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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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March 9, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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March 9, 2012
 

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Homegrown veggies LOCAL GARDENER SHARES HOW PEOPLE CAN FEED THEMSELVES FROM HOME- GROWN ORGANIC FOOD BY TIMOTHY SEXAUER "Can't grow food here: soil's bad, not enough space" is what many folks in town have to say on the topic of urban gardening here in Avalon, but resident Scott Sturges and others have a different story to tell. In Feb. 2011, Sturges turned a rocky weed habitat in the comer of his backyard in downtown Avalon into an organic garden that produces more food than he can eat throug- hout each season of the year. "A little effort, you can do anything" he said. And he wants to share with others how to do it as well. Sturges has been developing his green thumb and mind since child- hood. He was raised learning how to productively sow and lovingly tend edible plants in the family garden. He developed these skills throughout life as he grew into a mature and productive business owner in Avalon, always having a food garden to nurture. He started a landscaping business in his twen- ties, through which he was able to make a living productively sowing ecosystems. He says that he loves working with plants because he simply loves nature. Sturges has learned quite a few tricks on growing food over the de- cades of his love affair with nature. One of them involves how to con- ceptualize the space of your garden, because here in Avalon, as Sturges put it, "Spacing is the deal?' Rather than thinking in terms of rows like a farmer, he says to think in terms of square-feet. For instance, carrots and radishes only require one square-inch of space to grow into dinner, whi.ch makes for quite a bountiful crop in only one square-foot. This way of working with the garden in terms of square-foot sections turns the task of changing crops throughout the seasons from an occasional labor fest into an on- going and easy relationship, with the amount of compost needed to recondition the soil just a few scoopfuls a week. "Another trick to productively re-conceptualize space" Sturges said, "is to think vertically as well as horizontally." He has attached trellises to his fence on which he now grows peas, cantaloupes, wa- termelons, and more. The trick to growing melons vertically-, says Sturges, is nylon stockings. "Again,is the spacing OK? Wa- termelon, cantaloupe, squash, they need a lot of room and they use a lot of room" he said. "I run my vi- nes of cantaloupe and watermelon up through the trellising. When the fruit starts to form, you get a nylon stocking, and you put your fruit in there, and you tie the nylon stocking up to your trellis, and it supports the melon, you see what I mean? "so it's not gbing to fall off and break off the plant because it's just hanging there, you know? And you're going up, you don't need ground space, you see what I mean?" This way, melon vines do not have to crawl along the ground to reach for the sun, which is what plants tend to do one way or the other. On the topic of sunlight, Sturges says that for some plants six hours of direct sunlight is ide- al, while others like lettuce only require 4 hours to get their fill of solar energy. Even a well-fed plant, howe- ver, is in danger of salad-eating insects. In order to harmonious- ly counteract this threat, Sturges uses companion-planting ideas. He plants basil, garlic, and oni- on throughout his garden to ward off insects, while planting mari- gold in the outskirts to give them something else to chew on. He is not just working with a crop; he is co-creating with an ecosystem. Using these methods and Scott Sturges, right, prepares to plant more vegetables in his garden. Above, a fan of the foodgarden lends a helping hand. Courtesy photo, others, Sturges and his garden pro- vide him with so much food that he gives most of it away to friends. As Sturges said, "You can feed a whole family in eight square feet?' It is the bountiful productivity of his methods that leads Sturges to his idea of how all in town can get in on the fun, including those who do not have any space that receives enough sunlight. Sturges says that while some people may have useful space, others may have useful time, and can come tend the garden here and there and share in the bounty. This involves community, and to help foster such community of people in Avalon who wish to eat food from within their own spaces, Sturges wants to start up a regular gathering of gardeners and would- be gardeners to enjoy each other's company and discuss gardening, including problems unique to Ava- lon such as spacing difficulties and" foraging deer. He invites all who are interested to email him at real- harmony@att.net in order to coor- dinate the first meet-up. He is ho- ping someone might have a space available that would be free so eve- ryone can gather as friends without having to pay. He would have it at his house, but, as is quite common in the beautiful close-knit town of Avalon, he has very littlespace. Sturges will be writing more for The Islander with gardening tips, "planting suggestions, and recipes for what is being harvested. If you Catali , Island Medical Center Monte Mellon, MD Tracey Norton, DO * Laura Ulibarri, MD Diane Chamberlin, NP- Catalina Island Medical Center's state-of-the-art Siemens CT Scanner can provide the diagnostic images needed for nearly all medical conditions. Simply let your physician know you would prefer to have your diagnostic imaging completed on the island. Familiar places and familiar faces No appointment needed scans-available immediately on CD * Images sent electronically to your physician * Please call for more information. (310) 510-O7OO 1OO Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.ClMedicalCenter.org would like to see a slideshow of the creation of his garden you can find it at www.ahumanjoumey. com/videos. BIRTHDAYS Friday, March 9 " Wendy Harp Ivan Rodriguez Jenny Tucker Saturday, March 10 Cindy Rinehart Lazaris David Montano Sunday, March 11 Gina Hill Lisa Saldana Alex Morand Monday, March 12 ,Wendy Hernandez Colby Cushing Jethro Flynn Loreen Saldana Raul Cazares Tuesday, March 13 Judy Hibbs Diana Burke Sara Hernandez Julie Glass Anna Garcia Wednesday, March 14 Marc Beaumont Cole Saldana Nora Reyes Thursday, March 15 Evelyn Cano Adam Del Torto Maria Elena Martin ANNIVERSARIES: Sunday, March 11 Adam & Rosie Hernandez Send us your news and photos! ed@cinews, us 8 ; Friday, March 9, 2012 THE CATAUNA ISLANDER