Monday, November 7, 2011

Community Garden

About six months back, Paula finally got a spot in the University of Victoria's Community Garden. By the end of August, they were ready to move the garden to its new location. And since then, gardeners have been busy preparing things for the next growing season.

The garden is located in what was nothing more than a grassy field for years. Pipes have been laid for water, and after the plots themselves were laid out, the sod was lifted in each of them. The best thing about the garden is the two metre high deer fence around it--there are a lot of deer on campus.

Paula and Ben, our son, originally laid out the beds in the new plot. Formal raised beds are new to me--on the farm, we used a rotary tiller to break up the earth and then used a hilling blade to hump it into a rounded long mound. As you can see, here we have a much more formal series of boxes--each lined on the bottom with landscape cloth to discourage anything from working its way up from underneath.
The boxes are spaced so that they are slightly further apart than my feet are long--enabling me to stand between the beds.Each had a layer of leaves laid in, and then covered with a mixture of compost and topsoil.The recent rains seem to have compressed the soil a bit.
The old strawberry garden was moved a week or so back, so Paula planted some of the extras in the one bed. This still needs to be mulched.

I salvaged what was left of a soaker hose that had been run over by a lawnmower (not by me!), and cut it into shorter pieces to fit in the beds. I found some L and T fittings at Rona and laid the hose out until I ran out. So far, this bed and the strawberries have hose in them, and the third bed and the empty space are still waiting. But I got a clockwork timer today (spring driven) that will enable us to turn the water on and leave.
The polytunnel hoops are 25mm electrical conduit held in the D holders for the next size up. The conduit came in three metre lengths--longer than I wanted-- but once I bent them into their holders, it didn't seem necessary to shorten them. Poly clearly still has to be installed....
The fourth space in the plot isn't being ignored; it is slated to have a cold frame built for it. Among other things, we're hoping this gives us a place to overwinter herbs.
Its strange to imagine overwintering anything. Out on the prairies, most everything is planted in May and out of the ground by mid-October at the latest. Here, things are different. Up the peninsula, someone is successfully growing citrus trees. Kiwi fruit are farmed nearby. Here at the bottom of Vancouver Island, the temperate rainforest is modified by a local micro-climate that gives us even milder weather. A lot of rain in the winter, sure, but seldom snow, and even less seldom, -20C. I've never gardened out here, so this year looks to be very experimental.

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