Friday, June 27, 2008

My Vegetable Garden

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I have a black thumb. I can count the number of plants I have successfully nurtured to maturity on the fingers of one hand. I've killed aloe plants.

Still, I persist.

This year, once again, I have hopes of wresting something edible from our tiny patch of arable yard (the rest being in perpetual shade). Whenever I attempt this, I always try to select vegetables that I actually eat on a regular basis, which unfortunately don't always include the easiest to grow species. So, no zucchini or runner beans, but yes to arugula and bok choy.

Tomatoes I can grow. We got lots of tomatoes.

In addition to installing the water barrel and hooking it up to that funky drip irrigation system from Lee Valley Tool, I have two other schemes in mind to be implemented (maybe) in the next couple of weeks:
1) Tobacco pesticide. Back when I had an interest in herbology I took a class in Organic Gardening 101, and I actually retained a memory of 'tobacco tea' being an excellent natural pesticide. I've looked into it again, and I suspect it might come in handy with the bok choy - although apparently NOT with the tomatoes.

As a matter of fact, I've been wondering if struggling tobacco farmers in Ontario might find a good market for nicotine-based pesticides now that the government is going to be banning chemical pesticides.

2) Newspaper ground cover. I've been reading a bit about no-dig gardening, and while I don't think I'm anywhere near that point just yet, there are a couple of ideas inherent in the concept that I think could be applied to my generic garden: newspaper and straw.

Ground cover controls weeds (great for lazy gardeners like me), but the commercial stuff is expensive and a pain in the ass. Newspaper is compostable, free, and easy to lay out around existing plants. And adding a layer of straw or hay would retain moisture, which was a big issue last year what with the heat and my lackadaisical watering habits. Plus it would cover the ugly newspaper.

I may or may not end up implementing any of these plans this year. We'll see how the summer progresses. At any rate, I do have one 'Note To Self' for next year: enough with the abstract garden design.

I liked the idea of just leaving stuff like the oregano and lavender where it wanted to be and trying to plant around it, but it's just too awkward to maintain and weed. I would like to retain as much of the strawberries as I can, but they seem to have mostly migrated to the edge anyway.


Now that summer is upon us and most of my contractual obligations are behind me, I hope to delve a little more deeply into what I originally intended to do with this blog: namely, explore the issues of sustainability and sprawl though a close examination of life in Milton.

More and better soon. I promise.

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