An impulse purchase while at the St. Jacob’s Market with my kids in the fall committed me to making a large batch of pickles. I have done canning plenty of times before for my favourite salsa recipe so all I had to do was learn how to make pickles. Turns out there is plenty to do in preparation for the canning.
Eight months ago my little family moved back to Waterloo, into an older home. It’s not that old, but old enough that some work needs to be done. The neighborhood is slowly turning over as the older generation that were the first occupants move out, and we are just settling into one of those homes. I also gave up my first garden and now have none. While I would love to have put together a new vegetable patch as soon as spring sprung this year, my conscience couldn’t as there is a lot of other yard work that needed to be done first. I hope to start one again next year. That being said, we are still growing potatoes in our old maple syrup containers, gardening is still happening at home, just in a really limited capacity. But I am still left with two little kids who like to garden and have to go to Grandma’s to get their fix.
So after a lot of research(I contacted and viewed almost every place in Waterloo on that list), I joined the University of Waterloo’s community garden. It is free for a patch of dirt up next to the greenhouses in the North Campus. I was kind of disappointed in the City of Waterloo. Both Kitchener and Cambridge run many community gardens, while Waterloo has none. There are some run by churches, senior homes, and co-ops in Waterloo, but you either have to worship or live there to get a plot. I think the University of Waterloo’s community garden is kind of forgotten, and easy to get a plot in. Best of all it was free.
Surrounded by wildflowers and weeds, it is a very peaceful spot in the North Campus.
One thing I have to adjust to and learn about is working with very clay-like soil. In my old garden I built up the soil into some amazing stuff. Soft and yielding, whereas here it is very hard and unforgiving. I was warned that green, leafy vegetables seem to do well but root crops do not.
Here I am inspecting the tomato plants for suckers to pinch off while my son hoes a new path.
In go the cucumber seeds.
Now we’ve moved on to planting some corn.
I am always amazed at how patient my kids are when they are planting seeds. Kids who are otherwise bouncing off the walls are more than happy to crouch down and fiddle with tiny seeds and stick them in the ground.
It is a very short bike ride from my office to go check on the plants during my lunch, which I do from time to time. I am treating this year as an experiment. I am not expecting to get any yield, I am trying to just grow anything, and give my kids a place to play in the dirt with their dad.