I'd like to say that I garden for many reasons, environmental sustainability, to reduce my carbon footprint, to improve my community, but to be honest, I do it because the food I grow tastes better. I'm not saying the other stuff doesn't happen, and if it does, I am glad, but really, the food tastes better. Not just a little bit better, or I wouldn't put in the work, but really a ton better. I think that in a blind taste test of store produce versus garden produce, it would be hard to even identify some items as the same type of food.
Having said that, I am now going to encourage you all to grow something this spring/summer/fall. Yes, I know some of you live in apartments, so did I the first couple years I gardened. I made a dirt box and started with herbs, lettuce, and a few items that didn't work out (onions that I really willed to grow, but didn't have the space, and some peas that grew, but a few sprouts don't yield enough to really count). In an apartment, you can buy some dirt and some containers (or use old ice cream or yogurt containers) and do herbs easily. It will make a huge difference to the taste of your food, and you can freeze herbs so that they work for you into the winter. I start from seeds (cheaper), but if you really feel that you have no growing abilities, just buy small plants and let them get larger. Here is a link with a list of greenhouses around Northern Alberta. Chives, dill, thyme and basil have been the easiest for me, and parsley grows well once it has a chance to start. Another thing that is very easy, even with limited space, is greens. You could literally take a bunch of empty large yogurt containers, throw some lettuce and spinach seeds in with some dirt, and have fresh greens through the summer. For singles, this is especially good given that heads of lettuce and bunches of spinach are generally too big to go through before they get wilty.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to get a plot of land in a community garden. We do have them in Edmonton; here is a site that will list them by area of the city (including one in St. Albert).
If you have a yard, maybe you can think a little bigger. The first thing I would encourage you to do is consider getting a rain barrel ("be green")! We have had some serious downpours this past summer, and having a rain barrel holds a bit of the water that would otherwise be flooding your streets, and then when dry spells come on, you have a nice store of water. Just make sure that the barrel is in a place where if it overflows a bit, the water flows away from your house. If you live in Edmonton, check out this link, and if you are in St. Albert, try this one.
If you are very intimidated about starting, and you want to be really serious about it, you may want to get in touch with the Urban Farmer a guy that is really serious about organic gardening in Edmonton.
I would say that if you have some space, feel free to experiment. Think about your favorite fruits and veggies, and look on the internet to see if and how you can grow them here (or email, and if I have tips to help I will share). As above, herbs and greens are easy to start with. Carrots are pretty simple, as are zucchini plants (but they get HUGE). This year I will be doing cherry tomatoes and peppers in upside down baskets. I know this sounds crazy, and I will take pictures, but I did it last year, and my yields were a lot higher. Asparagus is a big commitment, because you won't get real yields until three years down the road, which I am finally at!
So, with all that being said, here is my big plan this year (and you will see photos as the year goes on). I am lucky in that my in-laws have an acreage, so a few of the items will be grown out there due to space constraints.
My Garden this year:
- potatoes (various colors) - Acreage
- carrots (colors)
- beans - Acreage
- peas - Acreage
- raspberries (along my chain link fence)
- blueberries (a couple of random scraggly bushes in my front yard)