4 posts tagged with “yard sharing”

  • Weeding and Eating: The Great Purslane Giveaway returns

    My name is Tiffany and I am a weedaholic.

    There’s a reason for that, not the least of which is they taste good. But when you’re purslane, not only are you pleasing to the palette, you’re super healthy, so the benefits of dining on this garden gift are seemingly endless.

    It is the misunderstood superfood, often landing in the compost heaps of annoyed gardeners when it should be landing on dinner plates, given it has more omega-3 fatty acids than just about any other edible plant. These are fatty acids that are good for heart health.

    Antioxidants? Purslane is packed with them. Vitamin A to help keep you seeing clearly? Purslane has nearly every other leafy green vegetable beat.
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild


  • Peach Tree
  • Good night Grackle Garden

    A late summer harvest at Grackle Garden.

    I’ve finally stopped sniffling.

    And I think I’ve shivered out the last bit of early November chill that went through my jacket, shirt and flesh to my very core where it has stayed for the last few hours.

    That’s what happens when you drag your heels putting your garden to bed, hoping that maybe this onward march toward winter and the ever-cooling fall temperatures are just a fluke. But I realize I’m just in denial about the six months of cold weather, grey days, layers of clothing and heavy footwear, and lack of gardening that are ahead.

    Today, my friend Rowan and I finally uprooted the spent tomatoes and tired peppers that we left lingering in Grackle Garden with the hope they might beckon summer back.

    I haven’t written much about Grackle Garden, so an introduction comes late, when the patch of earth in a yard that we borrowed this summer is well past its seasonal prime and interesting stories.

    Last year, while harvesting pears, a homeowner ushered me conspiratorially to her backyard where blue tarps laid undisturbed for years, protecting a swath of soil carved into her lawn. Her ageing parents, who were now in a nursing home, had used the garden every year during the decades they raised their family in their north St. Catharines, red-brick, one-and-a-half storey home.

    But when the garden became too much, rather than replace fertile ground with sod, they covered it with tarps and waited for the day it might be used again.

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    Category Food Security, Uncategorized


  • Peach Tree
  • A cup of sunshine: lemon verbena tea

    Lemon verbena.

    Herbs weren’t what I most looked forward to growing when I embarked on my summer of yard sharing.

    Tomatoes — lots of tomatoes — peppers, cucumbers and melons, those sun worshiping veggies that my shady, half a postage stamp of a yard eschews, were what I longed to harvest in my plot of sun-drenched borrowed earth.

    And while I’ve loved being able to head just down the road to pick a tomato whenever I’ve needed, wanted or was left no choice by Mother Nature but to harvest them, I’ve discovered it’s actually an herb I planted on whim that I love more this summer.

    It’s lemon verbena.

    Not much to look at, lemon verbena — I’ll call it LV — isn’t what you’d call a beauty. It’s appearance is pragmatic with those spiky green leaves. Perfect for photosynthesizing, not so much for admiring.

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    Category In the Garden, Uncategorized


  • Peach Tree
  • Of YIMBYs and spring: Dreams of gardening glory take root

    Seeds I have started in preparation of the garden I will grow in a
    borrowed backyard.

    The white-blue glow of grow lights tucked into a corner of my kitchen casts a harsh and eerie glare that clashes with the yellow warmth thrown by fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

    Their cool appearance is a bit of an irony, given the comfortable heat they throw on the dirt filled containers beneath them. The brightness that my two grow lamps radiate is a beacon for me, inviting me over to inspect what they’re shining down upon, to watch nature forced into action.

    But I should know, a watched seed never grows.

    Still, those rays of light pouring into the heated indoor greenhouse beneath them are symbolic of the release I feel of energy pent up over the winter. It has waited impatiently to be expended on another season’s promise in the garden, starting with seeding the plants that will become my company in the yard this summer, my meals in the fall.

    This week, I broke out my early gardening season supplies — lights, pods, seeds, soils, and heated bed — and broke free of the cold weather season that was, not that it felt like much of a winter this year anyway, though the calendar deemed it so.

    I set about seeding 60 red Wethersfield and yellow Borettana onions, 20 Spigiarelli broccoli seeds, Lacinato kale and Georgia southern collards. Ten Corno di Toro Giallo — sweet, mildly spicy yellow peppers  — joined them in a warm, moist earth bed, catching that fluorescent glow that will spur them along.

    There are cucumbers at the ready, oh so sweet melons, scarlet Nantes carrots and Sutton’s harbinger peas, too.  And, of course, there will be a long list of tomato plants that will eventually join them.

    It’s not as though my postage stamp-sized yard has grown over the winter — the one in which garlic, chard and bloody dock are the only edibles that seem to really thrive. Instead, I will be borrowing someone else’s backyard to reap what I’ve just sown.

    You can call this generous homeowner a YIMBY because she invited me to take over her unused sunny swath on Scott Street in St. Catharines after letting me scale her towering Kieffer pear tree last fall for The Garden of Eating – Niagara.

    Red wethersfield onion seeds.

    It’s not a huge backyard by any stretch but one whose space has been maximized by her greenthumb parents who lived there before her, divvying the square lot into beds for vegetables and flowers that see the sun morning to night while basking in the added warmth of light bouncing off a white brick wall nearby.

    Sorry if I seem like I’m waxing poetic about something as pragmatic as vegetable gardening but truth is, I can’t wait to starting digging in the earth again, getting dirt under my nails.

    My impatience is helped along by the knowledge that I’ll have a garden where everything really does seem to be in the proverbial cards — space, sunlight and soil that has been nurtured through its years of use and protected in its dormancy of late.

    My attempts at using what I have at my condo, where the sun’s presence and room to grow is scant, have given me a complex about my gardening (in)abilities and this summer will be the true test, provided Mother Nature is in a good mood, of that green thumb of mine with its seemingly unshakable brown tinge.

    I will be embarking upon my latest gardening adventure with my friend Rowan, a fellow proponent of local food security who is  working to bring a food store to downtown St. Catharines. 

    All we have to do is clean up a tiny corner of the borrowed yard that has grown into a mish-mash of weeds and fuzzy lamb’s ears in exchange for use of a swath brimming with what seems like guaranteed gardening glory.

    Those remnants of landscaping gone wrong will be replaced with bee friendly flowers. Yes, I want my garden teeming with those hard-done-by pollinators or at least make whoever shows up feel welcome.

    It’s a small fee for a summer’s access to land and water and the bounty at the end of it all.

    Spring starts officially in less than a week. But in that corner of my kitchen where that acerbic grow-light glare and gentler luminosity spilling from frosted lampshades collide, it has already begun.

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    Category In the Garden, Uncategorized