Last fall we bought $80 in bulbs and planted them literally days before the first snowfall.
I set some of the smaller bulbs aside to plant in pots, as I worried that they would be lost in a yard that is still so blank. Together, Davin and I planted the pots and placed them in our very cold, but covered, south-facing, unheated porch (what we optimistically refer to as “the greenhouse“) and watered them on occasion.
Today the first of those bulbs bloomed!
“Anyone anywhere can have a garden…”
Sound familiar? I was shocked when I heard the first line spoken by Carol Bowlby in this National Film Board of Canada film on urban gardening from 1984. Separated by birth and about thirty years, she and I. Watching the film was like watching myself go through my own garden chores and routines.
And just look at her usage of recycled wash buckets, milk jugs, and assorted “garbage” in building a thrifty and organic garden well before it was in the vernacular (or minds) of any of us new-style URBAN HOMESTEADERS. Carol had it going on back in 1984. I salute you, lady.
Carol’s yard is slightly larger than mine (I think. Still need to work out the math), but hearing about how self-sustaining she and her family are within the confines of this space makes me even more enthusiastic about achieving the goals we have for our new yard. The first is to never buy another leaf of lettuce or salad green, again. I’m absolutely confident we can achieve this as I have done very well in much smaller and harsher growing condition. And where Carol has set aside room in her yard for kids’ space, I will be making room for the many non-edible plants that I am passionate about.
Spring can’t come soon enough! I just want to be out there, hunched over and digging in the soil with the sun on my back, chirping birds and urban sounds as my soundtrack.
Addendum: Davin says that our yard is larger… at least what will end up being the growing portion. In the film, Carol says her total garden (the entire yard itself is larger) is 260 square feet. We just did the math and our entire yard is approximately 700 square feet. Friends, that is the size of the apartment we just left! Putting numbers to it really drives home how different the new space will be. This is very exciting, indeed.
Special thanks to reader Marie-Louise who sent in this link!
Do you become absolutely insufferable through the last dregs of winter? Do you cry, bitch, and moan that spring will never come and you will not make it out alive, not this time? Well then you and I are in the same boat my friend, and this post is for you.
Last April I spoke at the Drawn and Quarterly bookstore in Montreal to promote my book, Grow Great Grub. While there, I took the opportunity to visit my favourite botanical garden, the Montreal Botanical Gardens. If you’d like to see images of the gardens and greenhouse at different times of the year, I have an archive of images from past trips. You can not visit Montreal without visiting the garden!
Magnolia trees in bloom. Enough said.
I love the way the hardy sedum trails over the hard edges of the concrete border, and the little muscari flowers that are popping up within it.
Grecian Thistle (Ptilostemon afer). My love for thistles is expanding.
Narcissus cantabricus in my friend Barry’s greenhouse last month. Here’s what was blooming in his greenhouse last year around this time.
Photo of me in my community garden taken by Davin Risk.
Spigarello aka Spigariello is an old Italian heirloom leafy green that I grew last year. Some refer to it as broccoli rabe and others call it “leaf broccoli.” Both descriptions are apt. I’d put it somewhere between kale and broccoli.
The plant grows just like kale, but produces small broccoli-like florets late in the season. Every part of the plant is edible and tastes like broccoli. The new growth is tender enough to eat raw right off the plant. I sometimes munched on it as I worked.