Photo by Markus Spiske
Replacing traditional lawns with gardens is not a new concept but one that is quickly growing in popularity. If you spend too much money and time mowing, watering and fertilizing the lawn, and it’s too hot to enjoy any time on it, why bother having it? Try growing food there instead! This would also give you an opportunity to grow and enjoy foods that may be expensive in stores but cost pennies to produce yourself, such as heirloom tomatoes, gourmet mushrooms, and seasonal fruits.
If you’ve never gardened before, do not be discouraged! There are many YouTube videos, gardening books, and support groups to help you along in your new journey. Every garden will have failures no matter your experience level. One cannot account for unexpected weather, insects, or pest. (Mrs. Molly Kitty, I’m looking at you!) However! Consider every failure a learning experience! One year of aphids on my cabbages taught me that insect netting for them is a must! Another year of bacterial scabs on my potatoes taught me that crop rotation is essential! And I had to get creative with keeping out cats by laying chicken wire over newly sowed seeds.
With the food produced from my residential lot near the city’s heart, I have been able to supply my kitchen (and my friends) year-round with fresh, frozen, canned vegetables, fruits, and jellies. Gardening has freed up time from monotonous mowing, saved me from high water bills, and given me peace of mind about exactly what I’m consuming. Let’s not forget the outstanding flavor vegetables and fruits have when picked at the peak of ripeness. Though I am grateful for the hard work farmers put into growing crops for us, it is nice to have the ability to grow food. I can harvest right outside my kitchen door and not be utterly dependent upon crops that have left a carbon footprint by being shipped across the state or even country lines.
Keep in mind that urban gardeners have some constraints that differ from other cities, including Spokane. Residents, who reside within the city limits of Deer Park, are not allowed to have fowl or chickens. Honey bee hives are also not allowed because of their nature to swarm, although keeping native blue mason bees are a wonderful alternative for providing pollinators to the garden. Also, check your property lines and ensure you are not planting fruit trees or putting up a fence on the city-owned leeway usually located along the front of your property or in alleyways. You may be setting yourself up for heartbreak if the city decides to put in new sidewalks or sewer lines and those areas need to be ripped up. Rules, like minds, can change and are always welcome to be contested at city council meetings. Lastly, if you live in a Home Owners Association (HOA), you may need to have your gardening plan approved before starting. There are many options and alternatives to gardening in ground, including raised beds, container gardening, and indoor window sill hydroponics.