I know, the idea can sound daunting, and if you live in the city it might even feel impossible. However, I am here to assure that you can pretty much start anywhere, anyhow, and notice a benefit from it!
I began my own tiny little herb garden on my back patio when I was in university. I seriously had no idea what I was doing – I had never planted anything in my life. My roommate and I bought some basil, dill, and rosemary from a garden centre along with a big pot and a bag of soil. That summer we ended up really enjoying tending to and cooking with these herbs. The next year I thought it would be fun to buy a large patio planter that would fit a few kale, spinach, and collard green plants. I enjoyed incorporating all these extra greens into my meals and found myself making “super food salads,” “basil hemp pesto”, and “collard quinoa wraps” – I think one of the best parts about doing this, at that time, was the positive effect it had to on “university budget.” I was pretty stoked that I was no longer spending $3-4 buying 5 stalks of “organic” kale that was often grown in California! After some reflection I realized that growing these few plants while living in the city provided me with:
- An almost FREE source of amazing, organic greens
- A deeper connection to my food
- Inspiration to eat healthier and incorporate what I was growing
- A sense of liberation from the minimization of my carbon foot print
- A fun outlet to focus on
Realizing the awesome benefits that my patio vegetables gave me and learning more and more about our broken food system – I was officially hooked on trying to grow more of my own food! After finishing my schooling, I felt inspired to work on a couple organic farms, one of which was on Salt Spring (where I now live) and another one in Nicaragua. I also began to feel super inspired to work at my parent’s farm in Creemore, Ontario. Here I have been able to help expand the gardens each year in order to grow as much food as we can! A side note I should mention is that there was definitely a point when I don’t think my parents would have every dreamed of me actually wanting to work on their farm. There was a time in my life (primarily my high school days) that I didn’t want anything to do with their farm! It’s pretty amazing how we can change once we find out what is important to us and decide how we can best serve the planet!
I just recently decided to take a big leap by moving away from my urban Vancouver life to Salt Spring (a gulf island off the coast of Victoria). Thanks to a very generous friend here I have the opportunity to live with my boyfriend in the cutest little cabin, on a beautiful piece of land. We are now in the process of cultivating new garden beds to grow as much food as possible. We have a pretty amazing time doing so and love our garden SO much – it truly brings a ton of fulfillment to our lives and often feels like the best thing we can be doing with our time.
So here’s how YOU can start, no matter where you live:
- Head to your local garden centre: buy some big pots, “potting mix” soil, and organic seeds. Or if you have a yard with the space to do so, prepare a garden bed by removing old plants/ grasses and add fresh soil and compost.
- Put soil in planters (or add extra top soil and compost to your backyard beds) and plant the seeds you’ve bought with lots of love. Read the guidelines on the back of the seed packages to determine the best location to plant them. Other things you should consider: how much sunlight do they need? What temperature do they grow best in? What are their water preferences? How deep should you plant the seeds? How deep are their roots going to go (to ensure your pot/ raised bed is deep enough)?
- Water daily while the seeds are young (less water required if it has been raining lots) – be sure to water slow and steady to avoid “uprooting” your seeds
- Watch with amazement as your seeds grow into delicious food
It really can be this simple to start and SO worth it!