening information and tips are provided for cheap gardening in the space that is available. She said that it is also about giving people hope and showing them another way to live.
Other information that can be found under Dinner Menu is such things as:
Projects: Seeds for School Kids, Feed a Family & Time Dollar
- Gardening Info: Summer Produce, Fall Produce, Special Plants, Seed Saving & Planting Guide.
- Recipes: Beverage, Appetizer, Soup, Salad & Side Dish
- 4. Kids: has ‘Garden Stuff for Kids’
Their motto is: “The solution to hunger is in your backyard!” I would add: ‘in your front yard, flowerbeds and containers’, especially if you have limited in space for a garden.
I used to put some of my vegetable plants among my flowers in my front yard. I am not sure why I stopped doing this. Last year I planted some in my containers just to have a place to put the extra seedlings that I had started. I didn’t have formal plan for this. This year I will.
This is where the early planning comes into play. Brainstorm about where you can grow produce in various places not normally considered. Once you have come up with a plan, start looking for seeds to purchase now.
One of the first plants that I would consider is the ornamental pepper. An ornamental pepper is a pepper plant that is grown for its aesthetics. Many peppers are quite compact and attractive, making them very suitable for flowerbeds and containers. These peppers are edible and can be added to other foods or used in cooking. They range from very mild to very hot. One of the hot varieties that I have grown is the black pearl. Some of them are so multicolored that they look like the old style Christmas lights and are often sold during the holiday season as Christmas peppers. I am considering planting the Prairie Fire, or Christmas pepper, in my containers that sit on either side of my front door. They are sold as plants or can be grown from seed.
Like other pepper plants ornamental peppers are very frost-sensitive. They can be grown indoors if they get some sun and are kept moist, but not waterlogged. Pinching back the new growth will allow you to shape the plant and encourage it to branch out and become bushier.
There are a variety of both regular sweet bell, mild and hot peppers that are colorful enough to grow among the flowers. Some seed companies sell them in mixed packets so you won’t have to buy several separate seed packets to get all of these varieties.
I have previously talked about and planted the nasturtium flower. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible. I have used them in garden salads, but there are recipes for using them in other ways that can be found on the Internet.
The ornamental kale (cabbage) is also edible and works well in containers. Varieties of lettuce can be planted among flowers and all sorts of herbs can be planted alone or with flowers. All of the ones shown in the photos were done at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens where I take my Advanced Master Gardener course and do volunteer service.
Strawberry pots are not only for strawberries. I also did an herb garden in one. Traditional squash plants and tomatoes will also work well in containers as demonstrate in this photo. More innovative ways to grow produce are shown in this photo of produce grown in containers attached to a wall.
Plan on using some of produce grown to supplement your own diet and then give the additional produce to food pantries, soup kitchens or similar organizations. I plan on giving all of the produce grown among my flowers and most of that grown in my containers to these groups. I also plan on planting an additional tomato plant from which I will donate the ripe fruit.
I also recommend that you and I start talking to neighbors and friends, that have fruit trees, to see if they would consider letting us harvest the fruit that they don’t use. In my neighborhood there is already a spot where excess garden produce can be donated and picked up by anyone. I will see about taking any unused produce to organizations that can utilize the extra produce. If either of the above works out I plan on expanding it to other neighborhoods.
Finally, if you have some spare time: talk to food pantries, food banks, etc. to see if you can help them stock shelves, clean the facilities or help in any other way.
While I was preparing this I was listening to Dr. Oz. He had Jennifer Ashton, MD OB/GYN on his show and I loved her quote,
“Eat more from the farm and not from the factory”.
“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” Prov. 31: 20
Next week: What to do in winter for the next growing season
Dennis Adamson – Master Gardener
firstname.lastname@example.org Send any Questions to Dennis!
For The Family