Residents explore a neighbourhood garden during the June 12 McCauley Garden Crawl. Dustin Bajer
Come see and learn about what your neighbours have done with their yards. We will meet at the fountain of Giovanni Caboto Park at 6:30 p.m., and then walk together to several yards where each resident gardener will talk briefly about their yard, what is growing well, and how they maintain their garden. Each month we will explore a different area of McCauley, and meet resident gardeners. It’s a great way to meet and learn from your neighbours.
We began on Tuesday, June 12. From Caboto Park we walked together northeast to the Friendship Garden by the Boys and Girls Club, where we learned from neighbours about how it was created, who maintains it, and what its future will be. Then we walked to homes of three nearby residents to spend a about a half-hour looking at and discussing various aspects of each garden.
We first visited my front yard on 110 Avenue. I talked about learning from my mistakes. When I bought my 1910 house 12 years ago, my yard had been used as a parking lot for 25 years, so it had nothing living in it. The soil was hard and had gravel, rocks, and spots of oil and gas from the vehicles that parked there, so there are certain places where nothing wants to grow. I also realized that I planted some trees and shrubs too close together, so as they mature, some of them die out from the competition. I made a map of my yard to show neighbours which trees and shrubs have survived and grown well, and which have suffered from the competition. I also talked about making my first batch of cherry cordial, and first compost.
Then we walked up the alley a bit to the home of a fairly new resident on 109A Avenue, who has bees. Bees are essential to plants in pollinating crops and flowers. Andy talked about the bees and helped us understand how they behave, and what they need to survive. Andy is new to gardening, so he wants to learn from other neighbours too.
Lastly, we walked up the block to the yard of Joe and Karen Simons on 110 Avenue. Joe has been grafting fruit trees, and they have other unusual aspects to their garden areas. Their yard too had nothing in it when they began in 2002. They have made a beautiful front fence “hedge” of Kiwi plants that actually bear fruit, and have also been making cider and wine out of various fruit crops. Now stocked with perennial flowers, berry bushes, various veggies, and purple potatoes, their home is like a low maintenance urban farm. We sampled last year’s cherries and cider, only some of the produce which they are now freezing. They prefer to freeze produce rather than use time consuming canning techniques and explained that they would like to incorporate some permaculture techniques in the yard to help retain moisture.
If you would like to participate, or share the challenges of your yard, get in touch with Dustin Bajer at the website he has created: CultivateMcCauley.ca. You can register for future crawls through the site as well.