Because I rent the main floor of a Victorian semi in Toronto, I'm lucky enough to be a renter with a garden. Today, I finished the spring planting with the melons, hot peppers and flowers including marigolds, gazanias, mums, lantanas and foxgloves.
Now I intend to sit back, have a beer and watch the bees at work. The foxgloves went in on the edge of a wild back corner, and will grow in that part shade to provide a visual break between the vegetable garden and the wild corner. The marigolds are scattered in the garden for a bit of colour and to keep something in flower all season. The lantana is right up near the patio to attract butterflies and bees for my amusement.
I've always been fond of bees, but after reading Keeping the Bees last month, I find myself wanting even more of them. Now they'll have more reasons to visit while my various other plants grow up to flowering size.
So far, there hasn't been a lot in bloom in the garden. The strawberries gave the bees some pleasure, and right now they're loving the chives, as well as the pansies I planted earlier. In a few days they'll also have the sage, which is about to bloom and this year is several feet in girth. Later they'll have various vegetable and fruit blossoms to keep their tummies full, as well as the flowers I just planted. And later in the summer the nasturtiums will begin cascading over the deck from the window boxes in which I planted them this year (very conveninet for salads.
What is in the garden this year?
Bed 1(morning shade, afternoon sun)
Royal Purple Beans (which I plan to train up over the fence)
After this comes a big patch of mint, which I dry for tea.
Bed 2(centre, full sun)
Lantanas, chives and mums
Strawberries and chives
Canteloupe (we'll see if these take)
Down the middle is a row of corn, down the edges rows of carrots
Bed 3(Morning sun, late afternoon shade)
Tomatoes (yellow pear, purple calabash, black cherry)
Red mountain spinach
Bed 4(Deck, midday sun)
Nasturtiums (coming down from above)
I let the fifth bed, which was small and unproductive, go this year. The bit of lawn and the day lillies will soon take it over.
Garden costsThis spring I put edging around the beds and to isolate the mint (which is incredibly invasive). Cost about $50
Seeds. Mostly used leftovers from previous years, so about $15
Plants. Started most from seed. Spent less than $25
Fertilizers. Nothing. Top dressed with two wheelbarrows of my own compost.
Total: under $100
The first two years, when I was preparing the beds, were the most expensive, as I needed to improve the soil, buy hoses and lots of seeds, etc. Still, I doubt I spent more than $200 even in that first year. Here on in, the garden will probably cost me about $50 a year. It's about 400 square feet of planting area, and the lettuces alone will pay for the costs. Then there's everything else. And the real benefits are watching all the birds and insects that come, not to mention the incredible flavour of truly fresh veg in the city.
Next week the garden should provide my first salad. I can hardly wait!