Growing Urban ~ Progress on our Front Yard Garden

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small-scale, in our own gardens. If only 10 percent of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” 

~Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture

January is almost over, the snow bells are in bloom and spring is around the corner. It is so exciting to start working on our urban garden in earnest.

This is our green (and somewhat weedy) front lawn. 9 feet by 40 feet. Soon to be a Vegetable Garden, a Bourgeoning Ecosystem and a Sensory Garden.

Growing Urban

  • How much produce can 360 square feet yield?
  • Can this feed a family of 5 for an entire 22 week growing season and beyond?
  • Can growing our own save us money or even make money?
  • Can this small garden also provide fresh produce for our neighbors?

Thinking & Acting Locally

If we think globally and realize our interconnectedness, we will realize how important it is to act locally. While working to change the political and economic situation which creates the causes of hunger in our communities and internationally, we must also cultivate grassroots food projects which help people build food security.

The most powerful grassroots force is communities coming together to take back some control over their access to a variety of nutrient-dense food.

Food security and the food system affect everyone in some way. As the world population increases (currently around 7.5 billion), new solutions to hunger including the maldistribution of available food and the cost of large-scale agricultural production (economic, environmental, physiological and social) will most certainly need to be addressed some time soon.

The terms local, sustainable, locavore and others are relatively new, at times, misunderstood and even ridiculed. But if we truly look at and honestly assess the impact that our shopping/consumer patterns are having on the entire system, we would walk away knowing that seeking out local, small-scale food producers or growing our own is an integral part of the solution.

“Grassroots projects in and of themselves do not change the forces that create  high unemployment and inadequate social assistance rates. However, people’s lives are improved immediately through these projects by reducing food insecurity and enabling people to experience the power of working in coalition with others. It then becomes possible for them to envision themselves as activists for social change, working to create a just society in which hunger no longer exists. It is their critical perspective and understanding of the food system ‘from below’ which can shape a compelling vision and effective action for change.” Laura Kalina, Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition, pg. 19

A Garden Starts with Seeds

Planning this year’s garden brings a smile to my face. Growing our own food last year was a liberating and joyful process, but I didn’t really have a plan. Last year was an experiment to see what would grow and where (in the different microclimates around the house) and what we actually used in the kitchen. We used a lot of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, cucumber, borage (both the fuzzy leaves and the beautiful edible flowers), pumpkins, summer and winter squashes and zucchini.

Fresh herbs are essential in our kitchen and this year I am growing them using ‘hugelkultur‘, which is growing food on a mound or what I call my ‘herb hill’. Basil, oregano, verbena, thyme, marjoram, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and lemon balm are some of my favorites.

Dazzling purple borage flowers and sunflowers in our garden last year. Borage refills with nectar every 2 minutes, no wonder the bees were all over it. Photograph by Jane Grueber Copyright 2016

Although I saved many seeds or shook dry seeds directly back into our already existing garden beds, I ordered some new Heritage seeds for our front yard urban garden project. My goal is to save most, if not all, seeds that grow well in our climate each season.

List of Heritage Seeds (vegetables & herbs):

  1. Hopi Red Dye Amaranth – this ancient grain grows well in pots and dried seeds can be easily ground into flour
  2. Calabrese Broccoli
  3. Chieftan Savoy Cabbage
  4. Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  5. Beit Alpha Cucumber
  6. Lacinato Kale
  7. Crisp Mint Lettuce
  8. Black Hungarian Peppers
  9. California Wonder Peppers
  10. Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
  11. Yokohama Squash
  12. Ronde de Nice Squash
  13. Golden Zucchini


~Grow with the Flow~


Kalina, Laura (2001).  Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tricky Wolf says:

    Another great article! Looking forward to seeing how you get on this year with your plan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emma@ Misfit Gardening says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start already! I love lacinato kale and Ronde de Nice squash both were wonderfully prolific. I’m interested to see the herb-hugelkultur as it grows through the season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane Grueber says:

      Thank you Emma. I am very excited to see how everything will grow this year. It’s great to hear that you have had a good experience with the kale and squash. I’ve been gathering ‘yard waste’ and building the herb hill and I am really hoping that it will work, especially for the basil which just doesn’t grow well for me.


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