Hi folks, it’s Duncan here at Rising Tide Experiences. Since we can’t currently travel locally or offer culinary experiences and cycling tours, I’ve been creating a daily practice of food gardening. My aim is to grow things that are part of our emerging food culture in the Wolfville area so we can offer new, traditional, and remixed foods to our experiential tourism guests next year. I’ve been rediscovering my love for gardening and have been spending most of my free time researching and building garden infrastructure and seeding plants for the last month. Gardening, music, my work, and talking to friends is what is keeping me sane during COVID times. Here are a collection of resources I’ve found helpful and things I’ve learned along the way.
Choosing What to Grow
Since we have extremely limited growing space outside our 1890 historic victorian home in Wolfville, we are choosing delicate crops, heritage varieties, and veggies we can grow vertically like greens (spinach, tatsoi, mustard greens, arugula etc.), beans (just for fun), peas, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. These are also typically the most costly and quickly drop in quality when purchasing them because of their delicate nature. We’ll grow other crops that spread out, like zucchini, carrots and multi coloured potatoes on other land we’re borrowing this year.
This 17 zero cost garden hacks video was super helpful for the newbie that I am, but even some of my experienced gardening friends found something helpful in it. We also are using broken egg cartons to start some of our seedlings.
You can start seeds in just about anything, old tupperware, rubbermaid containers, take out containers, plastic salad containers, build them out of old untreated wood – whatever you have. My partner Anne Stieger, found an old roasting/cake pan that was left over from a community event with a plastic covering.
Canadian and Northern United States Organic Seeds Sources
My farmer organic friends typically order from High Mowing, Annapolis Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds (US), and Vesey’s Seeds. For a full list of quality Atlantic Canadian weather adapted seeds, check out: https://www.acornorganic.org/seedsecurity/localseed/directory
LED Grow Lights Options in Canada
While the best LED grow lights are the one’s used for cannabis, the basic ones work just fine for starting seedlings. For seed starting, greens, and herbs, the most standard one’s, that seem to be decent are Sunblaster (in Canada you can find these through Home Hardware, Lee Valley, and local garden stores). The LED lights were sold out locally, so I bought these ones from Lee Valley in Halifax. If you want to grow tomatoes and have “fruiting” you may need a higher wattage light. They seem to work great for seedlings, herbs, and greens.
Raised Bed and Container Gardening Options
Most of us don’t live in places where there are ready made garden beds, so raised beds and good containers are essential for soil quality and not having toxins in the soil we are growing in.
Below you will find a number of videos I found helpful for making my decision of which kind to build. Rob Greenfield’s youtube channel is great for looking at all the different things you can do with recycled material and to do them cheaply and well. One thing to note, certain plants like daikon, tomatoes, peppers, need 18’ plus depth of soil, so build raised beds and choose containers accordingly. I’ve grown peppers and tomatoes in pots that were too small and it stunted production because the roots didn’t have enough depth.
Overview of Cheap DIY Gardening Containers and Raised Beds
Regular Inexpensive Raised Bed
Self Watering Wooden Wicking Bed
This is the option I’m building, but I’m building it with rough hemlock boards from my local mill. Hemlock rots slower than other wood and we can buy it rough here and it’s inexpensive.
Self Watering Wicking Raised Garden Bed
Wineries and juice plants often have these tubs that he’s using in this video.
Gardening in Cold Weather and Raised Beds
There is a Youtube tutorial for everything gardening related. Adding the word’s “permaculture, backyard garden, urban gardening, vertical gardening, container gardening, gardening in small spaces, balcony gardening, as well as the country or northern/souther” can make it easier to find better resources.
Another option for crops that can deal with lower temperatures for starting seedlings outside in cool weather is to build a hoop house (video) or DIY window cold (video) frame over a raised garden bed. Large plastic clear salad containers or plastic milk jugs can also work well to start seeds outside when it’s still cold out.
Search word tips: there is a Youtube tutorial for everything gardening related. Adding the word’s “permaculture, backyard garden, urban gardening, vertical gardening, container gardening, gardening in small spaces, balcony gardening, as well as the country or northern/souther” can make it easier to find better resources.
Raised Bed Soil
For filling raised beds, you want a soil mix or garden mix, not just manure or composted manure. Garden mix is often a mixture of composted manure, peat moss and topsoil. Thanks John Cummings at Green Man Botanicals for sharing this. In the Wolfville area, Annapolis Valley Peat Co and Mcconnell Sod seem to be the go to places to get this. Composted manure is great for top dressing a raised bed, but make sure it’s well composted or you may get many weeds growing.