With concerns over food shortages, take the time to develop a robust home vegetable garden

·4 min read

On Friday, Jan.14, a news flash came across my phone saying verbatim ‘A Major Food Shortage is Coming Again in the United States’. That headline, coupled with what we are seeing in the places we shop, is enough to cause a level of anxiety.

Deep down, we have that feeling we should grow some of our own food. You may be thinking I want to but I don’t have room for a garden or my HOA will not let me. I assure you that the vegetable garden has become ‘urbanized’ and ‘revolutionized’ over the past few years for a couple of reasons.

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The first is thanks to great new varieties of tomatoes, peppers, herbs and even berries that fit today’s garden to perfection. The second reason is thanks to Brie Arthur, a visionary horticulturist and her who book The Foodscape Revolution. I’ll explain the importance of the foodscape in a minute.

Goodhearted produces an absolute bounty of small heart shaped tomatoes.
Goodhearted produces an absolute bounty of small heart shaped tomatoes.

Whether it is in rural areas, historic districts or the newest neighborhood, the size of garden plots have gotten smaller. Even the well-known community garden projects that display raised beds or boxes are a far cry from the farm-type plot of our grandparents’ era.

This small garden concept is not just here, but in Europe as well. I follow several U.K. gardeners on Instagram who refer to their garden as their allotment. An allotment is roughly 300 square feet which may seem like a luxury in today’s modern neighborhoods. All of this has led to a host of new, compact vegetables. Tomatoes are, of course, first when it comes to popularity with those wanting to grow edibles.

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Determinate or semi-determinate varieties are those typically recommended for caging and their easy fit a controlled garden space. The award-winning Tempting Tomatoes Garden Gem is a prime example. Then there are new patio varieties like Tempting Tomatoes Goodhearted another award winner from Proven Winner and Patio Sunshine which open the door even wider, enticing everyone to grow some even if it is in a container, hanging basket and of course the foodscape.

Goodhearted is an award-winning tomato looking good and ready in this landscape or should we say foodscape.
Goodhearted is an award-winning tomato looking good and ready in this landscape or should we say foodscape.

Tomatoes aren’t the only varieties going compact. Proven Winners has peppers like Fire Away Hot and Heavy, Amazel Basil and Pesto Besto basil that will entice you to hone your culinary skills. Then the one plants that really found favor with my daughter-in-law Sarah and their princess, Emma Grace, are the award-winning strawberries Berried Treasure Red, and Pink. They have taken the new urban vegetable garden by storm with beautiful flowers and tasty fruit.

Once a child participates in growing these vegetables and fruits, he or she will also want to partake in the eating of their crop. No way will the children pass up eating Proven Winners Dragon Tongue green beans. Consequently, this child becomes the gardener of the future. So, whether you are a parent or a grandparent, get them started.

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In many of the allotment, community garden and small modern neighborhood private plot, the garden is constructed on raised beds and enclosed or separated from lawn areas with wood or rocks. This not only gives you the best in drainage and aeration, but keeps the encroaching grass out. I even bought an interlocking kit at the grocery store.

This small garden plot shows the beauty of flowers and fruit of Berried Treasure Pink strawberries.
This small garden plot shows the beauty of flowers and fruit of Berried Treasure Pink strawberries.

But as Brie Arthur points out in her book, "The Foodscape Revolution," it is precisely the raised-box bed that homeowner associations want to limit to the not seen area of the back yard. So, the front yard goes unutilized for growing produce. Imagine on the other hand a beautiful flower bed with the yellow fruited Tempting Tomato variety Patio Sunshine partnered with Unplugged So Blue salvia. Think what you can do with red tomatoes or peppers. So now you get the idea.

You are probably wondering what to grow. Easy answer is, just grow what you like to eat! Follow me on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy for more photos and garden inspiration.

Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy.” See more columns by Norman at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Tips for creating your first vegetable garden at home

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