Friday, September 12, 2008

Big Agriculture and Home Grown

As we drove across Canada to see family on what is likely to be our last fuel splurge ever, I became fascinated not just by the natural splendor of our vast landscapes but also by the human scars that we have trained our eyes to avoid. Instead of turning my camera away, I found myself snapping shots of overhead wires, and lumber mills, but what most captivated me were the big rigs.

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Truck driving down the rain drenched highway somewhere in Canada.

Those behemoths that ferry our resources - our food - along the ribbons of grey highway that travel beyond the horizon.I began to think again about the barriers toward people growing their own vegetables in their own yards. For some, the vegetable garden lacks curb appeal and so it is hidden in a less than ideal spot between a shed and a cedar hedge. For others, it just takes too much time. Even those who do have a little plot complain that they often don't manage to eat all the tomatoes and zucchinis they produce.Then I went to Spain to see the other side of the family and marveled at how in some villages every available space was crammed with edibles. Instead of the squash being treated like a second class citizen, it was the ornamentals that were dotted here and there along a fence line or in a lonely pot on the front step. I was surprised to notice that despite the lack of space, people grew vegetables, and yet in Ottawa where some yards could feed a family; the tyranny of the green yawn prevails.

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Small garden in the basque country, Spain.

My vow

Though I do have a large backyard vegetable patch which all together is about 40 by 20 feet. I also have an equally large, if not larger mini-orchard in the front underplanted mostly by ornamentals. It is my vow this year to start replacing these with more useful plants. I am going to start with the exotics. I will never rid my garden of flowers as many of the natives attract all sorts of wildlife, as well as lift up the spirit, but some plants are not earning their keep and it's time they go!

5 comments:

Sally said...

Bravo! I've been reading a lot about edible plantings out here in the blogosphere lately. I can't wait to see what you do. BTW - check with your city council to make sure they don't have some sort of stupid ordinance against front yard gardens. Good luck!

O.I.M said...

hello Ottawa Gardener. welcome back to blogging. I will most definitely be following your experiment. My backyard veggie plot was a great success this summer. I want to completely tear out the front lawn very soon. I'm planning on a woodland setting (very shady) but want to include as many edibles like strawberries and serviceberries as I can. How exciting for you...can't wait to see the results.
cheers
Irena

Karen N. said...

Good luck - I'm looking forward to reading about your project (and hopefully tasting some of the results for myself)! Here's a recent article you might find interesting, written by a fellow veggie patch fan: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/24Rhome.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

Ottawa Gardener said...

Nice to read/see you all again, and Thanks for the article Karen.

Daphne said...

And don't forget the flowers that attract lots of bees. The bee population was low enough in my area in June that I had to hand pollinate my zucchini if I wanted any.