Spring is springing in the Northwest (for folks in the Midwest and Northeast: it’s coming, I swear!!) and thoughts are turning to the garden. This year, why not plant the fruits and veges you love to eat? I’m drooling over the thoughts of a fresh-picked sun-warmed tomato; the rewards of potatoes mulitplying overnight; of harvesting basil 10 minutes before I make pesto. Eating locally produced stuff is great (see Locavores) — but from your own backyard is best!
The impacts go beyond the culinary enjoyment — every piece of produce you grow in your yard is one less that gets shipped in from somewhere else – reducing greenhouse emissions (but don’t worry if you’re planting in a greenhouse!); it’s less lawn you have to mow; and you support local bees, butterflies and other good bugs! Here’s where you can also save a lot of money — seeds and starts are very inexpensive, pennies per harvest. On some species, you can save the seeds for the next year’s planting.
It’s easy! Begin with organic supplies – seeds, starts, compost – and a sunny corner of your yard or windosill. Great online sources are Seeds of Change and Territorial Seed Company. Choose disease-resistant varieties when you can so you can avoid insecticides (and certainly no toxic weed killers!). I’ve found the most vital thing in growing good fruits and veges is keeping them well-watered throughout the season – collect rainwater buckets or barrels for the least impact on local resources. The seed companies will provide growing information for each type you grow, or you can check with your local Agricultural Extension or garden shop. (Don’t know about Ag Extensions? They provide an amazing amount of (usually free) services for local gardeners about just about everything. Here’s a list for Washington state.)
Start with herbs – easy to grow, many are perennials (live year-to-year), they look and smell great in your garden, and they are tastey! Freshly harvested herbs make every dish special and yummy. Plus, they have a nutritional punch – a stockpile of phytochemicals and vitamins. Toss them in, on, and around everything you cook. The easiest to grow (in the Northwest) and most-versatile in the kitchen are: rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, basil and dill.
Eating closest to home doesn’t have to be limited to produce — one of my cousins reports she just bought 20 chickens!
How does your garden grow?
Great Green Tips