Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Completing the Urban Garden

Monday April 21st

We have completed the installation of the boxes.  This has taken 3 full days and a lot of sweat equity to level each of the boxes on what appeared at first to be a relatively flat front yard.  We could not have been further from the truth!!!  That being said, the look is fantastic!!  

We have decided not to remove the sod from inside the boxes because the ground is completely clay beneath a thin layer of topsoil.  I have also discovered a number of grubs (removed from ground and pressed between gloved hands - they are voracious eaters who destroy root systems) within the roots of the grass plus plenty of healthy worms.  I have attempted to remove as much of the good soil from the roots by rubbing two pieces of sod together (earth sides facing) which worked exceptionally well.... only later i was to discover very painful wrists as payment.  I used the recovered earth to fill in the gaps made to dig in the boxes when levelling them into the ground.

Tuesday April 22nd

I am working on a number of projects today.  It is a brisk but bright morning, a sharp contrast to the weather yesterday.  First I head out to the high school where I will be volunteering and supply teaching in the Green Industries/technical programs.  I get to look around the greenhouse and the classroom.  How exciting to have such a great program for students to explore techniques for seeding/transplanting and growing a multitude of different plant species.  

Later in the morning, I head out to visit a few local greenhouses to get an idea of how greenhouses in industry operate and how they manage plants.  Interesting that some of the local greenhouses will receive plugs - plants that have been started by seed/tuber or cuttings that the nursury will grow to maturity.  There are so many plants in the greenhouse and nursery.  The humidity hangs in the air as employees bustle about watering everything despite already looking damp.  I learned with my own greenhouse that watering often is key to a plant thriving even in a humid environment.

The afternoon sees me lining the beds with a permeable cloth that will allow water through but not weeds. The middle of the beds are lined with paper leaf bags or newspapers. We have also decided to use chicken coop wire to line the bottom of each bed and over top of the paper.   There are many rodents in our area and we hope to deter digging under the beds.  Some of the beds are shallow.  We have anchored each wire lining in place with stones until they are filled with earth.

Wednesday April 23rd

I have decided to put a trellis up on the left side of the garage to match the one on the right.  I have taken a picture and head off to Home Depot to pick up a match and then to purchase more lining cloth.  Max will be picking up more chicken coop wire.  The trellis is an exact match from the one I purchased a few years ago and the clematis that is in the original one is split in two and put in the ground once I have removed the paving stones and chips and dirt.  Clematis like to have their roots covered and shaded, so I create a mini wattle fence at the base of both trellises.

Max and I finish the beds with paper and the chicken coop wire he has picked up from our local TSE store.  He has also visited with Fisher Landscaping supplies and has ordered 6 yards of mixed soil and compost.  It will arrive tomorrow morning.


It has been a harsh few weeks with plants expiring due to the cold in the garage after a few days of the doors being opened while we were working.  One of the trays capsized when the greenhouse was being rolled out of the way and most of the plants broke...... sad moment.  I decided that I would get the seeds sprouting using wet paper towels after discovering that a number of seeds that had been planted in starter trays did not sprout and it was a few weeks before discovering that they would never sprout at all.  So, I grabbed some glass jars and colourful dollar store parfait glasses and set to work to create markers and start the seeds sprouting.

I purchased some white shelf paper (one side adhesive) to use on the bottom of the seed pack to adhere it to the stick which slid nicely over the wide end.  The shelf paper could be written on and stuck to each of the containers.  It is important to note which seeds are which.

Thursday April 24th
We took delivery of 8 yards of mixed soil today.  It doesn't look like much in the driveway but hours later, we finally finished loading up all of the beds with soil.  The weather today is nice but terribly unpredictable with fluctuating temperatures and winds.  This is turning out to be a difficult spring to guess what needs to happen when.

Friday April 25th
I am at our local high school to talk about my urban garden and have created a slide show for the students to see what an urban garden might look like depending of what type of home you live in.  I also stayed to plant some seeds in starter trays to prepare for the sale in a month.  Later in the afternoon I planted 50 Gladiola bulbs, Day Lily, and Frescia bulbs in the front bed tucked neatly behind the wattle fence.  I placed some twigs allong the bulbs to dissuade our furry visitors.

Saturday April 26th
Today is too cold and raining.  I have to admit I am sore and tired so today is a stay in and relax day.

Sunday April 27th
A big shout out to my son who is now 20!!  Happy Birthday.  He is serving in the Armed Service so I am spending his day in our urban garden planting seeds.  I will cover all the beds in a protective black mesh, water the gardens thoroughly and then place burlap over top to keep the day's warmth in.  The seeds will take about two weeks to germinate and begin to pop up.  I have plastic to lay over the plants overnight to prevent damage from any late frost. In France, cloches were used - they looked like little glass bells and enabled a grower to plant early by acting like miniature green houses.  You can still purchase cloches but it is an expensive way to start a garden especially when an inexpensive clear plastic drop cloth can be used instead.  Its not attractive but it only will be used for a few weeks in the spring.

Pulling plants out of the garage every day to get sun!!  I have seeded more marigolds to place around the garden beds.  The tomato plants are looking a wee bit sad but they are growing now that they have longer time in the sun and under a grow lamp.

I split my clematis in half from the bed on the right side of the garage.  I purchased a matching trellis and then weaved the smaller willow branches on the base of both of them.  This helps to keep the roots in shade.  The clematis needs to have roots in the shade in order to grow properly and bloom.

Our budget and planning will be illustrated in our next installment of our blog.... in the meantime, I have plenty of work to do for other projects I am doing.

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