Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Summer 2009 Garden

My previous landlord owns a large piece of land in downtown Moncton. Unfortunately, he doesn't use it for anything but mowing the lawn. I thought it was quite a shame to waste all that space so I asked him if I could tear up corner, out of view, and plant a garden. He agreed. I was surprised.

Now digging a new garden is quite the endeavour. The method I used is called "deep digging". What this consists of is removing the layer of sod (the real hard part), digging 12 inches down, and mixing that 12 inches of dirt with good organic dirt mixed with compost. In a phrase, it sounds easy. But it's quite demanding work when the soil below the sod is mostly clay and someone in the past thought it was a good idea to throw a window frame, a few dozen bricks and other random garbage underneath the top layer of dirt.

In addition to being difficult to start, the garden had a large coniferous tree on the east side, a garage on the west side and a 4 foot high fence on the south side. Really not ideal growing conditions. Plus, since I'd dug down in an already low spot, water pooled in between my rows. All summer I stressed about the water overflowing and drowning my plants. The bugs loved it. My vegetables weren't as enthousiastic.

The picture below was taken a few weeks ago. It's what I would consider the "big harvest" which, believe me, I know is sad. Captured in the photo are Early Wonder Top beets, Danvers carrots, one Costata Romanesca zucchini, one Lemon Cucumber, a small handful of Black Valentine bush beans, Baie Verte Indian pole beans and a few tomatoes. The tomatoes I grew (relatively successfully in the grand scheme of things) were Sungold cherry tomatoes grown from seeds I'd saved from last year, as well as Russian, San Marzano, Mennonite Orange, Toma Verde Tomatillo, and Tribe's Tobique all grown from seedlings I bought from Amarosia Organic Garden in the spring. I got a few tomatoes from each but none from the tomatillo. Unfortunately, I'd marked each variety of tomatoe on a piece of wood with permanent marker. It would seem that permanent marker is not so permanent during a whole summer in the rain and sun. So I don't know which tomato is which.

One of the mystery tomato varieties. Mennonite Orange or Russian?

These are Baie Verte Indian pole beans which I grew in the "three sisters" model of corn on which the beans climb and at the foot of which are planted squash to provide shade. I planted Golden Bantam sweet corn and Lester's buttercup squash. I know I'm not going to get any squash (due to the persistent cucumber beetles which destroyed anything with a yellow flower) but I might get one or two ears of corn. Not the best turnout but all part of the learning curve. At the end of the day, it costs less than tuition fees at university. And the quality of the education is far superior.

This beautiful yellow flower belongs to the Costata Romanesca plant. As previously mentioned, the cucumber beetles seemed to find these flowers beautiful too. In the background you can see the round zuchinni. They are really tasty. Not like the bland cardboard stuff they sell at the supermarket.

These are Love Lies Bleeding amaranth flowers. Aren't they pretty? I think these perfectly illustrate how edible landscaping is much better than conventional landscaping. They are nice to look at and edible.

Behind the amaranth tower the Jerusalem Artichokes I got from Wingate Farm and which we planted a row of at the community garden since they are a perrenial and make an excellent border. I have yet to harvest either the amaranth of the JAs. But I will.

Not included in these photos are the sweet peas (planted by the fence and quickly died from lack of sun and slug attacks), the strawberries (same predicament as the peas), the pickling cucumbers (beetles again), the cantaloupe (only produced a rock hard excuse for a melon), the variety of leaf lettuce (I got 4 servings of these), and the Taisai Chinese cabbage (slugs quickly killing the young sprouts). Also not featured are the dill, the cauliflower, the watermelon and the thyme which never had a chance to experience life.

Next summer I won't be planting a garden since halfway through the summer I'll be moving back to Ontario. But in two summers my garden will be back with a vengeance. No more shaddy, flood proned patches for me.

NOTE: All seeds were sourced from Hope Seeds, a New Brunswick organic seed company. See

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