urban farm

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 

Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 

Arugula Strawberry Nasturtium Flower Salad 

This salad was 100% grown in our garden. It has two kinds of edible flowers, nasturtium petals and arugula flowers. Arugula flowers are delicious, they taste like arugula only a little bit sweeter because they have a bit of nectar inside. Arugula is very easy to grow, it grows like a weed. I like to spread the seeds a few weeks apart to keep the harvest coming. It likes to grow in cooler temperatures. It’s also the one type of salad green I’ve noticed that doesn’t get bitter and tough when it goes to flower. In fact, the leaves get bigger and more flavorful, and the flowers are quite delicious. The nasturtium petals are delicious too, they have a very soft texture and are quite peppery tasting. This was dressed with a light dressing made from Meyer lemon juice (from our tree!) along with honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I rubbed the bowl with a cut garlic clove before adding all the greens and dressing. I can’t wait to make this again! 

Yum! Happy Spring everyone! 

I've become the best green and kitchen witch cliché

My parter and I are planning an epic herb, vegetable, and flower garden, and fruit orchard.

5 2x1 metre raised garden beds:
- one for vegetables
- one for herbs
- one for native flowers
- one for healing flowers
- one for fruit trees

We are also getting a chicken coop, and a native Australian bee hive.
I’ll be making assorted healing ointments, not to mention a whole spectrum of chutneys and preserves.

I’m basically becoming The Aunts™ from Practical Magic, and I couldn’t be happier.

On Urban Farming

So urban farming has taken off lately, among a certain set of people. I’ve been seeing posts railing against lawn culture, offering up pictures of these gorgeously cool traditional vegetable gardens and trellises and vertical gardens and pot gardens and all sorts of combinations thereof and it’s uplifting and solarpunk and really really cool. And I’m here to say that it can be everything it’s promised to be. Five or six years ago, my parents tore up their front lawn and made it into a garden. It’s been amazing - they get troops of old ladies coming up and ringing the doorbell asking for a tour, passersby stopping to stare and smile, little kids looking covetously at the raspberries that my dad always comes out to offer them. (Sometimes he also uses them to get rid of salespeople, but that’s another story.) In peak season, we get fresh tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, peppers, onions, cucumbers, and squash, and that’s off the top of my head and not including the berry bushes we have as hedges and the lovingly-tended fruit trees in the back yard. My parents haven’t darkened the door of a grocery store produce section in more than a month at the moment I’m typing this. It’s fantastic.

But.

My parents are teachers. They get reliable weekends and two months off during peak growing season. They also have a very comfortable middle-class salary (our teachers aren’t in quite the straits salary-wise that they find themselves in south of the border) that means they could afford, at the outset, to hire the labour necessary to get the garden started - I believe Bobcats were involved. And, last but not least, they’re gardeners. If you make the mistake of commenting to my mother that the garden must be a lot of work, she looks at you blankly and informs you that she wouldn’t do it if it were work to her. But if you aren’t a bred-in-the-bones gardener, chances are you’d hate it. I grew up the child of two bred-in-the-bones gardeners and it isn’t a commitment I’d want to make. There’s rototilling and fertilizing and digging and planting and covering and watering and more digging and thinning and weeding (and weeding and weeding and weeding), and then there’s even more digging and picking and washing and chopping and freezing if you want to make sure you get to keep what you’ve grown, otherwise it’s just as wasteful as a lawn anyway - after all, you’ve put all that water into it. My parents had to buy an entire new freezer to store all their produce, and while that sounds great (and it is), it also presupposes that they could afford to buy a new freezer.

What I’m trying to get at here is that if you want to do this urban farming thing that everyone’s so adamant about, you have to have the time, and if you don’t have the disposable income you have to have a lot more time, at least at the outset, and also hope your back holds out for the duration. And lawns aren’t a symbol of the kind of immense wealth they used to be - you kind of just inherit them if you buy a house. A house, mind you - not a castle or a mansion. Lawns have moved down the ranks into the firmly middle-class. Decrying lawn culture is all very well as it goes, but holding up urban farming as the universal solution is, to my way of thinking, disingenuous. Time is money, and not everyone with a lawn is rich.


…All that said, talk to me about solar panels.