Friday, May 23, 2014

Visitors to the Garden

May 22nd 2014
The city of London started a pilot program called 'Growing Naturally' this year.  A program to help teach homeowners how to be more ecologically aware in their own properties.  It was a pleasure meeting Megan after months of emails back and forth which started with a question about bylaws regarding urban gardens.  She was so thrilled to see all the things we were doing to support our urban garden using the rain barrels.  She really liked the wattle fence and the fact that we took a lot of effort to create an esthetically pleasing raised bed gardens.  I like how interested she was and understood how much effort and work it took to create.  We headed to the backyard and over to the original garden plot.  Looking in, we discovered a little chipmunk horribly tangled into the deer fence i had left hanging over the fence and draped over the remaining squash plants.  I excused myself to retrieve a pair of scissors and leather gloves.  I gently held the chipmunk still while Megan helped to pull the fence away as I gently cut the links binding its neck until I could free it.  About a dozen snips later, the chipmunk scattered off through the small spaces of the wire fence.  So that's how they have been getting in to that garden over the years.... chicken wire would have been better!!  

Megan knows gardens and we chatted some more about the different variety of trees and flowering plants.  She knows the Green Industry's teacher I substitute for in the high school a few blocks away and is pleased that the students will be coming for a visit tomorrow to prune my trees in the backyard. Great opportunity for them to learn techniques of pruning through experience as opposed to just reading about it.  I am still learning the nuances of pruning effectively.

What a great visit!!  I look forward to Megan coming back throughout the growing season to document the progress of our gardens.  She wants to use our garden as an example of urban gardens in our beautiful city.  We are standing in the middle of the road and she notes the beautiful trees lining the street.  They are beautiful in the deep purple pink leaves and flowers.  Megan passes me an envelope filled with great information and a print out of our water usage over the past year.  We are keeping within the average home owner.

May 23rd 2014

Today is overcast and cold!!  The winds have picked up and the Tech design class heads out in the last  half of the class to fly their hand made kite.  With winds around 40 Km/hr, it only takes a few tries to get airborn above the track at the back of the high school and a hundred meters from the water collection pool where we planted some indigenous grasses and irisis.  These young men have built an amazing kite that soars 60' up in the air and later had to be coaxed down with a resounding crack of a support stick that snaps upon impact. AWESOME job!!!!  We head into the school shivering from the cool drizzle.

The Green Industry's class meets up in the classroom and we head off to my house for a hand's on pruning exercise in my backyard.  The students rounded the corner of the house after drifting through the front urban garden and naming flowers and were pleasantly surprised by a lovely backyard.  It was fun seeing them go from tree to tree to see what they were.  I had developed 4 cards showcasing the bush to be trimmed and a 'how to' instruction.  With everyone wearing safety glasses and pruners, they got into groups of 3 and headed to their assigned task.  Time, of course, went far too fast and we had to walk quickly back to class!!  

May 24th - replacing the pavers
Today, Max begins the removal of the front walk paving stones and the partial removal of the basketball post concrete.  We mean partial removal because somehow this concrete is incredibly dense and difficult to remove.  A number of neighbors popped in to give a hand and they managed to remove 4" off the top.  Just enough to lay the concrete with a good margin of strength.  Right now the front walk looks like the face of the moon with craters and mounds.

This will be completed this week but in the meantime, we have put up a series of white flags to cordon off the work site.

How does the garden look?
The tomatoes are growing well.... except for the one in the right hand corner.  There appear to be a lot of ants in the garden.  I have sprinkled chili peppers and ground chilli on the plastic mulch.  I still have the top of this bed covered in deer fencing to keep the critters out.  Today I planted another tomato plant in the empty spot and planted some more in the back yard garden in tomato cages.  These were from the student's greenhouse seedling.

The Kale is growing well and soon, I will have to thin them out.

The Gladiolas are coming up but unfortunately, the squirrels have dug up some of the other bulbs that have not yet sprouted.  They are busy in the neighborhood as well as the bunnies who have helped themselves to the neighbor's lettuce.  The deer fence and skewer sticks seem to be working for the vegetable garden.  I have noticed the bees are coming to the garden but cannot see the deer fence to stop bumping into it.    

The onions and peppers are growing and establishing themselves.  I still have the top of this bed covered in deer fence to keep the squirrels out.

A pretty sunflower that has bloomed today!!  This was seeded by the class.

Our lovely bistro set gifted to us from a neighbor.  It looks so lovely and fits in beautifully with our garden design.  It is a nice place to sit to look at the garden.  You can just see the white rain barrell just around the side of the house.

How do we water our garden from the water barrels?
I purchased a pony pump - an external pump you can hook up to the barrel spout with a hose and run your watering hose to the output port.  This gives us enough water pressure to water our garden and run a sprinkler.  It is a low current draw costing just pennies to water the garden with good rain water.  Today I topped up the fish pond using the second rain barrel. All 220 litres of water were used to top up 5 inches in our fish pond.  I will post a You Tube video next week on how this mighty little pump works.

Next week in the Garden.....
We will be finishing the front walkway and placing decorative pots on the curves.  We will look at spraying our apple tree and removing the suckers on the interior branches now that the blooms are almost gone.  The pear tree has produced a number of blooms which when they begin to produce pears, only one will be allowed to produce until the tree becomes established for next year.  We are training the branches horozontally to produce a stronger and more productive tree.  

We will also look at more photos of the garden as the plants begin to take shape and flower.  The beans are slow to sprout so I have planted another row of beans along the uprights at the front of the bed.  The peas are growing well and fast now that the leaves have come up.

Check out 'Growing Naturally'.  The tips and information on conservation and growing indigenous SW Ontario plants, trees and bushes is invaluable.  Thank you Megan for the package. 

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