What to do with a lone strawberry plant leftover from another soon-to-be-revealed project, a small flat of red violas ($3.50 for 16 plants!), and an old coffee canister that was thrifted as part of a 70s era fake woodgrain 4 part kitchen canister set?
Put them together!
I figure the red viola flowers will look great alongside the red strawberries and everything is edible. I poked holes in the bottom of the canister using a large, and very dangerous nail left behind by the dudes who installed new gutters on our building, filled the new “pot” with container soil, and mulched the top using shards from a terracotta pot that broke in transit — nothing is wasted! And to think I used to smirk at my grandmother’s tendancy to hourd Swiss Chalet containers and plastic bread ties — there was a lot of useful crap in those drawers!
It’s been about a week since I planted this up and I’ve already got little strawberries forming and new flowers in bloom.
Total cost about $2.
This is how they will look for the next few months — there’s no fighting it. I must have washed my hands about a thousand times in the last week alone. Just as soon as I get them reasonably clean they’re back in the soil again to put in a new plant or fix a little something. I just can’t get with glove-wearing and only force myself to wear them in the street garden. What can I say? I just prefer to feel my hands working through the soil and touching plants, the dirt worn like a badge of honor pressing from underneath my nails.
I’ve long held the belief that there are no green thumbs or black thumbs and that gardening is a process of learning and discovery with no peak or end goal. You can garden like a maniac your entire life and never know everything there is to be known. In fact I would say that the more I learn the less I realize I know. That sounds intimidating but it’s one aspect of this hobby/lifestyle that is most rewarding and optimistic. And knowing that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know should help to take some of the pressure off.
That said, I can say with absolute certainty that all gardeners have their weaknesses — there is always that one plant, that dirty little secret whose riddle just can’t be cracked. Mine used to be radishes. I know exactly how to grow them and if you had asked me I would have been able to explain exactly what they need without flinching. But when it came down to it I grew a pretty awful radish. I wrote about my radish problem in the You Grow Girl book because I wanted people to know that they should not give up on those embarassing failures and that it is sometimes one thing to understand what a plant needs on an intellectual level and another thing to apply that knowledge to a real plant.
And then low and behold, just last year I managed to grow my first crop of good container-grown radishes! And today, for a second year running, I have harvested my first tasty, crisp, not-at-all-woody container-grown radishes of the season. Woot! I’ve come to think that my radish mistake probably came down to my own insanely stubborn insistance on growing a variety that just couldn’t take the extra heat and drought on the deck. Again this was one of those instances where I KNEW what I should have been growing and had even appropriately advised many aspiring radish growers while stubbornly soldiering on in the wrong direction in my own garden.
I have a great deal to tell you about the gardening I have been doing over the past weeks. But before I can do that the marginally anal retentive side of me demands that I address my appearance on The National last night. The segment was arranged at the last minute and we had not yet done our seasonal clean-up so there was winter junk strewn about. I had hoped the camera guy could do some “creative” in-camera editing but knew that probably wasn’t the case since he was using a very wide lens. When he walked over to the far end of the deck to take shots of the whole thing I knew my dirty secret was blown and that viewers across Canada would see that sometimes my little rooftop oasis looks like crap! And I imagined that they watched the segment and thought to themselves why go to the trouble when it looks so awful.
In an effort to ever-so-slightly redeem myself in the eyes of the world I present to you photographic evidence that a rooftop container garden IS a beautiful thing.
You can see lots more pictures taken of the rooftop garden over the years on my Flickr account.
Gardening season is gearing up for THE BIG WEEKEND, the one in which I will NOT make the mistake of visiting a garden centre or even think about visiting a garden centre. The up-and-coming long weekend — officially known as “May Two-Four” here in Southern Ontario as a way to promote the fact that any Canadian worth their salt will be single-handedly downing a 24 pack of Molson Canadian as a nod to our colonial ties to England or some such whatever, also marks the begininning of our local gardening season. As a result I’ve been frantically running around the city buying plants and preparing for a bunch of up and coming projects and television appearances. Everyone wants to talk gardening this week! I have visited at least one garden centre every single day for the last 7-10 days. I went to three today. In the rain. It was cold and wet.
Anyways, I’ll be on the teevee both Thursday and Friday this week. I’ll also be selling stuff at The Urban Harvest sale this coming Saturday (see the sidebar for details). I promise you it will be fun, not at all painful like the line-ups from hell you will see at any other garden store this weekend. Plus I’ll have new button designs!
Thursday, May 17, 2007.
Gill Deacon Show
11am and 2pm
I’ll be talking about gardening in a changing climate.
Friday, May 18, 2007.
Times are listed on their website.
I’ll be talking about container gardening and demonstrating how I plant and grow tomatoes.