Gardening: A Growing Trend Even City Dwellers Are Digging

Posted May 18, 2021 in Special Features

Gardening:  A Growing Trend Even City Dwellers Are Digging

While many were stuck at home last year, there was an increased interest in gardening.  Seed companies reported shortages, nurseries had more sales of vegetable starts, and urban gardens saw a rebirth of activity.  All indications are that this activity will continue in 2021.

The Many Benefits of Gardening (Besides Food)

There are many benefits, both practical and therapeutic to growing your own food.  Many see it as a way to control the food we eat – substituting store-bought food with their own produce.  But there are also great psychological benefits – something we can all use during times of stress. In addition to the comfort of briefly connecting to a Zen moment, there is immense satisfaction in growing something from scratch to full maturity.

Growing Tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest – The Great Tomato Machine

Cool weather plants like peas, beans, and lettuce do fairly well in the Pacific Northwest.  You can also grow tomatoes, but sometimes they don’t all ripen. One ingenious solution is the “Tomato Machine” – a trick we learned from Michael and Missy Stucky of Millennium Farms in Ridgefield.  It’s basically a large plant cage completely wrapped in plastic. It warms up during the day and traps the heat for those cool evenings. They look odd for the first part of the summer, but the plants grow large and fast.  We typically remove the wrap mid-summer – once the plants start bursting out of their cages.  This approach always yields red, ripe tomatoes!

Container Gardens Are a Great Option

City dwellers who don’t have the space and no access to a community garden, can still grow their own food in containers.  They take up little room and reap the same benefits. Many plants are especially well-suited for containers: lettuce, herbs, and patio tomatoes come to mind.

Even with a full-size garden, we still grow a variety of container vegetables on our deck. Our best success has been with Northwest-specific tomatoes like Home Slice and Silvery Fir.  Add a container of lettuce and basil, and you have the convenience of a great salad. Right outside your door!

So, start small and try a few things – including container plants. Do some research on what grows best in your area. There are any number of web sites and YouTube videos to help you.  It’s best to start with seedling plants to get a head start on the short growing season.

However you do it, you will be rewarded with your own food and the mental satisfaction of growing and nurturing something living.

Want to learn more about container gardening or how to build the Great Tomato Machine?  Just contact us, we’ll be glad to share our experiences.



Want to learn how? Contact us.

Or start your search for a home in nature here.

Bernie Stea & Debb Janes

Columbian “& Outdoors” Feature Writers