overly engineered herbs

pierre and my 12th floor apartment on cosburn avenue had a concrete balcony off the dining room, which stretched the width of our unit. it was a pretty good size — room enough for a bistro table and a few planters and high enough that you could see the lake and fireworks going off at ashbridge’s bay on holidays. but it was south-facing, so any flowers i tried to put in planters would fry in the heat of the day, and cosburn was a wind tunnel. if the sun didn’t get the geraniums, the wind would. plus: pigeons.

when we started looking for a house, a nice yard was on our wish list. i mean, it’s on everyone’s wish list, right? there are a few things our bungalow doesn’t check off that list (workable bedrooms, a front hall closet), but it has the yard we wanted and then some. sunny and 1250 square feet, we couldn’t ask for much more in the city. okay, a fence would have been nice. and maybe a deck or mature perennial garden…but, whatever, for once in this house space isn’t an issue.

we are both very big on eating locally and seasonally so being able to grow some of our own food was high on our list of to-dos after moving in. our first spring, i put a few herbs in a bed and some berries in a pot.

yearone_15i’d never grown anything for consumption before and you’re supposed to start out small… plus, we didn’t want to invest a lot of money into a garden that would only get destroyed as we proceeded with our renovation. this chive plant in the middle is a perennial, so it’s still going strong this spring.

well into our third year here, the time has come for a more serious vegetable and herb garden. and despite all that’s going on in our lives right now — pierre’s toughing out a programming course, i’m starting a new job and getting ready to go back to school part-time — we knew we needed to get food in the ground now.

vegetable boxthe sunniest spot in our yard is directly behind our house, so pierre trenched out a 6′ x 4′ patch and set to work.

making a vegetable boxusing the technique my dad taught him when they built the pad for our shed last summer, pierre notched and sawed the afternoon away and then used rebar and a baby sledge to secure the frame.

homemade vegetable boxIMG_1960resulting in this: a vegetable and herb box that is both beautiful and ain’t going nowhere. IMG_1966it was my job to fill the box with dirt and the three little bags of compost and triple mix that pierre brought home was not going to cut it. luckily, our neighbours a few houses down had a giant pile of dirt on their front lawn with a “free” sign. three wheelbarrow loads got the dirt line up to a good level, then i mixed the high quality stuff pierre had bought in with our cultivator. herb boxi planted the tallest herbs on the eastern most side of the box so that they won’t block the shorter herbs’ sunlight when they reach their full height. rosemary can supposedly grow 3′ tall! (that’s the length of a fruit by the foot, people.) we had a lot of seed packets leftover from previous springs when we had good intentions to plant things, but didn’t. so in addition to what you can see, arugula, beets, parsnips, and ocra are in there, too.

IMG_1970oh, there is still so much work to be done in the yard — the lawn is balding it’s so stressed — but this was the most time-sensitive thing so we’re thrilled to check it off the list. providing these plants survive and thrive, progress photos will be posted over the next few months. and maybe even some recipes using foreign ingredients like…basil?

5 thoughts on “overly engineered herbs

  1. Very impressive Pierre! Looks great. Reminds me of the sandbox you used to play in with Meghan when you were little Kendal…which, I may add is now a vegetable garden.

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