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.


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!


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.




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.


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.


All I Want

“All I really really want is our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too.”

~Joni Mitchell, All I Want

Today I’m in love. I woke up feeling very relaxed next to my favourite guy, who was sleeping late and clearly enjoying it. I’m always torn when he sleeps late on a weekday, because I know he should get to the office but I also feel selfish; I want to keep him beside me all day. He’s hot and I’m cold; we’re the perfect match.

Next year our family will have two weddings. My partner’s baby sister and one of his closest cousins are BOTH planning weddings.IMG_4383 We were discussing our travel plans last night. It looks like we’ll have a trip to China in March 2018 and then another trip to Edmonton in June 2018. None of us have ever been to China so the idea of going there is certainly exciting. I found return tickets that are just over $900 Canadian, so it looks like the flights could be feasible for us.

There has been a lot of talk about marriage, because in my partner’s culture, it seems to be what is expected at a certain age and stage. I actually kind of like it when people ask us when we are getting married because I already treat my man as my King, my everything. He makes me into a better person and encourages me with everything I do. At this time of year, I’m particularly thankful for his support of my gardening pursuits, even though I know he’s really not all that interested in flowers or growing things.

That’s what good partners do for each other–support one another in their hobbies and dreams. I’m so glad I found my match.

“He’s my sunshine in the morning
He’s my fireworks at the end of the day
He’s the warmest chord I ever heard
Play that warm chord, play and stay baby
We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall
Keeping us tied and true, my old man
Keeping away my blues.”

~Joni Mitchell, My Old Man


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:


  • 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


  • 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.

Who has time for a job?

I’m quickly approaching my one-month mark of being unemployed. How does it feel, you ask? Let me tell you, it feels GREAT!

I’ve had more time to do all sorts of things, most notably, sleep in late if I feel like it.

I’m doing yoga nearly every day and also almost always have time to cook something healthy, from scratch. One of my favourite things to do is to find a new recipe that can make it’s way into regular rotation at our place if it’s somewhat healthy, delicious, and easy to make.

Sticky, garlicky chicken sounds like one of those recipes, doesn’t it? I’ve tried this recipe twice now in one month, served it at two different family meals, and people were loving them. If you’d like to try making them, the recipe is here.

Honey garlic chicken

My weekends are lovely when I get to just relax and spend time with the two guys I love the most. We have been binge-watching The Office on Netflix and enjoying campfires in our backyard.

Besides my being unemployed, our family usually is pretty busy with a variety of scheduled activities: right now this includes evening classes, flag football games and practices, tackle football uniform fittings and practices, and volunteer work.

Yesterday we joined in the 30th annual Pride parade here in Winnipeg. It’s so amazing to see so many happy people celebrating diversity in the streets. Way to go Winnipeg!

With all of this going on, I’ve asked myself and my partner several times over the last month: “Who has time to work full time?”