from the October 2008 issue of Verdugo Monthly
A personal vegetable garden is a delicious alternative to the typical suburban lawn
By Ilsa Setziol
About five years ago, I began to suspect my food qualified for more frequent flyer miles than I did. As an environmental reporter, I was already spending a lot of time contemplating the consequences of shipping, trucking and flying goods long distances: communities awash in diesel soot, and vast amounts of carbon dioxide heating up the planet.
So I started looking for food grown locally, paying attention to what was in season. But it was still a gamble: would any of the pricey peaches ripen, or would they all rot before getting tasty?
Then my husband decided to plant tomatoes at our San Gabriel home. They were delicious. We had pizza with sweet cherry and pear tomatoes, fresh salsa and endless pasta sauce. After years of regarding plants as something to whack with hedge trimmers, suddenly my husband was interested in growing them. He wanted corn, peppers, potatoes…watermelon. But all I could see was oceans of water spewing out the hose.
Both Teegan and horticulturalist Lili Singer recommend feeding your plants with homemade compost. “The plants don’t know the difference between organic and synthetic fertilizer,” said Singer, “but the soil does.” And so does the planet, according to the environmental group Californians Against Waste. The group’s Scott Smithline explains that when you apply synthetic fertilizers, the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide escapes into the air. Nitrogen pollution is also more likely to flow off your yard and into waterways.