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Shawna Coronado wants to get you out in the garden. No space? No problem! She’ll encourage you to garden vertically on walls, fences, or in vertical structures. No sun? No problem! She’s got a long list of edibles that can grow in less-than-ideal light. No time? No problem! Shawna can teach you to build a low-maintenance food garden that will slash your grocery bill. She has built a career on sustainable, organic food gardening and in her latest book, 101 Organic Gardening Hacks, Shawna features eco-friendly, DIY solutions to improve any garden.
5 Questions with Shawna Coronado:
Savvy -Tell us about your garden?
Shawna – When I first started gardening at my current home, about 16 years ago, I started with a few container gardens. I then installed several hostas around my front tree, which is a 40 year old crabapple that is nearly at the end of its life. As addictions go, I could never have enough garden, so I began expanding that circle until it stretched across my front yard. Soon, the yard was transformed into a front lawn vegetable garden, which enabled me to donate about 500 pounds of food annually to my local food pantry.
Naturally I gardened all my side paths, then I removed the grass in the backyard and installed a flagstone circle with subsequent gardens sprouting up around the hardscaping. Eventually I began gardening behind my fence and property line on a 250 foot stretch that dripped over my neighbor’s gardens. When I ran out of space, I started gardening up! Container gardens stretch across many of my balconies and patios and living walls with herbs and ornamentals line my fences.
When I was diagnosed with severe spinal osteoarthritis I refocused my efforts – I pulled out that front lawn veggie garden and planted easy to maintain drought tolerant perennials, then lifted all my vegetables and herbs off the ground and up into elevated beds to make gardening easier for me.
What I discovered in this journey is that a garden is so much more than a garden; it is a haven of wellness. Whether you eat your wellness by consuming the organic herbs and vegetables you grow, or find a therapeutic connection through touching soil and being outdoors, you will find that when you completely dedicate yourself to gardening your soul becomes a little calmer. Gardening is wellness.
Savvy – Do you have an absolute favourite garden hack?
Shawna – Oh my goodness, that is like trying to pick your favorite child. I am very fond of my shade-tolerant herb and vegetable hacks because so many people feel that food gardening is a sun-only experience. In reality, growing in shade is more than possible and can produce some delicious results.
Savvy – 101 Organic Gardening Hacks is a book for both food and flower growers that focuses on organic gardening. Why is organic growing so important to you?
Shawna – When I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis my nutritionist encouraged me to eat as many whole natural foods as I could. Chemicals of all kinds can lead to reactionary inflammation. That inflammation leads to pain. In order to reduce pain and inflammation, eat healthy foods that have less chemicals in them. Additionally, using less chemicals in the garden is so much better for the environment. Choosing to help the environment first makes a lot of sense.
Savvy – This book is packed with so many fun and easy ideas. Where do you get your inspiration?
Shawna – All my ideas for this book are things I’ve learned along my journey of gardening. Most of the time they are an answer to a financial problem. For example, “I can’t afford to buy soil, how can I make my own?” or “I can’t afford to buy bricks to line my patio and walkways, what will work as a substitute that’s free?” In both those cases I sought an answer that would be free or cheap as a way to work around my dilemma. You can make your own compost, of course, and if you can’t afford to buy bricks to line your walkways, use wine bottles recycled from the local steak house. Works like a charm in both cases!
Savvy – Can you share a favourite budget-busting organic gardening hack?
Shawna – Absolutely! A great money saver is to use paper towels when seed saving. I pluck a few cherry tomatoes off a plant and squish them in paper towels, then leave the towels on my clothes dryer to dry out. When they’re completely dry, you can cut the paper towels in little squares and send out to family and friends as a garden-share gift. Plant the paper towel seeds directly in the soil and begin watering — a few tomatoes will sprout up for next season.
Savvy – Many of the hacks contain found or up-cycled items. What are some of your favorite up-cycled items to include in your garden?
Shawna – I love to use wine bottles in gardens, but I also like reusing rotisserie chicken containers as mini-nurseries for seed starting. As well, milk jugs can be used as a cloches, and old light fixtures and chandeliers can be converted into containers and beautiful decorations for your outdoor garden rooms.
More on Shawna Coronado and her book, 101 Organic Gardening Hacks:
Shawna Coronado is a wellness and green living lifestyle advocate. She’s also the author of the best-selling book, Grow a Living Wall, which features ideas, inspiration and projects to grow food, flowers and pollinator-friendly plants. As an author, photographer, and media host, Shawna campaigns globally for social good and health awareness. With a “make a difference” focus on sustainable home living, organic gardening, and healthy food recipes built to inspire, Shawna hopes to stimulate positive changes for her community. Her gardens and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues including radio and television. Shawna’s successful organic living photographs and stories have been shared in many international home and garden magazines, websites, and multiple books. You can meet Shawna by connecting online with her on her website at www.shawnacoronado.com.