Sunday, February 21, 2010

Make a Garden in 2010!

A lot of people tell me that they're interested in starting a veggie garden, but they're terrified of the work! I think many of us remember the gardens of our childhood that seemed to sprout 10-foot tall weeds every night and attract every pest within 10 miles! At least it seemed that way to me sometimes.. Even I have memories of hours spent tediously thinning the carrots and trying to hack through the weeds to find any actual vegetables.. Really, it's a miracle that I ever ventured back into the world of gardening as an adult (or whatever passes for an adult)..

In reality, that typical rectangular veggie garden, which was surrounded by tall grassy weeds (what were we thinking!?!) and arranged in rows was the problem. We were trying to create a mini-farm on a 24 x 12 foot patch of land. Not the best idea. If I knew then what I know now, I would have divided the area into manageable 4-foot wide raised beds with permanent pathways (no compacted soil and no wasted space). This would have allowed me to plant intensively, shading the soil and preventing weeds, and given us a much greater harvest!

Ah well, the follies of youth.. Now, our kitchen garden is 2000 sq feet and I often find myself wandering along the pathways, looking for something to do! No monster weeds here or endless chores.. A well organized, designed and planted veggie garden is a thing of beauty - a place to relax and unwind.. In fact, I always nestle a few sitting areas in the garden just in case the urge to sit overcomes me.. The children also like to sit and watch the meandering bees and keep an eye on their veggies. I've been told that they can hear the celery grow if they listen hard enough.

Enough rambling.. I do have a point! Make 2010 the year you start your veggie garden! Edible gardening is the biggest trend to hit the horticultural world in years! With the increasing interest in local, organic food, the worldwide economic crunch and headlines blaring about international food shortages and questionable pesticides, more of us want to try to grow our own. This is a photo of my dear friend and neighbour creating her own kitchen garden last spring.. an overwhelming success! The initial 'horror' of her family at having their front yard dug up was replaced by wonder as they discovered the difference between 'home grown' and store bought food. Even the teenagers appreciated it!

The vegetables in our garden are not just your standard supermarket fare, but rather we plant rare heirloom varieties, unique selections from around the world, or gourmet favourites that are often too expensive at the grocery store. I’m often asked whether it is a big money saver to plant a vegetable garden. The answer is: maybe. Depending on your existing soil and what you want to plant, growing veggies can certainly save you money, especially in the long run. Smart planning will also help save money.

We like our salads (you might have clued into that from reading previous entries!) and buying organic gourmet greens at the grocery store every week costs big bucks. Yet, growing your own lettuce, arugula, baby spinach, mesclun and more is so simple and inexpensive.

A kitchen garden doesn’t have to be big. In fact, I would encourage you to start small. A big garden can quickly get out of hand, so I would recommend beginning with a four-foot by eight-foot plot. If you find that you don't have nearly enough space (a guarantee!), then you can always go bigger once you've gotten the hang of things..

In the coming weeks, I'll be posting some ideas for garden design, planting ideas, seed starting and more.. In the meantime, give some serious thought to breaking ground on your new garden this year.. what are you waiting for?

Happy Gardening!

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