No doubt about it: gardening can promote a sustainable, healthy and active lifestyle. You will enjoy the outdoors by getting your hands in the ground by planting seeds, vegetables, fruits or flowers. You’ll reap the rewards of all your hard work watching the plants grow, and you’ll enjoy socializing to share your accomplishments or ask for advice. Join me as I encourage you to discover or continue to enjoy the tranquility, pleasures and age-old rewards of gardening.
If you think you don’t have enough time or space to garden, don’t know where to start, or don’t think you have the knowledge and skills to create and maintain a garden, think again. I have a special garden in mind for you…a garden that requires no special training, low maintenance and is used in many ways. It’s a garden you’ll comfortably design, plant and maintain with minimal effort.
Always known for tasting the sweetness of life, the French call this type of garden a vegetable garden. We call it a “vegetable garden”. You’ll find it outside the house and near—you guessed it—the kitchen!
Small or spacious, vegetable gardens are planted in the ground, in raised beds, or on patios and windowsills using smaller containers. Unlike other gardens, a vegetable garden is specifically intended to provide produce for use around the home. Creating a vegetable garden is within everyone’s reach. The master gardeners have resources and tips to help you succeed, from start to finish.
Most vegetable gardens are informal, with plantings of fruits, vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow from seed or available as starters. A sunny location works best. You can include vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, radishes or leeks. Add your favorite aromatic herbs such as basil or parsley; include a tomato plant and a strawberry plant or two, and voila! You have created your personal vegetable garden. In a few months, you’ll be going out to take a cut or grab a bunch of greens, using whatever you’ve planted to add to the day’s meal, cooking it fresh in your kitchen.
As for the maintenance of your vegetable garden, pay attention to what is starting to grow, to sprout or ready to be harvested. Throughout the year, you can plant seasonal seeds or seedlings that will bring local edibles into your kitchen.
Visiting a vegetable garden might be the outing that inspires you to start one yourself. In San Diego, there is a replica of a 19th-century vegetable garden representing a time when there was no refrigeration, poor road networks and difficult travel to get fresh produce. This vegetable garden, with vegetables and herbs used to supplement a family’s food supply, is in the Cabrillo National Monument.
High on a bluff at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula, 422 feet above sea level, Point Loma Lighthouse became operational in 1855. Light from its Fresnel lens guided sailors and ships to the entrance to San Diego Bay for 36 years. The location seemed ideal at first but turned out to be impractical. While the light from the lighthouse tower was visible to ships and sailors on clear nights, it was often obscured by the dense, low-lying fog that blankets San Diego’s coastal areas.
Decades later, in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation setting aside the lands surrounding the lighthouse to commemorate the discovery of the California coast in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Twenty years later, the Point Loma Lighthouse became part of the US National Park Service’s Cabrillo National Monument, one of the most visited national monuments in the country.
A must-see is the Cabrillo Visitor Center complex, with its panoramic views of the city skyline and San Diego Bay, the Pacific Ocean and the Coronado Islands off the coast of Baja, in California. A winding paved path will take you to the highest point in the park, where you will find one of the first lighthouses built along the Pacific coast. At every turn, you’ll discover even more spectacular views.
The US Park Service has carefully restored the original 1855 Point Loma Lighthouse building to 1880 standards, preserving the interior as a museum for visitors to enjoy and learn about its history. The lighthouse housed Captain Robert Decatur Israel and his family for 20 years.
Be sure to visit the inspiring replica of the Point Loma Lighthouse ‘vegetable garden’. In the 1880s, it was a two-hour horse and buggy ride up the hill to the old town to get supplies of food and water, and to visit family and to friends. Vegetable gardens were often a necessity rather than a choice. The Israels’ family vegetable garden contained root vegetables, leafy vegetables and fruits, which were essential to supplement the family’s food supply. Today, this replica vegetable garden, funded by the Point Loma Garden Club, is maintained by volunteers from Cabrillo Monument Park.
Vegetable gardens are a great option whether you are new to gardening or consider yourself a gardening enthusiast. No matter where you live or how much space you have, the San Diego County Association of Master Gardeners website has resources to help you select plants and meet soil and gardening needs. water. One of my favorite gardening quotes from English poet Alfred Austin is “Show me your garden…and I’ll tell you what you look like”.
Well, show me your garden, and I’ll tell you what you like to cook and eat!
Helen Purcell Montag is an active UC Master Gardener who also loves history, travel, writing, genealogy, and Spanish.
The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) website provides details on pests and disorders that can afflict your garden plants. For answers to your specific gardening questions, call the Master Gardener Association of San Diego hotline, (858) 822-6910, or email email@example.com.