|The Bite Size Garden - year 1|
2013 - No garden - again (sigh).
2012 - No garden.
Anyone can be a gardener. That's what I found out this year (2011) as I planted my first-ever garden. You don't have to have a lot of space or experience or fancy tools. You just plan it and DO IT. I planted my bite size garden this year with a bunch of seeds and shovel, some paint stir sticks as markers, and some compost to improve the dirt. I live in an area with a lot of master gardeners and professional gardeners. And my parents, who are amateur gardeners, but maybe have the best garden of all. They are certainly significant inspiration for my gardening, along with Robin Woodward on Orcas Island, who is a wonderful gardener. But also, I love the idea of growing my own food. I love to know where my food came from and how it was raised - it gives an incredible sense of confidence in the kitchen. There is a great sense of accomplishment to serving dinner that you grew and prepared. I think that gardening is a wonderful activity for children. Gardening is economical and great exercise. I enjoy spending intimate time with the earth. Sharing home-grown veggies with neighbors is a wonderful way to connect to your community. Eating food grown where you live is about as sustainable as you can get.
In any case, it turns out that although there are a lot of tips and ticks, you mostly just have to get out there and get it done. It's worth taking to people about gardening - it's a really great way to be inspired and connect with people - gardeners tend to be really excited and dedicated to their gardens.
Here are a few bits of wisdom worth sharing:
- Find out what grows well in your climate and start with that. I'd say stick with it, but there are adventurous people out there who can make anything grow. However, the only plant to fail in our garden this year were artichokes. They need more sun!
- Get started with great compost. Good, healthy dirt is key. I know that my plants did well because the dirt they grow in really rich. We used Cedar Grove Compost - we love it! We also have two compost bins where we compost all of our food waste (this only work for vegetarians - no meat allowed in the compost bin!). This has been a wonderful way to significantly reduce our contribution to landfills and also to essentially reuse your food.
- Invest in organic, heirloom seeds. I know, the other ones are so much cheaper. Like, 98 cents versus $1.98. But it's worth it. Read this article for more information on seeds. Check out the Seed Savers Exchange for seeds.
- Observe your space and plant where you can access your garden easily and where there is plenty of sunlight. This place for us is on the east side of our house.
- Keep a journal so that you know what went well and what needs improvement from year-to-year.
Here is what I planted this year:
- Golden beets
- Green onions
- Ruby Red Swiss Chard
- Green Summer Squash
- Yellow Summer Squash
Next year, I will replace leeks with rainbow carrots and fingerling potatoes. I will also give the zucchinis a lot more space.