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Conventional farmers use around 300 different pesticides to grow foods that are sold in supermarkets everyday.

Urban Gardening - 2019

We had a really cold, wet spring and the growing season was pushed back a few weeks. I didn't get my soy bean seeds into the ground until end of May and the tomato seedlings that I started in late April were getting leggy before I could transplant them out. When the weather's unpredictable like this, you'd just have to adapt and change your plans on the fly. Despite all this, most of the plants bounced back nicely late in the summer - I guess mother nature has her ways of ensuring things work out.

Red Russian kale; one of the earliest harvestable greens/vegetables in my garden. It seems to tolerate cold, damp weather pretty well; I start these in soil blocks and transplant them out when the danger of frost has passed. A few plants go a long way because new leaves keep coming as you harvest the lower/outer leaves.

Broad beans. Easy to grow and fun to harvest. They need a bit of support/staking as the plants tend to tip over when they're loaded with the pods. I like to harvest them before they reach their full size for more tender and sweeter beans. Apparently, you can eat the leaves too (raw or cooked) but I have yet to try.

Shiso (or perilla). Every year, I try to grow one or two new veg/herb that I haven't grown before, and this was one of them. You've probably seen/tasted this herb at sushi restaurants. It goes well with fish and eggs. One of my favorite things to make with them is a mortadella & shiso frittata. Thinly slice the mortadella and shiso, add to beaten eggs and cook in a pan using low/medium heat. Flip it over when the bottom has browned. The fresh scent/taste of the herb provides a nice contrast to the fattiness of the mortadella. Eat it as is or I like to make it into a sandwich with crusty bread. I've also tried drying it and making it into a powder. Tried adding a pinch to instant ramen and it wasn't bad.

Holy basil. Another new herb for me. It has a really nice scent that fills the garden. I think it's commonly used in Thai and Indian cuisine. The flavor/scent is distinct and hard to describe. It's floral - a combination of basil and mint. I mostly used it to make a light, fragrant tea.

Had a major infestation of Japanese beetles. I've never seen these before and they were all over the soy beans. I think I've squished hundreds of them by hand (it makes a satisfying crunch sound).

This is an example of the kind of damage that the beetles can do. If left alone, I think they can decimate an entire crop.

Beets, my preferred root crop. (don't throw away the tops/leaves! eat them.) I lost a bunch of them to rabbits, I think.

I like beets, but there are only so many ways to eat/cook them. One thing I haven't tried though, is making baked goods with them. If you can make carrot cake, why not a beet cake? I modified a carrot cake recipe and substituted the carrots with beets. I thought the cake would come out red (like the cake batter) but it was brown, and it tasted like... carrot cake.

Kuroshinju soybean. This soybean turns black when mature. The plant is bushy and very productive, with loads of pods that hold 3-4 beans each. The beans can be eaten fresh (as edamame) or dried to make soy milk.

Grew a cover crop of crimson clover. It's supposed to flower in April (that's the time to till it into the soil) but one plant flowered in late October. It's mainly used as a source of nitrogen, soil builder and for erosion prevention.