A lush edible garden from last year's Edible Landscaping tour. All photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke
Are you itching to add more vegetables or fruit to your garden but not sure how to begin? Or perhaps you need clever ideas for gardening in containers, or in small spaces. Seasoned gardeners know that besides getting your hands in the dirt, the best way to learn about gardening is from other gardeners.
This summer consider going on an edible gardens tour, even if you have to organize it yourself.
Can't Find an Edible Gardens Tour Near You? DIY!
Summer is the perfect season to visit local gardens and get tips and ideas directly from the gardeners themselves. The goal is to see a diversity of approaches to landscaping with edibles, and to come away with great ideas that you can adapt to your situation.
But if you can’t find a tour in your area consider organizing an informal garden tour in your neighborhood. Most avid gardeners love to show their gardens and share their experiences. All you have to do is ask.
Ten Tips for Organizing an Edible Gardens Tour
Decide what features the gardens should have to make the cut for your tour: organic practices only? examples of wise water use, composting, etc? edibles in both the front and backyards?
Location and scope: will it be restricted to walking or biking distance only? carpooling? Who will attend?
Send out a call for gardens through your neighborhood newsletter or community bulletin boards (both virtual and actual) and social media. Do a walk-around or bike ride to spot gardens with edibles in the front yard. Chances are good that they have more in the backyard.
When you've found eligible gardens and willing hosts, visit each garden to make sure it fits your expectations for your tour.
Be clear on what the garden hosts are expected to do, such as answering questions and explaining their approach to growing food. Of course, they must be willing to have a certain number of people traipsing though their garden on the appointed day, and commit to being available at the time of the tour.
Organize your tour as far in advance as possible. Enthusiastic gardeners will want to showcase their gardens in the best possible manner so having lead-time to plan is appreciated, plus you'll need time to get the word out to recruit attendees.
For an informal tour you can visit the gardens as a group within a neighborhood, one garden at a time. Make sure everyone knows ahead of time how much time will be allotted at each stop. It’s easy to get carried away and spend too much time at one garden and not have enough left for the others!
If your tour is larger in scope and you have lots of attendees planned, arrange to have a pre-tour in advance for the gardeners showing their gardens, so that they’ll have a chance to visit each other’s gardens.
For a neighborhood tour a potluck or tomato tasting is the perfect way to end the event and have more time to socialize.
- Plan for next's year's tour: keep a list of the current participants and another list for gardens for the following years' tour. Gardeners who couldn't participate this time may be willing and ready next year. Create an online photo album to share and encourage the participants to post their photos and comments.
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Patricia Larenas is in her third year as a volunteer organizer for the annual Edible Landscaping Tour organized by Common Ground Organic Garden Supply and Education Center. It takes place on Saturday, July 21, 2012, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. You can register online.
This tour is located on the San Francisco Peninsula and is a one-day tour of ten local gardens that feature landscaping with edibles and gardening by sustainable methods, including: composting, wise water use, and even raising chickens for eggs and manure. This popular event attracts hundreds of attendees each year.
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