Spring is a busy time in so many ways and this year is shaping up to be one of the busiest yet ... veg-garden-wise, that is. In this post, I want to set the stage a little bit for what I hope will be many posts chronicling my progress with growing more of our food. I've got several different gardens that I'm tending and want to give you an overview of the different sites so that there will be some additional context as I post through the season. I've set up photo albums for each garden and will be posting lots of photos as the season progresses.
My Kitchen Garden at Home: 2009 will be my fourth growing season in this garden which occupies our re-commissioned driveway, a narrow space less than 9 feet wide on the south side of my house. My goal was to create a beautiful, productive, and space-efficient kitchen garden. The fence was designed to be beautiful and functional. I grow "up" as much as possible, using the fence to support vining and trailing plants; maximizing vertical growing space in small gardens is essential. New this year: growing "down." I've added containers hanging from the eaves. Anything a cook would appreciate having right out the back door is a contender for including in this space. We're growing salad greens, peas, beans, a few tomatoes, berries and herbs for cooking such as basil, cilantro, mint, parsley and more.
The (Urban) Farm: I am co-farming with a friend on her property. We're doing production-oriented growing with an eye toward really making a dent in providing a fair amount of the food for our two households; both during the growing season but also with enough left over that we can preserve some of the harvest as well. This is not huge garden by some peoples standards, but it is by no means a small garden either; we have ten 4' x 8' raised beds and we're adding about 60 feet of 2' wide in-ground rows this year. We started this venture last year, so 2009 will be our second growing season at this site. A photo album of this garden is here. Past post about this gardens development can be found here.
The Back 400: After being on the waiting list for a couple of years for a community garden plot, this year my name came up and I'm thrilled. Our garden is a 20 foot x 20 foot plot (20 x 20 = 400; the "back 400" ... get it?!) at the Cully Community Garden site in NE Portland. I'll be doing more production-oriented growing over there as well.
Edibles ... the new Ornamental?: In addition to the "traditional" sites mentioned above, I'm going to be looking for ways to integrate ornamental edibles in creative and beautiful ways within the garden proper at home; anywhere and everywhere is fair game.
So why all this effort to grow our own? Most importantly, you can't beat homegrown for quality, freshness and flavor. But I'm also a strong believer in the environmental value of local food production and you can't get more local than growing your own. Plus, there's great satisfaction in knowing exactly what went into the food that we bring to our table especially with all the recent issues surrounding food safety. In my mind, it's definitely worth it and I'm having a blast doing it.
So, I hope you'll check back often to follow our progress. If you're also trying to grow more of your own food in your garden, leave a comment and let us all know what you're up to.