Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m increasingly convinced that it’s really important for everyone to have their own vegetable garden, large or small, even in the city. I’m heading into my third spring with a little raised-bed garden right here in Eastwood, looking forward not only to more food sitting right outside my back door and fewer reasons to spend money at the supermarket, but also to more opportunities to learn a little something about my garden, my food, and even myself.
In our household, Dave does most of the laundry, mostly because he’s the one who can actually remember that there’s laundry sitting two flights down in the basement. He consequently does most of the hanging of the laundry out on the line. So the only excuse I have for hanging out in the yard so I can talk to my neighbors is caring for the garden. I love flowers, but there is nothing that makes me quite as happy out there as watching some edible morsel grow bigger and bigger until it’s just right for picking.
As a result of watching these things grow and then offer up their deliciousness to me, I feel much more connected to the most basic elements – the soil, the water, the rain, the temperatures, the sun. And I’m really grateful to the plants that give me such delight as I bite into them! My garden is organic. It grows nicely in good soil that I prepared, and I don’t have to wonder if my unlabeled tomatoes and peppers are GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or have weird pesticides on them.
So in these last not-yet-frozen days, I’m getting ready for spring. I’m researching how to grow blueberries and how to build a cold room in my cellar. I’m salivating over the Dervaes family’s gardens in their urban plot in Passadena. I’ve bought another easy-to-assemble raised bed frame and the soil mix I want to use: 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 topsoil, and 1/3 vermiculite. I’ll put all that together and let it sit over the winter, settling down into its bed. I’ll plan the garden in January, order seeds in February, build a cold frame over one of the beds in March, and plant my sugar snap peas before the last snow is done. It’s going to be a busy winter.
Back during WWI and WWII, folks learned how to grow victory gardens during times of national crisis. Well, folks, we’ve got a couple of them right now – the economy and climate change. Seems to me it wouldn’t hurt us to talk to the old folks and learn about those urban gardens. If you walk around the back streets of Eastwood, you’ll see some of them still going strong, a few of them surprisingly large but all of them looking really productive. Some have the old pipe frames holding up grape arbors. Most are in plots in the ground although some are in raised beds or large pots.
So if you know someone who would pass their 70-year-old secrets on to me, I sure could use a little tutoring in how to make things grow in Syracuse. I know the wisdom is out there… please leave a comment or contact me!