In The Zone 5
A Gardening Diary by: Pamela Walsh
October 9, 2017
This ongoing article is all about my own gardening experiments and learning experience. I have practically no history of gardening, but I’ve begun a new life and in this version, I’m claiming “Gardener” as part of my identity. I’ll post articles on projects as they come up, and I plan to share both my gardening successes and failures.
To give you an idea of where I’m coming from, five months ago I moved from the busy metropolis of Toronto to a tiny hamlet in Southwestern Ontario, just a five-minute drive north of Lake Erie. I own a tiny house, surrounded by an acre of lawn that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see. I bought this place just over three years ago, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford staying in Toronto once I retired (I’m no spring chicken). As luck would have it, my job ended a couple of years sooner than expected, and last spring I suddenly found myself living here.
When I was in Toronto, I rented an east-facing, fourth-floor apartment, with no balcony - couldn’t even try growing a tomato plant in a pot. Meantime, over the course of the past three years, I had put in a couple of small flower beds on either side of the house’s front porch. This past summer, I extended the flower beds and stuck in a few vegetables. I have also planted little trees here and there, including four fruit trees, three of which were decimated by Japanese beetles.
Picture of House and Yard.
My first project for this article is to begin establishing a no-dig vegetable garden behind the house. I’m going with the no-dig method because it turns out gardening is a lot of work and I’m trying to make this as easy as possible. I chose the location because there’s plenty of room for later expansion, it will get full sun, it’s close to my outside tap, and I’ll be able to look at it from my kitchen window.
The first step is to kill the grass, which I plan to do by simply laying a tarp over it to block the sunlight, and leaving it there until spring. I was told it might be a little late, because it’s almost mid-October and the grass is already close to dormancy, so it might not die enough. I should have started this project weeks ago. Usually, layers of cardboard and mulch are used to cover the grass to block the light, breaking down over the winter and becoming soil. But I’m going to use a tarp, and in the springtime I’ll have some topsoil delivered to spread over the patch. The biggest tarp I could find at Canadian Tire is only 8’ x 10’. It seems kind of small for a vegetable garden, but I was advised not to bite off more than I can chew. If I decide to expand the garden in the future, I might try the cardboard and mulch method. We’ll see how it goes.
"Before" Picture. Where the garden is going to go.
Photo of tarp weighed down with blocks.