This year, for the first time ever, I am trying my hand at gardening. Three years ago I would never have thought that I would have a green anything, never mind a thumb; considering I’ve managed to kill cacti. But I and two of my best friends went ahead, despite my long history of plant killing, to become vegetable gardeners!

The opportunity came up quite serendipitously, as I was lamenting about the lack of space in my chosen CSA program; when my friend informed me that he knew someone who had a patch of land that was begging for a garden- we all rejoiced and decided that this was the year our flesh colored hands were to become green.

We made a list; we checked it twice; went to the nearest garden center; and set “Urban Vegetable Gardening 2012” into motion. And let me tell you, this is the first year that I have been happy to see spring showers!

As a chef, I couldn’t be more elated, to finally be able to say that my food is farm (backyard) to table. I researched the hell out of organic gardening; and here’s what I learned.

Urban Vegetable Gardening Tips

1~ Read Planting Guidelines: Although I generally wing it, especially in the kitchen; seed packet guidelines are worth their weight in gold, especially for the gardening novice. Guidelines will tell you how deep to plant, how far apart to spread the seeds and yield- pay close attention to yield or you may have too much of a good thing.

2~Test Your Soil: We were lucky to have our garden roto-tilled for us, which included high grade organic compost; but this isn’t the case for most. Bone meal and organic compost make for excellent growing soil; and if you see earthworms, REJOICE, they signal that your garden is hospitable for life!

3~ Water With Care: Plants love water, this is common knowledge; but sometimes too much water can hinder your gardens progress. If you reside in a dry climate, you will have to supplement what nature cannot provide; but if you see rain once or twice a week, you may only have to supplement once a week. And don’t overdo it, ten minutes of water is plenty; anything beyond that is overkill and, I have it on good authority, that Mother Nature would appreciate you keeping the water consumption to a minimum.

4~ Keep Critters At Bay: Rabbits, mice, insects and the like, are an urban, or suburban, gardeners nightmare; but pesticides not only harm the environment but our health- I could go on for days about the harm pesticides do; but I’ll spare you. Here are some natural ways to deter unwanted visitors.

  • Plant garlic and onions- their pungent nature is a turn off; much like on a first date
  • Marigolds give off a scent that deter bunnies and other vermin; plant them around the perimeter.

The aforementioned compost can make or break your gardening efforts, regardless of what kind of garden you are planting. Plants love organic material to feast on- it makes them grow strong! But not everything is meant to be composted; this is what you CAN and what you CANNOT compost.


  • Vegetable peelings from the kitchen
  • Juice pulp
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Manure from herbivores i.e.: cows and horses
  • Soft green pruning’s

Do Not Compost

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cooked food
  • Cat litter
  • Cigarette butts
  • Dog feces
  • Cat litter
  • Diapers

So you’re probably wondering what we planted?

  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Onions- white and red
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Mesclun

So there it is Urban Vegetable Garden 2012 is in full swing- happy long weekend everyone; here’s to my garden and yours!