Guest post by Renee Garner
Never one to adhere to tradition, I have started swallowing my grassy yard up with perennials and edibles. Several factors have prevented total success with the work so far, though, and a major one has been communication between my spouse and myself. This was especially apparent one evening at dusk when he felt the urgency to mow the yard. Around 6 PM he revved up the mower and began the attacking the grass voraciously; the most recent planting escaped both of our minds. The next morning I proudly surveyed the landscape, until my eyes happened upon the shredded stalk of my blackberry bush. . . and the rose vine. . . and the oriental poppy. . . and. . .
Well to be honest, I was in no position to complain. He couldn’t see well at that time of the day and I stayed inside lazily reading a magazine with a fan keeping me cool. This humid Southern weather envelopes us for a period stretching sometime from June through October. I had no interest in pitching-in by going outside to coach him along. So, I figured, the price to pay for that luxury was a couple of plants mowed down to a severe state of pitiful.
Last year I was decidedly more creative with my resources. Was it cooler, or was my endurance higher? Though expensive if you consider the price of a bottle of wine, I took my ever-growing collection of wine bottles out in the yard and began picking away at the rocky soil, trenching a line for a glass bottle border; the image is of the area mid-process, a very long process I might add. Or, considered in another light, not long enough drinking and too long working.
Immediacy was a major goal. Plastic was to be avoided at all costs. Gayla’s Willow Edging came to mind, but with the temperature averaging in the high 90s, I was more in the mood to brainstorm in air conditioned comfort than forage for twigs. Enter the hardware store. At the opposite end from the nursery, towards the lumber, where DIY items may necessitate a more thoughtful approach, but productivity ends up much cheaper.
Lo and behold, surveyor’s stakes ($6 for 20-25) and lattice edging (around $1 for a 10-foot strip). The thick flat strips meant less time in the heat, the stakes, well, they’re meant to be pounded into the ground. Thanks to the heavy and constant rain we’ve been having, the ground was soft enough to make the task even easier. I took a hammer and started each stake, placing them about 2 feet apart. I then took a sledgehammer and pounded them further into the ground to the desired height (I used 5 lattice strips tall), and began weaving away. The result is fairly sophisticated for my haphazard gardening style, but it’ll save my plants from being coupled with similarly-priced mundane plastic edging!
Guest post by Emira Mears
Last week, said friend and I were having a drink and discussing the ups and downs of local eating. He happens to be something of a literal expert on the subject and is a true wealth of info on all foodstuffs local. In my dream universe of local eating, life would work as follows: I’d have the time to tend a very large garden that would allow me to support most of our fresh fruit and veggie needs in the backyard; I would can and preserve like a 60 year old Nonna for the winter months; I would supplement my own crop with the bounty of my grandma’s backyard; I’d get the odd harvest from the Farmer’s Market to stock up on things like blueberries and flour; and, we’d indulge in the odd tasty exotics from the Italian deli up the way. (This might not be Martin’s ideal, but he types too slowly to butt in). The biggest thing missing there, aside from canned legumes from the deli, would be sources of protein. I’ve always kind of assumed that save being able to raise goats for cheese, or maybe having a hen house for eggs (something I’m actually increasingly finding myself daydreaming about which is so very ridiculous that I laugh at my own daydreams), that there weren’t that many local resources for vegetarian protein. And here is where the hard beans came in. According to the local expert, it would seem that you can successfully grow hardbeans in this climate. With abandon! Who knew? (Likely many people, just not me). I always thought that our climate was limited to the regular green, wax and odd purple bean for eating at their young and fleshy stage.
My enthusiasm for the hard bean growing project was such, that my friend dropped off a wee paper packet containing some pinto beans this afternoon. Fun times. According to the somewhat bombastically labelled package, the "spotted rooster" bean that I’m holding in my hand there hails from Peru and is over 7,000 years old.
A friend came by the office today and dropped off a wee package of GE Free "Spotted Rooster" pinto beans which I’m pretty damn excited about growing.
I’m going to take advantage of the current warm season and get these little dudes in the ground quickly probably on Sunday morning to coincide with the new moon for good luck. I’d like to end up with enough of them to harvest some beans for storing, which may mean going outside of my two square containers. I may just fill up the empty spots in the flowerbeds with a few bush beans, and then pot some. If we can hurry up and eat tonnes of lettuce, I should also be able to squeeze in a square or two.
So thanks James! We’ll see how much protein we can grow here in East Vancouver.
- From: ThisNext (Summer 2006)
“Great layout and images. Green-thumb guys shouldn’t be afraid to check it out, too!”
“this lovely book by gayla trail is just what i need to get my sad looking garden on my strip of balcony growing again. it’s fun reading, wonderfully designed and has more than gardening tips such as how to make hand salve and colorful pot containers.”
Jennifer of the crafty podcast Craftsanity will be running a podcast interview with me next week. She is giving away one copy of the You Grow Girl book to the reader who submits the coolest eco-friendly craft by Saturday, June 24.
You should also go there to listen to some inspiring interviews with crafty peoples such as Jeffrey Yamaguchi of 52 Projects, Denyse Schmidt, Leah Kramer and more.
Listen to the podcast here.
“In this episode Gayla, 32, will tell us the story of how her website sprouted into the book (You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening) and now a TV show in the making. In her book, Gayla presents great gardening information in an accessible and fun-to-read way, giving even the greenest rookie a boost of confidence.
If you don’t garden already, you’re likely to be inspired to start after this episode. Don’t have a back yard? No problem. Gayla emphasizes that gardens can be grown just about anywhere the sun shines and encourages apartment dwellers to try growing tasty treats in containers on even the smallest of balconies.
Another excellent feature of her book is that Gayla likes to craft, so the book is loaded with instructions for making everything from planter boxes and leaf-shaped garden stones to journals, aprons and tea bags.”