Cedarbrae Community Garden

The Cedarbrae Community Garden was constructed in 2009 around the time a lot of other community gardens in Calgary were springing up. We started renting a plot in the garden in the spring of 2011 and have been renting the same plot since.

IMG_3045The empty garden back in late April 

The community garden originally had its own blog but it only lasted for a few years – it is often difficult to find dedicated volunteers during the busiest time for gardeners. So this year I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind taking on this role. And of course, I got busy with my own garden here and my plot at the community garden (sort of, it is mostly neglected) and didn’t really follow up. So I figured the best way for me to do this is to write about my plot and the garden here. 

The garden is operated by volunteers and gardeners who have rented plots (most volunteers are gardeners there). Spring and fall are the busiest times at the garden with set up and tear down. The garden runs from the mid/end of May up until October and then closes for the winter months. 

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Booming garden August 2014

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On to our plot. We have a 3’x15′ plot (all of the plots are that size but some people rent multiple plots). Due to some serious issues with vandalism in the garden in the past, we are pretty careful about what we plant there – our plot specifically has just had some minor instances, but I’ve definitely seen a lot of heartbreak in other plots. Our garden is not fenced in and is located behind the community centre and beside a natural wooded area that is a bit secluded. So we try to choose the less tempting plants for this garden – beets, carrots, potatoes, etc. I’ve always had amazing luck with bush beans in my plot, so about half of the plot are these. The rest of the plot this year consists of beets, kale, leeks and a single kohlrabi (the only survivor). My plot neighbor has mostly summer squash and I’m a bit jealous, they look really good!

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Our plot bursting with beans, kale, beets, leeks and a kohlrabi – it is hard to even see the dividing boards between the plots!

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I should make mention of my horrible neglect for this garden. I mean, it’s really bad. The garden used to be set up on a drip watering system, so I really never went over there except for the occasional weeding. Then last year they decided to try out manual watering, so with a hose on a reel and watering cans. And I was much more diligent about going over there. Then this year something happened – I guess I was busy with other things or “out of sight, out of mind” – excuses. I think I’ve gone over to the garden a total of like 5 times this year. I’ve sent my husband over a few times to water and he always reported back that everything was doing well. So I finally went over this morning, after about a month, to see how things were progressing. I was happy to see that everything was alive and was doing very well! I pulled a few weeds (I think one of my plot neighbors has been pulling out a few unruly weeds because it really should have been much worse than it was – thank you!), watered and snapped a few photos. And I also noticed I have a million bush beans ready to be picked and one giant kohlrabi i’ll be bringing home soon. 

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We’re really lucky because the garden is literally just a hop, skip and a jump away from our front door (why do I neglect it?!). We’ve also met a lot of neighbors through the garden – and it gives strangers something to talk about other than the weather – and as any gardener knows; given the opportunity to talk about gardening, we will do it.

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Stay-cation Update

I’m sure you’re all dying to know how much I’ve actually accomplished from my giant to-do list I created a couple of weeks ago. It seems so long ago that I was full of energy and ambition – but it was only a mere two weeks ago. I have been really busy, but maybe I got a little ahead of myself. Me? Never. 

I was kind of thinking I would give a recap of what I said I wanted to get done, but lets not torture ourselves here – it’ll look much better if I just list the things I have gotten done and not have the original list to compare to. 

IMG_2009The birdhouses my sister and I made. I wanted mine to have a “green roof” and my sister built the other one. We had a brilliant idea to shingle the plain one with cedar mulch shingles, but unfortunately it was a total fail so we stripped the shingles off before the glue dried and before anyone thought to take photographic evidence of our failure. 

