National Gardening Month
- Subject: [cg] National Gardening Month
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 16:28:22 -0500
Columnists: Soule Garden
Start a garden to feed the hungry
April is National Gardening Month. Garden Writers are about to be inundated with a flurry of press releases about President Bush signing this, and First Lady Bush sponsoring that. I'm jumping the gun a little, because this weekend is going to be a great time to start a garden in our wonderful climate.
It doesn't have to be a huge garden, extensively tilled, loads of manure, etc. The easy answer is to get two boards 2-inches by 12-inces and eight-feet long. Cut two feet off the end each, then nail them together. Your raised bed garden will be a rectangle 2-feet wide and 6-feet long. It will be 12-inches deep, which will do. This will take about 10-cubic feet of potting soil, and you are in business!
You need to place this garden where it will get at least six hours of summer sun. A spot with morning sun and afternoon shade will reduce water consumption. Rake away any rocks so the garden sits on flat soil. You could spade the soil some to promote root growth into the soil below the garden, but this is not an absolute.
For now, plant all the vegetables that are fruit: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, corn, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, musk melon, and yes, even zucchini. All these have seeds, so technically they are fruit. Plant leaf crops in the winter garden, next September.
Try to plant local varieties. Some especially heat tolerant tomatoes are at nurseries now (but often not at garden centers). You can get seed of crops the Native Americans grew in this area from Native Seeds/SEARCH a non-profit company with a store at 526 N. 4th Ave., or call 622-5561 to order a catalog. They are online at nativeseeds.org.
I especially urge you to plant a garden for several reasons. First, why should I have all the fun? Second, home-grown food tastes better than anything you get at the supermarket. Third, all these great vegetables are on the South Beach Diet. And, because here in America over 30 million people, including roughly 13 million children, suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
This hunger and starvation is appallingly real. In many cases, hunger is not solved by federal programs (school lunch isn't served on weekends). According to the USDA, close to eight of the 30 million hungry frequently miss meals or go without food for a whole day.
Gardeners can make a difference. There are more than 70 million vegetable gardeners in the United States. If you have ever grown a garden, you know that you can easily have far more produce then you and your family can easily consume. The solution? Plant a Row for the Hungry. PAR was launched a decade ago as a nation-wide public service campaign by the Garden Writers of America Association. Last year PAR participants donated well over 1 million pounds of nutritious produce to help feed the hungry.
Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs were donated to food banks, food distribution centers, and soup kitchens in local neighborhoods across the nation. You don't grow vegetables or fruit? Even floral bouquets were donated by PAR participants; the bouquets used at fund-raising events, or to simply cheer the life of someone living in quiet desperation.
Plant a Row for the Hungry is a way people can help others in their own community. You need not grow a lot, or even donate a lot. Every little bit helps. In our area, citrus trees often produce an abundant crop that can be shared.
My hope is that some teacher reading this, or scout leader, or homeschool parent, will fire up some kids to Plant A Row. Failing planting, perhaps the kids could canvas the neighbors and pick boxes of citrus to donate. Grapefruits and lemons are high in vitamin C and can help keep a hungry child healthy.
Perhaps a Master Gardener reading this will want to get their group involved. The Garden Writers Association of America have a person and a web site dedicated to helping you get a PAR program started, including brochures and a leaders kit full of information on the steps to take. Contact PAR@gwaa.org, or go to gardenwriters.org and link to PAR.
Incidentally, PAR is a 501(c)3 non-profit. PAR is endorsed by America's Second Harvest, Master Gardeners, American Community Gardening Association, American Nursery and Landscape Association, National Gardening Association, and by nurseries, seed suppliers, and garden wholesalers across the nation.
Whether you share the fruits of your harvest or not, I do hope you will start your garden this April. National Gardening Month reminds us all of how fortunate we Americans are to have the luxury of time and space for our own gardens full of food.
If you would like to learn more about gardening in the desert, sign up for one of Jacqueline's classes. To receive a list of classes, or for private consultation about your landscape, contact me at 292-0504. Please leave a voice message.
Local food banks that accept fresh food donations:
Community Food Bank, 622-0525
Marana Food Bank, 682-3001
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org
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