There is no doubt that a productive, lush garden is key to great fresh and preserved foods. And spring is the time to plan. Almost everyone can grow some food whether on a sunny window, a balcony, in a pot on a deck or in gardens. Also, there is the option of participating in community gardening around our region. There are so many reasons to grow food. It’s fresher, chemical free, it’s good for the environment, it’s satisfying, and it connects us to the earth and rhythms of nature. With skyrocketing food prices, growing food just makes sense.
I am no expert when it comes to gardens. I’m a ‘learn-as-you-go’ kind of gardener. I have 9 raised beds of 3 x 12ft which my husband and I made. I know there are pros and cons to raised beds, but for me there are two reasons I like them. First, the dense clay of my property is tough to deal with so raised beds are simpler to manage. And, I’m not a spring chicken, so raised beds are easier on the body. There are prefabricated raised beds, ‘veggie pods’ that are popular or rustically built beds like the one in the picture taken on a working hacienda outside of the Mexican city of Merida. It’s branch design with a burlap liner is perfect for the cilantro that is growing inside. Large pots, cattle troughs or barrels are also forms of raised beds. Whether your ambitions are large or small, it all starts with a sunny location, good soil, and a plan.
I have been rethinking my growing practices. I have shifted my perspective about where my food should be grown. It’s not just in the raised beds, but every garden on the property can be interspersed with edibles. Rainbow chard, kale, mustard, anise hyssop and herbs are beautiful next to flowers. A pot on the deck filled with tumbling tomatoes and basil looks just as nice as a pot of flowers. In addition to annuals, edible perennial landscaping is taking hold as a smart way to build home food production. Instead of planting an ornamental bush, plant a fruit bearing bush. Add a dwarf fruit tree. For ideas about perennial edibles, visit the Fiddlehead Nursery on Grey Rd 13 north of Kimberley.
There is always debate (aka family squabbles) about when to plant! If you are an eager beaver, you probably have started some seeds in a sunny window or under a grow light. Seeds can be started indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. By the end of April, it’s good to direct sow the cold-loving vegetables like spinach, arugula, chard, cabbage, and beets. I found a great planting website for this year. You can insert your location and get a printable copy of what and when to plant. End of squabbles! Here’s the link: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar/on/Collingwood
For we who love growing and preserving food, this time of year is so exciting. Imaging the future garden and sharing your production with friends, family, food banks, meal programs or the Second Harvest is very rewarding not to mention helpful to the community. Grab your gloves, hoe, trowel, and plans, and get outside.