Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conscious Shopper Challenge: Plan a Garden

The next few weeks of the Conscious Shopper Challenge will focus on greening our groceries. Here's the next challenge:


My husband said, "Plan a garden? Not plant a garden?" Well, it is November...The ultimate goal of course is that you'll actually plant a garden, but for now, all I'm asking you to do is think about it.


  • Observe your yard. Figure out where you have space for a garden. Take note of where you get a lot of sun, where you have too much shade. Test your soil. Collect leaves to be used as mulch. Start composting.
  • If you live in an apartment or have a yard with too much shade, start looking now for a community garden.


  • Plan your garden. Here are a few books that I found helpful:
Square Foot Gardening
Month by Month Gardening in the Carolinas
Seed to Seed
Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots


  • Advocate for community gardens. If your city doesn't have a community garden program, organize a group and advocate for one.
  • Volunteer with an organization that grows food for people in need.

This week's challenge is both incredibly simple and immensely powerful. You can't get any more local than your own backyard. There's no better way to vote for the kind of food system you want than to grow the food yourself. You could say that planting a garden is an act of rebellion.

Experienced gardeners - what advice do you have for someone who's just starting out?


Anonymous said...

ha ha HAHHHH! For once I beat the Conscious Shopper to a challenge, already at jogging stride before the challenge was even issued! Wheee!!!!

This year we're totally going to do it--a whole edible landscape, with apple tree and berry bushes and climbing flowering peas and all kinds of beautiful edible plants...and we've done the prep work already. I feel so I just have to make it till spring.

Green Bean said...

Start small but have a vision. Don't be afraid to put edibles in the front yard, in planter boxes mixed with ornamentals, in window boxes, in pots on the front porch.

Get a good irrigation system (drip or microsprinklers) in place. Hand watering means you'll have a lot of dead plants in the midst of summer or when you go away on vacation and your garden sitter doesn't water the same as you do.

Only plant what you will eat. For instance, if you don't like tomatoes, don't plant them. If you don't like peas, don't plant them.

Know that every year is an experiment. Learn from your mistakes. Start every spring anew.

Green Bean said...

Oh, and for those in Northern California, Pam Pierce's book Golden Gate Gardening is HANDS DOWN best gardening book for our region.

For everyone, consider Gaia's Garden - great advice for integrating edibles into your landscape.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Jenn - I saw your post on your blog about digging up your backyard. I'm so jealous!

@Green Bean - Such great tips! We need to get our irrigation system in place for next year as hand watering (or lack thereof) was the demise of our garden toward the end.

Anonymous said...

I definitely have a vision, however... I don't know where I'll be living next year, so I can't plan much. Hopefully we'll find a house with a yard that has a lot of garden potential.

Robbie @ Going Green Mama said...

I think the thing to remember is that no matter how small the space (we can't all have acre lots), you can garden. There are great resources on container gardening, gardening in small spaces, etc.


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