By Jane Bartels
Is there any better time to start and maintain a garden than now? It’s not just the weather, the beginning of summer so fragrant with fruit and vegetables, but necessary with the ridiculous cost of gas and the increasing price of groceries.
Even apartment dwellers can tap into a bounty that costs little except water and attention. Container grown tomatoes are excellent and handy. Berries work well in 5 gallon plastic buckets and the buckets can be disguised with pain or wood. Running a row of plastic buckets with blueberries can be very pretty in the sun of a patio. Hanging tomatoes… those upside down ones that look impossible to survive and produce are quite the thing now.
For those of us who have enough room for a strip of veggies, we benefit greatly. Have you seen the price of tomatoes lately, never mind the ban because of salmonella. Some tender lettuce, some bush beans where it’s not hot yet and cantaloupe can’t be beat.
I used to write about Permaculture: that’s Permanent Agriculture. That just means turning your ¼ or ½ acre, the usual urban allotment into a garden of Eden. We had 12 dwarf fruit trees (down to 6 now because of ‘issues’ with soil and maintenance), berry bushes (mostly blueberries) black berries and raspberries. These are long term plantings that produce year after year. They are great for landscapes…especially blueberry. Grapes are wonderful, but they do need some tending and culturing.
The idea in Permaculture can be as little as a few dwarf fruit trees, or as broad as an orchard. The point is cultivating on small holdings. That can be done easily in urban areas. Grape vines can be trellised over a patio area and the cool from the summer sun is wonderful sitting in the gloom of the shade.
There are bigger issues afoot: the population of bees has taken a hit in the last few years. These are the pollinators for all our food stuffs.
First it was a bee mite in the throat that was choking and killing bees. Now it’s a pollution of over 40 substances that have drastically effects our pollinators. They are losing the ability to go out of the hives, find sources of nectar and return to the hive. I recently heard that what they are suffering from, in part, was an autoimmune disease, similar to AIDS. Plus, their Global Positioning isn’t working in so many hives. This is an epidemic amongst beekeepers.
What I also read was that this issue, the lack and diminishing of our natural pollinators will make global warming a secondary issue. There will be mass starvation on a world wide scale. Already the honey hives in Spain and France are deeply affected.
One thing, a small thing, to do is plant bee balm and lemon balm to attract and nurture bees of all kinds. Honey bees are most hit by hive depletion, but other bees also are being hurt by our man made pollution.
There are so many issues abounding in this topic, and I hope others will chime in here with their knowledge and experience.
Our future depends on what we do now, and IF we have a future. It’s that important.
Food. Something we all can’t do without.