Now that the nice weather has started revving up, everyone I know is looking for excuses to be outside. When it comes to gardens, I’m of the plant-it-and-hope school, but if you’re ready for some hands-on advice to get started, or to further your skills, here are some inspiring books and local resources to check out!
The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren and
Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
There’s something heartbreaking in reading gardening manuals by Californians: it just seems like they can grow so much, so easily. But both of these ladies more than make up for those stirrings of jealousy in their wonderful and hilarious storytelling abilities. From adventures in container gardening to recipes and livestock mishaps, these books connect us to the greater discussion of food sources without the intimidation factor.
If you’re ready to give planting a whirl, but want Northwest-friendly varieties to start from and plants that are already established, check out Seattle Tilth’s May Edible Plant Sale on May 4 and 5 at Meridian Park in Wallingford. It’s kind of like the Friends of the Library sale, only with plants, so be prepared to haul your wee starts away and get excited to hang out with hundreds of like-minded, friendly folks browsing the tomato varieties. Seattle Tilth is all about empowering local growers, so check out their year-round classes and events or chat with a knowledgeable volunteer as you make your selections and they will help you out.
If you’re closer to the southern end of town, or are particularly interested in permaculture, check out the Beacon Food Forest. This is the nation’s largest public food forest, and it’s just getting started. Here’s the idea, from their website: “We work to create an edible forest of fruit and nut trees along with P-Patches to create a local source of food for the neighborhood.” If you’ve always wanted to know more about pruning trees, or the opportunity to build stone retaining walls, volunteer with the Food Forest. They have projects going on now and will have classes in the future.
Looking for someplace to plant? Seattle has a huge network of community gardens and P-Patches that offer a place to get your hands in the dirt. Some of them even have yearly festivals, if you want to check out the space. Here’s where you can sign up for a p-patch of your own and browse a fantastic list of local organizations that want to help you start growing.
And if your green thumb suddenly starts to turn brown as time goes on, help is available! The Plant Answer Line at the Elizabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library is an amazing resource for every kind of question. The library itself is open to the public and has a vast treasure trove of books and databases relevant to plant enthusiasts in our area.