Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gardening like a Pro

After spending what seemed like hundreds of days scraping old caulking from the exterior of my house, and then (happy day) finally caulking, I am ready to prepare the garden for next season.

Whether you have a garden patch, envision one in the sea of grass in your backyard or can accommodate pots on a porch, growing your own herbs and veggies is a great way to connect to your food and get as local as possible.

Jane and I took advantage of our generous backyard, growing our own veggies this year. The bit of compost and natural fertilizer we doused on the soil did very little to revive it from its sickly clay-ridden state. I can tell you, radishes will grow in just about anything. This I learned. Everything else either didn’t take shape or was puny and pale.

The Fall Prep
Jane and Cheryl’s Veggie Patch 2008 is going to be a garden to die for – thanks to sound advice from our next door neighbour, who sells vegetables from his backyard garden, that guy in the booth next to mine in the conference I attended in Winnipeg and Sarah, the City garden advisor who gave us tips on making a lawn and garden water resistant.

And it all starts now! This is what we learned and what we are about to do:

Aerate the lawn – To give our lawn a breath of fresh air, we are aerating it. How? By fastening spiky aerating sandals to our boots and clomping over our lawn. Not only does this slow plodding process allow water, oxygen and fertilizer to reach the roots, it provides somewhat interesting video footage. We bought our sandals at Lee Valley. You can also use a pitchfork or foot-press aerator. For larger lawns, most garden centres rent or sell aerating machines.

Fertilizer and Soil Upgrade – Our soil needs a major overhaul so we’re going to gut the vegetable patch. We’ll dig down a few inches and deposit the clay in paper garden bags for the City to pick up. Once we do that pleasant job, we’ll mix top soil that we bought from Canadian Tire, compost, manure and the left over peat moss from the people who lived in our house before us. Please note that peat moss is a non-renewable resource so please avoid buying it.

We were advised to mix in manure in the fall. Applying it in the spring before we plant will ‘burn’ the seeds.

The lawn needs soil spa too. We will sprinkle top soil, manure and compost on our lawn to enrich the soil

Straw/Mulch – This weekend we have a date with Canadian Tire to pick up lots of straw, destined for our veggie patch and lawn. The straw will disintegrate into the ground and act as a binder, helping to retain water in our soil. We will store the excess straw in our shed and lay it down in the spring before planting. Any weeds lurking in the straw will die off during the winter. The stored straw will be nicely decomposed and yucky for application in the spring. Can’t wait!

Seeding – We will over-seed the lawn with drought-friendly rye and fescue grass, avoiding the thirsty Kentucky Blue grass. I bought the rye and fescue at the Grassroots store.

Lawn Mowing – We will raise the non-motorized mower 3” high to avoid cutting the grass too close, making it difficult for the lawn to retain its moisture.

For other tips on minimizing the need to water your lawn, click here. If you live in a house in Toronto and have a lawn, contact the City to schedule a garden advisor to visit you during the spring. This free service will show you what to do for your lawn and garden to reduce watering. If you live in another city, contact your local government to inquire if they too offer such a service. We found it most illuminating.

Global Climate Campaign
Rally Across the World for December 8, the International Day of Climate

Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival (October 24 – 28)

Green at Cube (to October 28)
Echo-focused art at the Cube art gallery in Toronto

In the News

Warmer seas spark extinction worries – Toronto Star

Other News

BBC – The Greenroom

Ecoshock Radio

Green Bloggers

Grist Magazine


My Green Element

New York Times – Environment

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

1 comment:

sp said...

As a LV employee I don't recommend the aerator sandals for the very reason your video demonstrated. It's a nice idea but...
There is a better tool at LV that actually cores out a bit of the soil and goes a little deeper. It's also handheld. While you don't get a comedic video you do get a better result. So if you change your mind, LV will take back the sandals even if they're used.