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Good Gardening: Perfection

John Fischer

My lettuce is bolting, the cabbage is cracking, and the raspberries are half sun scorched. My garden is perfect - because I have realistic standards.

If you are new to gardening, you may be comparing your home grown produce to the stuff you get in a supermarket. The outer leaves of the store lettuce were thrown away so you wouldn't have to deal with a few holes, slightly yellow leaves, or the nutrients - which are higher in the outer leaves.

If holey lettuce or cabbage bothers you, just cut the holes out before you eat. But more importantly ask yourself how many of us came to find the look of our vegetables more important than the taste. The Master Gardener Hotline often gets a call about a problem with a plant. A photo from the caller shows a healthy trellis of beans with one shriveled leaf.  

That may be the sign of a larger problem - it's worth investigating, but leaves die, fuhgeddaboutit!

Once you've grated up a three stemmed carrot it tastes the same as three one stemmed carrots. You will find triple trunks in your garden, but never in the store.

When you raise your own vegetables, you get used to the variety of shapes and sizes that beets, potatoes, and beans come in. And ideally you learn that store bought or farmers produce is still good, and good for you even if it doesn't look like the picture in the supermarket advertisement.

Growing "perfect" (did you hear my air quotes) vegetables often involves the use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Some insect damage is inevitable. Is exposure to pesticides for the environment, the farm workers, and eventually yourself worth the risk?  

Credit John Fischer / KLCC

There is a company called Imperfect Produce that boxes up the unusual shapes- mostly grown in California- and ships it around the country. The produce is fine and sells because of its shape. You already have a supply in your garden, and it comes with free shipping.  (watering, harvesting, cleaning and cooking not included).

I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.

Copyright 2021, KLCC

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