Do you ever feel like garden resources are irrelevant because of where you live? I’m tired of finding gardening books that recommend perennials that are hardy to zone 7, or that advise planting some beans in February, or that use the word “hardy” to mean “a plant that can survive freezing.” I know there are more of us out there, and we can provide moral support for each other during those June snowstorms.
In addition to my Zone 3 bent, I’m particularly interested in:
- Providing resources on local food in Edmonton – not just growing it, but buying it, finding it and advocating for it
- Organic gardening – I don’t garden 100% organically, but I don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and I’m always trying to make my yard more earth-friendly
- Edible perennials – I’m always on the lookout for new ones
- Native plants
- Collecting hardy succulents
The story – the short version
In 2009 I bought a house, got a dog, got married, and started a garden. In fact, the getting married and buying a house were sort of to make the garden-starting and dog-adopting possible. I had gotten tired of trying to garden on my dry, windy, sun-scorched 9th floor condo balcony and I was dreaming of neat rows of vegetables. We bought our house in February and moved in in March. By April, the snow was starting to melt, and would uncover– or so I assumed– a nicely tilled garden patch, some attractive shrubs, maybe a fountain or two. I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) to find, instead, a mostly-dead lawn overrun with very-much-alive dandelions, some with thick trunks that seemingly grew down a foot or more. There were a few shrubs and one fruit tree, none of which had been pruned in years. And everywhere were broken, abandoned toys pushed into the ground and never retrieved. Sad! And creepy!
Discouraged, but not totally disheartened, I started small. That first year, my husband and I built 3 raised beds with 36 square feel of space in total. Every year since then, I’ve added more beds, tended perennials, and I keep pulling those tree-sized weeds.
Gardening for masochists?
I live in Edmonton, on the Canadian prairies, which is in Zone 3a. Our short growing season and unpredictable weather seem like a gardener’s worst nightmare in some ways. But when it’s warm here, it’s really warm; and this is one of the sunniest cities in Canada. On the longest day of the year, we get over 17 hours of sunlight. This year I started seeds indoors beginning in late March. I should be able to transplant them by the third week in May. When I read about gardeners in more temperate areas, I do get a bit jealous. But at the same time, we Canadians thrive on adversity. And crappy weather. And those four short months, from May 24 to Sept. 21… They will be glorious, Internet!