Vegetable plants are invading the flower beds of today's suburban garden. Have you noticed this new trend in suburban flower beds? Along with the roses, azaleas and petunias are tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Drive down a suburban road and look closely at the gardens. Some gardeners interplant their crops of vegetables into the flower beds that they already have. Many suburbanites have built square foot gardens in their back or side yard. You can even spot some country style gardens in the world of suburbia. The trend comes from more than one source. The desire to save money, reduce chemicals in the food at the dinner table and the desire to get closer to the food source are some of the reasons suburbanites are stepping out of the traditional flower bed and into the vegetable garden.
My own journey into the world of vegetables began years ago. I grew up on the back of my grandparents farm. By the time my family moved there, my grandpa was retired and he leased out his land to a local farmer. Eventually, he sold his land. Somehow, watching his land change over from the farmland that it once was to the suburbia that it now is has planted the desire in me to become closer to the land that we now live on. I still live near his old farmhouse that is now surrounded by a subdivision. The dreams of reviving his old farm have had to give way to my new dream of working the little bit of land that we now live on.
I must say that part of me loves the idea of homesteading. You know, homesteading . . . where a owner of a couple of acres grows most of the food they eat and raises many animals that will provide for them. While this ambitions project is fascinating, I tend to lean more to the square foot gardening approach. Over the years, I have read and re-read Mel Bartholomew's "Square Food Gardening" books. I have gleaned a lot from his books, and use some of his methods. What really got my attention, and modified my gardening approach, was my parents' and savvy-sister-in-law's successes with gardening last year. They interplanted tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in already existing flower beds. I was thrilled with their success and am now working to integrate the flowerbeds around our house with vegetable plants.
I must admit, I am obsessed with planting. From May through early June, I plant something new every week. I am thrilled to get my hands into the soil and plant something for the future. It is thrilling for me. In truth, the fun wears of about the middle of July. It gets hot. It gets dry. The bugs and birds like my plantings and fight to get their share. This year, my goal is to finish the year strong. As I plant and dream, I am planning to continue until harvest. The rewards of a job well done will sit on our table and fill our tummies. We have already enjoyed salads and sugar snap peas from the garden. We are looking forward to watching our little gardens grow.
So, what do you see when you drive through suburbia? Do you see a land of houses and small yards, or do you see a land of gardening opportunity? Can you find the little square foot garden in the backyard of the house next door, or can you spot the tomato plant in your neighbor's side yard? Is there possibly room in your heart and garden for a pepper plant or a cuke, or do you already have your own gardening method? Are you ready for the invasion of the suburban gardens?