Tag Archives: Ask

Ask: Starting the micro home garden… tips?

Very slowly, I’m reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a narrative that discusses the origins of four meals.  While I’m not finished with the book, the gist is obvious: the current enormous food industry is slowly eating the world’s resources.  The book cheers for local before organic, so in Pollan’s eyes, Farmers Markets are a plus, as well as anything to edibly sustain yourself, such as tiny farms or gardens!

Where we’re living right now, we don’t have the facility for a large scale garden, but every little bit helps.  I introduce you to our current micro-garden formed by the fabulous trio of mint, cilantro, and basil.

Backyard mint Backyard Cilantro
Sweet basil in the backyard

I must confess that this certainly has started off as more of my wife’s project, but one I fully support and I will certainly want to contribute.  We’ve done minimal research here but we are seeing some growth in a very small soil plot we have in the backyard of our home.  We were told that the mint will be one to take over the area, so we’ll be sure to watch out for that.  I’m most excited about the basil though, I think that may be the ingredient I’ll be using the most.  Eventually, if it is space and cost effective, I’d like to add a tomato plant to the garden.

If these plants generate enough of themselves to consume on a regular basis, I will be somewhat surprsied but very happy!  The specific plants we purchased were from a local shop, but I’ve seen basil in pots outside of Trader Joe’s (I love the mentality of that store).  I wonder if Michael Pollan does the same thing 😉 ?  This certainly would be local urban Sacramento food!  What do you other fellow SacTowners have in your garden that grows well here?  Anyone with general tips?

Hello again California!!! Any tips?

If you haven’t seen the about yet, here’s the quick story.  I did undergrad in the Bay Area, left back to Texas for a while, and came back to Northern California as quickly as I could… I very happily find myself in Sacramento, CA with my wife Stephany.

As my wife will be very busy shortly as an internal medicine intern, I’m stepping up as “head chef” of the household, but I want to do this in a way that embraces foods that are healthy, cheap, local, and organic, and probably in that order.  I liked one of the opening paragraphs of this link:

There exists, somewhere between the fearsome mass-ness of the mainstream grocery store and the high-pitched good works of the coop, farmer’s market, or CSA, a world in which low prices are valued slightly higher than locality of the source but, more than anything, the products must be good. Fair-trade, organic, without trans-fatty acids, with fewer artificial colorings or preservatives or Disney characters than all the other products.

So, back in Texas, my wife and I usually went to one of the big-chain grocery stores (that’s what was available, given Whole Foods is beyond our budget), and simply tried to purchase enough food to last us at least a good 3 weeks if not a whole month.  This would not come out too expensive, and we’d do ok, but we had a lot of food we had to freeze ourselves to preserve, from who knows where, and it was good… not great, but good.

Here, I want to try a different approach, and I hope I can still keep the cost down while investing more locally and organically: I’ll try to shop multiple stores more often.  My aim is to try to buy food for a weekly basis (so that the food lasts about that long), and I’ll try to work up my menu for the week so I can shop specifically for that purpose.  Hopefully I don’t have to freeze anything unnecessarily and can eat items in a fresher state.  So far, I’m in love with Trader Joes (yes, that’s a big deal to me coming from TX, more on that later), and I’m eager to see the farmers market.

So, my current ask to the readers – do you have any tips here?  Anywhere in the Sacramento-proper area that I should check out?  Any good habits?  I’m all ears!