Working a food garden into part of the garden you already enjoy spending time in will make it easier to maintain – and enjoy!

What’s on your fork? Grow your garden with Grow Local

If you’re considering a food garden, start here!

What’s on your fork? For many Alberni Valley residents, it might soon be salad greens and other delicious edibles they grew themselves!

Grow Local’s 2018 initiatives are well underway, with garden consultations, free resources and special events designed to increase food production for Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District residents.

But why wait? Agriculture specialist and farmer Heather Shobe has been working with residents to lay the foundation for a bountiful growing season. With some of the basics common to most properties, here’s a few tips to get you started:

Think about the big picture – Try to create a holistic vision for your space and consider integrating a food garden into how you currently use your yard. Rather than carving out a dedicated vegetable garden in an area you never visit, for example, try working it in to the space where you do spend your time – adding a row of raspberries along a fenceline by the children’s play area, for example, and herbs and kitchen greens alongside the patio. If you have a sunny front yard you rarely use, maybe that’s a good place for fruit trees that don’t require much care once established. This way, rather than being a chore to work into your schedule, gardening becomes part of how you already enjoy your space, Shobe explains. “It’s changing the way you think about it.”

Create rooms with a view – Just like your home has different spaces for different purposes, your garden is the same. Think about creating spaces that serve different needs, then add visually interesting – and functional! – pathways to connect them. In the same vein, use those spaces to incorporate your edible landscaping – add tomatoes, basil and rosemary to a hot, sunny location and salad greens to a cooler area.

Pace yourself – Depending on your space, a garden can be a huge undertaking, so don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to do it all at once. Do celebrate the smaller successes along the way, though! Start with good-quality deer fencing, improving your soil and growing a few favourite fruits and veggies your first year. Greenhouses and arbours can always be added later! And because deer fencing is a must in many areas, good-quality deer fencing can be easily erected with thin wood posts or rebar – that way it can be easily dismantled and moved at different times of year or as your garden evolves.

Ready to get growing?

Grow Local hosts a variety of events throughout the season, including:

May 11 and 12 – Spring Seedling Sale and Gardener’s Forum at the Echo Centre, including facilitated networking tables from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday discussing community gardens, tool and food sharing, land access, and school gardens.

May 25 – Free Workshop: Garden Problems, Pest Identification and Management at Healthy Harvest Farm from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register, email growlocal.acrd@gmail.com

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