An Interview with Niki Jabbour: Groundbreaking Food Gardens
I am very excited to introduce you to Niki Jabbour today.
A native of Nova Scotia she's overcome the challenges of gardening in cold weather and snow. Her first book is The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live.
In her newest book Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden she shares garden plans that can fit just about any personality or space, there is literally a garden plan for everyone. I'm looking forward to trying the Wildlife-Friendly garden that was designed by Tammi Hartung.
Niki's work has also appeared in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Heirloom Gardener, Gardens East, Garden Making and Canadian Gardening and you can hear her on the radio as the host of
The Weekend Gardener Sunday's from 11 to 1 pm Atlantic time on News 95.7 FM, New 91.9 FM or News 88.9 FM or you can listen live online at www.news957.com.
Interview with Niki Jabbour by Bonnie Diczhazy
In your book Groundbreaking Food Gardens you've showcased 73 master gardeners, making this book a fantastic "who's who" of gardening. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Groundbreaking Food Gardens is a result of me being a curious gardener. I always want to know what other gardeners are up to - what they like to grow, how they organize their gardens, what techniques they use to increase productivity, their favourite varieties, and so on. I then approached 72 of my favourite gardeners across North America and the UK and asked them to share their garden plans, ideas, tips and techniques in hopes that others may also find it inspiring and useful.
I love that there are 73 garden choices. I love them all. How can a home gardener choose which one is right for them?
The great thing about the 73 plans (72 contributors, plus a plan from me!) is that there is a very diverse range of ideas for every sized space - from tiny balconies to huge homesteads. In my own landscaping, I'm incorporating about a dozen of the plans - Charlie Nardozzi's edible hedge, Renee Shepherd and Beth Benjamin's gourmet containers, which will jazz up my back deck, Dan Jason's power foods ideas, Jessica Walliser's 'Good Bug' garden, for example. You can pick and choose elements from the many plans and adapt them to your own back - or front yards.
In your first book The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live you share secrets on gardening year round which I'm guessing could be a challenge in Canada. Can you share one of those secrets now?
It's so easy and rewarding to stretch the harvest season into late autumn and winter. I think for most homeowners, the best way to attempt year round veggie gardening is to start with a cold frame. It's such a versatile structure and makes a great weekend project. Ours are made from untreated local hemlock, measure 3 by 6 feet and are topped with a sheet of Lexan. Lexan is a twin wall polycarbonate that is durable and insulating, but also allows light to pass through to the plants. I start seeding for fall/winter in mid to late summer and we enjoy a selection of cold tolerant veggies throughout winter. Cold frame favourites include tatsoi, spinach, arugula, parsley, thyme, scallions, carrots and baby kale.
As host of The Weekend Gardener which broadcasts on News 95.7 FM in Halifax, News 91.9 FM in Moncton and News 88.9 FM in Saint John you cover a wide range of gardening topics. Do you have a favorite to share?
The Weekend Gardener is now celebrating 8 years! We really do cover a wide range of topics - from edibles to ornamentals to bees and butterflies. And of course, no show would be complete without a little complaining about garden pests like deer, slugs or goutweed! Over the past eight years, I have really seen the shift in interest from ornamental to edible gardening and I'm always on the lookout for new guests or topics to feature.
How did you get your start in gardening?
Like many gardeners, I grew up with a garden. Both of my grandmothers were avid gardeners and grew many ornamental plants - peonies, roses, lilacs and lilies. My family also had a summer veggie garden which introduced me to the wonder of growing food. When I was a teenager I read the excellent book The Harrowsmith Guide to Herbs by Patrick Lima, which inspired me to take over about half of the garden to grow herbs - I was amazed that I could actually growthe green bits that my mother had in her spice cupboard - parsley, basil, thyme and more! I never looked back.
I have to ask. Favorite vegetable? Can you even have just one favorite?
Favourite vegetable - no fair! So hard to pick one, but I'll have to go with the unromantic bean. I just love growing pole beans - yellow, green and purple varieties. They're my favourite summer treat - a big plate of lightly steamed beans drizzled in butter and salt. Heavenly! My top picks are 'Emerite,' 'Fortex' and 'Purple Podded Pole'. I'm also a bit obsessed with heirloom onions this year.. and always heirloom tomatoes.
You can find Niki Jabbour online right here:
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live
Also pick up The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live by Niki Jabbour.
Last updated on September 3, 2014
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