It was roughly a year ago that grocery stores started struggling to keep toilet paper on shelves. We hadn’t yet been told not to leave the house but when we were, resilience and self-reliance seemed to be at the top of everyone’s mind. Maybe, deep in our lizard brains we knew that when faced with a worst-case scenario type situation we’d need more than toilet paper to survive, so we stocked our pantries, ordered seeds and started planting “pandemic gardens.”
A study published in October by Dalhousie University and Angus Reid concluded that last spring, one in five Canadians started to grow food at home. Sixty-seven percent of poll respondents were new to gardening. A study by Kwantlen University, published in December, shows that consumers in this province continue to be concerned about how variables such as trade policies and natural disasters will affect their ability to access foods in the future. They’re also worried about increasing prices. People might be onto something, so… how ’bout we keep those gardens going?
The timing couldn’t be better for the release of Acadia Tucker’s new book, Tiny Victory Gardens. Tucker is a graduate of the UBC Department of Land and Food Systems, a regenerative farmer (currently based in Maine), and a prolific writer. Last winter, Bowen Island FoodResilience Society (BIFS) sold copies of her second book, Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Carbon Farming. The title fits BIFS’ mission perfectly, as members are united by a sense of urgency about climate change, and by the belief that agriculture can help us adapt to it and mitigate the damage.
Tucker’s first two books (the first is called Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits and Vegetables) have since become favourites of mine and critical tools in my garden planning process. Her newest work adds an extra dose of creativity and joy into the art of growing food. Tiny Victory Gardens recognizes that potted plants and raised beds are unlikely to be effective tools for carbon sucking. Rather, it is inspired by the belief that anyone with access to a small patch of light can become more resilient.
While her day job is growing ingredients for beer on a regenerative farm, it seems Tucker’s side gig (and obsession) is her “mini-farm.”
“I experience February a little differently than most New Englanders,” she writes and then goes on to describe her house mid-winter: herbs in the kitchen; root crops and kale (brought in from the outdoors) in the living room; avocado tree in the bedroom; fig, lime, banana and cherry tomatoes growing under lights in the dining room.
Tiny Victory Gardens provides all the tips and tools you need to start your own indoor, or indoor/outdoor mini farm.
If you don’t trust the potting soil purchased in bags (Tucker doesn’t particularly seem to), Tiny Victory Gardens includes recipes for you to make your own. There’s a section on raised beds. There are planting charts so you can keep the fresh food ready for picking for as long a season as possible. There’s information on indoor composting, and DIY pollination, what plants to put under lights, and how to make really pretty pots of edibles.
There is truly something for everyone in this book. If you are a long-time gardener and deep into your own method, you will want this book to swap tips and compare notes with this master-grower. If you’re looking to take the pandemic garden into year two (or year one, for that matter) you will undoubtedly find answers to your questions, and tips to make your garden, whatever size it may be, more abundant.
This article was originally published in the Bowen Island Undercurrent on March 29, 2021. Author: Meribeth Deen