Confessions from a degenerate Victoria gardener

Or, “Why this city won’t let me ignore my weeds any longer”

By Melanie Tromp Hoover 


I keep hoping for snow.

Snow would mean that I could leave my spade and rake buried in the pantry and curl up with a cat and a book from my pile of must-reads in front of the fireplace. That I could keep puttering away at my windowsill herb garden in the kitchen and ignore the unfriendly swath of mud and weeds and grass that my 10×25’ slice of a shared backyard garden has become.

Really, I’m the architect of my own misery.

Back in October I attended a LifeCycles Project workshop on winter gardening with Master Gardener Amy Crook.  I learned about soil health and hoop houses and what can grow (albeit slowly) throughout the winter in Victoria. And then I came home and I put my notes and my arugula seeds in our catch-all kitchen drawer and let the rain and holidays and 4:30 p.m. sunsets goad me out of making a genuine effort at it.

I didn’t weed, I didn’t lay down bull kelp and coffee grounds and dead leaves and I absolutely didn’t pull up the grass that began invading on all sides.  And now I have a colossal mess to contend with before I spend even a moment picturing the bounty of a well-tended summer garden come July.

Unidentifiable remnants of our neighbours’ garden from last summer are scattered across our assigned space and I’m not really sure what roots are buried just a few layers down, waiting out the cold for the right week in June to wreak havoc on the zucchini and beans and lettuce to come.

At least, that’s been my excuse for inaction so far this month, despite recurring daydreams of fresh carrots and stolen snow peas from my (short-lived) childhood backyard garden.

But now it’s February and, in a place like Victoria, February is when gardens begin to defrost and vegetable starts get planted indoors.  It’s not really the time of year for snow (despite my crossed fingers).  So my feeble excuses and the now-ripe shame of being a local food advocate who loves to plant things but hates to weed are nearing their expiry date.

Seedy Saturday at the Victoria Conference Centre will no doubt push me and my fellow delinquent Victoria gardeners into a solid day or two outdoors weeding and raking and fertilizing.  Starting at 10:00 a.m., the event juxtaposes diverse presentations from gardening experts with a trade show of seeds, growers, plants, beehives, fruits, cheese, fish, eggs, preserves, herbs, books, Master Gardeners and non-profits for $7 from your wallet and six hours of your time.

I’ll be the one in the back of the more basic seminars, madly scribbling notes and doodling potential garden maps to procrastinate pulling any actual weeds.

I’m likely also to be a regular at the series of new workshops being offered by the LifeCycles Project Society this spring (beginning with another Amy Crook workshop called “Starting Seeds” on Sunday, February 27; cost is $20 and it runs from 3-5:00 p.m.).  The non-profit is planning seminars on everything from fruit tree planning to cheesemaking to permaculture; email for workshop dates and to register.

And for those gardeners wanting to wait out just a few more weeks before thinking about growing their own food; GardenWorks is holding a garden planning and preparation weekend for later bloomers on March 19 and 20 at their Saanich location.





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