Vancouver gardening advocate encourages would-be green thumbs

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      Young or old, well-to-do or poor, experienced or not, long-time gardening guru Matthew Kemshaw has a message for you if you’re thinking of taking up gardening.

      “Give it a try—it’s very easy to get started,” Kemshaw, who works as the urban agricultural coordinator at the Environmental Youth Alliance, told the Straight during a stint at the Strathcona Community Garden. “Plants want to grow and anything you do towards encouraging that, you’re going to have some success. You’re also going to have some failures, and you just need to learn from your failures and keep at it, keep trying.”

      Kemshaw said he has really noticed more and more people wanting to grow food in the city of late, as food prices have been trending upwards, mostly tracking oil prices, and people want to take more ownership of what they put on their plates and the path it takes on the way there.

      “I always recommend that people start with salad greens and herbs, because they’re easy to grow and they are quite expensive in the grocery store,” Kemshaw said by way of starting points. “And they are easy to grow in pots. Potatoes are super easy of course, especially if you have a yard, or space in your yard, that gets some sun. You can throw in some potatoes and you can get some more out of it always.”

      On the urban gardening front, Kemshaw walks the walk as a renter in East Vancouver with access to limited gardening space.

      “I have a small garden space at my house, but it’s really small and between two carports,” he said. “It’s the only space with any sun on the property where I’m living. It’s not the nicest. We’ve got a bunch of stuff growing there. We’ve got potatoes and beans and chard and about four different kinds of lettuce and some beets and red orach.”

      It may not be too late to plant this year, as the damp spring has pushed back harvesting times. So why not give it a try?

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      May 31, 2011 at 4:30pm

      I used to grow my own food back east and just relocated to a place with enough outdoor space to start again.

      There's nothing like just stepping outside to grab some dill or basil or tomatoes when you're cooking. There are lots of Canadian sites that sell seeds for pretty much anything you could want in your garden, all at reasonable prices.

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