Deck Gardening: How One Couple Down-sized Their Garden and Never Looked BackNancy Loucks-McSloy May 5, 2017
Gardening has always been important at our house. To my husband, it is like a therapy. Besides that, who wouldn’t want fresh veggies all summer, followed by the fruits of one’s labour stored in the freezer for the winter.
Sadly, my husband has not been well for the past few years, so he started to find that the big garden in the back yard was getting to be a bit too much of a bother. Yet he still wanted a garden.
As for me, I love working with my flowers but I grew up on a farm in which we did a lot of market-gardening, so a huge vegetable garden feels like work.
I pondered the problem in search of a solution. I like the idea of “food not lawns,” but our front lawn is very tiny and has a birch tree right in the middle. I continued to brainstorm and thought about my friend who planted potatoes in flower pots for her mom to have on the balcony of her condo. I also thought about “Balconies Beautiful,” a community project that I have been involved with for the past few years (every year, the residents of local housing projects are given flower pots, dirt, and bedding plants so that they can have flowers on their balconies). Some of them have gone one step further and asked for tomato plants instead of flowers.
Aha, thought I, we have a huge deck. Why not make a deck garden. My husband looked at me rather oddly when I told him of my idea, but as he watched me getting things together I think he felt that he better get involved.
I am all about re-using and recycling, so when I found two 45 gallon drums on our property, I asked him to cut them in half. That is where we would plant our tomatoes. As well, I found a bunch of large flower pots that had been given to us but were collecting dust in the shed. They would be perfect for spinach, peppers, lettuce, radishes, and so on. I also dug out a decorative tub that had been collecting dust and chose to turn it into an herb garden, and introduced elements of a fairy garden as well.
Planting day was exciting! The pots and bins were set up around the edge of the deck. We had lots of compost to mix with the soil so we were ready to fill the containers and start planting. The half-drums each held two tomato plants, and we mixed in some onions with them. In the pots were placed a variety of spinach seeds, lettuce, four types of peppers, cucumbers, radishes, and chives.
The decorative container was filled with parsley, cilantro, and sweet basil plants. On the middle of the patio table sat a strawberry plant. I had a few pots left over so I filled them up with perennials, just to have some flowers in the mix. We were able to use cages for the tomatoes, and once the cucumbers started growing we put cages there as well so that the vines would grow up due to the smaller size of the planting pots.
It was so nice to sit at the patio table in the morning and look over the plants. There was a bit of weeding, but very little. And watering was easy! Grab the watering can and take a quick walk around the deck.
Finally, the day came when we could start eating our harvest bounty. It was wonderful to sit outside at breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime and have homegrown tomatoes and other veggies at our finger tips. The summer was so hot that I brought the salad spinner outside and prepared salad on the patio table. I would take the vegetables that we wanted to grill, such as peppers, onions, and tomatoes, prepare them outside and throw them on the grill.
Granted, it isn’t the huge garden that we were used to, but it was easy and sufficient. It also proved to me that – yes, you can grow a garden in a small space. In fact, I still have tomatoes and peppers in the freezer, and dried herbs in the cupboard, from last year’s harvest.
Nancy Loucks-McSloy helps out with Vitality magazine deliveries in London and area. To add your business to Vitality’s network in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, or London area, email: firstname.lastname@example.org