Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Converting Lawn to a Vegetable Garden--A Problem

All is not roses in the new boulevard garden. The little lettuce transplants in the edible section have come onto hard times. (Of course, the kale volunteers are all thriving.) Note the crumpled appearance of the lettuce plant at the bottom centre:

A second plant succumbed in a similar manner a day later, with its main root cut. Digging down I discovered the perpetrators, wireworms! The only good thing about these creatures is that they are such a bright orange color that they're easy to spot. With their hard bodies, they are difficult to smash, so to avoid a time-consuming mass murder, I took a bunch of them over to a new home in the forest. Although quite small they can do a lot of damage, and unfortunately, they live for several years.

I found out later that two of the favorite foods of wireworms are lettuce and grass roots. Perhaps instead of turning over the sod and retaining it for extra humus, I should have removed it entirely. However, the wireworms may have been lurking lower in the soil in the colder months when I was digging up the grass. It's something to consider if you are turning your lawn into an edible space. There is helpful information from British Columbia's Robin Wheeler here: Wiley Wireworms.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Boulevard Garden on 31st Ave., Continued

The March 10th blog about my new boulevard garden ended with a blank slate, and the future looked easy. But before planting, there were several tasks. To facilitate reaching into the garden without stepping on it, I divided my plot into two parts--one for flowering plants and the other for edibles (and a few flowering plants), separating the two plots with a path of stepping stones. Stepping stones along the curb are also a convenience for drivers parking on the street. As well, I wanted a bit of a stone barrier along the sidewalk for the part of the plot growing vegetables. I used a level to place the stepping stones (getting a curious comment from a male passing by wondering about a woman using a level). My neighbor installed paths of stepping stones also.

Making that initial decision about where to place plants is daunting. Two blueberry plants were the first to go in.
Along with the blueberry bushes, there is a pink dawn viburnum in the centre of the inedible plot. To the left are Rudbeckia plants, given to me by someone who says that they will get 8 feet tall. I don't believe him.
In this photo of April 14, even though a Brussels sprout plant, a couple lettuce transplants, and other plants were added, the plot still seems relatively empty. The little framed squares contain Nigella seeds.
Ten days later on April 24 the plantings look more established. My neighbor has planted groupings of lavender and heuchera, among other things.
As you round the corner from Camousun Street onto 31st Avenue, the new garden provides a welcome surprise from the usual boring grassy/mossy boulevard.
PS about kale. Despite the compost from the city being inert, two (or do you see more?) tiny rogue kale have established themselves in the inedible plot. Should I leave them there?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dunbar Irrigated Garden

An attractive rock retaining wall faces Dunbar Street with a carefully trimmed hedge high up on the slope. It's quite difficult to see the house. The only clue that there might be an interest in vegetables is the garlic interspersed between the bushes.
But there is a front-yard vegetable garden, tucked way up by the house--note how Dunbar Street appears far below. In February, there are still green veggies to eat that have wintered over. The blueberry bushes lining the walkway are mulched with sawdust.
The next two photos were taken on April 1. Because the garden has relatively few veggies left to eat, one can see the "bones" of the garden, an elaborate irrigation system, which was manufactured in Israel. There are raspberry bushes leafing out next to the house. The owners did a tremendous amount of work recently to create this garden, and their reward is excellent production from this sunny and automatically watered site. It is quite attractive even in winter because they keep it utterly tidy.
But that is not all! On the south-facing lane to the side of the house, the owners grew a few tomatoes in 2009. However, this year they've embarked on another major project, sifting out the rocks and getting a load of dirt. I wish I had a "before" photo from last summer. This photo was taken in February during the 2010 Winter Olympics, hence the flag!
By April, the terraced beds are beginning to take shape.
Work continues in mid April...additional soil had to be acquired. As with gardening in general, there's always more to do.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Winter Vegetables

After returning from a week in the mid-west U.S. (OH/IN/PA), I realize why no one believes that vegetables can grow over the winter in Vancouver. It's not California here, but we can eat some things, mostly greens, from our gardens. On January 30, I spotted beets and what I think is arugula in the front yard garden that is growing veggies to sell:

The same day, I saw chard and kale in this front-yard garden.
On February 5, I spotted this plot near a sidewalk--perhaps these red-leaved plants are edible.
The raised beds in this front-yard garden have the ubiquitous kale, plus garlic. Note that the residents are expanding with two more raised beds to the left and to the rear. Photo taken on February 14.
Looking like a logged-over forest, this plot of kale plant stems was spotted on February 21:
Darkness descended on February 21, so I had to use a flash to get this photo of the lane garden that got into trouble with the city government because the garden encroached onto the lane. Everything got resolved, and growing continues. See blog of September 2, 2009.
If you're not too tired of seeing kale...here are the two popular varieties, the Russian Red in the foreground and Lacinato in the background, on February 28.
Here is what happens when you don't eat the Lacinato kale! Seen in a southern exposed front yard on March 7.
Here is what happens when you forget to dig up garlic, seen on March 29.
Also on March 29, I saw this Swiss chard plant; unlike kale, not all Swiss chard plants survived the Vancouver winter.
Broccoli in March? Yes, this is purple sprouting broccoli, a nice change from all that kale!
A salmon berry bush, a native plant, growing in a boulevard garden cheers passers-by with its sparse but lovely blooms.