Leave no crop behind | Planet Ryan


Back in mid-May, I told you about my near-insatiable urge to plant a garden. Perhaps it’s just one of those things you feel you have to do as you get older. I don’t know. Either way, I’m here to tell you I couldn’t be happier with my rookie garden, and that it has provided me a stress-relieving sanctuary that not only looks pretty (at least to me) but also produces one of my favorite things in life – food.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I made some rookie mistakes that I will most certainly correct next year. I won’t go into too many details, because my ego is still quite inflated from what I’ve done so far, but one thing I did was severely underestimate plant-size and put a few of them much too close together. This has caused minor problems, but so far, it doesn’t seem to have impacted overall production. That, and due to the unprecedented growth of a few select tomato plants in relation to the sun, I effectively killed two smaller plants behind them due to a lack of sunlight. Live and learn, I guess.

That being said, I have a couple of wonderfully large tomato plants that, as of right now, have a combined 40-plus tomatoes coming in quickly. And that’s just the first batch! The jalapenos are growing like crazy as well. The herbs and other odds and ends are doing very well. So, I’m happy.

But this article wasn’t meant to be all about my plants. I actually wanted to tell you about something I created, which is definitely related to gardens across the area. Let me explain.

Last year, my grandfather grew cucumbers (or as he calls them, “cukes”). I don’t think anyone expected the yield he ended up with – let me tell you, it was insane. Dozens and dozens of large, delicious cucumbers. I remember seeing so many of them go to waste (and a few were used for target practice after they were too bloated to eat, which was great fun, by the way). He had the same problem with green beans the year before… I remember picking buckets of them, and so many didn’t get used. What a shame!

So, for some reason, I was thinking about that waste problem a few weeks ago, and decided to do something about it. I took to the medium I know best, social networking, and created a very unique group to provide a solution to the “crop waste” that plagues most gardeners.

The group is a simple concept. It’s a group created within Facebook (Facebook lets you create groups for nearly anything) called “Metro Crop Swap.” Anyone in the area can join for free, and it serves as sort of a “message board” for people to announce when they have a surplus of garden-produce, whether it be too many tomatoes or whatever. They can offer to trade this surplus to other people who have the same problem (example – I’ll trade you a bucket of green beans for a basket of tomatoes), or have the opportunity to sell extra garden goodies to people who don’t have gardens and who appreciate homegrown fruits and veggies. It’s a win-win.

As of this writing, the group is at 75 members and growing! If you think you might have an abundance of produce this year and want to trade or sell it, or if you are in the market for fresh produce, then go to this link: http://facebook.com/groups/metrocropswap and click the “join” button in the upper right of the page.

See you there!

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