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Gardeners harvest wealth of experience

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:21 PDT, Tue March 31, 2020

Last Updated: 12:22 PDT, Tue March 31, 2020

Now that spring has sprung, experienced gardeners Margaret and Martin Comyn share a bit about their garden and provide some planting tips.

How long have you been gardening?

Basically since childhood, so over 60 years.

What made you get started?

In post-war Britain, many people living in a house with a garden grew vegetables and fruit as well as flowers and shrubs. Those without a garden could rent an allotment to grow vegetables. Although we came from different parts of the country—one from the suburbs of west London, the other from rural northern England—we both grew up helping our parents and grandparents in their gardens. We have been in Canada over 40 years and continued with our own gardens. When the Railway Community Gardens were created in 2011, we were fortunate to be able to rent a plot and begin growing a lot of our own vegetables.

What do you grow?

Each year we grow many staples in our six by three metre plot. These include: lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish, onions, tomatoes, bush, runner and broad beans, peas, beets, carrots, parsnips, chard, kale, zucchini, squash, cucumber, garlic, strawberries and rhubarb. We experiment with multiple varieties of some of these vegetables each year, and, if space allows, we try something new.

Have you noticed a change in your grocery shopping habits since you started gardening?

Definitely. Harvesting begins in May through to the following spring in some cases. We normally harvest 30 to 50 kilograms of produce during the year, so during the summer months we eat our fresh vegetables and just buy those we don't grow or that aren't yet ready to harvest. We also freeze some produce, so we can still eat certain things well into the following year.

Do you have any advice or tips for new gardeners?

Grow crops that will guarantee success like lettuce, radish, spring onions, carrots, kale, bush beans and peas. You can also buy seedlings from a nursery. Don't be afraid to experiment or to ask other gardeners for advice. There are many excellent resources available in the community and online. If you are thinking of getting a community garden plot, try to get a smaller one to begin with because you will be amazed at the time and effort required to maintain a six by three metre plot. Don't be discouraged: what grows well one year might not the next, for a variety of reasons. In any case, being out in the fresh air and tasting the fruits of your labour are worth every minute that you put into your garden.

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