San Diego is a gardener's paradise in so many ways! SDET is pleased to present a new, regular feature written by avid local gardener Laurie Cohen. She is passionate about her art, and we know you will be too as she covers timely topics in San Diego's gardens.

Your organic garden: Dig it!

by Laurie Cohen

o you want to experience the joy of picking your own fruits and vegetables out of your own backyard or balcony and eating them before they have time to get old? Need only one scallion or a lemon while cooking your favorite dinner? No time to run to the store? So maybe you know that organic vegetables are the way to go. You look for them at the food co-op, store or supermarket. But have you given any thought to growing some of them for yourself? You and thousands of Americans are rediscovering the backyard garden... and growing food organically, of course.

Gardening is the number one hobby in America. You can connect yourself to the food you eat and improve the health of the earth just by growing some of your own fruits and vegetables. You will recycle your garden wastes into compost that feeds the earthworms and adds fertility to the soil. You will become more aware of each day's weather and the effect it makes on the growth of your plants. You will learn to water judiciously, for our San Diego is a coastal desert. You will become adept at recognizing the beneficial insect as well as the predator, and know that each has its own place in the garden often to your dismay. You will eat your bounty, sometimes too soon, before it's ripe, because you are learning to pick it at the peak of its flavor. More often, you will harvest at its height of freshness and taste, an abundantly joyful moment.

You can become the master of your own land by taking a mere seed and growing it to a perfect vegetable. In watching a pencil-sized tree seedling grow and bear beautiful fruit, you will marvel at nature's course. In joining this group of gardeners you can share in the wisdom that each person has. You can join in controlling your own health, and that of your loved ones with the freshest and most nutritious food available.

Sounds great? Can't wait to get started? Already reading those wonderful seed catalogs and dreaming of more space to grow them? You are on your way to learning an extraordinary amount of information. Here is a hobby that can ease the stress of a long workday and educate your children at the same time. It can be done with family, friends, or all alone. It's the easiest commitment to make: improving your share of the Earth and yourself at the same time. It could not be easier and more fun. Good gardening!

In future columns I'll be talking about how to convert your garden to organic, living with bugs, how to test your soil and why it's important. and letting you know what's going on in my garden.

Laurie teaches free organic gardening from her garden in North Clairemont and will answer you gardening questions on line:, or call her at 270-1490