About the Author
Certified master gardener and horticulturist Geri Galian Miller is the founder of Home Grown Edible Landscapes. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and author of her own blog, GroEdibles.
Read an Excerpt
Preface If you’re reading this book, you’ve been blessed to live in the southern part of the Golden State. As diverse a map of topography as it is a map of humanity, Southern California provides vastly different gardening experiences for all 16.5 million of us (that’s 43% of the population of the entire state). From the beautiful inland valleys, with their blistering summer heat and potential winter frosts, to the glorious coastal plains, where temperatures rarely reach the extremes of the thermometer, we relish gardening here in USDA zones 9 to 11, and all the a’s and b’s in between. This book will cover our territory and its various growing regions, starting with the Pacific Coast north of Santa Barbara, at San Luis Obispo, east to just south of Bakersfield, then along the San Gabriel Mountains to San Bernardino and south into San Diego. Yes, SoCal has it all. Sun and surf, heat and freezes, wind, snow and—well, just a little rain thrown in here and there. Most wonderful of all, though, is that most of us can grow something edible in our gardens 365 glorious days a year! This isn’t to say that this near gardening nirvana isn’t without its challenges, however. We gardeners still need to develop skills beyond composting. We need to learn how to take our cues from the increasingly unpredictable seasonal shifts that occur here, and be ready to anticipate and deal with the impact of drought and periodic heavy rain on the way we grow food. And what food it is! Our cultural diversity allows us each to share the uniquely personal experience of growing what was familiar to us and our parents and grandparents with our neighbors or fellow community gardeners, and vice versa. It is no surprise then that edible gardens bring people together around food. Whether you are brand new to gardening or just in need of a refresher, the format of this book makes it easy for you to learn about our unique SoCal growing region, and how climate zones, topography, and changing weather patterns affect our gardening experiences. Included are a primer on the basic tenets of organic gardening, with tips and tricks about planning and planting; a month-to-month guide that delivers practical advice about what you can expect—and do—each month; and, the heart of the matter, Edibles A to Z. A seasoned gardener’s mantra is “know what you grow.” The Edibles A to Z section gives you everything you’ll need to know to successfully grow your tried-and-true favorites and a few new ones that will surprise you! Agretti, dragonfruit, or fenugreek, anyone? Food security, economic pressures, self-sufficiency, healthier eating, tastier eating, reducing your carbon footprint, family togetherness, community spirit, exercise, stress relief, a landscape that is both beautiful and productive—whatever your reason for choosing to begin your edible gardening adventure, you’ve joined an incredible group of like-minded folks! Natural nurturers, we edible gardeners support each other’s desire to grow what we eat and understand each trial and victory along the way. But first, a few words on “success” and “failure.” Above all, remove any preconceived notions you have of both words, especially when you’re a beginner. You know, sometimes we just can’t seem to get out of our own way. If you have expectations that your first season gardening or your first season in a new site is going to end in some kind of “coffee table book” garden of Eden, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. Not only is gardening on-the-job training, but gardening forces us instant-gratification-loving humans to slow down and learn on Mother Nature’s timetable, not our own. We learn by reading and discussing with other gardeners, of course, but nothing is a substitute for being out there, observing closely, and getting dirty in your own garden—season after season. As for “failures,” when we were children we really had no fear. As we grew, we developed a fear of peer disapproval if we didn’t get things right the first time and soon we began to be afraid of trying new things. How sad is that? I have to quote my dear ol’ dad, who taught me that if you don’t fail, you don’t learn. So, set your fears aside, follow your bliss, and take that first step . . . or shovelful. We’re all learning together. And whatever your reason for getting your hands “dirty,” this book will become your indispensable, dirt-stained, dog-eared guide and inspiration to get growing all year long!