Peta 2 Magazine

I was recently interviewed for Peta2 magazine as a way to get young vegetarians excited about growing their own food.

They’ve got a contest going to win a You Grow Girl prize pack that includes the You Grow Girl book, an “I Heart Dirt” t-shirt, and a Garden Button Set.

A few questions didn’t make it into the final cut so I have added them below:

How does the DIY culture relate to gardening?

Gardening is inherently DIY in that you’ve got to create a garden yourself AND maintain it too. You can purchase the pieces to make a garden but for the most part only those within a certain class bracket can afford to actually buy a garden and then pay someone to maintain it. Of course lots of people enjoy doing the work for themselves regardless of the size of their paycheck. Gardening, like crafting and other DIY activities is a way to cultivate a little self-sufficiency in our lives. We live in a culture of dependency that tends to rely on someone else – doctors, supermarkets, farmers, etc to provide the basics for us. Growing a garden, especially one that produces food cultivates a measure of self-sufficiency and frees us from some of that dependency on The Supermarket. It is an active pursuit that makes us producers with the power to take responsibility for our own well-being.

Gardening gets you outside and your hands in the dirt. A garden requires regular maintenance, setting aside time to do something energetic, contemplative, physical, and stress-relieving while at the same time cultivating feelings of pride, self-reliance, and accomplishment. At the end of the day (or the growing season) you end up with something that was started from some dirt and seeds.

The other great thing about gardening is that you can approach it from a variety of angles – there’s so much more potential there beyond growing plants. If you’re into crafting, building, designing, etc there are lots of opportunities to engage in those activities in and for your garden. I often advise people to approach gardening from the place where they feel most confident. As you build confidence doing the things that come easy you can work up to the areas that are more intimidating. You can never know everything there is to know about gardening, making it a life-long learning process that is as challenging as you want it to be, inspiring, and fun.

What are the first steps towards starting your first garden?

The first step is to evaluate and get a handle on your gardening space. What kind of light do you have? Is your space on a rooftop where your garden will be exposed to high wind and heat-absorbing materials? Identifying conditions in your space that will affect how your plants grow will go a long way in saving you heartache down the road. It may also open up some unexpected opportunities.

You will also want to consider your soil. Soil is the body and soul of your garden – in fact many gardeners consider gardening to be first and foremost about growing soil. Your soil should be alive. If it isn’t you’ll want to consider ways to bring it to life to create a healthy environment for your plants. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants. It also goes a long, long way in preventing disease and pest infestations much in the same way that a healthy body keeps us vital and prevents sickness. If you plan to grow in containers you will need to buy a special kind of soil called “container soil” or “soil-less mix.” Using soil dug from your backyard – no matter how fantastic it may be, will compact in a container eventually suffocating and killing container grown plants.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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One thought on “Peta 2 Magazine

  1. I am SO happy I found this site. I’m working really hard to try to grow as much of my own produce as possible this year; I have no yard, but I do have a small plot in a friend’s yard. Thanks for creating this webspace and helping people become more in touch with their food and their planet.

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