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A fine time to grow our own

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Leslie Campbell

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April 6, 2020

BORIS JOHNSON IS IN INTENSIVE CARE with COVID-19. That’s sobering.

Finally, I spent some quality time in my vegetable garden. It really needs some soil amendments, but I don’t think we’ll be going out anytime soon so I am praying that some seaweed washes onto nearby beaches. It often does in April, which is great timing garden-wise, but you never know. It requires a combination of the right winds and tides.

FOCUS writers (and fellow gardeners) Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic and Maleea Acker have both submitted recent pieces for this website about local food security. Trudy writes about COVID-19 exposing cracks in Canada’s food security, while at the same time helping us value local farms and our own backyards’ abilities to produce food. Maleea looks at a great example of boulevard gardening in the Haultain Corners area. She notes City of Victoria citizens don’t need City permission to dig up their boulevard for re-planting.

Victorians have always treasured their gardens, but it sounds like the pandemic is inspiring many more to plant food gardens for the first time. This is definitely a silver lining of the COVID crisis. Nurturing soil and plants that will supply fresh, organic vegetables and fruits for one’s family—what could be more healthy, both mentally and physically? It also reduces the need for carbon-intensive agriculture and transportation.

I have had a vegetable garden here for about 20 years. It has six beds, each about 4 or 5 feet wide by 15 feet long. I rotate my crops, using a (very messy) diary and map for each year so I can keep track. I can usually store enough root crops, squash and garlic to last the winter. And over the summer and early fall we have plenty of greens. There are always challenges—last year it was mice or rats eating the broccoli, beet tops and any potatoes near the soil surface. Sometimes in the peak of summer the garden has had to get through a month without me—though we have an automatic watering system. Gardening has always been a very satisfying use of my time.

 

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This year’s peas emerging

 

I planted some broccoli and cabbages today. The peas I planted a week or more ago are just peaking through. I have learned to cover them initially with netting or garden-shop trays to prevent the birds from pulling them up. The little pea shoots must look like worms to the robins.

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