Of all the delights that spring brings with it (goodbye snow shovels, winter boots, hats and mitts; hello tank tops, sunglasses and flip flops!), my favourite is being able to return to urban gardening.
Although coastal British Columbia’s growing season is not long or hot enough for tomatoes (or cucumbers or peppers or melons) , there’s plenty of time to grow your own greens.
Every spring, once the danger of frost has passed, my family and I make the trip to our favourite garden centre in the valley to purchase the seedlings that will keep us in salads until mid-October. Kale, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, romaine. Multiple varieties of each along with parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme and basil; herbs for dressing our greens and marinading the fish fillets and steaks we’ll soon be grilling on the barbecue. Yum!
(Of course, I don’t need to remind you that salad greens are chock full of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and fibre and they’ll help you meet your daily quote of 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies…)
Don’t think you have enough space to grow your own greens? Think again! We grow our vegetables in 4 x 8 wooden boxes and large ceramic pots, filled with organic soil and set upon cement blocks to allow for proper drainage. A sunny, sheltered spot works best.
Not convinced yet? Here are 8 reasons to grow your own greens
- They’re fresher (5 minutes from garden to table) and tastier than store bought greens.
- Because you’ve grown them yourself (either from seeds or pesticide-free seedlings) you can be confident that they won’t be covered with pesticide residue
- You can easily source non-GMO seeds and seedling varieties
- They are far cheaper than store bought greens (last week I paid $7 for a large package of organic spinach; a packet of seeds can be purchased for $1 and will last you all season)
- Home grown greens don’t need to be driven to market and easily fall within the guidelines of the ’100-mile diet’
- There’s no packaging to throw out or recycle
- Tending to plants is a relaxing, almost meditative activity
- Your children can help. Think of it as ‘cultivating’ the next generation of urban gardeners! (I’ve also found that my children are much more willing to eat vegetables that they’ve helped to grow)
Are you an urban gardener?
What are your favourite crops to grow?