Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prepping the ground...

This time of year can be kind of depressing for gardeners...most of the crops are either harvested or dying.  The garden itself is a barren version of the lush, vibrant area you tended so lovingly all summer long. 

It may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but there is no shortage of things to do!  Preparing the soil for next year is just as important as the planning and planting you'll do in the spring.  So here is a pictorial post on the kinds of things we do to stimulate the soil right now.


I'll talk about our composting efforts in a subsequent post, but for right now I'll discuss our leaf situation.  As we live on a fairly tree-less lot in the country, we have had difficulty in getting our soil light and airy.  We keep garbage bags in the trunk of our cars in case we happen upon a stash of leaves.  We'll bring them home and add the leaves to our compost bins (of which we have 3 now).  The nice thing about the garden being empty is that you can just dump the leaves right on the garden plot!

(dumping leaves and grass cuttings directly on our patch)   
We do have some trees on our property, but luckily we have neighbours and sons.  The neighbours have the trees and they love that our sons will go and rake away those pesky fall leaves for free!  Its also hilarious to see the two boys operate the wheelbarrow and make the biggest pile they can...for jumping of course!  After the leaves have lost their jumping value...we mulch them with our lawn mower and add to compost bins or directly on the garden patch....depending on how soggy the leaves are.

my 3 yr old son Owen and our 'borrowed' leaf pile
We scavenge leaves from nearby neighbours (because we don't own a truck and because kids running through the whole town with wheelbarrows is funny) and vacant lots.  We live next door to a mechanic shop with a large parking lot lined with trees....so we clean up the town and also fill our composters too!  Its a win/win situation.  If you live in a city, the leaves are so conveniently left out at the curb on 'leaf day' for pick up from the city waste services...but why not help yourself?  Our family has often caught a neighbour filling those paper bags with their leaves...we ask nicely, take the leaves and return with the paper bags (because they aren't cheap!) AND its neighbourly!

If you start to look around, you'll start to see a leaf opportunity EVERYWHERE!

My only problem with leaves....is the endless trail of them entering my house...on little shoes...

Next post:  Soil sources for your garden...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

From Generations Past...

Before I truly begin my rantings about our garden...I'd like to take this opportunity to expand a little.

There are so many books and articles about gardening, but at its roots is the basic, fundamental desire to provide sustanance for yourself and others who depend on you.  This is not a new phenomenon.  It has been going on since people set their homes in one place. 

Looking back only a few short generations, you'll see just how differently people lived.  Folks didn't have Miracle-Gro...so how did they know their garden crop would feed their family for an entire year?  It was trial and error.  Hope for the best.  Plant more than you need...just in case.  Their garden plant choices were based on what was the most economical, what was the most nutritious and what would store the longest. 

  My great grandmother Annie Hall and her daughter Irene (mid 1940's) 

Its strange to think that a lot of that knowledge of past generations is all but lost due to our ever growing dependance on MEGA stores for our food intake.  We now know less about food production and have to trust in documentaries like Food Inc and Super Size Me to hear all the gory stories.  Why not skip the horror and walk out to your own veritable grocery store....one that only stocks what you like! 

Its a sense of independance that the Foodland's and the Metro's of the world do NOT want you to know.

In future posts, I will come back to this idea of food independance...because it relates to my pioneer fetish...yes I said it. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

In The Beginning...

So this is my very first blog entry...prepare to be amazed!
Ok, well not amazed...but quite possibly amused!

I have never blogged about anything in my life...but as my facebook gardening album will attest...I am a rambler.

ESPECIALLY about gardening!

I love gardening.  It has a zen quality about it.  I can even forget that my sons are having a waterfight within feet of my garden, if I'm deep in a weeding trance.

I have loved growing things since my early 20's...but now that I am married, with two sons and all the trappings of adulthood (mortgage and debt), I find gardening less of a hobby and more of a necessity.

My youngest son Owen eats tomatoes like apples...he loves tomatoes so much I'd swear he's about 95% lycopene and he's only 3 yrs old.  At one point I was spending, on average, $5-7 dollars a week...just on TOMATOES!  Mind you, thats winter-in-Canada prices...for the prized fruit of some other country.

In this day and age, I'm surprised I don't find more people who garden...but times being what they are...and peoples schedules being what they are...I can see why gardening is just another thing that needs to fit into your life.

Personally, I find that gardening IS life.  Its live or die attitude is a lot like life.  You can work your hardest and take all the time and care in the world...and your garden (like life) will turn out how it likes...rather than how you planned it.

So thats my bit for my first entry.

Stay tuned...we're busy prepping our garden for the winter time...