Community Garden Update June 2021

June has arrived and we have been launched into summer heat very suddenly.  After that great rainfall a few weeks ago, the garden plants have sprung to life in this new mini heat wave.  Most of the perennials in the perimeter garden, even those which were quite slow, have emerged and are thriving.  Three of the apple trees are in flower and a third is struggling but has leaves so we are hopeful that this blast of summer heat will encourage further growth.  The Saskatoon bushes are in full floral display; the black currants are already forming berries; the haskaps have been in flower for a few weeks and are producing berries and giving way to flowering cherry bushes.  New cherry shrubs have been planted in the northeast corner which was vacated by the aging haskap bushes that had to be removed last fall, and wild flower seeds have been spread around the perimeter and in the planter barrels to support the pollinators.  The garden beds themselves have largely been planted and although there were some losses of seedlings which did not tolerate transplantation, the seeds are germinating and green is everywhere. This weather has been ideal for the gardeners and they are taking full advantage of it.  The weeds have also enjoyed this weather and are thriving in the pathways and in the surrounding grassy playgrounds so there is always work to do at keeping the garden looking its best.  Some annual flowers will soon be planted to add colour to the scene.  We still do not encourage visitors but would like the garden to be an attractive place for passers-by.

As we are still under public health restrictions, we cannot have any large group gardening sessions for a few weeks yet.  With some easing of the restrictions expected over the summer, we may be able to meet as a group by September.  The harvest social at the end of September is our target, so we remain hopeful.

Community Garden Update May 2021

Hello, spring!  I probably was overzealous with my indoor seeding but my reward is lovely nasturtium blooms in April (see photo).  My other flower seedlings are also growing rapidly, helped along by being in front of a very sunny, east facing window.  I inadvertently planted hollyhock seeds from a seed head given to me by another gardener.  I was misinformed about their true identity but as they continue to grow straight up, higher and higher, their leaf appearance is becoming very like a holly hock.  More knowledgeable individuals have been consulted and their consensus is the hollyhock.  I believe the flowers will be pink but won’t know for some time.  There will be more on this subject in future articles and updates.  Margaret Russell, one of our very experienced gardeners, has taken one of these mystery plants so she may see flowers long before I do!

We are starting another gardening season still facing the uncertainties imposed on us by the ongoing Covid pandemic.  We will have our spring garden clean up on May 1st and, in accordance with public health restrictions, only 10 volunteers will be allowed in the garden at any one time and all must be masked and keep physically distanced as much as possible.  I was gratified to receive names of 13 of our gardeners ready to help so there are three names on the backup list.  Six of the 10 volunteers are from our group of new gardeners and all three of the backup individuals are also new gardeners so the word about community gardens is spreading throughout the city.  I continue to receive inquiries about the availability of a garden plot for this year and have had to turn them down.  However, the Calgary Horticultural Society has a list of Calgary’s community gardens so I have recommended to those individuals that they contact the Society.

We are hopeful that the pandemic will gradually come under control and that we will once again be able to meet face to face at the garden.  Until then, take care of yourself and be kind to others.

Community Garden Update April 2021

Once again we are anticipating the coming of spring – real spring, not what the calendar tells us.  March was unusually mild but exited with a sudden snowstorm and strong winds – thankfully of short duration.  In my flower garden, the small blue muscari (grape hyacinths) are emerging, but the ground is still frozen at the garden.  However, the hardy stonecrop looks promising (see photo) with its fleshy leaves waiting for the clusters of yellow flowers to appear. With the heat of the April sun, I expect to see the leaves on the apple trees start to open soon. 

The garden gate was kept locked over the winter for the first time since the garden’s inception and, as a result, no rabbits entered and the shrubs and trees look fine.  Unfortunately, the garden has collected a dubious variety of items from passers-by and on my latest trip there, I found the usual empty beer cans, lots of plastic food wrappers, a few discarded face masks, three more hockey pucks, one tennis ball and, more worrisome, fragments of broken glass in the raspberry patch.  Cleanup this spring will certainly be a bit more challenging as the gardeners will have to be very careful when they are clearing away the dead leaves from the perimeter. 

On a more positive note, all 34 of the garden beds were rented by the end of March, much earlier than expected, and there has been an extraordinary upsurge of interest in gardening – likely encouraged by the limitations placed on us during 2020.  Perhaps being confined to our homes for extended periods has awakened the potential gardener in many who previously may not have thought to try their hand at growing their own vegetables. Gardening is certainly an activity for the entire family and we are very pleased to welcome twelve newcomers to the garden this year, our largest number in at least the last 5 years. We are extremely fortunate to have many experienced gardeners still active in our community garden. They are a valued resource for the newcomers, and for those of us who are still learning. 

Community Garden Update March 2021

We have said farewell to unfriendly February with its long stretch of deep artic cold which kept us huddled in our homes, and we welcome March with chinook winds and milder temperatures.  The sunshine has returned and although snow still covers the community garden, the blue skies at sunset give promise of warmer days ahead (see photo). 

The Brentwood community garden is entering its 12th year and we have been fortunate during that time to have shared the enjoyment of community gardening with many of our neighbours.  The past year was challenging for our little group, as it was for so many of our neighbours.  We were unable to meet in person and share our thoughts about the garden, the successes and the failures of our planting efforts and, except for one carefully planned group garden cleanup, had no opportunity to meet each other and even to welcome the new gardeners.  I knew their names but rarely saw them and that absence of direct contact was keenly felt.  With the availability of the COVID vaccines, we are again hopeful that we will once more be able to meet in person at some point during the season.  Our annual harvest social generally held at the end of September is the only significant social event we have during the year so I am hopeful that this celebration might once again be available for us. 

In the meantime, over half of the community garden beds have been rented and there are two new gardeners joining us, with a third individual showing some interest.  Several of last season’s gardeners will not be returning this year and as a result, there are several more garden beds available for rent.  The rental option is available until the end of April, at which time any unrented beds will become available as second beds for any of our registered gardeners. 

If you are unable to grow vegetables at home, you might consider joining us.  We have a mix of experienced and new gardeners and they enjoy sharing their knowledge.  For more information about the garden, contact me at simc@shaw.ca.