If you think being a chocoholic is good, just wait till the fresh veggies get a hold of you. Here’s my tale of being inducted into fresh veggiedom.   

My name is Louisa Swann and I’m a fresh veggieholic.  I conquered my addiction by dousing my entire family in fresh carrot juice.  Together we established the Sage Order of Fresh-Picked Wonder (SOFerPoW).

I didn’t start out a full-blown veggieholic.  My addiction started as a quiet passion for the fresh carrots and baby potatoes grown in my mother’s high mountain garden.   When I left home and got married, Jim and I started our own garden with mixed success.   I sucked at growing potatoes, but cherry tomatoes – they loved me.  And I loved them.  Obsessively.  So did Jim.  Our son, Brandon, cut his teeth on tomato seeds. 
In those days, veggie-growing was related to hippies, survivalists, and New Age groupies, not young suburban couples.  So, like closet veggieholics around the world, we used to hide our vine-ripened tomatoes in drawers, under pillows, and behind the toilet.  Come wintertime, we’d go into heavy tomato withdrawals.  After all, what was there to eat?  Store-bought tomatoes with their pale, watery flesh just didn’t cut it.

Have you ever seen a tomato addict go cold turkey??  Not a pretty sight.

When summer returned we celebrated big time – covertly, of course.    How we loved those days filled with tomato-y bliss.  Tomato salad, tomato juice, and mattresses stuffed with tomato leaves… pure heaven.

When we moved to the mountains, home-grown tomatoes became more memory than reality, slowly fading into a longing for the Tomatoes That Used To Be.   More and more often, it seemed like the whole world plotted to keep us from growing those luscious wonders.  If we didn’t get hit by blight, bugs, or drought, we found ourselves faced with rocky soil, four-footed vandals, and early snow. 

A major health problem forced us to step up to the plate – literally.  In order to improve my health, I needed to improve what I ate.  Period.  End of story. 

So my wicky-wacky-wonderful engineer/inventor husband mixed the old with the new, threw in a dash of “Jim” and came up with a greenhouse growing system that really works.  Off the grid.  No hydroponic know-how required.   No pots sitting on shelves.  Our veggies grow where they were meant to grow – in the ground.   No more cramped knees or aching backs!  The 24” raised beds make it easy to plant, pull the occasional weeds, and pick the bountiful harvest without a lot of moaning, groaning, and strain.  Talk about heaven!

And best of all – veggie growing is under OUR control.  Whatever the outside weather, inside our greenhouses, it’s always growing time.   While ravenous critters demolish outdoor gardens, leaping over fences or tunneling underground, our veggies grin and wave behind their protective polycarbonate panels. 

As a result, we’ve added a plethora of yummies to our tomato-growing bliss.   Crisp cucumbers, spirited greens, oh-so-sweet carrots, fiery radishes, and scrumptious squash now fill the harvest basket, enhancing our diets with flavorful foods that add beauty to our plates as well as nutrition.  We’ve refined our methods, adding more greenhouses and more veggies to our growing list.  While other gardens in the area are winding down for winter, we are getting geared up, planting cool weather veggies while continuing to harvest our summertime wonders.

During the 2009-2010 winter we picked tomatoes and greens during -22 degree temps.   Without adding a lot of external heat.  Yes, it takes some extra work to keep veggies growing during adverse winter conditions, but I can’t tell you how good it feels standing inside a balmy greenhouse communing with the plants while the wind outside howls in frustration, throwing snowball after snowball at our sanctuary, trying to beat its way in.

I can’t tell you how good it feels – but I can invite you to find out for yourself.

My name is Louisa Swann and I’m a fresh veggieholic.

Welcome to my world!

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