Sunday, 3 March 2013

Ottawa East Community Gardens

March 2013

And now for something completely different to do with my life.  Well, not completely new.  More like an extension of current interests.  I'm on a mission to find a small, nearby, suitable plot of land to grow my own vegetables and herbs this summer.  Turns out Ottawa has such a thing as "Community Gardens" -- small plots of land for use by the community -- with a site not far from here at the University of Ottawa.

Lots of reasons for choosing a community garden venture.  For one thing, our house location is not ideal for growing vegetables.  I've tried. The back yard, while nice, is almost completely shaded most of the time.  Hostas grow like crazy but not much else.  What lawn there is belongs to the kitty gazebo where happy cats watch the endless video loop of birds on the bird feeder for hours on end. The one spot in the yard where vegetables may have worked was claimed a few years back by a young family who needed more parking space to haul two kids out of two car seats.  Their car now parks up against what could have been a few metres of garden ... Carbon monoxide vegetables somehow don't appeal. 

Then there's Boris and Natasha Racoon and their halflings. They regularly skulk around at sunset looking for dinner, taunt the kitties, saunter along the back deck fence, and yank open the green bin, even with the bin weighted down by stones and rocks.  They helped themselves to most of the neighbour's crop of tomatoes and zucchini (the neighbours get more sun!)   


I became intrigued with the concept of community gardens a few years back.  Most, however, were on the outskirts of the city and, being forever time challenged, this was a non-starter.  This year, I hunted around until I found one at the University of Ottawa.  Each plot measures 1m x 2m so two of them should give ample produce for me, neighbours and friends.  

Judging from what's available at the farmers' markets and our geography (generally Zone 5), I should be able to start planting some early hardy spring produce in mid to late April like turnips, radishes, heirloom carrots and kale.  In May, I will add zucchini, lettuce, cucumber, heirloom tomatoes and herbs.  It's just a few to try out this venture, organic and heirloom varieties if I can get them. 

From websites, it seems there's lots of sites popping up in the inner core.  The one pictured right is just down Main Street about five minutes from here.  I use the multicoloured fence to orient myself toward home; this garden specializes in teaching kids the gardening basics.

I will have to tell myself not to get carried away -- small, basic, homegrown, for the home table.  I know I will have to find a way to fit in upkeep in a schedule that includes jam-packed days in Charlottetown and Ottawa.  Anyway... if I didn't have these projects I'd end up too one-dimensional.  I continue to resist such a characterization that defines so many of my colleagues.  

So .... snow be gone! Let there be spring! 

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