Montreal Community Garden Season in full swing
I have made mention several times of my community garden plot, most recently when I made Sorrel Potato Soup from the first growth of sorrel, which is a perennial and returns to the plot each year. I also mentioned that the garden season had a very late start this year due to soil analysis results which resulted in the closings of several contaminated gardens. Fortunately for me, the garden where I have my plot was not contaminated, but we had to wait until the testing period was completed before we could declare the garden open.
I was sharing my garden plot - which is about the size of a parking spot - with my friend Marc, and we were both sharing the harvest with our partners. My name was on a waiting list to get my own plot, and my name got to the top of that list about ten days ago. I am now the proud tenant-farmer of plot 42 of Mennais Gardens, owned by the City of Montreal. Here is a shot of my garden plot:
I'm pretty sure #42 was vacant last year, because it was overrun with mint, which is very aggressive and prohibited in the garden unless it is in a container. I spent over 2 hours trying to dig up the mint root system, and hopefully I got most of it. It is a daunting task to start a garden, especially so late in the season, but I jumped into it without a moment to lose. I wish I had brought my camera with me and taken a picture of what the plot looked like before I began working it.
#42 already had a few things growing in it which I would definitely keep: There was a decent sized raspberry bush in the southeast corner, a tarragon bush in the northeast corner which I was happy to have after reading Michael Ruhlamn's short but inspiring post about his herb garden. He should know that in near-arctic Montreal, tarragon comes back each year. There were also a few chive plants, oregano, golden oregano, and some flowers.
After digging out the mint and as any weeds as I could manage, I mixed in a couple of bags of cow manure. I didn't have too much time to decide on the design if the plot and the soil level seems a little low, so I quickly dug a cross-shaped trench to simulate a raised-bed garden. Over a few planting sessions I planted
- Royal Burgundy beans
- French Butter beans
- mustard greens
- mesclun leaf lettuce
- Boston lettuce
- some unidentified lettuce from a friend's garden
- Speckled Roman tomatoes
- Purple Prince tomatoes
- some other tomatoes who's name I can't remember
- Red Russian kale
- mystery green from a friend (either rapini or Kai-lan)
Here is what the plot looked like the day I planted most of it:
Many of the other plots in the Mennais Gardens look fabulous, either from perennial flowers or simply from plants that were grown indoors months ago and transplanted fairly recently. My new little plot seems pretty ugly and bare right now, but I am confident that it will be blooming with produce in a few short weeks. I should thank my friend Kate, a landscape architect who not only gave me some of her seeds but will also be helping me design, weed, water, harvest, and eat #42 of Mennais Gardens.
Consider yourself lucky if you live on the west coast, where you are enjoying apricots, olallieberries, garbanzos, and who knows what else. Here in Quebec, asparagus is finally here, rhubarb is everywhere, and we are just entering our strawberry season.
I have been so busy that I hadn't had a chance to publish this pot until today, so here is a shot of the garden as of June 27:
Everything is going nicely, except the beets and peas - they didn't work out. I guess either the birds ate the seeds or they were just bad seeds. I have since resowed the beets because I can't imagine living through next autumn or winter without a wealthy supply of pickled beets and a freezer full of borscht.
We have already begun to eat from the garden - yesterday we had a salad of sorrel, mustard greens and arugula and yesterday morning we had scrambled eggs with tarragon. I can't wait for more! There is nothing like knowing exactly where (some of) my food comes from.
If you grow your own, whether it be in Montreal or any other city, feel free to comment or even send in photos of your garden - I would love to post them!
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