The little garden that could

My little garden is growing well. I’d like to give you a tour….

As much as possible, I try to grow a lot of food in a small space. I also try to reuse things that some other people might throw in the garbage, like the tires in the photo below. They were on my car and my mechanic said I should remove them and get new ones. Instead of throwing these out, I took them home, spray painted them, and planted food in them. This year, it looks like I have a few squash planted in there. I’m interested to see how they’ll grow as there might be too many in the small space.

Squash are growing out of my old tires

Squash are growing out of my old tires

In earlier years, my son would work with me to build small raised beds. We aren’t carpenters. We went to Home Depot, got some wood cut, and did our very best to build some little, functional beds that fit our small space.

A raised bed and planters

My son helped me build the raised bed on the left, when he was only 10 years old. It was his Mother’s Day gift to me!

We also grow food in buckets/pails that we purchased from Canadian Tire for about $5 each. We spray painted them, drilled drainage holes in the bottom, and we throw a few rocks into the bottom as well to help with drainage issues… I think having a good drainage system helps your plants avoid root rot.

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The pots pictured about have a hot pepper plant and a tomato plant growing in them. I also added a marigold flower as I’ve heard that flowers are a very important thing to add to your garden. Apparently they bring pollinators, which are an essential factor in getting our plants to grow.

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The last two photos are just here to give you some inspiration… when I’m cleaning out my home I often find little knick-knacks that are just gathering dust, like the above turtle. I happen to love turtles so I didn’t want to throw this in the garbage. I think the turtle looks awfully nice out in the backyard, keeping the onions, peas, and flowers company!

I also have this huge seashell that an animal once called home. I’d hate to throw it in the garbage, so this year I’m trying to grow a pansy flower in there. I’ve only planted it a few days ago, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. The seashell is sitting next to a small zuchinni seedling, which I have planted in a wooden crate (lined with a black garbage bag, to prevent anything from the wood from leaching into the soil).

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Now it’s the middle of June, not quite summer. I noticed my very first peas growing in the backyard today. I’m excited to see what other kind of goodies are on their way to our plates and bellies in the near future.

What are you MOST excited about when it comes to YOUR garden?

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Gardening as community building

This is the third year that I’ve been involved in the local community garden. This year it seems that we have about 10-15 gardeners who have varying levels of commitment/interest in growing food communally.

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Digging weeds is therapeutic and a good way to keep active

I’ve always wanted to garden as an adult, but I rarely ever had any space as I was either an apartment dweller or renting a house where I didn’t want to invest too much into digging up and spending money changing a yard to support my gardening visions.

For the past four years, I have lived in an area of Winnipeg where we generally have quite small yards/lots. I’m no exception and with an active son, my ability to use much of the yard for growing things is impacted–he needs the space to run and kick a ball around, build fires, and do hands-on experiments.

The lack of space to grow is probably one of the main reasons why I’m interested in being a part of a community garden. I also love the idea of working together, learning from gardening experts (the garden “stewards”), and growing new things that I wouldn’t try at home. Our garden also has a social justice connection, as we donate about one-third of our produce to local soup kitchens, assisted living residences, etc.

Our community garden is unique because we ALL work the various plots. Some gardens use a model where each individual or family signs up for ONE small plot of gardening space. Our model will have it’s pros and cons for sure. The main concern for most people who know about what I do is, “How do you know that everyone is putting the same effort/amount of work into growing the food?”

Gardeners learn to compost, mulch, and we use this cube of water to tend to our plants

Gardeners learn to compost, mulch, and use this cube of water to tend to our plants

The truth is, there is no way to track how many hours a person puts into gardening. You basically just have to try to find a group of equally passionate gardeners who have a stake in seeing their produce grow well, and who are okay with splitting the bounty equally.

The biggest PRO, for me, of our style of communal gardening is definitely getting to try a wide range of vegetables and fruits. Our garden has produced things that I would have never tried if I didn’t find them at the garden: horseradish, collard greens, mustard greens, and patty pan squash!

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How it looks after beds have been weeded

I’ll be posting more updates and information about the community garden efforts as the summer comes and goes. The last thing I’d like to say about the garden is that it’s one of my very favourite places to be in my spare time!

The herb spiral

The herb spiral is one of the highlights

Privacy and the peas

I’m growing a garden in a tiny yard in an urban space in Manitoba. We have a very short growing season. I’m trying to grow things in unusual containers that had been laying around the yard and storage shed.

In the springs I planted peas in an old recycling bin.

The peas are now about four feet tall. As you can likely see from this photo, we have a very small yard with little privacy from our neighbours. I’ve now precariously extended the climbing poles using duct tape, with the hope that the peas will get to five feet or higher and create a tiny (wee really) bit of a fence between me and my lovely neighbours.

 

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Another part of our yard faces a (somewhat) busy back lane.In that space I planted some more peas with the hopes of creating a tiny wall providing some privacy from the outside world.

I had a nice red pail and also an old water jug that I found in my mom’s old house. I cut off the top and voila! Now it’s a planter. These peas were planted later that the ones in the recycling bin, so they aren’t quite as tall.

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Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to be creative and use things that may be destined for the landfill.

Once we get actual peas, I’ll post another update. We now just have little blossoms where the peas will grow.

 

Gardening progress for June 2017

My garden is getting on quite well. I love seeing the changes. Here is what is planted and recurring in my small, urban garden:

Food:

  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuce mix
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers: Sweet ones and Jalapeno peppers
  • Spinach
  • Squash: Not sure what kind but I’m hoping for butter squash or zuchinni!
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes: Several varieties including yellow tomatoes, pineapple tomatoes, and regular heirloom tomatoes
  • Watermelon (it’s really on the edge of death right now)
  • Yellow beans

Flowers:

  • Geraniums
  • Marigolds
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Sweet peas
  • Wildflower seed mix

I’m being diligent about watering my seedlings regularly and have even used some fertilizer in the form of sheep and cow manure as well as some tomato fertilizer that you mix with water. My seedlings didn’t do very well so I went and bought some. They are rather pricey and I’m sad that the Swiss chard and watermelon is struggling to stay alive! Ouch!

If you are growing a vegetable garden, don’t forget to ensure you add some flowers into the mix. The flowers are helpful in attracting bees, which your vegetables will need. Some of my favourite flowers are geraniums and marigolds, not so much for their looks, but mainly because they seem pretty hardy.

My garden is mostly just a hobby, but I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite one. I don’t produce TONS of food, but enough to make it satisfying. The best part of the food, however, is knowing that you’re eating something from your own backyard that hasn’t been sprayed or shipped thousands of miles.