Opinion Column

Gardening woes can't be overcome

 Kent Walton

Ever since we owned our first home, I have attempted to have a garden that included a vegetable patch.


They were never large areas but usually productive. There is nothing like fresh, home-grown tomatoes. When we left the city and moved north, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to expand my gardening efforts.

When I lived in Duntroon back in the early ’90s, I had a wonderful vegetable garden. There was plenty of room, good soil and great weather most of the time. Winters not included.

I grew just about anything and everything with wonderful results. Plump tomatoes, zucchinis galore, green beans and whatever else I could fit into what I considered to be my oversized garden.

Since moving to Craigleith years ago, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the same. The natural soil was nothing but escarpment scrapings.

I’m not saying the soil was bad but even mint wouldn’t grow. Mint grows everywhere and takes over everything in its way. I sense that it should be on the restricted list of plants like Purple Blue Strife.

Eventually I had soil brought in to create some flower beds and a vegetable garden. Over the years I have added mulch on a regular basis, fertilized and on occasion I have had some decent little crops.

I have given up on beans which always turned out to be as tough as nails. Rhubarb has found its way safely with an abundant crop each spring. I planted a little patch of mint which has done well. Tomatoes are hit and miss.

This year has been unique. With the erratic weather this summer I can’t believe how badly my little crop has turned out. After the abundant rhubarb crop, it was all downhill from there. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and squash.

While we were on our August holidays, apparently Craigleith had an over abundance of rain during our absence. The weeds had gone wild in my vegetable garden and that little patch of mint had advanced into all areas where the weeds hadn’t taken control.

As we enter mid-September, my crop to date has consisted of one large cucumber, two more about the size of gherkins, about a half dozen tomatoes (approximately one per plant), a few erratically sized beets and three cherry tomatoes. Who can’t grow cherry tomatoes?

As if my vegetable patch wasn’t bad enough I had two beautiful Blue Spruce trees that contracted some infection and both trees had to be destroyed. Two beautiful trees that were almost 40 feet tall, gone in a flash. Now I have two huge gaps in the back garden that need to be repaired and replanted. Perhaps I should fill the gap with mint.

The last straw was my flagpole. After some 20 years of loyal service, the winds of our bizarre summer storms finished it off. I arose one morning after one of those insane summer windstorms to find the pole lying across the remnants of my vegetable garden.

So much for my efforts to never let the old flag fall.

Next year, it will be rhubarb only. In the future, all vegetables are coming from the local stands and the farmers markets. Enough of this frustration.

I still have to install a new flag pole, decide what to do with the mint and replant the beds where my Blue Spruce once resided. That’s more than enough.

Retiring from mixed crop production, Kent Walton can be reached at ebreflections@rogers.com. 

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