Our intention to fully embrace The Sustainability Movement by entering into not “The Hundred Mile Diet” but the “Four Meter Diet” finally came to fruition in all senses of the word at our house this spring.
Turning our “lawn” into a vegetable garden had been our intent for years, but last fall, spurred on by stories of curbside and roof top market gardens springing up all around us and even The Mayor of North Vancouver converting his front yard to vegetables, we went into gear.
Having grown up in the country in that long ago era of real “sustainability” we had the advantage of much previous experience so there'd be nothing to it- simply dig up a patch of earth, plant a few seeds, watch them grow and enjoy fresh produce all summer long.
Well, when did anyone last find a flat patch of earth in Lions Bay? That was the first big challenge, so we had to create one by erecting a 6 foot retaining wall with rocks from the forest and then back-filling it with the old lawn and more rocks and earth from the forest. After two months of backbreaking and exhausting work we finally had a flat area. We may have been completely knackered, but at least it hadn't cost us anything.
That stage, however, was brief as we subsequently shelled out hundreds of dollars on landscaping cloth to cover the whole area, wood to build the boxes, organic earth to fill them and then lava rock to surround them. I had a theory, very soon to be shattered, that slugs would find it too uncomfortable to make their way across lava rock.
By this juncture, it was late March and time to plant the first crop,“once all danger of frost has normally passed.” Well, perhaps this was not, after all, the ideal year to embrace sustainability. The first April frost sent us into a panic as, late at night, by flashlight, we tried valiantly to protect our seedlings with plastic coverings, but as nightly frosts became a trend we decided it had to be survival of the fittest and, besides that, we had more pressing issues to deal with.
Word had spread amongst the neighborhood cats that the Dudleys had erected five wonderful new litter boxes and they began arriving in droves from all directions. Then the birds to whom we have always been very kind by keeping our garden chemical free, repaid us by digging up most of the pea and bean seeds.
We'd heard about a number of powder and liquid products that can deter animals, but when we were offered coyote urine at $40 a shot we decided to settle for chicken wire. Very soon, however, the radishes and spring onions were growing through the wire so another solution had to be found. Not to worry!- $50 worth of netting, a bundle of garden sticks and a full day's work soon solved that problem. Now our formerly attractive garden looked like Guantanamo Bay.
Unfortunately, no amount of netting keeps out the slugs, and they too have repaid our kindness, in relocating them rather than killing them, by chomping every last one of our carefully and painstakingly grown cucumber and zucchini seedlings to ground level.
We may soon be driven to the desperate measures employed by our friends even though we know that slugs are an essential part of a balanced ecosystem. One, who shall remain nameless, actually chops them into pieces while another actually admitted to putting them down the garburator. Unluckily for him the garburator jammed which is nothing less than he deserved.
Before we resort to such murderous acts, however, we are investigating the possibilities of ground level electric fencing. That couldn't be more than a few hundred dollars could it?
But, in spite of the unusually inclement weather and all the setbacks things seem to be growing well even though we have rejected the suggestion to put fish heads under the tomatoes for a bumper crop. We've even been apprehensive about using fish fertilizer as we aren't quite yet prepared to incur the cost of bear-proof fencing.
Our only real problem now is coming up with a hundred different ways to cook spinach and creative ways with lettuce and radishes.
Meanwhile, we have been pondering how it seemed to be so easy and inexpensive to grow a garden in the past. Could it perhaps have been D.D.T.?
Please mark Sunday May 26th on your calendars now. More updates can be obtained here or through the Art Council website: Link to Lions Bay Art Council website