The ground thawed enough this past weekend to turn the wet soil in my vegetable garden. Long time readers of this blog will know full well that when we move into our house in 2005 and did the initial landscaping work, we left roughly a quarter of our backyard as a patch for an annual vegetable garden.
I’m in no way an organic food advocate. In fact, based on the evidence and my past experience working in NGO agriculture, I’d bias myself quite the opposite: and we can have that discussion somewhere else if you’d like. But I do believe in the intrinsic rewards of growing your own food whenever possible, particularly for we city folk who tend to be inherently detached from our food and the disconnect most of us grow up with between production and plate.
Thus, I’ve turned my little patch of earth into an ongoing improvement project, putting more attention in some years, less in others, and usually making at least one or two upgrades every year. A few years ago I built a slightly raised (and significantly sunk) root veggie box to compensate for my relatively shallow soil. I’ve undertaken a variety of soil enrichment practices including compost (both homemade and purchased), earth worms, and a cross-mix of tilling and no-tilling techniques. And I’ve built up what was originally a pitiful four-inch black soil base to at least double that via a variety of dirt acquisition efforts.
This year my two primary (planned) garden efforts are focused on (a) plant supports, or what you might call trellises, latices, climbing fences, or other cages and (b) containment and beautification, or what you might simply think of as edging… but pretty.
I spent my easter Monday stat holiday getting my shoes really, really dirty and my arms really, really tired hand-tilling the winter-compacted ground with the spade I picked up at last year’s autumn clear-out sale at the local Canadian Tire. It’s at least a month, probably, until I put much of anything substantial in the ground — the very real risk of yet another spring snow lurking — but there is still plenty of work to be done getting ready for the big sowing of seeds that will happen sometime in early May.
My plant support efforts include the brand new pea-fences, completed and installed yesterday, as well as a little snow pea tellis I assembled from the left over pea-fence supplies, improvised yesterday also and tacked to the side of the shed. I’d also like to build or buy some sort of decorative arch for the “main entrance” to the garden — a term that makes it seem much more prominent than it really is — upon which I can grow pole beans or some other climbing vegetable.
The second effort will be waiting until the local landscape suppliers officially open for business this spring and I can acquire some sort of stone-based edging. The design of the garden allows the creep of the grass into the garden, a process that over the seven years we’ve been doing this is starting to reach annoying proportions. Not only would a stone border keep those roots at bay, but it would look a little nicer than the overgrown clutter of invading grass into my tomatoes.
Hopefully I’ll have the time and interest to keep this blog updated with some words on the summer progress of my garden… and photos too.