So here is the update on what I have accomplished on my stay-cation so far:
– Went to the U-pick. I wrote more about this in my last post on The Saskatoon Farm. But I did actually go back again for 8 more liters of sour cherries. So 12L in total. What the hell was I thinking? How am I going to deal with 12L of sour cherries? I really love making lots of work for myself, apparently. 
– Weeded and edged the big perennial garden in the front yard. God, this was horrible. I did it on the hottest day too because I was tired of looking at all the weeds suffocating the poor flowers. Plus, I was in some sort of mad rush to get it done before I left for the long weekend. I think I felt mostly guilty because this garden edges along my neighbor’s driveway and the part facing her was the worst. I had also declared to my neighbor the morning I started that “I am going to deal with this awful mess today because it looks horrible and I’m sorry”. She said she didn’t care, but maybe she actually secretly hates me because of the weeds and is too nice to say. Or maybe she feels equally guilty because she let creeping bellflower come into my garden from her yard. Regardless, I filled the entire black garbage bin with weeds and grass so that might give you an idea on how bad I let things get – it looks great now though. 
– Picked up the hoses. I’m not going to lie, they are not nicely curled up on a proper hose hanger, but at least they are no longer a safety hazard to anyone who enters my yard. 
– Weeded the back yard. The whole thing took me probably 20 minutes – it is really easy to weed now that the entire back yard is covered in mulch. 
– Put up the bird feeders. The chickadees are back! A few weeks ago back in July, my husband and I put up a 4×4 in the garden to hang bird feeders from. I finally got around to purchasing some inexpensive shelf brackets from Ikea, putting some metal hooks into them, screwing them to the 4×4 and hanging a couple of bird feeders from them. I only have two feeders hung so far because Ikea only had two brackets in stock, so I’ll buy a couple more to hang feeders from the other two sides as well. So far the chickadees and house finches love the feeders. And my cats love sitting at the patio window and drooling over the birds, wishing they were outside kitties. 
– Cleaned the greenhouse and planted some fall seeds on the lower level. I planted lettuces, kale, arugula and radishes. Granted the weather doesn’t dip too low, I should be able to be harvesting these until about December. 
– Started more hot peppers inside the house. My experience so far with peppers has been that they don’t mind being overwintered inside the house, so my plan is to keep these ones inside until next spring when they’ll be moved to the greenhouse. I am a wimp when it comes to hot peppers, but my husband loves to have his faced burned off, so I started some unbelievably hot peppers – scotch bonnet and bhut jolokia (the ghost pepper). I had started a few of these in June but the germination rate is really poor, so I’m giving it another go. 
– Put up the random decor items – some bird houses, the rain chain, wind chimes, etc. My sister and I also built two new bird houses this past weekend for my yard, so those were added today (photo above). 
– Cleaned the shed. I can actually walk in it now. 
– Trimmed the lilac bush. Actually, I just supervised my husband doing this. It looks kind of bad –  not because he did a bad job, but because it was planted in such a poor spot (by a previous owner, I will not take credit for this). Take my word, read the tags of bushes and trees before you plant them to see how tall and wide they will be spreading, otherwise you may be forced to give them terrible haircuts in order to be able to walk up to your front door. Poor lilac. 

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Two of the bird feeders hung in the yard. So far the pesky squirrels have stayed away but I don’t trust them, so I’m keeping a close eye on these. 

That is about all so far. I have about 5 more days left to get things done. I just received the load of cedar mulch about an hour ago so I’ll be working on that mostly – it is enormous. But I have to say it is probably the nicest cedar mulch I have ever had delivered so I am giving a shout out to Bulk Mulch Depot. It was also pretty reasonably priced – I’ve always just bought bagged mulch from the store or gotten those cubic yard totes delivered, which I recently discovered is way, way, way more than I should be paying for mulch. It is $45/cubic yard from BMD, plus $110 delivery within the city, so if you’re getting 2 or more cubic yards, it is worth getting it delivered in bulk. 

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So my plans for the rest of the week are dealing with the cedar mulch, painting the wheelbarrow, and staining and installing the privacy lattice on the fence. And of course doing something with 12L of sour cherries, I’ll be sure to let you know what I end up doing with them, I’ve got preserved cherries on the brain!