Reno author and consultant takes a holistic, healthy approach to growing food.
Even in the midst of Northern Nevada’s blustery winters and blistering summers, a few prolific edible backyard Edens can be found. One of these belongs to South Reno resident Tova Roseman, but it may be a bit challenging to find any orderly rows of vegetables on her half-acre lot.
Roseman started Tova’s Garden, a landscape design and consulting business, in 1998. Over the years, she has written two bestselling books, Perennials and Mr. Vegetable’s Garden Tips, and produced garden segments for the NBC, ABC, and Discovery networks. Currently, Roseman is focused on consulting about organic gardening and its direct relationship to health and wellness. Her podcast highlights other gardeners as well as the emotional and physical benefits of gardening.
Her methodology is a mixture of design and functionality. She blends her ultimate goal of health with her desire for a beautiful outdoor living space and testing laboratory. Ornamental beds of perennial flowers are dotted with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. Landscaping boulders and more decorative shrubs act as microclimates for more tender plants as well as the herbes de Provence that Roseman gives away throughout the year.
“It’s not just a style of gardening; it’s a whole philosophy of gardening and our connection with nature,” Roseman says. “That’s why you garden; it makes you feel good. Your spiritual connection to nature, and the mindless tasks of meditation while you are weeding or digging, it’s all related.”
She also takes advantage of our often-irksome climate.
“High desert is not hard; high desert is where you are going to have the most benefit for your vegetables because the harsher the climate, the more nutrition goes into the plant,” Roseman says. “For example, we hear that Alaska blueberries are healthier because they are in a harsh climate. Well, Nevada also is a harsh climate. The harsher the climate, the more the plant has to push itself to grow, and that’s where it creates the strength and nutrition that go into your vegetables. You will absolutely taste the difference.”
Simple Tips for Spring
Roseman’s tips for getting a garden ready for spring also follow a holistic yet practical method. It all starts with getting the soil ready months ahead of time. Even when the ground is frozen during the winter, she recommends layering compost and manure on top of garden beds. The nutrients seep into the ground and can then be turned into the soil with a shovel or rototiller in the spring.
“Good seeds will not grow in bad soil, but bad seeds will not grow in good soil,” Tova says. “If you have good soil, you will have very few weeds, and you need to use a lot less water.”
To start a new garden, Roseman recommends downloading her free e-book, The Soil Recipe Book (available on her website). The book outlines the process for building organic soil that not only grows great veggies, but also attracts beneficial micro-organisms and pollinators.
“That recipe is like gold; everyone wants that recipe,” Roseman says with a laugh.
She adds that you shouldn’t waste your money on bagged soil. However, if you need better soil than what you already have, she recommends purchasing bagged organic soil by Kellogg Garden Products and then utilizing her soil recipe to amend it.
When it comes to garden planning, Roseman also recommends tossing aside the typical square vegetable bed and not stressing about a lack of garden space.
“It doesn’t have to be, ‘This area is only for roses, or this area is only for vegetables,’” Roseman says. “Plants are healthier when you mix them all together, all different species, rather than just one kind. I never have disease or insect problems; everything just seems healthier.”
Roseman proposes getting creative in the garden by mixing edible plants with ornamentals and providing the necessities of each of those plants so that they all benefit from the individual care.
“People try to make gardening too hard probably because they don’t quite understand it,” Roseman says. “Keep it simple and get joy out of it. It’s not work.”
For details, visit Tovasgarden.com.
Christina Nellemann also is a firm believer in the healing power of garden meditation.