I have been really interested in food lately. When I started this new green journey a few months ago, I could not stop thinking about garbage. Now it is food. Go figure.
But I really believe that we need to develop a different relationship with food. I am not talking about counting calories or the downfalls of emotional eating. I am talking about having a deeper respect and appreciation for food, knowing where it comes from, and the miracle of nature that brought it to us.
I was always amazed, watching tiny green shoots in the spring grow into a blaze of green by summer. Where did it come from? Does it come straight from the ground, rearranging the soil particles into a 2 foot bush? Does it come partly from the sky, drawing carbon from the air and amassing it into an organic structure? I have a huge spruce tree in my front yard; it must be about 50 feet tall. I look up at it and wonder, how far down do the roots go, given how high up the branches reach? Do they sprawl underground, across my whole yard, under the road even? How did this massive thing come to be, here?
These days we are so disconnected from this growing process. We know that food is grown, in general terms, but we really don’t think about it too much when we throw 5 tomatoes into a plastic bag at the grocery store and then move on. Where were they grown? Who was involved? How did the sun shine upon the plants? What was the soil like? Once picked, how long was the journey from farm to table?
I want to reconnect with this process. I want to see my own food, growing. I want to pick my own tomato off my own vine, and cherish the shiny red globe that it is.
So, I am planning a brand new garden for spring.
What precious agricultural land is employed so that I may sit down to eat 3 times a day, and feed my family? What if I used some of my own land, right in my own backyard, to take up this cause? What if my food did not have to travel an average of 1,500 miles to the plate, but instead made the journey in a mere 15 feet?
So yesterday I braved the weather and climbed among the snow drifts with my measuring tape, figuring out how much room I had and what I could plant. This was no small task, as we are still very much within winter’s icy grip. We are facing yet another cold snap, with temperatures hovering around -30ºC (-22ºF) with the windchill. My body hurts when I go outside! My 2 year-old daughter cries when the cold wind whips her face, so when we go out I carry her, rushing, holding her face towards me, being so cold myself, groaning under the task of trying to walk-run while carrying her, hoping not to fall on the icy, snowy sidewalks, while still trying to coax my 5 year-old to run run run it’s cold hurry hurry run!! We are all sick of it and longing for spring. What better way to beat the winter blahs than by planning a garden?
So here it is:
One 3 x 8 foot bed on the east side of my house. This is a bit shady, but will get some direct sun for some hours of the day. I will grow veggies that can tolerate some shade, such as lettuce, certain herbs, carrots and radishes. I also plan to install a compost bin here as well. This is what the site looks like right now:
Another 3 x 8 foot bed on the west side of my house. This area is decidedly more sunny, and should get 6 – 8 hours of sun per day. I will plant cucumbers, beets, onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes here. This is what the site looks like now.
On the north end of this area bed above, I will plant a dwarf apple tree. It will be pollinated by my crab apple tree in my front yard, as well as by my neighbor’s apple tree. The dwarf variety will only grow 5 feet wide and high, so hopefully I have room!
Space in an existing bed in my backyard, where I will grow peas and beans up the fence. Raspberries already grow here as well, you can see some of their canes sticking out of the snow:
2 beds that measure 1 x 4 feet each, that will go on the patio, facing south with full sun. I will grow tomatoes and peppers here.
4 hanging window boxes that will hang on my fence facing south, where I will plant sun loving herbs.
2 container beds that will measure 2 x 3 feet each, that will go in my sunroom. The sun room takes up a lot of my backyard, so I decided to use it as a hot house and will grow tomatoes, cucumbers and possibly sweet potatoes. I can also use the sun room to start many of my plants early; I am hoping to use it as kind of a greenhouse.
A space in my existing perennial raised bed in the front yard, covering an area of 5 x 3 feet. I plan to plant a strawberry patch here. This is what the perennial bed looks like now (you can barely tell that it is a raised brick bed about 2 feet off the ground):
A space in another existing perennial bed in the front, in an area covering 2 x 5 feet. I plan to plant beans, peas and a two blueberry bushes. Here is what it looks like now (again, the brick raised bed is covered in snow):
It is crazy to think that I will be putting seeds and seedlings in the ground in just over two months, when it is still so cold outside and the mounds of snow still so high. But it will happen! Spring will come, new plants will grow, and this year, hanging among the leaves will be fruits and vegetables.
What about you? Are you thinking about growing some food goodies in your garden this year?