Friday, May 1, 2009

On Buying Local

In years past, I'll admit, I've been guilty of filling my garden with plants bought at Walmart. I don't know. I'm certainly not criticizing anyone reading this who shops a lot at Walmart, everyone does what they do...whatever. But for me I've begun to feel guilt over not supporting local businesses more often than I do. And I'm not a huge fan of Walmart's business practices as it is.

(In the interest of full disclosure I did purchase 2 cherry tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants and 1 sweet banana pepper plant at Walmart before deciding on any of the following.)

So that said. After a brief moment of thinking about visiting Home Depot or Lowes to look at their vegetable plants I reconsidered. I challenged myself. What if we bought everything within a closer radius to our house? Could I still find all of the varieties of plants that I needed?

You could say we made it into a little game this morning when I set out with my Mom.

Stouts Hardware--Mt. Washington:
9 okra
9 yellow squash
9 zuccini
1 flat of assorted flowers

Valumarket--Mt. Washington:
8 tomato plants
4 jalepenos
4 green peppers
4 red peppers

Bennett's Hardware--Taylorsville (one of their oldest businesses):
27 silver queen corn plants
1 package of garden stakes

Cheek's Produce--Elk Creek:
16 tomato plants
1 eggplant
3 pickling cucumbers

Country Mart--Taylorsville:
2 tomato plants
2 cantaloupe plants

FFA Greenhouse Spencer County High School:
1 flat of assorted flowers
2 half gallon pots of geraniums

And then we visited the Spencer County extension office and picked up a free packet on home canning. The packet was HUGE and informational and did I mention? FREE.

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Things I learned:

Locally the variety was more varied and exciting.

I couldn't find Okra anywhere except Stouts. And let me tell you, I would have cried without okra...I love it.

The produce stand offered some amazing tomato varieties that nobody else had, like Cherokee obscure heirloom tomato that I found out last year I love.

16 tomato plants (roughly 18 inches tall) were only $11.50 at Cheek's...the most affordable anywhere.

We paid $12.95 for a flat of flowers at Stouts, which was not too bad, but flats of flowers at the high school FFA greenhouse were only $10!! And the geraniums in separate pots were both huge and cheap, only $2 per pot! We're definitely going back this weekend to pick up another flat.

Bennett's had corn plants, which I'd never seen before for sale, typically we've always bought them as seeds to sow.

All of the plants seemed healthier than the big box store counterparts. While some were grown in Alabama and the store was just selling them, they were maybe better taken care of? Cheeks grows all of their own from seed, so that was definitely an added plus.

At no point in the day did I want to hurt someone because their cart was in my way and they were not paying attention. I had zero urge to get violent in a parking lot. I didn't come home stressed. Ultimately I just don't think I'm cut out for big box store shopping anywhere, what with the minor panic attacks and all. ;)


So for those playing along at home, at this point I have all of the following:

26 tomato plants
13 varieties of peppers
5 cucumber plants
9 okra plants (but each cell has more than one plant so this is probably closer to 27 plants)
18 squash varieties
27 corn plants (again, each cell has more than one so this number could rise)
1 eggplant
gourd seeds
basil, chives and parsley
onion sets

Still need: more tomatoes, more cucumbers, one more 9 pack of okra, crookneck squash, watermelon, strawberries, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

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I'm definitely not comfortable with the number of cucumbers I have at this point. I would ideally like to have enough to attempt canning pickles, so I have to pick up more of those. Tomorrow we'll lay down weed block, if the ran holds off at any point in the day and work on spacing. I'm really interested in Companion Planting, so I'll definitely write more about that if I try it.

To end, imagine me squealing because I'm pretty excited right now. Over plants. I kill myself sometimes...

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