Number of Years Urban Gardening: 3
Favorite Things to Grow: Dinosaur Kale and Red Beets
Urban Farming Location: Venice, California at the Venice Community Garden
Gardening Advice: Go for it. Plant whatever tickles your fancy and remember there are no mistakes, only experiments (someone much wiser than me said that and I just stole it)
Your Own Gardening Tips and Tricks: Water less, mulch more (a tip I need to remember), and get lost in the care of your plants.
Why did you first start growing your own organic food?
It just seemed like a good idea. I like putting seedlings in the ground with my bare hands. If I could only do that I would. Unfortunately that’s only about 1% of gardening.
What is your favorite thing to grow?
I like watching beans climb. I had some Ideal Market green beans climb 30 feet up a bamboo pole last year and they would have kept going if I had more pole. By the way, Stephen Colbert’s “I am a Pole (and so
can you)” is worth a read.
What is your favorite thing to cook out of the garden?
Fresh Red Beets (or golden if you have ‘em).
Who taught you how to garden (or how did you learn)?
I watched my dad when I was young, but never really tried till just a few years ago, and then I felt I just knew how. Like some innate instinct had come to fruition. And then David King, the garden master at Venice Learning Garden, put me over the top with simple confidence, and of course, a gardener’s ever present humility. Things die!
What advice do you have for beginner gardeners?
Remember that things want to grow. Put them in the ground, in a sunny place and water them. If you really care, they will grow. It is attention more than anything(another word for love), that will do the trick.
How many hours per week do you spend in the garden?
I go about three times a week for about 20 minutes each. So maybe I only spend an hour a week. Some weeks more, but probably on average an hour.
How much space are you using to grow your own food(in
I only have 48 square feet. I used to have 96 but believe it or not, my family couldn’t keep up with all the food. It really doesn’t take much space to grow a load. Of course, if we were vegetarians, that might be different. We haven’t figured out how to grow meat yet.
Do you use raised beds, containers, the ground or a
combination of what?
Raised beds, 12×4 and 2 ft. high
What is your biggest challenge in the garden?
My biggest challenge is not letting food go to waste. Sometimes I don’t pick it in time, and sometimes I let it go bad in my fridge. Much higher guilt factor than store bought food cause I’ve spent months nurturing that plant to produce that food. Very frustrating, but I don’t lose sleep over it.
What are you growing right now?
Lacinto Kale, Yellow Chard, Pinkish Chard, lettuce, green beans, strawberries, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, peppers, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. My god, that’s a lot of food. Oh, and collared greens.
How has growing your own organic food affected or changed your life?
It definitely gives my wife and me a sense of abundance. There is always good fresh food moving through our house and intestines. Because we grow at a community garden, that has connected me to a whole sub-culture I wasn’t aware of. I get at least one email every day inquiring about openings at the garden. There is a true hunger (ha, ha) out there for gardening and growing fresh food. If we had more space around here, we could fill 4 gardens with just the people on my wait list.
Why do you think it’s important that people grow their own food?
I don’t know if it’s important necessarily in a social, political sense, but probably. But what I do know (I think) is that growing ones’ own food seems to be something we crave in our bones. I am always amazed to see how people react when they stumble upon our garden, walking by or riding by, and they stop and stare in wonder. I can see awe and delight in their eyes, like they can’t quite believe what they’re seeing. It’s just a garden, but we’re in the big city, and it is like an oasis to their souls. I think it’s important to grow food so it becomes something we take for granted, as though it were the most natural thing in the world (cause it is) and the shock would be when those friends tell us they DON’T grow their own food. My son, who is 6, simply thinks this is what we do as humans. He knows nothing else. We grow our own food. And we shop at CostCo.
What is your most favorite thing about gardening?
Digging in the dirt, no doubt!
Other thoughts or comments?
I don’t have time, I have to go water and weed and prune and harvest.