Wednesday, 2 March 2016

2016 Garden Goals - 16 Paces

Hey everyone,

 With gardening season coming in ernest, I would like to share with you my 2016 goals. As you may already know last year I started a garden. But not just any garden; I got rid of all my lawn and replaced it with raised beds and wood chips. I’ll leave the back yard garden story for later; most of what I do happens right in my front yard, right off the sidewalk.

Last year was a great success and I am SO glad that I decided to do this! Before I get into this years goals I want to review last years goals and see where I stand with them.

Last years goals:

1) This must look good. - I would say that I did an ok job here. My sunflower/pole bean arrangement didn't grow the way I imagined them and I wont be repeating that jungly mistake again. But for the most part I think I did a good job. Many of my neighbours complement and admire everything that I’ve done.

2)  This must be sustainable. - Here is where I fell short. I used WAY more water than I would have if I had left it as a conventional front lawn. That was by far my biggest shortfall. Another shortfall is soil disturbance, I did a lot of tilling and from what I now am to understand that may not be the best.

3) This must be productive. - My onions, garlic, spinach, herbs, cabbage, peas and sunflowers all failed. But that was offset by a decent crop of potatoes, carrots, celery and strawberries. I now feel connected more than ever to my food. How fragile and delicate is our existence when we depend so heavily on crop success. The entire planet is only a drought away from famine. Last year was a learning experience and this year I intend to find new things to not do in the garden because I wont be repeating my mistakes!

4) This must be cost effective. - I’d give myself a top score here because the biggest expense was buying the wood for the raised beds (about $400). I got many other things from free and local sources; my soil was mostly homemade, my mulch was free grass clippings from my neighbours and my wood chips were given to me for free by a local tree removal company.

So I intend to keep those goals as the basic mantra of my garden going forward. This year I want to add some more specific things.

This year’s goals:

1) Grow more stuff in my back yard. - Although I have a dog and very limited space there is a lot I can do and I have had all winter to dream. 

2) Get more involved in the local community. - I am a proud member of ReThink Red Deer and we do a lot to promote gardening, among other things in the community; I want to get more involved! There is a local gardening group on Facebook that I joined so I’ll start there. I want to learn from more experienced gardeners and help others nearby who want to grow food and live more sustainably.

3) Use less water. - Since I think that I fell short of my environmentally sustainable goal last year by over watering, this year I intend to plumb in a rain collection and irrigation system. Also, I intend to mulch with grass clippings more and cause less disturbance to the soil at harvest time.

4) Grow more perennials. - Partly because I want my garden to look nice year round and have more depth and angle and partly because I want to do less work, this year I am going to plant a tree and some shrubs. I am torn between an apple tree or a pear tree. What do you think? Yes, I will plant one in the front and one in the back so they can cross pollinate. Also I am going to plant some asparagus and some haskap, goji berry and saskatoon bushes.

5) Plan for seed saving. - Seed-to-seed is sacred to humanity.

6) Get the kids more involved. - Last year my kids and all of their neighbourhood friends loved my garden. I let them eat strawberries and peas and in return they watched over the garden while they were playing. Often I would see them crouched down around a plant. It was marvellous to see them. So this year I am going to foster that even MORE! I am going to get the kids involved at every stage.

7) Make some interesting garden ornaments. - First thing I am going to get the kids to help with is to make some creative crafts for the garden. Last year we painted some rocks but this year I am going to try to get them even more involved in the creative process.

So, those are the goals that I have set for this years garden. I plan to make more videos for my gardening YouTube channel 16 Paces. Stay tuned!


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