Let’s Get Growing
By Master Gardener Janet Barocco
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. [May Sarton]
“People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family friendly hobby that also eases concerns over food security as lockdowns slow the harvesting and distribution of some crops. Fruit and vegetable seed sales are jumping worldwide.”
But no matter the circumstance, cultivating some of your own food is therapeutic, empowering and delicious. Once you get a healthy taste, it is one habit you won’t ever want to break.
PLANNING your kitchen garden.
There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments. [Janet Kilburn Phillips]
The following is a shortlist of questions and tips to consider in planning your edible garden. For much greater detail, check out our video, “Stay Home Grow Food."
WHERE should I make the garden?
The precise location of heaven on earth has never been established but it may very well be right here. [Herb Caen]
Anywhere that receives 6 – 8 hours of sun a day and has an easily accessible water source. Locate it near the kitchen, if possible, to make it more convenient for harvest and maintenance.
WHAT type of garden?
Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. [Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897]
Conserve space by going vertical: trellises; bamboo teepees; tomato cages; welded wire. Plant in: spirals, curves and circles!
What about the SOIL?
It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season. [Kate Morton]
We protect the soil by: minimizing digging and tilling; replenishing soil with 3 – 4 inches of compost annually; mulching to protect from impaction and loss of soil moisture. Read more about how and why home gardeners need to protect the soil.
What about WATERING?
Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. [Marcelene Cox]
The following factors determine how much and how often you water: amount of sun, wind and rain; season of the year; soil type; in-ground or containers.
Drip irrigation is best as it targets the root zone and can be scheduled, but hand watering works if a hose is nearby.
WHAT should I grow?
Essential advice for the gardener: grow peas of mind, lettuce be thankful, squash selfishness, turnip to help thy neighbor, and always make thyme for loved ones. [Author Unknown]
WHEN should I plant?
Becoming familiar with what grows best in which season and the time till harvest will go a long way in helping you organize and coordinate the harvest. Sonoma Master Gardeners' “Year Round Food Gardening in Sonoma County” is an invaluable reference in this regard.
SEEDS or STARTS?
The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. [Gertrude Jekyll]
With seeds you have a choice of more varieties. Radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, greens, peas, beans, dill, cilantro, calendula and nasturtium, do best direct seeded.
Plants that take a longer time to mature, are best purchased as starts. If you want to grow them from seed, you will need to allow for extra time to get them up to size before transplanting. Plants that do best as starts are: cabbage, broccoli, peppers and tomatoes.
Life begins the day you start a garden. [Chinese Proverb]