Jeff Green | Aug 27, 2009
Back to HomeFeature Article - August 27, 2009 Inspired by the bounty of local gardenersBy Julie Druker
Mike Steeves explained his composting system during the GGG’s garden tour
If, like me, you are not a serious gardener but would like to try, I would advise hooking up with a gardening tour to see the incredible bounty with which avid gardeners are rewarded after a season of work.
Members of the local garden group Growers Gardeners and Gatherers (GGG) met to tour each other’s gardens this past Sunday. And I took it as an opportunity to get inspired…for next year.
Members had a chance to see and sample the wide variety of flowers, plants, herbs and vegetables that other members have been cultivating over the summer.
For most it was a great opportunity to learn a few new tricks and gain some helpful hints, but mainly to see how other gardeners approach gardening and to share in the joy of their bounty and experiments.
To me it seemed that these gardeners’ successes came from a variety of different approaches, each of which resulted in bountiful yields and beautiful vistas.
At our first stop a team of gardeners, who preferred not to be named, spoke of their approach to breaking the ground by digging up 18 inch deep blocks of sod and turning it over onto itself so that the grass and weed roots die on their own. Their beds were 5 feet wide and 20 feet long. One word of advice: “ Never stand on the beds once you have turned them over.”
For their first time gardening in Canada, their bounty was ample, diverse and very much an inspiration.
At Roseanna and Derek Redman’s garden the sheer size, variety and bounty were a sight to behold, especially since they first began gardening at their home just five years ago.
The wide variety of tomato plants were laden with ripe fruit and for many visitors it was their first look at an heirloom tomato called the “tiger stripe”. Other more exotic species growing were peanut bushes and a plant that produces loofah sponges.
They experimented growing scarlet runner beans on their corn plants, which Roseanna said made the corn stalks so heavy that they fell over.
They had success with the lavender plants they grew from seed. They approached their flower garden in an interesting way, laying down a layer of cardboard directly on the grass, covering it with an inch of manure and planting through holes in the cardboard.
The garden we visited next is shared by Carol Pepper, Christina Wotherspoon, and Janina Fisher. They recently acquired two saanen/alpine goats that they will use to produce cheese and milk. Their heritage vegetable garden is located in the middle of a hay field away from the house and it was lush and bountiful. There were huge red cabbages and Hungarian hot pepper plants heavily laden with peppers.
Carol offered some hints to keep deer away from her recently planted apple trees. She had gathered clumps of her dog’s hair to place around the trunks, which so far seemed to be doing the trick.
At Jocelyn and Mike Steeves’ garden, raised beds with sawdust paths in between are the preferred approach. They have had great success with a new crop of raspberries that are supported with a system of guide wires to keep the canes upright and the fruit production has been plentiful.
Their 25 to 30-year-old asparagus patch is on its last legs but has provided bounty well beyond it estimated life span. They like to put their dried coriander seeds in a peppermill and grind them up when cooking.
Mike demonstrated their approach to composting, a system that includes three large wooden bins where they layer and turn the compost regularly. His system allows him to produce ready to use compost in 21 days and eliminates the need for other fertilizers.
Mike also gave visitors a tour of a newly constructed root cellar in his basement. The root cellar is insulated with sponge foam and temperature controlled with an open vent to the outdoors. Humidity will be controlled simply by pouring water onto the crushed rock floor. According to Mike the success of a root cellar depends on maintaining a constant temperature 33 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant humidity of 90%.
Avid gardeners and their garden creations are truly inspiring for those like myself, who are thinking of taking a more serious plunge. If you happen to get a chance now is the perfect time of year to see what all the fuss about gardening is about. ■
Photos: 5875: members of a local gardening group toured each other gardens sharing tips and their love of growing
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