Monday, 29 July 2013

Garden For Victory

posted on 7/28/2013 by the Salt City Sinner

peace through victory, victory through vegetables

It struck me the other day that while I have  written about  my community garden – and community gardening in general – before, I haven't taken the time to explain why gardening is something I enjoy, and something you might want to try yourself. As a matter of fact gardening is a capital g capital t Good Thing, for you, for your community, and for America!

Gardening is an activity with deep roots (lol) in human existence. We cultivate the soil and it cultivates us back. The act of planting and tending to vegetables, flowers, herbs, whatever strikes your fancy, teaches us important lessons about the interconnectedness of life and the natural rhythms, cycles and processes that are inextricably a part of human life as well as the life of the garden.

Gardening also has outputs as well as inputs: never underestimate the appeal of a large supply of fresh, delicious, healthy produce – produce that is the ultimate in buying local, and does not contribute to industrial monoculture (the hazards of which can be found helpfully summarized here ). Gardening is work, true, but it easier than you'd think, and is surprisingly soothing as far as pastimes go, as well.

If you don't have a vegetable garden at home, there are plots available in community gardens all over Salt Lake City (a good starting point can be found  here ). If you can't find a community garden, a quick tutorial ( here ) on self watering containers will tell you how to garden even if you live in an apartment, as long as you get direct sunlight in one area of your living space.

I've found that an indispensable resource for gardening in general, but in cities like Salt Lake in particular, is The Urban Homesteader , by Kelly Coyne and Wayne Knutzen. It contains everything from the basics of gardening to vermiculture (worm-ranchin'), composting, raising chickens, and installing solar power to get off the grid entirely. The Urban Homesteader lives up to its name, and is good for all skill levels from the greenest of beginners to the saltiest of withered old garden gnomes.

if, like me, you are amused by naturally occurring phallic shapes, it is easy to plant a garden of giggles all year long
This year my plot at the Sugar House Community Garden has done at least as well as last year, with the exception of the squash. Squash plants and other broadleaves are vulnerable to powdery mildew, which is a pretty common ailment. My plants got hit by powdery mildew this year, along with almost every other squash plant at SHCG, but the more interesting hurdle to clear this year was the plague of squash beetles, who love to lay their eggs on the underside of squash leaves, either on the leaf veins or along the stem. Other than those setbacks with the squash (which is still producing vegetables aplenty), it has been a splendid year – the small, sweet golden cherry tomatoes are starting to come in, the basil is bushy, and the root vegetables are coming along nicely.

As I've mentioned before, this will be the last year that SHCG is located at the Fairpark site – the garden is yielding before the mighty sword of Progress (they are putting in a trolley line). A new site has already been selected about two miles south, however, and negotiations are also underway to possibly open a brand new community garden up near Research Park at the University – both sites have a lot of potential and I have high hopes for next year.

If you've never gardened, consider giving it a whirl! And if you do garden, keep it up, citizen! Gardens are essential to communities, after all, and communities are the cells that make up the great fatty lymph nodes of Democracy, and, therefore, America.

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