Quite simply, the Next Big Thing is going to be veggies. Lots and lots of veggies. Heirloom tomatoes, offbeat salad greens and stuff like that. All organically grown, of course. By us. – from Toronto Star “Urban Gardeners Are Growing Local” (July 7, 2007.)
Many of us have known it all along by I am excited and encouraged by how much the media is catching onto the fact that gardeners are growing food. Yes, with the seemingly limitless plant choices available to us in this day and age gardeners are choosing to grow vegetable crops. And as crazy as it sounds some of us actually value edible plants for their beauty, tucking them into perennial beds and artistically designing entire gardens around and with them. The days of sticking our noses up at veggie gardening is a snooty, short-sighted, old-school concept that most of us are more than happy to be rid of once and for all.
I’ve never been interested in announcing trends because my fear is that once you announce something as a fad its shelf-life decreases — I am much more interested in real, long-term change. However veggie gardening and urban agriculture aren’t just passing flavors-of-the-week but lifestyle choices many gardeners have been quietly going about their business with for a long time and I think I speak for many of us when I say that we are more than happy to see its popularity rise exponentially.
“Sales of vegetable seeds soared last year, outstripping those of flowers for the first time since the 1950s.” – from Toronto Star Article
Awesome! And incidentally the post WW2 era just happens to mark a cultural shift towards looking at food gardening as a low class activity. Could it be that we are FINALLY kicking that 50′s era conservatism to the curb?
Thanks to Sonia Day for this fantastic article.
The grafted cactus is a bewildering but charming touch for Southern Ontario. Zone 5b. Or 6. Or whatever they’re saying our zone is this week.
Yesterday afternoon. I am standing over a table of zucchini transplants contemplating a purchase. This is a yellow variety that looks to have the interesting mottled leaf pattern I like. I am holding a tentative purchase in one hand while I scan the table, holding out for the healthiest looking plant in the bunch. I find one that looks to be just a bit nicer than the one I am currently holding and as I reach to replace the old choice with the new choice a thought suddenly and very unexpectedly enters my mind.
I feel sorry for the plant I am putting back! I am not giving it a home, a nice place to grow and flourish. What if no one buys it? What if it sits on that table for weeks waiting to spread its roots into some good earth and I had lead it on to a sense of false hope during those few fleeting moments that I held it in my hand and now that hope is crushed because I chose something “slightly better.” And what if the plant was just having a bad day? Last night was hard! What if we had some kind of bond, a plant-to-human connection that I tossed away so cavalierly simply because its’ leaves weren’t as large as the other plant’s leaves!
And as I stand there paralyzed with this sudden and completely nut-so guilt, I am struck even deeper by the horror that I have seriously gone over the edge and become the plant version of the crazy cat lady or the sculpturist who believes that the clay speaks to her.
And then it happens again at another store, this time over a lavender plant.
As I type this, one third of my rooftop garden sits on the floor in my living room. A second third of the garden is cluttering up the hallway around our front door. “Come on in friendly visitor! But first brave this minefield of plants, soil, and containers.” The final third remains outside. They were either impossible to transport or cold hardy enough to stay outdoors during last night’s reported RISK OF FROST, dated June 5, 2007. In June. Five days into the month of June in the year 2007. Just days after sweating to the oldies with RISK OF BURNING UP while adding new plants to my community garden plot.
Who loves climate change now?
We constructed this tent system for the garbage can-grown tomatoes that could not be moved. We used a huge piece of canvas cloth and the existing tripod stakes in the containers as support. The tomatoes look fine but the tomatillo is not taking it well at all. I’ve left this insane structure in place since it is still very cold and windy out there. The rooftop deck is exposed on three sides so the wind is a lot more intense than on the ground.
On a positive note I ate my first peas of the season this morning and ‘Whipper Snapper’ (aka ‘Whippersnapper’) is still going strong having begun making itty bitty tomatoes sometime around last Friday. At this rate, and if the real June ever decides to return, we should have our first tomatoes before July 1.
Can you believe this? RISK OF FROST. It is June 5!! We are well past the safe date in this region!
And as an aside, ahem, can you believe my awesomely instructive and informative graphic? Fades, arrows, highlights, and drop shadows. I had to reach deep into my USA Today brand pool of design tricks to create this little number. Carrying on.
I was out on the rooftop deck this morning giving the plants a once-over as usual when I looked to the east and saw an ominous view.
The wind was whipping at incredibly high speeds, the air was very cold, and the sky threatened nucleur fallout. I high-tailed it inside and closed the windows in time to avoid a hardcore downpour. It was unrelenting. And yet in my naive, It’s practically summer nothing can stop us now! haze it did not occur to me that I should bring some of the tender plants indoors or provide even the smallest bit of protection for them against the high winds. By late afternoon it finally dawned on me that t-shirt weather had indeed left the building so-to-speak so I ran outside and began pulling sad and floppy plants indoors as quickly as possible.
There is no rhyme or reason to the damage. Some peppers are as sturdy and strong as ever, while others are floppy and sad. Some tomatoes have completely flattened out and others are just as healthy as can be. Just about all of my hardening-off cucumbers and gherkins are slowly wasting away.
Yet despite the possible plant carnage I may be facing tomorrow I found myself taking on an air of superiority thinking about how right I was to recommend cloches for basil and other tender annuals during my appearance on the Gil Deacon Show last month, the topic of which was incidently on Gardening with Climate Change.
And then I had to laugh at myself because people, once again I did not take my own advice.