Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Plant a Kitchen Garden!
“In these times of great political, economic, and environmental upheaval, we crave a bit of certainty in our lives. Here's some for you: if you plant a seed and give it what it needs, it will grow into a plant. If you give the plant what it needs, it will not only bear the fruit of today's feast but the seeds of tomorrow's as well. How's that for return on investment?”
-Kitchen Gardeners International
As we look for small ways that we can help alleviate the intersecting food, fuel, financial and environmental crises, we at Botany would like to encourage our friends to become kitchen gardeners. There are many good reasons to do so; here is some inspiration:
-Enjoy a fresher, organic harvest. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of walking through the garden with my grandpa and brother. My grandpa had a grand, sprawling garden, encompassing about an acre. He would lift my brother and I to pick fresh fruit off the tree, and he’d cut the fruit open right away. I remember that nothing tasted sweeter.
-A kitchen garden can save you money. Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables are expensive, and if grown from seed with no or minimal chemical input, and conservative water use, you’ll enjoy a fresh delicious harvest at a fraction of the store-bought cost.
-Gardens have a way of engaging neighbors. Perhaps you may need to borrow tools, seek advice, or share your harvest. Each, an opportunity to connect with neighbors.
-Growing a kitchen garden at home is a great way to teach children healthy lessons about food, life cycles, nature and nurturing. Gardening can be magical for children!
-Reduce your carbon footprint. “It's estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed),” laments kitchen garden proponent and author Michael Pollan, “accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible.” Producing even a small portion of the food we eat, thus, can make a significant difference.
-Any one can create a kitchen garden. If you have enough space, create a separate kitchen garden. If space is limited, integrate edibles into your existing ornamental garden or use pots.
-At least in this one corner of your yard and life, you will have begun to heal the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen.
-Join a movement! Around the world, many people are gathering together as kitchen gardeners in support of sustainable food production. To learn more, please see our resources listed below. August 23 is International Kitchen Garden Day; be a part of the celebration.
-Michael Pollan urges, “The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”
Consider espaliered fruit trees to conserve space.
A strawberry tower is an excellent addition to any garden. It takes up so little space to produce a significant harvest, and you can enjoy strawberries throughout the summer without worrying about pesticide contamination.
A cold frame can help to extend your growing season. Use it for late season gardening or for starting seedlings early in the season.
Raised beds are convenient and comfortable for gardening. They also allow you to easily create the perfect garden soil, if your garden soil is lacking.
For further information, please browse our resources:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season by Carl H. Klaus
Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back by Ann Vileisis