Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas is the U.S. national holiday. A huge meal of turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, and whatever else is particular to a given family table is traditional. Throw in family, and football (for better or worse) and you have the hallmarks of this holiday.

That said, I believe no matter our situation in life, each of us has something to be thankful or grateful for each and every day, not just on an annual basis. Millions of Americans traveled this past holiday, some across town, some across the country. I was in the latter group. The Accountant and I flew from frigid Chicago to comparatively balmy New Mexico to visit my father and his wife high in the mountains.

Before our flight out of O’Hare airport we stumbled upon an aeroponic garden in the terminal. As we had several minutes before we needed to be at our gate, we took a look.

O'Hare Garden


The towers hold plants which are fed a nutrient solution in a flood and drain system. The roots are in the center of the cylinder. It all looked very high tech, something I’d imagine to see in a space station or colony. Leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, and chilies were the primary crops. Not the type of dirt under the fingernails, sweat on my brow type of gardening that I enjoy, but still very interesting.

When we arrived at our destination, some 8000+ feet up in the Sierra Madres, my octogenarian father proudly showed off his cold frames.

NM cold fram

Two 3×6 beds, oriented to the south, with covers on a rope and pulley system. As you can see, there are healthy greens growing in this protected environment. These frames protect his crops into the low 30’s and easily achieve temps exceeding 100° requiring the frames to be vented to prevent overheating. Some of these greens graced our celebratory table.

I am proud of him for getting his hands dirty (so to speak) so late in life, and having success despite the high altitude. Just goes to show, it’s never too late to get started, and even a modest crop brings satisfaction that surpasses the nutritional benefit. Thankful indeed!

I did say three gardens didn’t I? So here is the last one. It dates back to 2004 or so. It is my first attempt to grow edibles for my family. A small 4×7 raised box.

first garden






A pretty humble start. But where did it lead? To a productive (but not even close to self-sufficient – a whole other topic) garden capable of providing all the needed green food during the growing season and, with careful storage, (canning, freezing or cold cellaring) deep into winter. I believe we owe it to ourselves to become more involved in our food production. If you can’t live on a farm and grow all your food, do what you can. A potted tomato or pepper plant, a small raised bed, even two small cold frames at 8000 feet altitude can provide fresh, organic produce for your table. I think in this instance, if you can, you should. Big-Agriculture does not have the end consumer in mind. They have zeroed in on the bottom line. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but be aware of who they work for, and as you can probably guess, it’s not you.

Winter is a great time to start planning for next spring, I know many gardeners who especially enjoy thumbing through catalogs on a cold winter night.

But for those who don’t have a garden and may not have an idea how to get started, then winter is the perfect time to start researching. To get you started, here is a link to a mini-book. It will hopefully point you in the right direction. It’s free to read, print, download or share. I hope you get started soon. If you are an established gardener, maybe you can pass it along to someone who might use it. Feel free to drop me a line with any comments or suggestions.

Until next time, Keep Digging and Eat Well!

*post picture courtesy of Shutterstock