6 posts tagged with “community gardening”

  • 5 Steps for Growing the Ultimate Vegetable Garden

    Thanks Shutterstock.

    This story about how to grow a vegetable garden was originally written for Niagara Life magazine. 

    Seed companies have mailed their catalogues. Green thumbs have gathered at local seed exchanges in search of their next prize-winning squash to plant. And now grow lights are being turned on in homes to get the 2017 edition of backyard tomato crops started.

    They all mean one thing: gardening season is approaching. But if you’ve never grown anything more than a hosta — heck, if you’ve never grown anything at all — those pre-season gardening rituals can seem downright daunting.

    It’s true, gardening isn’t for the faint of heart, what with having to rely on Mother Nature and her temperamental ways.

    It can be incredibly rewarding, however. Few things are sweeter than that first homegrown cherry tomato we pluck off the vine. Garden rules dictate it must be eaten immediately.

    Gardening gets us outside and active, offering physical and emotional benefits. That connection to other living things can boost moods. It can help us relax and be in the moment. Even better, plants never judge. So don’t sweat it if your Wellies are a little skuffed or you mutter to yourself while plucking your mustard greens.

    Here are five steps for growing the ultimate vegetable garden and reaping many cherry tomato feasts to come. Continue reading

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    Category In the Garden


  • Peach Tree
  • Get growing: Find a community garden in Niagara

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Call me a keener, but soon after the calendar changed to Jan. 1, I bought myself some squash seeds to grow in my garden this summer.

    I got a seed catalogue in the mail the week before, so I figured I had the all-clear to start planning what I’d like to do months from now with my tiny patch of earth.

    I won’t be planting those butternut or bush delicata seeds in my backyard, though. That’s the domain of a big, old silver maple casting shade over my postage stamp lot. It’s heavenly if you’re a human sitting outside on a hot July day, but not so much if you’re a tomato plant clamouring to catch some sun rays.

    Those squash, along with a handful of tomatoes, perhaps a melon, and most definitely some kale will take root in my own 10×20-foot plot behind Grantham Mennonite Church in St. Catharines instead. My tiny tract is part of a sunny swath behind the church that’s used as a community garden run by Links for Greener Learning.

    This will be my third summer as a community gardener with Links for Greener Learning, an non-profit dedicated to providing newcomers to Canada with experiential learning opportunities. Links is one of a handful of local groups running community gardens in the region. It’s currently taking applications from green thumbs who need a place to plant this year.

    Selfishly, Links fulfils my need to feel like a master gardener with every vegetable I successfully harvest. (I hoist each haul skyward like baby Simba from the Lion King and celebrate by snapping a pic.) But that community garden has given me more than fodder for Instagram and fishing hole-type stories about giant tomatoes I’ve grown.

    It’s given me one of my favourite ways to while away a lunch hour, take a break from writing or spend an evening outdoors. I get to be in the company of ambitious amateur horticulturalists who have a whole world of experience growing eggplant, tomatoes, sesame seeds, corn, herbs and leafy greens.

    It was the highlight of my summer last year to pull weeds around my peppers while my gardening neighbour from China tended to her sesame plants, the family from West Africa tied their prolific tomatoes, and a couple from the Middle East raked between fertile rows of inky black eggplant.

    We broke ground together in our fertile mosaic, and broke bread together at potlucks and other events Links held to celebrate the growing season.

    Read the rest of the story and find a community garden in Niagara.

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    Category Food Security, In the Garden


  • Peach Tree
  • Police tape and tomato paletas

    The yellow police tape around my community garden has been removed.

    That’s given me the green light to return to my trusty patch of dirt where I can grumble to my bug-eaten kale about the weeds, curse my insect-chewed greens to the apple tree nearby, and wince at tomato plants that look like the inspiration for a B-Movie horror flick villain.

    It wasn’t long after my lament at being cut off from the garden because of a fire investigation that we all got the go-ahead to return. But what made me flinch more than coming back to gnarly plants was the gaping hole cut into the church’s roof by flames and firefighters’ axes.  Continue reading

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    Category Recipes


  • Peach Tree
  • The unfussy: Eat Istanbul’s tomato and yogurt salad

    I woke up Saturday morning to an email telling me my community garden was closed until further notice.

    My prolific plot that has kept me in more kale than I ever thought possible is behind a vacated church that was set on fire late last week. To say this is a bummer is beyond an understatement and almost as unnecessary as pointing out the sky is blue. Alas, it is what it is — a jut-your-bottom-lip-out D-R-A-G.

    Last time I saw my tiny patch of dirt a few days before the bad news, there were tomatoes on the verge of being fully ripe and ready for picking. And now that I’m living a freelancer’s life, I was looking forward to having the time between interviews and columns to go fetch them and yank a few weeds in the process. After all, I now work for the coolest boss ever who would let me take an extra long lunch to do these sorts of things.

    The dog days of the season are here and I know this by the amount of tomatoes I’ve been eating. While I’ve been having problems keeping up with my kale, I never have an issue staying on top of my tomatoes.

    Continue reading

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    Category Recipes, Reviews