donna… thursday garden guest #8

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For the moment writer #8 is Donna. There are few things that one should be in life. One of them is polite. To be able to say hello and thank you, the basics in their simplest form. After that anything else, for me, is a bonus. Donna is one of those great ones that comes with a lot of little bonuses and if ever a series of articles could show a different side to how you may have perceived anyone, Donna’s is one that in that context that has made gardens interesting yet again. People of world, please charge your glasses, coffee cups or beakers… Donna!

The Garden – What I like about…

simplicity

simplicity

One of my earliest memories of gardening is living in Saskatchewan (Canada) and picking baby carrots, peas and green onions from my mom’s garden to snack on in summer time. I remember the many hours my mom spent on that particular plot of land – clearing the grass off the top first, staking out the boundaries and picking all the rocks out – only that garden also brings back memories of us kids being made to pick rocks too! Was it worth it in the end? Now of course I think yes, but back then…

earth

earth

When I had my own place, I was on ground floor and under my window was a small strip of ground, about 2 feet wide, and 5 feet long. I was only renting but asked the apartment manager if I could plant something out there. He said yes, so I dug it up, picked all the rocks out (that brought back memories!) and went to the library to find a book. I found a neat one called Postage Stamp Gardening that impressed upon me how much food I could grow in a small plot of land. After a week of planning and scheming, I went and bought seeds, and seedlings… if I remember right, radishes, cherry tomatoes, scarlet runner beans and two zuchini (I think UK people call them vegetable marrows?). I called my mom all excited about my new garden, and told her two about my 2 zuchini and she laughing asked if I planned on feeding the entire neighborhood! By the time summer was over, I had reaped a harvest of 3 meals of beans, a ton of zuchini, a few mishapen radishes that were so hot I could hardly eat them, and no tomatoes. Apparently I didnt water my plot often enough 🙂

life

life

A few years later, I got married, and moved into my first home. My husband lovingly built me a raised garden in the back yard, under a huge fir tree. We bought top soil, and again I plotted and schemed as to what to plant. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself reaping a harvest of fresh lettuce, watercress, cucumbers, garlic, snap peas, even swiss chard – all things that my mom had successfully grown in her own garden over the years. Needless to say, the first year I planted too soon and our Vancouver rain washed away my neat rows of lettuce seeds, drowned my garlic, and caused my cucumber plants to go moldy. The lettuce did sprout, but instead of nice neat rows, it was all in one clump at the lowest point of the garden! I was crushed, but not beaten!

The next year, I dug my own compost into the garden, waited till after the May 24th long weekend ( my neighbor told me to wait, as thats when the rain would quit) and I tried again. Again my garden was a sad state – the plants grew, but so did the weeds! And I had gone from a part time job, to a full time job and ‘inherited’ two stepsons so had little spare time to put into it.
The third year – my husband gently persuaded me that although my thumb is green in my own mind’s eye, in real life it really isnt so 🙂  So I planted all flowers – Static, and flowers for drying. California Poppies, Bachelors Buttons. Two blueberry bushes. Even a Peony plant. My garden thrived! We had a multitude of blueberries all summer long and it was wonderful.
beautiful

beautiful

The fourth year – I had to clear nearly 6 inches of dead pine needles off the top of my garden – it was under that giant fir tree remember? And the soil by this time was so acidic that even after adding lime to it, it wasnt balanced enough to grow anything decent… except weeds!  So we put plastic over it, let the summer sun kill off all the weeds, and then dismantled the garden and redepositied the soil around the rest of the yard.

Am I sad about having no garden? Yes and no. I still love digging in the dirt. I know there are still things I’m good at growing… blueberries and flowers that dont need watering every day 🙂  And potatoes. I know I can grow potatoes. But until I get time to do gardening on a daily basis (which might be soon actually), I’ve chosen to plant things around my yard that are native to where I live: Lupins, Foxglove, Ferns, Shasta Daisy, Lily of the Valley, Crocus’. And I do have a Lilac tree, Lavender bushes and a Clematis that no matter what I don’t do to it, I just can’t kill!
Thanks to Peter for letting me share my gardening adventures.
3 replies
  1. Amazing
    Amazing says:

    I also live in Vancouver and have also tried my hand at growing vegetables. After many attempts, I have since come to the realization that I have no business in the garden. I am far happier browsing the beautiful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables at farmer’s market.

    If you have more time in the future Donna, you might want to give it another try. I know it is very satisfying to be able to eat what you sow.

  2. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    It’s a big accomplishment I think to figure out what you’re good at growing (and not) in your own environment and with your own time limitations and talent limitations. 😉 Congrats on getting so far.

  3. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    So nice to read about your gardening experiences Donna. I did the exact same thing at my first apartment. It was a long basement suite and I dug a bed across the length of it. I planted bulbs and daylilies and nasturtium. I would let my cat out through a window when I was gardening and she would hang out amongst the blooms. I am not sure where I came to get my green thumb because we never had much of a garden growing up ( my mom tried but was never very sucessful). I still like to drive by the apartment ( now 12 years later) to see which perennials are still there. Surprisingly it’s not all back to grass.
    I don’t have a big hot spot for lots and lots of vegetables. So I grow a salsa garden mainly in containers which has been so rewarding and fairly low maintenance. This fall I dug up my Asparagus which had mostly died off and planted 2 raspberry bushes I am so excited about them. Flowers are still my passion but the bigger my garden gets the more neglected it seems to be but no matter how out of control it gets there’s always the winter and spring to start fresh 🙂 Thanks for sharing your stories

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