I was listening to the latest episode of You Bet your Garden and the question of the week was about the dirty dozen. This is a list compiled each year by the Environmental Working Group. They use the USDA’s findings about pesticide residues on conventionally grown produce. The EWG says that avoiding these foods, pesticide consumption will be drastically reduced.
The order of the food on the list changes from year to year, but for the most part, the same food is on the list every year. Like most people, we want to avoid consuming pesticides. Today I’m going to talk about how I will try to avoid these pesticides in the future.
Apples - Apples will be among the fruit trees that we plan on planting in the Spring. They will take several years to start producing. So until that time, we will either stick to organic apples or reduce the number of apples we eat.
Celery – We don’t use all that much celery, but celery is necessary for things like roasted chickens and in soups. So we do end up using some of it. Unfortunately, celery is difficult to grow for the home gardener. So this year I’m going to try growing some celery substitutes. Unfortunately I haven’t tried either of these.
Celeriac is the first I may try. This is mainly grown for the ugly root bulb under ground. However, I’ve heard that the stalks can also be used as a substitute for celery. But I’m having trouble confirming this online. Celeriac is a very long season vegetable and isn’t harvested until after the first frost in the Fall. But the root has a very long storage life.
The next one I may try is cutting celery. This looks like flat leaf parsley but tastes like celery. The information that I’ve found on this is that it is easy to grow and doesn’t require all that much care to keep it growing. But it enjoys cooler temperatures, so needs partial shade during the Summer. I understand that the celery taste is much stronger with cutting celery, so I will not use as much when cooking.
Strawberries – I started a strawberry pyramid last year. It came with 50 crowns, but I didn’t plant them in times. When I finally did plant them, only 8 of them grew. But this year, they came back with a vengeance. We got probably 2 quarts of strawberries out of this bed. This year we should probably do even better.
Peaches – Like the apples, we will plant some peach trees in the Spring. Luckily we have several peach orchards in the area that grow organically. These are more expensive, but really good.
Spinach – We only eat spinach raw in salads. So we grow all of our own spinach. We just make sure we eat it in season. Once it stops producing, we stop eating spinach.
Imported Nectarines – This is an easy one, we don’t eat nectarines.
Imported grapes – We don’t go through many grapes, but we are planning on planting several vines in the Spring. I asked my wife to pick out some types to plant and she just suggested standard Concord grapes. I plan on planting 6 vines, so I’ll have to choose the other 5.
Sweet bell peppers – We grow our own peppers, but usually don’t have great production. This year, one of my goals is to grow my tomatoes and peppers from seed. So hopefully we will increase our production.
Potatoes – My wife wants to plant some potatoes this year. We have never grown potatoes, but they should be fairly easy to grow. I plan on using the above ground method. Basically, you put the seed potatoes on the ground and cover them with good soil and compost. Then as the plant grows, you cover the plant with straw up to the top leaves. Each leaf junction will form roots, which in turn will form the potatoes.
Blueberries – We have a single blueberry plant. The birds get all of the berries. We like blueberries, but there are so many other things that we want to do at the homestead, blueberries get pushed aside. Eventually, we will plant additional blueberry bushes, but for now we just don’t eat them.
Mixed salad greens
Lettuce – From about April until November, we grow all of our lettuce. It is so simple to do the cut and come again method. I plant 1/3 of a 4×8 garden bed at a time with a mesclun mix. Two weeks later I plant the next 1/3, and 2 weeks after that I plant the final 1/3. This staggers the growth out. Then I cut what is big enough. The plants will just keep producing until it gets too hot for them.
Kale & collard greens – Another easy one that we don’t eat.
That’s my plan to avoid some of the pesticides that are on supermarket produce.