By Jennifer E. Beaver
Last year, it became politically correct to be a gardener. For the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden in 1943, the White House included a vegetable garden in its expansive grounds. It was a move that set the tone for the country. Community gardens sprang up across town and across the nation. And I found myself having discussions about heirloom tomatoes with people who didn’t really like vegetables (OK, I know a tomato is technically a fruit) but who did care about sustainability (my candidate for buzzword of the year).
This is all very wonderful and very strange. When the things you’ve been doing privately in your backyard suddenly become fodder for cocktail chatter, it’s quite a surprise. I was talking about composting at a recent birthday party and people were actually peppering me with questions. This never happened when I wrote about IT and data processing.
This will be a fantastic year for all things gardening. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just contemplating sticking a trowel in the soil for the first time, there’s something for you:
• Yard sharing: According to Hyperlocavore (hyperlocavore.ning.com), yard sharing is “an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources…to grow food as locally as possible…” Hyperlocavore and other online groups are matching those with gardening skills and no land with those with yardage and no time or ability.
• Buying local produce: We’ve suddenly become concerned about the distance our produce travels from farm to table. Watch for fresher, healthier fruits and vegetables from CSA (community-supported agriculture) farms. For a nominal monthly fee, these farms deliver a grab bag of produce to your door.
• Community gardening: They sprang up all over town in 2009 and will continue to blossom this year as well. They’re great places for novice and experienced gardeners alike to grow, gossip and share resources.
• Free gardening workshops: Watch for free composting, container gardening, and drought-tolerant workshops that demystify the hype with hands-on lessons.
• Edible gardens replacing lawns: Just four short years ago, the Lakewood family that put an edible garden out front aroused the wrath of neighbors. Now everyone’s doing it. Read about it in Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg.
• Conserving water: As our supply dries up, gardeners are getting more creative. For localized water-wise gardening ideas, check out the Long Beach Water Department at lbwater.org. From the pull-down menu, select landscape info.