We used to have raised veggie gardens out back. That was fine for lettuce and onions and peas and a few other things, but it just doesn’t get enough sun for a lot of veggies. When the house to the south of us was rebuilt, they took down a larch and a white spruce which were growing near the north edge of their property. Later, another spruce next door became uprooted in a windstorm and it had to come down for safety. I don’t like to see any loss of mature trees in the community, but I’m taking advantage of the resulting sunny area. I decided a couple years ago to experiment with a few veggies out front in containers.
The experiment was a huge success and now I have many large containers along that strip. I have Swiss chard, kale, zucchini, cucumbers, loads of herbs, bok choi, lettuce, onions, lots of garlic, hot chilies – and tomatoes galore.
Our friend Jennifer starts most of our tomato plants for us. She’s very good at it and grows excellent heirloom tomatoes from seed. It may look in the photo as if I’ve gone overboard with my tomato stakes, but these are indeterminate tomatoes, and even well pruned they grow big and enjoy excellent yields. This year my tomato varieties include a Mortgage Lifter, Mennonite Orange, Green Zebra and the amazing Sungold, the best and highest yielding cherry-type tomatoes I’ve ever seen.
Not everything is in containers. I have a few hot peppers and lots of garlic planted in the ground. Last year I visited my friend East Texas Red, who lives near Perth. They have a garlic festival there, which we visited, and I bought several varieties of garlic to try. My neighbour to the north also just gave us what I can only describe as a clump of garlic. He does not grow his garlic for larg bulbs. Instead he grows it in crowded clumps and primarily harvests young shoots and scapes. He makes garlic butter which is out of this world.
By the time the Long Branch Garden Tour happens, on June 22, the veggies and everything else in the garden will be in full swing. Our garden tour has grown to over 40 gardens. We knew it was Toronto’s biggest free garden tour, but we haven’t been able to find a bigger one anywhere in the country. It’s going to be a fantastic day for garden lovers.