Urbanfig is excited to introduce you to Sandy Ray, a retired elementary school teacher, an avid quilter, involved in a number of groups who make quilts for philanthropy, such as the V.A Hospital, low income pre-schools, Wounded Warriors, and other groups where the need is great. She also loves cooking for her husband and is having fun trying out lots of new recipes with all of the vegetables from their garden.
NUMBER OF YEARS URBAN GARDENING:
I have always garden, but on a very limited scale. This year our grandson came out on his Spring break from college and installed planting boxes on our backyard lawn. As a result, I have much more planting area. I continue to also plant some things in the ground and also use very large plastic containers.
FAVORITE THINGS TO GROW:
In the last three months, I have grown snow peas, chard, lettuce, scallions, green beans, zucchini, crookneck squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Armenian cucumbers, green peas, basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, tarragon, sage, rosemary, parsley, gourds, potatoes and radishes. We also have three lemon trees, an orange tree, persimmon tree, banana tree, lime tree and pear tree. I just planted two artichoke plants for next year.
URBAN FARMING LOCATION:
Our backyard in West Los Angeles, California.
Beware of squirrels. They just ate all my green bean plants, leaves, stems and all, by climbing down the trellis.
YOUR OWN GARDENING TIPS AND TRICKS:
I like to save seeds from especially good veggies, dry them, bag and label for the following year.
WHY DID YOU FIRST START GROWING YOUR OWN ORGANIC FOOD?
I love the pleasure of going into the garden in the morning and harvesting my crops. I spend several healthy hours each day working in the garden.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO GROW?
Any food crop. Nothing more satisfying than getting to eat (or drink) something you’ve grown.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO COOK OUT OF THE GARDEN?
We love zucchini pancakes, which is my own recipe and the ingredients are very forgiving. (go to recipe)
WHO TAUGHT YOU HOW TO GARDEN (OR HOW DID YOU LEARN)?
My parents always had a garden, but flowers, not edibles.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR BEGINNER GARDENERS?
Just jump in and try it but start small. I have great luck starting plants from seeds, rather than buying plants.
HOW MANY HOURS PER WEEK DO YOU SPEND IN THE GARDEN?
Seven to ten hours.
DO YOU RAISED BEDS, CONTAINERS, THE GROUND OR A COMBINATION OF WHAT?
All of the above.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE GARDEN?
I am having a terrible problem with mildew because it is moist at night in our area. I just keep cutting off the diseased leaves.
WHAT ARE YOU GROWING RIGHT NOW?
Cucumbers, squash, lots of varieties of tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant and varieties of peppers.
HOW HAS GROWING YOUR OWN ORGANIC FOOD AFFECTED OR CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
I rarely buy vegetables at the market, and I have so many choices at meal time.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT´S IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE GROW THEIR OWN FOOD?
One gets a lot of satisfaction from gardening, it is good exercise, diverting and I know the produce has never had any contaminates used on it.
I love to have children come over and harvest and learn how food grows and encourage them to try it themselves. When I taught school, we had raised bed planters, and grew lots of things in our class garden.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE THING ABOUT GARDENING?
The pride I feel at being able to produce the food at my age, mid seventies. I have wanted to do this forever and love every minute of it.
ANY GARDENING “TRADE SECRETS” THAT YOU´D LIKE TO SHARE?
Have a grandson who is willing to help you get started and is able to lift many bags of soil without complaining.
OTHER THOUGHTS OR COMMENTS?
I love having all this great food to share with friends and neighbors.