A Learning Curve to Help Conquer Spring Planting

The Curve is dedicated to exploring and feeling out the corners of complex, multi-dimensional, often hierarchical and always completely random subjects. The aim is to inform readers – in progressive, graduating fashion – on everything from gin and poems to cheeseburgers and trees.

Photo by Alana Paterson

Continuing on the theme of spring (which just can’t come quickly enough) we asked our friend Sam Philips to give us a Curve on gardening. Philips is one of eight Victory Gardens team members dedicated to integrating food into rural and urban settings of all types through their mission of “Infrastructure, Education and Maintenance”. What follows will hopefully plant the proverbial and literal seed for gardening in everyone from the novice to the green-thumbed…

BEGINNER | Get Started

“Let’s start with some seeds. I know it can be very nerve-racking. But just because a plant has perished in the past while in your garden or household doesn’t mean it’s necessarily your fault, and doesn’t translate into your ability to care for living beings! It’s OK. I’ll tell you which ones to buy and where and I’ll give you some pointers:

Start with Arugula seeds, from Westcoast Seeds or Saltspring Seeds. A bit about arugula: It has a high germination rate, so if you scatter some seeds, they are sure to sprout. Arugula can be grown in as little as 4 hours of light per day, making it suitable to many spaces. Remember that arugula will produce flowers in just over a month – this is normal! Seed arugula every few weeks in a new spot for a continuous harvest.

To get some of the veggie growing theory down, you can buy this gardening book, Backyard Bounty, by Salt Spring gardening guru Linda Gilkeson. Also, if you need help, we can give you a coaching session on how to.”

INTERMEDIATE | Get Experience

“Experience is the best way to learn! Success and failures have equal merit. You DO NOT need a yard for this one. Some fun ideas involve getting a garden plot or volunteering, which looks great on a resume if you’re on a professional path with food growing. Also, with volunteering, you will get FREE teaching – it’s a trade off.”

Recommended places to volunteer: Inner City FarmsSole Food Street Farms; Fresh Roots; The Sharing Farm; UBC Farm…and Victory Gardens, of course! Some community garden plots that currently have availability are Shifting Growth and Cottonwood Garden. “Or you can also find a friend with a garden and start a garden collective. Anywhere you want. This is what Lisa, my business partner, did for a long time and it was tonnes of fun and there was tonnes of food.”

ADVANCED | Get Certified

“You can get on the path to professional food growing to either get a job at one of the above mentioned places or further your expertise by taking some courses. There are a few institutions in BC that have programs relevant to growing veggies: Gaia College (they’re located in North Cowichan but also have online courses); you can get your Degree atUBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems; and Kwantlen Polytechnic University Richmond Farm School also offers courses.”

EXTRA CREDIT | Impress everyone via their taste buds with a recipe from your garden

Photo by Alana Paterson

“This doesn’t have to be complicated – let the ingredients sing, so to speak. By this time, you will have SO MUCH FOOD you will have to share it with your family, friends and community.

Tomato and Arugula Salad (serves 4)
1 small onion or a few scallions
1 bunch of arugula
4-6 tomatoes, sliced or diced (your preference), depending on size
1/3-cup olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Tsp Dijon
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the dressing, an all-round, simple favourite (so feel free to apply it any green salad), by whisking the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon, and garlic with a little salt and pepper.
2. Lay down tomatoes on a wide plate, then arugula, then onions (or scallions).
3. Drizzle on the dressing. Lightly toss, but not too much. See? So easy it hurts!”

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