Grow your own victory garden

With the furor over eating locally, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Gilbert Cruz of "Time" magazine listed "locavore" as the no. 7 best buzzword of 2007, not long after Marcia came across the word in Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable and Miracle" a few weeks prior.

So as "foodie" passes the baton to "locavore," we, the local farmers of the area would like to welcome all those who wish to eat more locally to our table. With that desire to eat foods grown and raised closer to one's home comes the need to learn to eat seasonally.

Most people realize that, yes, the Carson City Farmers' Market will have no bananas in the summer, but how many of you are disheartened to find a lack of tomatoes in June?

What, then, can one eat that is grown here in Northern Nevada in April? Here at our farm, greens are always in season as we grow them, along with an assortment of other veggies and herbs, year-round inside our covered "hoophouses."

The kale, chard, arugula, radicchio and other leafy greens love the cooler temperatures and are crispy and full of flavor. Spinach and salad mix are in their prime.

But what do I hear all the time - "How can I get my family to eat better?" Well, until Ronald McDonald comes out with his blind study approved "McGreens," try hiding them with easily recognized cheese, covered with enchilada sauce.

Our finicky grandchildren actually request "greens enchiladas" for their birthday dinners now, and have become so accustomed to them they don't even balk when the occasional kale appears as a side dish. They even eat salads that contain no chicken strips.

However, there are no Farmers' Markets early in the year, and Marcia and I have no openings in our CSA subscriptions. The other local CSA's haven't started yet. The greens in your local markets are coming in from nearby California, but some would like another option. Well, what's more local than your own backyard?

Marcia and I have long advocated the revival of the victory gardens popularized during World War II. We make a comfortable living growing veggies and herbs all year on our off-grid solar powered farm and know how fulfilling it is for those so inclined to do the same for themselves and their neighbors.

Many of those people have come to us to learn how to grow their own produce organically (free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers).

We see this as the best solution for anyone concerned about the current food supply, considering all the recent food recalls and how their produce is grown.

Remember, if you plant your own garden you'll know how your food was grown, and can be proud when serving it to your family or sharing with your neighbors.

Most people in Carson City have a backyard, so it's easy to find a sunny spot to plant a garden, orienting the beds to the south. For those who don't have the space, there may be neighbors who have the place to grow but not the inclination or time to maintain a garden.

This sharing of produce brings a community together, which is a great by-product of the endeavor. Some of you can co-op with your neighbors, growing the varieties each enjoys and sharing the harvest.

Community gardens are an option, too. Often the owner of a vacant lot would be happy to have it full of gardeners, growing food for the community. The city could be approached to allow the use of a park or open space.

Models of this can be found from New York City to Berkeley, and now in Reno.

There are apartment dwellers too who have found they can grow food in containers on their balconies and roofs.

With the addition of cold frames, row covers, hoophouses or greenhouses the growing season can be extended for the entire year by planting vegetable varieties that can tolerate the cold and low winter sun.

If you would like more help with your garden, look for one of Marcia's organic gardening classes coming up at the River School at Mayberry Bend in Reno, as well as other locations in the area. If you can't find one, or if you'd like to host a class at your location, feel free to contact us for details at 721-6068.


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