Category Archives: 16 Oaks Community Garden

Planning and Planting the Garden

After blending and resting the soil, it was time to plant. So, in early May I got busy and set about planning and planting.

Aside from last year’s garlic, a couple of thriving snap dragons and a pot of assorted flowers, the entire garden was a blank canvas. (The strawberries in boxes along side the plot are from last year and show promise of producing this year, unlike last.)

I decided since I was able to get an early start on the season, I’d try seeding my garden instead of buying sprouts. Last year I got a mid-July start because we’d only just got the plots and soil. In order to get a crop, I bought the last dregs of a nursery’s Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli starts. In the end they flourished, I got a decent crop, and best of all, it actually looked like I  knew my way around a garden.

So on to the planning. Last year I planted rows that ran east/west in the bottom right section of the plot, then realized that because some plants shoot up quickly and others take a while, the late bloomers got left in the shade. This year I planted north/south in an attempt to alleviate that issue.

I also decided to draw up a garden map so I know what’s coming up where. This should enable me to have a better handle on what’s a weed and what’s a “real” plant.

And, I planted bush beans in the general area where winter barley was, in case this helps accommodate their nitrogen needs.

Then, it was water, watch and wait…

2010 Gardening Season Begins

In truth, I’ve been making the four block trek to my community garden plot for a few weeks now, so the 2010 gardening season hasn’t JUST begun. In fact, I have even begun to develop the slightest hint of a flip flop tan.

Here’s what the plot looked like after I worked in a bit of rich, horse manure, a bag of mushroom manure, and some winter barley bits in late April.

I am, after all, the Bumbling Gardener, so I rely a lot on hearsay from a variety of “experts” as to what I’m supposed to be doing. Someone said I shouldn’t plant right away after blending in manure because it can be too strong (acidic maybe?) and will burn the seeds. It needs to cure a bit. That makes sense, so I blended and let it rest.

Re: the barley…

Over the winter I grew a bit of winter barley in order to “fix the nitrogen.” The way I understand it, there are 2 key things to know: (a) some plants need more nitrogen than others; and (b) some plants taketh and some plants giveth. Winter barley giveth, peas and beans taketh. So I planted the barley where I would plant some beans in spring. I have NO idea if this will help, but you’ll know when I do by how well the beans are doing. Stay tuned.

I decided to blend in the barley plant bits while I was doing the rest of the blending, so it could become compost as it decomposed. You know, circle of life and all that. And maybe it will  “fix the nitrogen” some more, too.

Things I Learned From Blending

Here’s one tip for you to keep in mind if you try it: you can blend in the barley grass bits, but the roots are a tangly clump and you’re better off just to yank them out.

Something else I’ve realized with the blending experience is that I also turned up bits of the coconut coir I laid last year to help with moisture retention. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

And, realized just how many wood chips and twigs there were in the compost we so gratefully accepted from the City of Vancouver last year. I’m not complaining (it was FREE and they brought us truck loads!), just saying. There are little bits of plastic and glass, as well as small stones, so I’m going through and picking those out a bit at a time.

Then came the planting…

Delicious Home Grown Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts at LocalDelicious.comYou either love or you hate brussel sprouts. I don’t think there is an in-between way to feel about them.

I happen to love them, though until about 2 years ago I didn’t know how they grew. I never really thought about it, to be honest.

This year I planted a couple of them in my community garden plot but only one took off. Low and behold if it didn’t become a huge, thriving plant. Hurrah! (Everyone thinks I know what I’m doing, but I got the plant started from the nursery and stuck it in the ground. Aside from a little mushroom manure and keeping it watered, it did not get any assistance from me.)

I’d heard that you can wait until the first frost to harvest the sprouts, and that this makes them sweeter, but after I experienced some garden theft, I decided I better get them out while I could.

Brussel Sprout Harvest at LocalDelicious.comI trimmed off the big leaves first and, after mucking about with a knife and accidentally slicing into a couple of them, I figured out that you can snap them off horizontally.

I got quite a haul — a least a few meals worth — and tried them for the first time last night. I may be a little biased, but they were the sweetest, most tender Brussel sprouts I’ve ever eaten. And that’s many years’ worth.

