^^ Dinner in the garden
While I’m perfectly content lugging my grocery basket up and down the tiny aisles of my minuscule but much loved Whole Foods Market, there is something incredibly rewarding about growing your own food.
As a lover of local, organic foods and CSAs, having a small vegetable garden has been on my bucket list for years. I first acted on this agricultural impulse several years ago, when I enrolled in the Citizen Gardener Certification course from the Sustainable Food Center in Austin. The program consisted of two classroom & field lessons and required 10 hours of volunteer work in community gardens. At the end of the summer, the training then culminated in a beautiful potluck feast at the Barr Mansion in Austin, where students brought dishes created with their homegrown produce.
Despite all of the education and volunteer work, I completely wimped out on the actual act of starting a garden, still too daunted to put these lessons into practice. At the potluck, I sheepishly put my farmers market vegetable tartine on the table (at least it was homemade!), and quickly deflected all questions about my summer in the dirt. So much for that!
In the years since, I’ve been much more enthusiastic about buying plants, and have subsequently let several herb starts and an embarrassing number of succulents perish on my watch. This year, however, marked a turning point in my gardening adventures, as our cozy Brookline abode came complete with a spacious rooftop patio, which I am determined not to take for granted. Plus, our newest roommate is from the Pacific Northwest, and is using all of her quirky Portlandia knowledge to spearhead this project. (Admittedly, I am mostly only contributing dirt and curiosity.)
Cultivating the seedlings into strong plants was a challenge, but apparently, that was only half the battle. Our third floor elevation protects us from most predators, but we’ve dealt with a few heartbreaking run-ins with a rather malicious squirrel, as well as an infestation of aphids.
After several months of care, we are finally starting to see some veggies springing up. We started peas, carrots, green beans, zucchinis, basil, Thai basil, Chinese chives, sunflowers, and cucumbers from seed—a particularly rewarding endeavor. We also have tomatoes, strawberries, oregano, mint, rosemary, and sage, which we grew from starts.
If you’re looking to start your own garden, here are some tools we found particularly helpful…
- Smart Pot // Amazon ( Assorted sizes, $8.72 for 5 gallon)
- BirdBlock Netting // Amazon ($8.35 for 7 ft x 20 ft)
- Neptune Harvest Organic Fertilizer // Amazon ($12.74 for 18 oz)
- Foxfarm Potting Soil // Amazon ($24.37 for 36.8 quarts)
- Seed Starter Pots // Amazon ($5.98 for 50 cells)
Are you growing anything this year?