I have spent the better part of the last decade surrounded by the most incredible and interesting organisms on the planet — plants. My research, field methods and protocols have helped me learn to identify hundreds of different local species. Now this shouldn’t be news to our avid readers. You’ve heard about my many (mis) adventures with plants over the years. One thing you might not have known is that my love for plants has extended well beyond the local wonders of fields and forests. After completing my Undergraduate degree I got a job working for Burt’s Greenhouses as an Assistant Retail Manager. Looking back on it, I am not sure why Brian (owner of Burt’s Greenhouses) hired me. I knew nothing about gardening. I couldn’t even tell a petunia from a pansy! That being said I jumped in with both feet and got to it. I was surprised at how much I learned that summer…
I’ve grown plants before. I have had major field experiments and greenhouse trials that relied on me successfully growing plants and keeping them alive. I’ve also offered gardening advice to hundreds of people, when I’ve never actually gardened. Now that’s not to say I know nothing about gardening. My years working for Burt’s taught me alot about what plants you grow where, what looks nice together, and the necessities for designing and growing a garden. But I have never actually had my own garden until now.
Now that I have moved out of the city, I have a sizable garden that hasn’t been tended to in years, and when the monsoon ended I got to work tilling the soil and adding manure and weeding and prepping the garden. Finally last night, the vegetables had all been planted. Kale, Spinach, 5 varieties of tomatoes, beans, peas, eggplants, and more. OK- I went a little crazy. But I plan on sharing with all my friends!
It really is hard to explain how much joy gardening has brought me. My heart is content in ways it never was before. Each morning I get up early, and I check my herb pots on the front patio and my flower planters on the back deck. I take a stroll past the hostas as they glisten in the morning dew, check to see the progress of my milkweed seedlings in the native wildflower garden and then admire the huge vegetable garden…checking each tiny tomato and watching flowers blossom and slowly turn to fruit.
There are actually quite a few options for gardening in Kingston if you don’t have a backyard of your own, and I wish I had known about them before.
1) Community gardens – Community gardens are an amazing resource and fit well with student living and budgets. The City of Kingston has a list of community gardens in Kingston and the Kingston Community Gardens Network also offers a bunch of information about where to find a garden, and how to get involved. And if your garden growing is really, really successful, here is also the option to donate surplus produce to Grow a Row through Loving Spoonful.
2) Balcony gardening – If you just type this into Pinterest there are a million elaborate things you can build for gardening on a balcony or in a small backyard. But it isn’t that complicated. You can go find recycled buckets and containers, rinse them out, and plant in there. In fact, I know of many people who just fill garbage bags with soil and grow right from there (it’s great for heat-loving plants because it’s black)!
3) Growing indoors – This is a tough one, but it is possible, I swear! If you have no outdoor space what-so-ever you aren’t out of luck! Find a very sunny window and try planting a tomato plant in that window. I grew and harvested tonnes of cherry tomatoes in a South-facing window last summer- it was awesome! Note: go with something easy like herbs or tomatoes…watermelons in windows probably won’t work.