Notes From A Plant Freak

March 22, 2013 |

So You Wanna Be a Gardener?

People are really getting into gardening and food right now. And it’s more than a trend. There is a paradigm shift occurring that is driving people out of the big box grocery stores and into their gardens, or at the least, into the farmers’ markets and grocery stores specializing in whole foods. A growing number of people are no longer willing to suffer the hideous first world health ailments caused by being passive consumers. We want to know about our food and we want it to be clean, not just look pretty in produce stands.

What happens when someone realizes how important it is to get closer to their food, but lacks the space to garden?

Community gardens: that is what happens.

Neighborhood cooperative gardens are popping up all over Tucson. For just a pittance (enough to cover costs like materials and water) you can probably find a little plot of your own for the purpose of nourishing your belly and soul. If there isn’t one close to you, you might consider just talking to a good friend or neighbor who DOES have a yard, and say, “Hey, let’s grow some stuff.”  If you share a garden with a friend, that is also a community garden.

Community gardening makes everyone happy. And this activity is revolutionary. In urban food deserts all over the U.S. (places where there are no decent grocery stores for miles and miles) urban community gardens are changing lives!  These gardens are exposing people to learn to grow and eat healthy food and these positive changes are in our future.

In general, gardens are the best sort of distraction: instead of going out, expending fossil fuels, taxing your body with unhealthy foods, producing waste, or doing one of the various activities you might be doing to entertain yourself.  Gardening in your backyard or community garden makes your life healthy, improves the environment, and encourages you to live an active, healthy, outdoor life. Growing things together builds communities, gets people away from their digitized “existence” and educates them about the very building blocks of life. Any future that this author will be participating in will see every school, every neighborhood, and every yard with a garden. It will be weird to NOT have one.

Seasonal Guidelines, March 2013
March is such a wonderful month. What can you NOT plant right now? Yeah, you can pretty much plant anything except long-season winter vegetables. Get out there! Now. If you haven’t planted your warm-season crops (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, squash, etc.) get your fanny out there right now and start planting your little heart out.

You see, it is the latter part of the cool season but you still have a few months, time enough to get a few successions of your favorite greens, root vegetables and annual winter herbs, that is, your cool-season crops. There is no excuse not to plant.

There is always that possibility of frost. March 4th is the average last frost date. In 1899 it frosted on May 3rd. Nature, and global climate change, will ensure that whenever we get too dependent on an expectation, surprises will humble us and remind us to keep our eyes open. So have a plan for protecting those frost-tender crops.

Jared R. McKinley maintains a gardening and homesteading blog called Arid Land Homesteaders League at

Category: Community, FOOD & DRINK, RECREATION