I’m not a gardener, I am a pastry chef. I know all about the 100 mile diet, buying local, sustainable living and greenhouse gases and how far my food has to travel to get to my plate. And up until now I didn’t care about it. I’m a busy mom and it is easier for me to go to the grocery store and pick out my food than to think about where that food comes from and its effect on the environment.
However, at the end of last summer, after spending more than $1500 to have a perfect lawn and ending up with weeds, I half jokingly said to my husband that we should just dig it up. That’s when the idea of a kitchen garden began to take root. I started visiting websites, ordering seed catalogues and imagining what it would be like to have a kitchen garden in my backyard. I could pick fresh lettuce and tomatoes to go with my dinner, eat beans right off the vine and introduce my children to what real food tastes like.
So here I am, early March, and the freezing rain has cancelled school for the day and the kids are looking for something to do. I have some seed packets and a little plastic greenhouse so I decide, although a bit early, to start our garden. I’ve got a general idea of what I want to grow – lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers – but now I have to put it down on paper and figure out how to make it a reality.
I’ve figured out that what I want is a “potager” garden - a French method of gardening where the garden plot looks nice while still providing for the kitchen. This means including flowers and herbs – both edible and non-edible – in the layout to add colour and interest. So while the snow is still on the ground outside I’m plotting my backyard on a piece of paper and trying to come up with a design.