A Geek In A Garden

This post has been inspired by Jem’s gardening post. I, lyke, totally stole her idea and she’ll sue me. Er, sorry he’ll sue me. Isn’t he a Jim dude, anyway?

Well, enough of this. Before I was a geek in Montreal, I was a unsatisfied geek in a small village in the CENTER of the province. If I hear anyone say that Abitibi is in the North, I will hit their face with the nearest map I can find. Thank you.

As true children of farmers (well, each on their own side, they weren’t siblings! :P), my parents have always loved growing their own garden. My mother’s parents are still alive and taking care of a garden, where they grow various vegetables (potatoes, lettuce, etc.), and also a greenhouse for tomatoes and cucumbers (both of these can have a bit of a hard time if they are directly outside in our freezing temperature. Because, you know, we wear winter coats from August to June.

Enough of sarcasm, now, gardening is serious business. My father’s parents both died in the 1960s, so I never had the chance to see them but, in addition to my grandparents’ garden, there was my parents’ one. Potatoes, carrots, green peas, rhubarb, broccoli, raspberries, they’re all things I’ve seen growing in there.

While, for certain reasons, I will not speak much about bugs found in gardens, and tend to stay away from growing vegetables, I haven’t lost my memory so easily. So here are a few tips and memories of mine.

Fertilizer

My parents have bought more than once fertilizer sold by companies, made from sheep shit manure and other similar things. They however have two other methods to fertilize the soil.

First, my father keeps horses. Horse manure can be used in gardens. Of course, you don’t replace the earth by manure! I couldn’t speak in terms of quantity at all. Naturally, when you put your nose at five inches from manure, it stinks. It doesn’t stay, however and, mixed with the earth, it can fill it with all sorts of goodies to help your veggies grow. In “layman’s terms”, as would say GLaDOS. Of course, not everyone can access horse manure easily and it’s not something you just steal in your neighbor’s backyard. Not that there’s anything you should steal in your neighbor’s backyard in the first place!

Second, my parents have kept compost for as long as I can remember. Making your own compost is very easy. You just need to keep aside in a container of some kind what you will put in your compost (I’ll mention more about what can and cannot be used shortly). What my mother does is to keep a smaller plastic pot under the sink. When we cook, we just need to put parts of plants that we do not use (for example, the leaves of radishes) into the pot. When the pot is full, we empty it outside.

When I was younger, we had a large wooden container in which the compost was kept outside, to be spread in the garden at the right time. Nowadays, however, my mother keeps it directly on the soil, not far from trees along the riverside. Since we have a large yard and no neighbor on this side (hey, I just said river, after all), it poses no problem. There is no bad smell coming from there and, if you do not put unwanted matters, there shouldn’t be.

So this brings us to what exactly you can and cannot put inside compost. Generally, what you can put is:

  • Leaves from plants, even if the leaves in question are not normally eaten, like in the case of rhubarb.
  • Vegetables and fruits you do not consume because they are no longer “fresh” (I refuse to use the appropriate r-word because I’m in a bad mood for that).
  • Any other part of a plant which you do not eat, by choice or because it simply doesn’t taste good.

In brief, you can put anything from plants. The key here is to put nothing from animals. Absolutely no fat, no bones, no broth, no meat, no shells, no liver, etc. If it’s an animal, it belongs away from your compost (unless, of course, it’s an animal that will necessarily go in your compost, like that w-thing that will remain nameless). By the way, if, like me, you are afraid of those “w-things”, then absolutely refrain from making your own compost! Not only there WILL be some in it, but they are an IMPORTANT part of the composting process.

Keeping Unwanted Visitors Away

I’m not talking here about sneaky humans, for which you’ll need more than any of the tips I will list here, but about other animals.

Dogs are generally pretty easy to keep out of gardens. A small fence should be enough. My dog keeps away from the garden at all times, and we only have a short fence (no higher than 2 feet).

If you have a cat, it might be a bit more tricky, above all if you have plants that are not inside a fence-protected garden. A good method is to combine ways to discourage the cat from visiting your plants with ways to encourage your cats to go elsewhere. One of the reasons a cat might “pay a visit” to a plant is to use it as a litter. It feels more natural, I guess, since cats in nature use earth, not litter. It is important to make sure that the actual litter in itself is clean, so that your cat enjoys using it. Keep toys for your cat if it’s young so that the plants don’t look too much like interesting toys.

Then you can easily use methods that are environment-friendly to keep your cat away from plants. A few rocks around the plant will make the earth inaccessible. Just make sure that, when you water it, the earth gets the water, and that the rocks aren’t keep the plant from spreading around.

There are also smells that cats cannot stand, such as lemon. I will be making a bit more research into plants that can keep your cat away.

Well, that’s it for garden tips for now. I might come up with more eventually.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Unrelated to gardening, I have bought new winter boots. Woot! After weeks of complaining, it was about time…I caught a cold last week, and I’m pretty sure it’s due to having spent the whole day in wet shoes and socks.

The boots in question are quite like I wanted, which is great at this time of the year, as there are barely any boots still for sale. There are sandals everywhere because, you know, everyone wants to wear sandals right now, in the snow.

The boots are black, like I wanted, fit me very well and have no high heels. Isn’t this wonderful? To add to the wonderfulness of them, they were not expensive! Hurray! Their original price was 90$ (before taxes) and I got them for 30$ (before taxes). Reduction or not, I consider that 30$ is a pretty good price to pay for boots—good, as in, really not too much—and it’s great to have a good reduction either way.

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2 Comments »

  1. Kaylee Said:

    My mom is the aspiring gardener of the family, everyone else in my house would rather stay inside. We don’t have horses or a compost pile, but composting is a good idea — I don’t know why we’ve never considered it; I will mention it to my mom.

    $30 is a great price for boots, especially considering the original price.

  2. Jem Said:

    Where you drunk when you wrote this? It’s all over the place!

    I read that pigeon manure is best for growing tomatoes. Now all I gots to do is catch me a pigeon to shit all over my grow bag…


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