My First Garden – Step 1

I might have mentioned I have a community garden plot. It’s as though I won the lottery. Except there’s a lot more work and a lot less money involved. Here’s what it looked like when I first went to my plot, gardening gloves in hand, to take account of what would have to be done:


A little bit of work to do…a lot of dead branches and old plants – I ave no idea what kinds – so I decided to pull it all up. It was a kind of lottery, really, not knowing what I was inheriting. Were there strange Indian amaranth plants that want to shoot up to the sky? They’re illegal in the garden above a certain height, by the way. Or herbs that wouldn’t pair with my garden plan? I’d mapped out what I wanted to do with the land. A line of tomatoes next to basil and parsley. Arugular, peppers, peas, okra (if I could find it), sorrel, cauliflower, broccoli, thyme, marigolds (for bees), chard, lettuce, eggplant.


And it all had to somehow start from this. So I cleared the plot completely, learning for a 70-year old man who decided this young whippersnapper could use a hand how to dip it with a three-pronged fork and rotate it as I put it out of the soil, turning it without going too deep into the ancient earth. Probably ancient as in 1990’s (which, no, is not older than me), but still fairly experienced, this soil. He said don’t worry about the whispy branches. Just turn them into the soil. They’ll be fine. I was trying to pick out all the big rocks and anything that didn’t seem conducive to growing veg, but he was pretty laissez-faire about it.

Then he helped me turn in the compost provided by the city, grabbing the shovel he said was no good because it was too tall and using it himself so I could use the proper, shorter, pronged fork.

I also inherited a bunch of tomato structures and a mini fence that I’m going to try to use for peas if they come up.


And I inherited some lumber, which I’m using to separate the garden into 4 sections. I’m eye-balling the cross-ways divide. I do a lot of balance beam work, trying to walk across only the beams. the smaller ones are trickier…I should get more wood. Maybe the woman whose garden is next to mine will give me some from the pile she leaves in the aisle that I keep tripping over…poor garden etiquette. Even I know that. I attended a meeting…


And then I went to Jean-Talon market and bought 8 bags of soil, fertilizer from organic chicken manure (goodness knows what the chickens ate, though…), and some plants. I transplanted some and am starting some cilantro and black mint from seed. The mint won’t go in the garden because it’s invasive. That’s a balcony plant. The others will go in May 25th, though the parsley is in already and I planted peas. I also killed the sorrel I’m pretty sure. Too much wind and sun, I think.

Hope I can keep the rest of this alive…



  1. says

    Good luck on your gardening! My muscules are still sore from last Saturday when I was planting my tomato seedlings. I do it for a last few years and each year promise myself “it’s last time I’m doing that..” and each year I fill the urge to start over and over again.. Your choice of vegetablea are very similar to mine. Interesting what you are were planning to cook with sorrel. I have one too and the only dish I know is my native Ukrainian “green borsch”. Good luck again!

    • says

      Thanks, Olga! I’m not looking forward to the burn after my tomato seedlings next week either. I think a green blended soup is the most common sorrel recipe, for sure. I thinking I’d do mine French-style with leeks and potatoes. I’ll skip the cream in favour of almond milk though.

  2. Jess Grosman says

    I just got a community garden plot last week after four years waiting. My soil was just as low as yours and i missed the city’s earth delivery. But here’s hoping. I inherited asparagus, raspberries, garlic, onions and chives. So far I’ve just planted strawberries and dug a path down the centre lengthwise.

    • says

      Wow, that’s a great inheritance! My big plating day will be this Saturday or Sunday. The low soil is tough. One bag costs about $3 at the market. And compost adds up too. I have the added problem of having to take a Communauto car or borrow a car every time I buy something heavy like that.

      Here’s hoping, indeed!

    • says

      Thanks! But I don’t have my hopes up yet. I weeded my garden today and thinned my arugula, but some of my tomatoes were looking pretty sad. Fortunately, the ones on my balcony in self-watering containers are escaping the worst of it. I can’t mess those up as easily, thank goodness.

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