The Sassy Sandpiper: Urban Farming
By M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter
It’s a feast for body and soul.
A love for the green and growing didn’t happen by accident. My Kronberg great-grandparents farmed the North Platte River Valley near Scottsbluff, Nebraska. In addition to food crops, I think they planted something in my DNA. Science documents the possibility of heritable traits and inclinations. But it’s complicated.
What’s uncomplicated is the joy I feel when a seed pushes up its first leaflets. Like author and naturalist Diane Ackerman:
“I am an earth ecstatic, and my creed is simple: All life is sacred,
life loves life, and we are capable of improving our behavior toward
one another. As basic as that is, for me it’s also tonic and deeply
spiritual, glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars.” —D. Ackerman, An Alchemy of Mind
Let’s take a quick tour of my “yarden,” yard + garden.
First and foremost, the compost area. It deserves this honor. An Earth Ecstatic finds bagging oak leaves and other garden “trash” abhorrent, so they are the primary ingredients. Add coffee grounds, fresh vegetable and fruit leavings, eggshells and stir. Recently I received a birthday gift of earthworms and couldn’t have been more pleased. Sprinkle often and cover. Humble decomposers do the rest.
I’m not fussy about upkeep and often feel my efforts aren’t organized enough to call “gardening.” But what the heck. I’m growing edibles. That’s enough met criteria for me.
In the “west bed”/section are basil, onions and scallions, snow peas, garlic, and one lone hot pepper.
Grape and Roma tomatoes thrive in the southwest bed. Full stop. They taste nothing like store bought or even farmer’s market bought tomatoes. There’s a goodness here of sun and rain and soil that defies description. Ditto for snow peas. I eat ’em right off the vine.
The northern beds are fairly overtaken with marigolds and milkweed and wood sorrel. I can’t help myself. Potato quarters snug in their trenches (planted “eyes” up) send forth sturdy, dark green leaves.
Rosemary, cilantro and stevia grace the northeast. These herbs keep you young and sweet.
To the southeast, spaghetti squash—my pride and joy. Wood planks placed beneath three mini-football sized gourds guard against rotting. Each morning I check for “girl flowers,” hoping for more.
Most of the seeds came from the vegetables themselves, saved and dried and sometimes stashed and forgotten for months. Still-damp spaghetti squash seeds sprouted in their paper towel cradle. Plant the root end of onions and scallions, and whole garlic cloves.
Growing a little food feels gleefully subversive. Every hardy plant defies Monsanto.
Best thing is: no yard required. If there’s enough sunny space on the porch or balcony, crops can thrive.
Save the seeds next time. Splurge on a bag of topsoil or dig up a pot-full from…anywhere. Be stealthy. But really, you’re not likely to be arrested with a trowel in your hand, unless it’s in a county park.
Get green. Get growing. A feast for body and spirit awaits.
Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Gardening | Urban Farming | TB Reporter
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