I’ve been a veggie gardener since I was a little girl.
Honestly, I think it was my mom’s way to get me to eat my vegetables. I wasn’t too keen on them when I was small. But once my mom dedicated a tiny corner of her big garden to me, I suddenly realized that I liked carrots and chard – if I was the one who had planted and nurtured them. And a whole lot of other veggies too!
I’ve been living on Vancouver Island for over two decades now. But before that, I lived in a lot of different places: eastern Canada, then eastern Australia, and then western Australia – and I had veggie gardens in all of those places.
Moving around so much made me feel unsettled. It always seemed like a symbol of actually living somewhere, of having a home, when I stayed in one place long enough to be able to grow a garden. Even more importantly, though, learning to grow my own food gave me a feeling of self-reliance.
As an earth scientist, I understand how powerful our planet is, but also how fragile its systems are. When the apocalypse comes – and I have always felt that something is going to happen during my lifetime – I want to know that I can still make food. Even if I can no longer buy it.
I think that all of that gardening in such a range of climates – from the dark, damp, coastal temperate rainforests of Tofino, Vancouver Island, to the dry red “sunburnt country” of Perth, Australia, and everything in between – is what taught me to have empathy for plants: to learn to garden productively, by understanding what each individual vegetable plant needs.
Anyone can grow a plant. (Well, almost anyone). But not everyone can actually get a decent harvest from that plant: that requires special knowledge. You need to know what that unique plant needs.
For example, tomatoes need hot sun and lettuces can’t stand it. Beans and peas like lime, but lime will wreck my potato crop. Nitrogen fertilizer will give me mammoth giant chards and cabbages, but it will stunt my beets.
I am both a scientist (PhD in Geology) and a professional writer and photographer (more about that here). And I am an elected Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
I love learning, and I love sharing my knowledge. Over the years, many people have told me I should have been a teacher.
I wouldn’t like the rigid work hours that teaching requires: I value my flexibility and the ability to be spontaneous too much! So the closest I can come to doing that is through my writing.
The Food Garden book series is a result of my passion for gardening combined with my passion for sharing knowledge. There is such a heightened interest in backyard food production right now.
With this book series, I hope to help you, personally, to achieve your own food-gardening goals.
I also hope that, as more people start to grow more of their food at home, we humans will revert to acquiring our foods more as our ancestors always did, for millenia:
Eat seasonal. Eat local.