This weekend marks Canadian Thanksgiving. I am not sure why it is earlier than that of our American counterparts, but I am guessing it is because it tends to get colder faster up north of the border. Our friends in Calgary have already experienced a large snowfall and hail and freezing rain is forecast for my hometown in Northern Ontario.
My vegetable harvest for the season includes lettuce, three zucchinis, ten beefsteak tomatoes and many cherry tomatoes. While that may not sound like a feast, it feels good to be able to produce food right outside my own front door.
Living in a townhouse in one of the most expensive housing markets in Canada, my commute is long and my garden space is small. I share a three-bedroom townhouse with my husband, our three millennial children, a beagle-mix rescue dog named Mona and my goldfish Cedric.
The back-garden space consists of a small shaded backyard with a brick fence and brick patio. There is a small grassy space in the corner for the dog’s use. In the other corner I have some perennials including some hardy hostas and chives. As chives are edible, the space is sectioned off by a plastic chain fence. Mona doesn’t care. Given that it is partially sheltered, she has decided that it is the perfect spot to use if it is raining or snowing. This also means that we don’t eat the chives.
Mona has had an impact on my urban gardening in other ways too. She is very fond of apples, carrots and especially tomatoes. A few summer ago, I noticed a few tomato plants growing in Mona’s lawn space at the back. I didn’t plant them myself. That first summer I transplanted the seedlings into pots but they only produced a few small tomatoes which even Mona refused to eat.
The next summer I noticed a few more tomato plants at the back. Some were in the lawn, others among the hostas in the fenced-off area. I decided the plants might do better in a sunnier spot. I found some space in the front flowerbed and replanted them there. To my surprise, they flourished. By the end of the summer the vines were covering bushes and growing up trees and I had a huge crop of cherry tomatoes.
I have been growing tomatoes every summer since. Rather that relying on the Mona-method, I start packaged seeds in small pots inside mid-March and harden them off before planting them in the flowerbed in late May.
We eat a lot of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. What tomatoes we can’t use, I freeze in small containers for later use in sauces and stews. The frozen tomato crop lasts the whole winter. We still don’t eat chives unless they are purchased at a farmer’s market or at the grocery store.
Remember, if you are not flourishing, you may not be in the right place.