Our Plucky Urban Garden

IMG_1017We’re late starting the garden this year, but since spring took its sweet-ass time we should be okay. The strawberries and garlic are mulched, the raspberry bush has been reprimanded for growing everywhere, and we finally sowed some peas, fava beans, chard, lettuce, radishes, and arugula. Roots tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain again. We even bought an electric rototiller. (If you’re in Hamilton and need a rototiller, you can borrow ours!)

The seed-house is bursting, and it is also cat-proofed. Last year Liam and Evelyn devoured most of our tomato seedlings by jumping on top of the lights and chewing their way through a thick layer of plastic. It’s a wonder they didn’t die (the cats, I mean), nightshades being poisonous and all.DSC_1560 This year the seed house has solid walls and a door that locks. We’re so confident we’re declaring victory already.

Our six rotating beds total roughly 200 square feet: not shabby by backyard or balcony standards, but not very large either. We’re working on a bit of a soil cycle that A started when he moved in a couple years ago. Apparently the former owners grew a jungle of tomatoes, but now everything moves in a rotation according to acidity and nutrient requirements, though I must admit we’ve extended the nightshades into two beds this year because eggplant. I’m also fiddling with a few random companion plantings, like radishes and lettuce.

The nitrogen-fixing legumes come first. In addition to providing us with tasty peas to snack on while we garden, they put some nitrogen into the soil that next year’s leafy greens and brassicas can use, since they follow the legumes. Greedy leafy bastards. After that are the roots, which are more interested in phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen.DSC_0498 This year I’m going to intersperse the green onions with the carrots and beets because they’re supposedly a good match. Then come the tomatoes, followed by the other nightshades, like the glorious eggplant and the peppers.We’ll be interspersing oregano and basil in those plots as well, both for pests and because we have no where else to put them. The last plot in the rotation is the garlic, which survived the worst winter of recent memory underneath a layer of mulch and a couple feet of snow. Hardy, reliable, and heavenly. Garlic scapes are simply my favourite of all things.

But that’s not all! We have the rose, which we keep saying we’ll toss but never do, and the imperialist raspberry. Next to it is the little blueberry (apparently we should have two), and the perennial herbs, rosemary and sage.DSC_1565

The strawberry plants are slowly expanding between the half-dead lilac and the also-imperialist comfrey. I am determined to eat a strawberry this year. We had lots last season, but unfortunately the squirrels snatched them before we could. I really need to put a barrier over them sooner than later, because A and I saw a whole family of of squirrels hanging out in the neighbour’s backyard yesterday. Not a good sign (but it turns out baby squirrels are awfully cute).

I’ll leave the story of the front garden for another time. I’m trying to convince A that now that we have a rototiller–now that we spent money on MACHINERY!–we ought to use it for economies of scale by ripping up the front lawn and planting that too. Much to my chagrin I’m using the logic of my capitalist agricultural foes, but really, what good is a lawn, anyway?


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Filed under Dans Ontario, On Agriculture & the Environment

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