Watch out for the crows.


Heart of the rhubarb in March.

Am stiff this morning from a weekend of work in the garden. Hauling dirt, drilling wood, spreading mulch, crouching over to plant seeds. I’m watching for crows now, seeds and starts seem so vulnerable until they’ve taken root and even then! The birds might feel it’s their due after a winter of peeling back lawns in search of grubs. I swear they sent out scouts yesterday to watch where I poked the seeds down and then flew back en mass to the yard when I was finished for the day. I love the crows of east vancouver when they are winging overhead at crow-time, but not when they are stealing my hard work for their supper.

Planted yesterday include: Kale, Deers Tongue, Joi Choi, Florence Fennel, Mesclun Greens, Carrots, Potatoes, Peas, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Butterfly Weed (Asclepias), Poppies, and Nasturtiums. Already in include Broad Beans, Radish, Joi Choi (earlier planting), Garlic, Onions and Shallots.

Cold frame crafted from an old window that came out of our house.

Besides all the new planting and growing, I am pretty excited by the structures I’ve built to support all this food and flower production. Over the weekend and yesterday I made a cold frame out of one of the old house windows which I plan to use for melon in the summer and greens in the winter, a worm composter out of an old utility sink that came out of our basement, and three new boxes for the back alley in which I am planting sunflowers and corn as a bit of privacy fence and then some wildflowers and greens just for the hell of it. I’ve got two more windows so I’m thinking of turning those into cold frames for the front yard when I’ve got time in the coming weeks – apparently the only way to really get melon to fruit in this climate is with heat, so why not cold frame? Plus, growing my own spinach and lettuce all winter seems like one more small way to cut against these very staple foods in our diet being trucked from California.

Worm composter created from an old utility sink and scrap board.

We had three yards of dirt delivered on Saturday afternoon, which have now been mostly moved into two of the large boxes in the veggie garden as well as the three new boxes I built yesterday. I still need to top dress two other beds, plus we are digging up a new bed for tomatoes that will need some soil amendment, but at this stage of the game I can safely say that the backyard soil needs can be met through trips to the garden center rather than costly (and messy) deliveries to my alleyway. Since the fall we have put eight yards of rich, composting soil into our backyard which my dirt guy promises will give me “killer veggies”.

So we’ve got the bones, the basics in place almost. I need some edging for my berry patch, the tomato bed needs to be dug, I’ve got flower boxes for the patio to build (but not before I buy an electric saw for the process – I’m not hand sawing any more wood!). There are a million little projects to come as we get the new patio extension built (next weekend) and can finally settle in to a yard without workmen and mess once again. I’m so glad we were able to get the studio started as early as January. Having it finished now means we can actually use the yard again and plant around the outside of it. Not to mention the end of cigarette butts on the grass and the garbage strewn in my raised beds…

I’m pretty excited about all of this, my second summer at William Street and putting a serious backyard garden in – not to mention a great studio/living space and pretty soon a little hot tub in one corner as well. By mid-June it should be pretty sweet back there with lots of flowers and veggies coming up all over and a nice little patio for hanging out on. That’s what I’m going for – a lush, edible place to hang out as the weather gets warmer – not to mention a source of food for our household!

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