By David F. Rooney
You may not be watering silver bells and cockle shells but just how green does your garden grow?
As participants in the North Columbia Environmental Society’s first-ever Garden Guru tour discovered, the city’s gardens are very green indeed and loaded with tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cukes, zukes, peas, beans, fruits and berries of every colour, variety and description under the sun. Okay… that last bit was a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift: ours is a pretty green community.
And it’s not just those Italian gardeners who manage to coax some pretty amazing crops out of the soil.
There are gardeners, or, if you prefer, urban farmers, like John Augustyn who has been gardening here since he came in 1950.
“I like gardening,” the Second World War veteran of the Polish Army told the people who came to see his vegetables and mini-orchard of plum, pear and apple trees. “Any place that’s empty I like to plant.”
That seems to sum up Rory Luxmoore’s philosophy, too.
According to his wife, Sarah Newton (Rory was in Vernon to play in the semi-final regional soccer match), he has been trying to maximize his fruit and vegetable production using a variety of methods. Walk through to their backyard at 204 Seventh Street East and you’ll see what I mean. Scarlet Runners race up cables, while strings support tomatoes, fences bear peas and legumes, potatoes grow within carefully stacked boxes and leafy vegetables turn a grid into a green checkerboard.
“Rory really likes the Square Foot Garden,” Newton said of his interest in a recent book.
Patience Gribble, at 1411 Douglas, has a less organized garden than Newton and Luxmoore. It’s eclectic and sprawling, filling all kinds of nooks and crannies in her backyard, even leapfrogging the fence to take up the verge along her back alley.
“This is my first garden so I don’t even know if you can really call me a gardener,” she laughs. “I just listen to the plants and go with it.”
Alice Weber’s backyard at 302 Third Street East, is not as jam-packed with growing things as the others’ but it is highly productive. She practically shoveled tomatoes into her visitors’ hands after showing off the mini-hot house she built from a design she found on the Internet.
“I’m having some real success with this,” she said as she lifted the hot house’s curved clear plastic lid. Inside was a cornucopia of pepper plants.
Weber is also having fun with a watering system that’s on a timer. When the timer goes off every two days it starts water pumping through a system of soaker hoses she has installed throughout her garden: 30 minutes later and — voila! — everything has been watered and she didn’t have to touch a hose, a rotary sprinkler or a watering can.
If you missed the Garden Guru Tour don’t despair. This series of events continues next month, Weber said. Here’s the lineup for the future event:
The Seed Saving with Italian Wisdom Session will be held on Sept. 9 at 301 Third Street East at 7 p.m.
The Composting and Soil Care Workshop will be held on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at 204 Seventh Street East.
The Food Preservation and Idea Swap will be held on Sept. 27 at 204 Seventh Street East at 7 p.m.
For more information please call 250-837-4290 or go to the NCES website at www.northcolumbia.org.
In the meantime, here are some images of the Garden Guru Tour.