Time to get dirty

Welcome to RN&R’s annual Garden Guide

We have nothing against flowers. We love flowers. But lately, the focus seems to be on growing food—in the backyard, in the front yard, on the condo balcony, up a post, wherever you have the space.

Maybe that’s because of the economy. Everything is, right? It’s the modern victory garden—we’ll call it “urban” to be appropriately hip. Suddenly, lush lawns are beginning to look like wasted space. Of course, as any old-timer will tell you, growing your own food is nothing new. And yet, it seems to be. At least this palpable excitement around it does—put in motion by Michael Pollan perhaps, or Barbara Kingsolver, or the White House’s organic garden, or your pocketbook or a gardening neighbor or just the primal urge to take a seed, watch it grow, and then eat it up.

So grow flowers, please. Grow the kind bees and beneficial insects love to visit. But also throw in a tomato plant or some Swiss chard or just some culinary herbs you’ll nibble from for years.

To do all this growing, there’s one thing any gardener will tell you: Build your soil. Especially in Northern Nevada, which isn’t as blessed with natural fecundity as other parts of the country. But don’t let that stop you. We can grow an amazing amount of food here.

This guide hopes to inspire and take you further. It offers advice on how to make compost and do sheet mulching. It introduces you to the Brown family, who converted their front yard into a lovely, edible landscape. For those of you without land to speak of, we show you how to grow in containers. And, just in case you’re feeling intimidated, we suggest some easy plants to get you started.

Happy spring, everybody.