It’s Never Too Late

A guest post from a new Toronto gardener, David Kruger tells us how he built a garden from scratch. In late July.

Before

I wanted a garden.

We moved into our house June 2nd. I planted my garden July 21st.

JEEPERS!!!

That’s late in the season.

Well, it’s amazing what happens when you move.

When you move from a one-bedroom condo into a three-bedroom house.

When you move with a pregnant wife.

When you move and you’re also helping your parents to declutter their house in order to sell it.

When you move and you’re not the most motivated person, because you took a year off work and traveled in the UK, Europe and Israel, and drank, ate and photographed your way through the five months.

So, here I am in the house, wanting a garden and FINALLY deciding that I was going to plant the July long weekend. My wife reminded me that I had to call before I dig.  Dug?  Dog?

I did it online, which was easy enough.  And then waited for the requisite time to pass before I could dig. I heard back from one of the areas of concern.  Phone, cable, hydro, water? I don’t remember.

Farmer Dave

I put out a call for a tiller on Facebook. Why the tiller? The garden space is only 14′ by 17′, so what’s the big deal?

Did I mention that it’s really fertile soil?  That the previous owners had tended a thriving garden for years?  That the weeds had been growing all year, and it was now July. July 2010.  The year that EVERYTHING is early.  Corn is a few weeks early. Strawberries are early. Pickling cucumbers are early.

The weeds were four feet tall.  At the very least.

I was on the phone with my brother, and he mentioned that he had inherited a tiller from his father-in-law. Gas. Too sexy.

We met up, looking like a drug deal was going down. Two guys with shaved heads, in the York Central Hospital parking lot.

I headed home to till. Noam came over, good ole Cousin Noam.  He knew I was planning on taking down the weeds, and suggested I use the lawn mower to cut down the weeds and then till. He obviously wanted to get in on doing some fun stuff, so he headed out to the backyard, plugged in the lawn mower and began to mow the overgrown weeds.

Then we put together the nuts and bolts on the tiller, and were off to the races.  Well not quite. It was some tough going for a bit while we figured out which setting was on/off, and what needed to happen with the choke.

That baby revved up like a charm and we were in business.

the Tiller with a little something stuck in its teeth

The mowing went much faster than the tilling. I wrongly assumed that the tiller just eats up everything in its path.  Minus the rocks that it spit out from time to time. I tried several different devices to cut off the long weeds that were stuck and plugging up the tines/forks/fingers/teeth of the tiller. Finally, the weeds were mowed and the garden was tilled.

I knew all along I was going to go to Fiesta Farms/Gardens. Why? Because a former co-worker who has a thriving long-time garden goes there.

Also because the people I know that go there are people whose opinions I like to hear, whose taste I trust (minus the fact that Ivy Knight drinks Bud Light), and who tend to lead pretty ethical and sustainable lives.

I went to Fiesta Gardens and was BLOWN AWAY!!!

Free veggie plants.

Mind you, it was July 20th.

I got celery, and different kinds of hot and sweet peppers. Those were the only veggies that seemed to have a short enough growing season, and I didn’t feel like planting beans.

I bought Thai Basil, Basil, Oregano, French Tarragon, Dill, Cilantro, Lemongrass, Parsley and Mint.  I also bought four bags of compost, and walked out with my garden for $70.

I got home and spread out the compost, along with some of Cousin Noam’s backyard compost. I had a dilemma around tilling, since I’ve been told that tilling too often can really damage the different things occurring in your soil.

I risked it, and saved my back, and tilled.

Lightly.

fertile soil

I than planted several celery plants and as many peppers as I could.

I decided to plant an “Asian” herb patch and a “European” herb patch.

I got up almost every day to water the garden. First thing in the morning, I’d ask my wife if it had rained the previous night. Being pregnant, she doesn’t sleep as well as I do.

Remember the good soil? Well, it’s really good. All the weeds seeded when they were growing up to the skies. So, there were a bunch of little weedlings.  In fact, they covered the soil so much, it looked like a forest floor. Green and brown.

it's alive!

So, I watered again this morning and started to weed. With a screwdriver, because I couldn’t find a wee little weed remover. Eventually I ditched the screwdriver and grabbed a hoe. A long-handled one. I pseudo-weeded. I hoed the soil around the plants which should end up killing a bunch of the weeds, and make it easier to remove them.

In any event, it looks more like a garden again, and I’ll get back to weeding.

One day…

The herbs are doing well.  Except the tarragon, which prefers some dryness.

I’ve got little hot peppers growing. It’s mid-August and I’m hoping to harvest peppers and many herbs.

I’m not holding my breath on the celery.

gardening is thirsty work

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