How Does Your Garden Grow?

February 26th



My Calculated Acts of Kindness campaign this year has a food theme — which with passions for cooking and gardening works well. As a advocate for local food banks and an end to hunger, it’s exciting to think how we can each make a few small changes to improve the food security of our neighborhoods. For example, did you know the average tomato in America travels 1500 miles to get from the garden to your table? Not to mention, spending 400 gallons of gasoline in the process.

Needing some structure

And so, we plant. We make a commitment to dig up some patch of earth or fill a giant pot, and we drop in a few seeds. Through nurturing the earth, we reconnect with the precious process of watching nature slowly transform into a warm tomato off the vine that makes us wonder how we ever put up with those waxy, off-color mutants we’ve been eating from Kroger’s.  In the process of growing, we plant an extra row with intention and give to those who are hungry. The Plant a Row program (PAR) was created to add additional produce to food bank shelves nationally. It’s been going strong for 15 years and could use that extra row of beets, onions, carrots or potatoes now more than ever.


Perhaps you are reading this in Minneapolis or Canada or some other far away freezing locale and rolling your eyes and growing tomatoes for others when you’d kill for a bit of sunshine yourself. This doesn’t have to happen today. Your summer will be lovely. While I’m curled up in the fetal position praying to the air conditioning Gods to get through an Arizona heat wave, you’ll be skipping through the tulips. The grass is always greener, but hunger is hunger regardless of your zip code. It doesn’t matter when you plant. Just plant.

Mystery plants

And if you are thinking that you don’t know heads or tails about how to grow your own food, much less the difference between organic, all-natural and locally grown — oh, do I hear you. Gardening is like any other hobby. It can be exceptionally intimidating and the challenges can easily send you running the other direction. This is my very first garden and my thumbs are still black as night. But! Again, like any other hobby — it gets easier with a bit of practice and experiment. Seeing it done with your own eyes always makes doing something new easier for me. If you can show me and I can ask questions, I can figure out just about anything, including how to turn a handful of seeds into a basket of great food.  Or so I hope…

For local folk, come out to Superstition Farms on Saturday, March 7, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Enjoy Arizona’s Ag Day’s 29th year with a $1 Farmers’ Share Lunch, petting zoo, dairy tour, hayrides,,


Viva le compost!
How does my garden grow? Optimistically, of course.  What will you grow to share?


Posted in
Arizona, CAOK, Community, Earth Mama, Happy Hippie
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25 Responses

  1. Your optimism is almost enough to make me want to relive the heartache of ’08s tomato experience. Almost. I’m sticking to herbs, for the most part, this year, and might even try zucchini again.

    They say you can’t go wrong with zucchini, but I know that’s not true. After all, I killed mint. 😉

  2. Ok so i’m curious? Did you make that compost bin? I have been wanting to start composting but didn’t know where to begin.

  3. Hola Comrades!

    It has been great to be a part of the blogosphere with you all over the years. I just launched a new blog at I am only a few posts deep, but hope you link up and follow me on this new endeavor.

    I look forward to future collaboration with you!

    Ron (nie)(Werner Jr)(GP)

  4. I have some lovely Anaheim peppers right now. They are so delicious!

    I’ll totally add that to my weekly planner for next week.

  5. Your garden looks lovely so far!

  6. My seedlings are growing and I’ll need to transplant them in the yard soon. It makes me happy to see the green shoots getting taller and taller. I hope some food results from my mini-garden crop.

  7. Wow Kelli, what an awesome program. Thanks so much for sharing.

    And I am totally jealous of your beets. I tried to plant a bunch last year and they never made it. I’m going to try again this year and fingers crossed I’ll have a huge crop!

  8. I love hearing about all your gardening adventures! I have been very tempted to plant some of my early spring seeds, but today’s 65 degrees is followed by tomorrow’s chance of snow, so I will be holding off for a while long. Keep up the good work!

  9. What a great program! Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to learn more about it. We’ve just moved out of the city and I have a huge amount of space to garden for the first time in my adult life and I cannot wait to get planting!! Our northwest summer is still months away but I foresee it yielding lots of fresh fruits & vegetables to share!

  10. This is great encouragement Kelli! If I had a home with a spot of grass, there would definitely be a garden for food!

    In Ukraine, I noticed yesterday at the market that people were standing in line to buy seeds. Here anyone who has a spot of land has to grow food so they can eat!

  11. I love checking out your blog! Your garden is lovely. I am in Alberta… soon as we get rid of our piles of snow I hope to have a little green growing as well.

  12. 400 gallons of gas! WOW..A fresh straight from your garden tomato can’t be beat. They are the best!!!! I’ve heard that the price of food is going to really go up this year too, so everyone that can, probably should try their hand a growing a few veggies.

  13. Organic farmer in PA February 27, 2009

    I see you use the metal cages for your tomato supports… I cant stand them. Prefer The Tomato Stake instead… its wonderfully easy.

  14. I am happy to have hydro-grown tomatoes in Minnesota all year! No traveling and DELICIOUS!

    We have big plans for our new front-yard garden this year. We’re starting from scratch so it’s going to be a learning process for sure!!

  15. I’m jealous…it’s going to be at least two months before we can even consider planting anything…ciao

  16. Oh man, I have hugely optimistic plans for this summer! We’re building all new raised beds and taking extra special care to protect our veggies and herbs from the pets and all our back yard critters.

    And did I mention I was going to try to grow all (well, most) my wedding flowers? I’m getting going on that this summer, too! I can’t wait!

  17. Ah, man! What a bummer! My in-laws would love that festival (they’re in Chandler) but they’ll be out here on the East coast visiting us that day…go figure!!! Great post!

  18. Karel aka SWS aka Moms February 27, 2009

    Well, looky there! You’re doing great with that garden. Do you remember the afternoon we moved the playhouse on Kilarea, and made that area a garden? Cody, you and I hauled the soil from the front driveway into the backyard via wheelbarrow. We grew tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and onions. It was fun! I’m into growing flowers here in SA, as I would have to have an above ground boxed in garden here due to the rock formations under our yard. Someday maybe I will consider doing that. Keep on truckin’ girl!

  19. Hey, Kelli, I *am* reading this from Minneapolis and oohing and aahing over your greenery! Woo hoo for you! That’s awesome!

    Given that we just got something like 9 inches of new snow yesterday we won’t be planting tomatoes soon….but this year, oh yeah — this year might be our year for a garden!

    How inspirational you are!

  20. ali la loca February 28, 2009

    What an inspiring post, Kelli!

  21. Loved this one, especially since I am putting together my garden plans and figuring out what to grow food wise. We have a program called share the bounty, where people can drop off their extra produce and people can go pick up food for free. It’s something that I hope will continue. 🙂

  22. Your garden looks so lovely! It is still winter here and I ordered seeds and a grow light last week and will start some of my garden indoors. I will be growing mesclun, micro greens, swiss chard, tuscan black kale, baby bok choy and basil all from seed. I will add tomato and pepper plants from the local nursery. Have fun!

  23. Fantastic idea, I’m just getting my garden started in NV and will plant a row.

    How do you keep the bugs out of the compost pile? (ie roaches, nasty I know, but they seem to love the compost)

  24. You’ve filled up your compost box nicely! I do feel intimidated by gardening, I must say, and wish I didn’t. The soil in our backyard looks very clay-like, I’m not sure anything would grow well but I do have that extreme desire for sustainability and the joy of growing your own food…living off the land. I keep thinking about it…but time is of the essence here in AZ, as you know.

  25. checkout the composting….. woo, hoo!