Local and delicious!

Cabbage Goes Missing

Cabbage at Local DeliciousI grew a beautiful plump head of cabbage and was waiting for the mood for soup to strike before harvesting it. However, before I could get there, it was stolen from my community garden plot. They planned ahead and seemed experience. They’d brought a knife, and it was a clean slice that took only the head and left the outer leaves.

If the individual in question was truly hungry, I’m happy to have my cabbage go to a good cause — though apparently even the starving don’t like Brussel sprouts, as these remained untouched.

I had a tarp go missing as well. My thought is that if someone is truly hungry enough to take a cabbage, then maybe they are exposed to the elements on a daily basis and the tarp will aid in keeping them dry.

That’s my hope, anyway.

Garden Transition

When I planted what has turned out to be my transitional garden earlier this year, in addition to the many vegetables, I also planted a variety of flowers to attract bees and other pollinator types.

Transplants 2Now that I have a more local plot, I decided to move some of them into the city to brighten up my new garden. In addition to half a dozen, bug-repellent marigolds interspersed among the brassicas, I transferred a few snap dragons, and a couple of fuschias.

I also brought along 3 sweet pepper plants that have not done well in the big garden’s climate, a clump of rhubarb, a lemon thyme perennial, and a giant pot containing 2 tomato plants.

We’re in the midst of a heatwave, and the rhubarb is decidedly unhappy, having made it’s displeasure known immediately. I’ll give it a few more days to see if it rallies, but it’s not looking good. The clump of pink snap dragons were looking a bit wilty, but haven’t given up just yet. As for the rest of them, they all look pretty happy to be in their new home.

Radishes Rise Again

RadishesI have sprouts! Again, the radishes are the first to make a move.

Before I planted this time, I spoke with a farmer at Kits Farmers Market who said my first radishes probably bolted because the sprouts were too close together. If you don’t catch them in time and thin them right away, they get stressed and bolt.

This time, I seeded them really far apart.

Mid-July Seeding

SeedingDespite the late start in the season and with some encouragement from my fellow community gardeners, I’ve decided to try seeding a few things in the newly launched plot.

I tried radishes, beets, carrots, spinach, lettuce, and a number of other items in my temporary garden earlier this year (when I didn’t think I’d be getting a spot at 16 Oaks Community Garden), but they just never took off, for whatever reason. Or, as in the case of the radishes, they took off running and completely bolted!

I’m hoping to have better luck this time. It will help that the community garden is in close proximity to where I live so I can check on it more regularly — in contrast to my first garden attempt, which is located in a friend’s backyard a half hour’s drive away.

When transplanting the nursery seedlings I bought, I left 2 open spots for seeding, one on either side of the box. This time I’ve seeded 2 kinds of radishes, 2 kinds of beets, some lettuce and some spinach.

Gotta go, it’s time to water my seeds again…

Planting at the Community Garden

Planting at 16 Oaks CroppedIt’s a bit late in the season to be starting a garden, but since we just got our soil, such is life. I figure it’s one giant experiment for this bumbling gardener anyway, so it’s all good.

While waiting a few weeks for the soil to arrive, I went to a few nurseries, found the last dregs of potted veggies, and bought a little of everything I could find: broccoli, sad looking cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, some fruit-laden tomatoes, a few cabbages, a cucumber, zucchinis, and a couple of sweet peppers. While at the Kits Farmers Market I also found some kale (hurrah!) and sprouted lettuce to complete the mix.

TeepeeDuring the wait I also had the good fortune to find 3 very tall, perfect, bamboo poles someone left near the garbage bins outside my apartment. With the addition of some inexpensive netting, they proved to be the perfect solution for my sprouting peas. I also scavenged some granite counter/tile leftovers from a friend’s backyard. She had scavenged them from someone else for some kind of garden feature that was never quite realized.

With my treasures and a warm summer evening to play in the dirt, my garden has finally come together! The snow pea “teepee” is a big hit, as are the granite stepping stones which will help ensure I can water and harvest plants in the middle of the garden, as well as from the edges.

Let the watering begin!