April 22, 2012

SUSTAINABILITY: Growing Vegetables For a Sustainable Future

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As rising fuel costs continue to plague travelers through the upcoming summer and concerns over climate change headlining world news, vegetable gardening continues to be a healthy alternative among summer pastimes.

Vegetable gardening provides the opportunity for you to grow your own crops according to your own methods. The choice of soil composition, plant type, addition of fertilizers, etc., is up to the gardener. The food industry continues to grow at overwhelming rates while processed foods, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the introduction of corn-based products line the grocery store shelves.

Most people do not know where and how their food is being produced. By sowing your own food, it is possible to follow the entire growth of the product until harvest. It also reduces your carbon footprint and generally saves in food costs. Many people respond to the taste of their own vegetables as more flavorful given the lacks of preservatives and pesticides.

Growing your own food can be nearly a year-long event depending on your climate zone. Crops need to be rotated by the season with cool weather crops such as lettuce, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage in the fall and spring while warm weather crops including tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant favor the heat of summer.

Soil choice is critical as the condition of the vegetable is dependent on the nutrition of the soil. A healthy composition of manure, hummus, and garden soil should be adequate for the amateur gardener. A bit of care and attention along with a daily watering should provide healthy results for most new vegetable gardeners.

At the moment most Cornellians are quickly filling their summer schedules with internships, jobs and trips. But don’t forget that vegetable gardening can provide a very fulfilling and relaxing hobby during those busy periods. It provides a sustainable alternative to the many processed foods located at most local grocery stores and is just another small solution to solving the environmental problems of the twenty-first century.

Zachary Labe is a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at zml5@cornell.edu. The Missing Link: Sustainabillity appears on appears on Mondays.

Original Author: Zachary Labe