Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small Home Gardens I've Seen Recently

I have been traveling around Italy this past month, and in spite of all the great museums, artwork, and historic structures that are pretty much everywhere I look, the little gardening efforts of regular folks are what draws my attention the most.
Looking WAY down on a small veggie garden in Chianciano.
When we have been zooming along in buses, I see a lot of larger gardens that are absolutely amazing, but I have not had a good way to take pictures. In smaller towns, though, especially in non-tourist areas, little food gardens are fairly easy to spot.

Hilltop towns like Chianciano are steep-sided, so I have had to lean out over walls to take pictures of the gardens (Joe makes sure that I am leaning safely!).  They almost all include a few grape vines and an olive tree or two!

Other residents don't have any bare ground for growing anything. One way they make up for that lack is by hanging planters on the walls and then filling them with flowers and herbs. I've seen a few hanging containers with strawberries trailing out of them.

Another hilltop town called Sinalunga has a suburban area on flatter ground outside the walls of the city, and Joe & I saw MANY little food gardens there. It was interesting to see that even small gardens here are planted in rows, while many small gardens in Georgia are planted in blocks, using intensive spacing.

I do not yet know whether the large number of gardens represents tradition or if it reflects on the local tax structure. One Italian guy we met, who had lived in Louisiana for many years, said that taxes here are nearly 60%. Even though that high taxation covers social programs like healthcare, that tax rate could encourage food-growing, since food you grow is not taxed. Every vegetable and bit of olive oil and wine that is produced at home could be seen as un-taxable income. That particular motivation is referred to by some gardeners I've known as "sticking it to the man".

Regardless of the reasons for their existence, all those little food gardens make me smile. Hope that all the gardens back home are doing well, in spite of the super-abundant rainfall of the past several weeks!


  1. Love these photos Amy and your wonderful descriptions! Do you see a lot of irrigation systems in the gardens or do they water there by hand?

    Denise at Green Meadows

  2. Hi Denise! The watering here seems to be by hand. I have seen people with water bottles, pouring water around the bases of plants two liters at a time, but that's it. This region is in such a horrible drought that outdoor watering has been banned, even for food gardens. The owner of one of the local vineyards who has a food garden told me that she has been saving water from the sink (dishes, face-washing, etc) to use on her vegetable garden. Another vineyard-owner said that he had planted a much smaller garden this year, since providing water was going to be so difficult. A woman who invited us to her home for supper this evening has a food garden, and I am hoping to learn more about local gardens from her while we are there. Is all well at Green Meadows this summer? I would guess that gardeners in the Atlanta area are happy about all the rain there this summer -- not much watering needed! Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks. -Amy

  3. Awesome photos! I was up in NYC last year and saw similar photos. People in city atmospheres are doing all kinds of creative things to grow plants. A lot of inspiration.

    1. Hi Mike! The tiny yards and gardens I saw looked pretty productive, and I was even more glad to see many gardens in what we would consider the front yard. Now, when people comment on my own front yard food-garden, I can tell them that is is "Italian style". I don't plan to go to all row-gardening, though. We just got back from Italy yesterday, and I am looking forward to putting in a little patch of bush beans. Hope that your garden is growing well! -Amy


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