Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Urban Gardening: Part 1

I live in Tacoma, Washington.  Our population is roughly 198,434.  It is what I classify as an urban area, although some people like to say we are a suburb of Seattle.  Tacoma is a beautiful city in her own right. 

Gardening in a city or large town presents unique challenges.  Add to that our wonderful climate with our notoriously wet seasons and dry spells one could almost promise a garden disaster just as easily as a garden success.  It all depends on well ....on things; a number of which you have no control over.

Gardening season is upon us.  So for the next few months, I am living vicariously through each of you as you garden.  I had planned a garden myself this year but we have made the decision to put our humble home up for sale and begin the process of looking for a home which will suit our needs more and hopefully a few wants as well.  My hope is that I will be able to plant a fall garden in mid summer.

So this week I will give an overview of my gardening experience coupled with what I have gained in knowledge from others.

I come from a long line of gardeners.  I can't remember a time in my life when we haven't had something growing.  Let me clarify what gardening means to me, or the type of gardening I do most.  Vegetable gardening.  I grow other plants as well (not house plants, I seem to do really bad in the house plant arena), but growing food seems to be where a lot of my heart lies.  Even when I haven't been able to till the ground, I have rooted around and obtained pots or dug every scrap piece of earth to plant beans, tomatoes, squash, marigolds, and more.  You don't need a lot of ground to grow some of your families food.  Even apartment dwellers can be more sustainable. 

When I was a child, community gardens were popular.  Then the hippies got jobs, donned three piece suits and turned away from the bounty of greens we could grow even in the urban area.  Luckily for us plant growers these green spaces are returning.  Community gardens are once again becoming important in many areas.  Check with your local extension service in your county and see what's happening.  If there isn't one, find out if there is someplace you can start one.  There is nothing as good for the soul and communing with God as when our hands are working with dirt from which we were formed. 

I will briefly talk about different seed companies and philosophies.  I will share what I think is best, but that's my opinion alone.  You know what's best for you, your family, your budget...

Seed Companies:

There are many and the sheer number can be overwhelming.  Ideally the best seed is the seed you saved from last years harvest.  Ideally.  However, seed savers are rare.  I hope to one day become more proficient in this art.  Whole books can and have been written on the topic.  Thus far I have only been successful at the simple seeds.  Green Beans, flowers, sun flowers, peas, pumpkins, a few other squashes, but I would like to do more.  I am convinced that naturally adapted seed stock is going to be the best seed for your area. 

There are whole ranges of ideas which prescribe to non-genetically mutated seeds/plants.  To say Non-GMO to one may not have the same meaning to another.  When I use the term GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) I am referring to those things which are mutated and crossed with things outside of their parent variety.  It is best defined as an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Genetically Modified Organisms are things which have been genetically modified to include micro-organisms; things like bacteria, insect genes, other plants, fish, and even mammals. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods.  Most people don't view hybrids as modified but they have been to a lesser extent, and generally more natural extent.  I am not as anti-hybrid as I once was.  I do prefer open pollinated or heirloom varieties when possible, and generally look to buy them, but I also understand that hybrids that have a proven track record can be very beneficial to the home gardener.   Some contend that heirloom seeds have better root systems to pull nutrients from the soil.  I am not sold on this for the home gardener.

So now to some reputable seed companies I have used in the past:
  1. Nichols Garden Nursery (Oregon)
  2. Abundant Life
  3. Territorial Seed Company
  4. Pine Tree Seed (I have linked you directly to their seed policy page.)
  5. Burpee Seeds
  6. Johnny Seeds
  7. Fedco Seeds
  8. Siskiyou Seeds
  9. Baker Heirloom Seeds
  10. Ed Hume Seeds
  11. Azure Standard
Last year I bought most of my seed (what I didn't save) and all my plants from Azure standard.  I was very pleasantly surprised at the germination rate and how well the plants did.  If I were having a garden I would go with them again this year for most of my needs (They give me nothing, you are getting my honest opinion). 

There are many more out there and this is by no means an extensive list.  Feel free to write me with ones to add.  I will be making a special page with links to gardening tips, seed companies which practice good seed practices, etc. 

Linking up on Tuesday with Teacher of Good Things and her friends at For This Season, Vicki Arnold Blog and Walking in High Cotton.  Please visit each of these blogs and tell them Garden Tenders sent you!

1 comment:

  1. Kim, what an exciting time for you and your family to be moving to another place that will better fit your needs. We did that a few years ago and attempted a garden our first spring on our 5 acre property. Unlike you, I only remember my parents gardening for one or two seasons and although my husband has more experience, his time isn't able to help us.

    I love the resources you have in this post!

    Thank you for linking up and LINKING BACK! I'm sure my readers will love this source of seeds companies you have provided!


Thank you for taking a few moments to share your comments with me. It means a lot. Thank you!