Sunday, March 9, 2014

Welcome to our newest blog

My husband Max and I have gardened and landscaped around our property for years.  We have made some attempts at creating a vegetable garden, however, our urban environment is devoid of enough sunshine or space in the back yard.  Even our pool is in the shade for part of the day and our feeble attempt at growing tomatoes in a small patch has not produced enough to make it worth the effort.... that is until now.

The idea of an Urban garden began a few months ago when I started to juice vegetables.  I noticed that the prices in the grocery store fluctuated dramatically and began to rise.  A drought in the states and our extended winter is going to have a far reaching impact on what we will be able to purchase at the local grocery stores.  A drive around our local area to find producers is getting harder with the urban sprawl... and frankly, farms are being sold for the valuable property they are sitting on.  Gardens are seen as opportunities for beautifying properties instead of feeding the inhabitants.  Growing a garden to sustain our family, free of pesticides and other unknown chemicals only made sense.  But where??  With a pool and a postage stamp box sized plot in the back, how were we going to do this?

Then it hit me.... why not use the front yard?  The grass doesn't look great and the bunnies are always taking advantage of the clover that grows in abundance beneath the only shade under a spindly city tree by the curb.  I don't want to pull weeds anymore and really, who wants to push a mower around to compete with the neighbours, when we could be using the mainly unused property for growing a sustainable garden.  I first had to find out if there were any bylaws in the City of London with respect to Urban Gardens.  There are no rules and no guidelines, however my email to the City has produced a contact who will be visiting in the spring when the snow leaves... hopefully soon.... and will do an 'Eco-yard Evaluation' for free.  Megan has sent me a number of PDF's to teach me about companion planting (planting plants that benefit each other.... strangely, some, like people and pets, just don't get along), time of planting and events in the Civic Garden down the road from us.  She will speak to us of water conservation and whatever other questions we have.

I informed my husband of my intentions.  I received a strong NO.  "Use the garden in the back".  I asked him why??  His answer was simple.... "the neighbours won't like it and it won't look great".   "What do you mean??" I stare at him from across the kitchen counter,  "You are a designer, we both do landscaping and really, if the neighbour down the street can plant big plastic playhouses and play equipment on her front lawn.... I am pretty sure we can come up with something truly lovely".  So, I took to my iPad and showed him the collection of websites I had been getting ideas from.  He looked up when he saw the raised beds on one site. "That", he pointed to, "will be far too expensive!!"  He made a good point.  We have a shoestring budget and even less when I finish teaching next month.

Always up for a challenge, I email a CEO from a recycling company I met a few months back.  His simple reply.... let me know what you need.  Now Max is up for the challenge, knowing we have some donations coming in.  He has been doing some research and we have both downloaded information on plantings and designs.  We have to create a list of must haves and how much.  We want to reflect the design from our back yard and pull that around to the front.  Of course, there will have to be a vertical herb garden on the garage wall that is in sun from early morning to late afternoon.

This month had us pulling out the Lee Valley Green House that we purchased years ago and was tucked into the furnace room collecting board games and discarded items.  Next I had to find all the little seeding containers I have amassed over the years and purchase seeds and soil.  I have harvested some seeds from grocery store bought vegetables and plants like celery that will regrow from a cut stalk in water.

The asparagus seeds have taken well in the green house and were transplanted a month later into newspaper origami pots.  I had a limited number of plastic transplant pots and so I had to be creative using my shoestring budget of FREE..... the simple pots are easy to fold (will include this at the bottom of the blog) and I just water the bottom of the plastic tray instead of watering each pot.  The newspaper wicks the water up to the plant.  Easy peasy and cheap!!   I learned a lot about asparagus.... it takes three years to mature... needs lots of room to grow and can grow roots up to 1.2 meters deep.  Do not have to water these once established and they are a very early spring veggie.  The rest of the year, they look like ferns.

Tomatoes - I am using a hardy early Canadian variety.  There are 65 tomato plants now growing in my spare room.  I learned that the little hairs on the tomato plants need to have a slight breeze blowing across them in order to hardy the stem and strengthen the plant... so I turned on the room fan during the day.  I will transplant these in the new raised boxes with the newspaper pots which will decay into the soil.  The entire pot must be covered with soil to prevent the newspaper drying and wicking the water away front the plant.

Pepper Seeds - got these from the green peppers I had in the fridge from the grocery store.  Only two were successful so my next set of seeds were dried out for a few weeks and planted in March.

Marigolds - these super stinky flowers are just the trick for dressing up the garden and discouraging cats and other rodents from visiting.

The pepper seeds have been planted today in the seeding pots and placed in the green house.  The flowering Hibiscus tree in my kitchen is blooming.  I store my planters from the pool area in the kitchen where most people would put a table and chair....  The other flowering vines are doing well and should be blooming before the spring finally arrives.

Here is a great site for the instructions to folding the newspaper seeding pots.

The bottom two shelves of the green house showcase the asparagus and leek in the paper pots and marigolds on the bottom shelf.  The marigolds are used to disuade cats and other pests from getting into the garden.  My cat, like all cats, love fresh earth for washroom duty and this really stinky flower is not appealing to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment