The Edible Garden
“The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.”
– Alice B. Toklas
This is the beginning of my second year with my vegetable garden. I am completely in love. I visit my plot at Heritage Farms almost daily now with anticipation and delight. It warms my heart with such joy as I watch my children pull carrots from the ground, give them a quick rinse and devour them. Hunting for strawberries has become a favorite after school activity. As a child I liked very few vegetables with peas topping my “yuk” list. I was pleasantly surprised to discover their delicate flavor when fresh. Now they are a constant addition to my spring salads. Growing my own fruits, vegetables, and herbs not only provides my family with nurturing wholesome food but it fills our souls with a love and respect for Mother Nature. Placing a seed beneath her earth, watching it sprout and grow then bear fruit for us to eat is truly a magical experience for young and old alike. This month let’s create an edible garden that awakens our senses and enlivens our connection with the earth.
Where on Earth do I put an Edible Garden?
“Might I have a bit of earth? To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come” – The Secret Garden
Let’s think about space. Do you want a large plot, a simple area by your back door or maybe just a pot to grow some herbs? If you are just starting out, I suggest you start small. I began with a few pots of basil, parsley and rosemary on my deck. I then tried Early Girl tomatoes, a pepper plant, lettuce and even some Blue Lake bush beans. Now I have a full size plot with Japanese eggplant, Edamame, Sweet onions, Snow peas and more. My style is more of a cottage garden with herbs and flowers mingled in with fruits and vegetables. This companion and varietals method of planting I find helps attract beneficial insects. Whatever space you choose, pick a place that receives lots of sun. Six hours of sun is a minimum for good growth, however I did have luck with less when doing my pots on my deck.
What comes next is the laying of a good foundation. Proper soil amending is the key to successful gardening. Your edibles will be taking up their nutrients from the earth. Their flavor is dependent on the quantity and quality, even the ph of the organic matter present. I have listed some sources to help you with soil preparation and everything that follows in creating a beautiful and bountiful edible garden. Bon Appetite!
Two books I love and use frequently are The New Victory Garden by Bob Thomson and The Handbook of Southern Vegetable Gardening by Barbara Pleasant. The Victory Garden is written for Northern climates so the planting season will need to be adjusted but the plant information and soil preparation is fabulous. Both Clemson’s extension (www.clemson.edu/extension/) and the University of Florida’s extension (www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/) have great information on soil testing, companion planting and seasonal planting guides. They are excellent in sharing with you what, when and how to grow edibles and ornamentals.
I love the Seeds of Change Company for organic seeds. I have gotten asparagus, strawberries and potatoes from them. www.seedsofchange.com
This year I ordered my heirloom tomatoes from Laurel’s Heirloom Tomato Plants. www.heirloomtomatoplants.com
If all of this planning and planting is a bit too ambitious for you but you still yearn for the taste and experience of fresh vegetables, then the Bluffton Farmers Market is the place to go. This is their second season and between the new location and the addition of new farmers, it promises to be better than ever. Mibeck Farms will be selling all cuts of beef that is free range. The Savannah Bee Company is bringing honey and occasionally a live bee hive. Adcote Acres will be bringing organic eggs. There are new organic farmers this year in addition to last year’s great group. Let’s support our local community and eat green and healthy.
Farmers Market of Bluffton
Carson Cottages – 40 Calhoun Street
Old Town Bluffton
2009 Season: April 23 – November 19
Thursdays: 2:00pm to 6:00pm
22nd annual All Saints Garden Tour
May 16, 2009