The Joy of Gardening in Southern Ontario

I love gardening in my Zone 5 garden. To many it would not seem like an exciting place to garden. The ground is frozen from December to April and four large Maple Trees shade the West facing back garden all Summer. Dispite this, much magic and joy happens in this small space every year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Spring, Life and Slugs

It is Sunday morning, it's cold outside, the sun is just starting to heat up the greenhouse and I'm drinking espresso. The woodland out the back is brown and speckled with the snow from recent flurries. In a few weeks time it will explode with the fresh incandescent green of Spring.

Even though there have been snow flurries during the last few days, the primroses and hellebores are growing in their bed beneath the maple trees. The daffodil and tulip bulbs are well into their spring growth in the front garden.

This year I tried not to go mad with buying seeds, however the greenhouse and office seem to be full of tomato, pepper, chili, banana, nicotiana, zinnia, ornamental grasses and all sorts of other seedlings. It's a real joy to see them growing, especially when they take a long time to germinate (I'm very impatient).

I have to be more careful bringing soil into the greenhouse in the Autumn. It is very easy to carry slugs and slug eggs in on the outside soil. In the spring the greenhouse is invaded with slugs and I'm forced to defend the seedlings with saucers of beer and by picking them up and throwing them outside into the snow. I thought, this Autumn I will make sure that I do not bring any surface soil into the greenhouse (I plant some of the larger tropical plants in the soil in the summer and dig them up to bring into the greenhouse).

This year I am planning to increase the size of the compost heap and increase the amount of space that I allocate for vegetables. I would love to have an allotment but, in the Greater Toronto Area there are very few allotments. The other thing I want to do is improve the woodland garden underneath the large Maples that form the border between our garden and the conservation area. There was a great article in the March BBC Gardener's World Magazine about planting a woodland garden and it gave me some new ideas. I'll also do the usual reviewing of last years photos and moving plants around. The grasses looked great last year and I've got some unusual new grasses growing from seed (courtesy of Chiltern Seeds).

But at the moment I'm sitting in the kitchen dreaming and planning. Right next to me at eye level is an orchid flower, it is so beautiful. My wife is much better at growing orchids than me. Her office is full of very healthy and beautiful plants among them, a number of orchids. She looks after her plants with great care, no dead leaves!

I hope spring will bless us with some warmer weather soon, everything is ready. The world is poised ready for the combined trigger of longer days and warmth. Nature holds its breath, how I love these moments in life, the power of life, all the processes ready. Even in the depths of winter, a walk through the conservation area behind us is always blessed with Nature's beauty and grace. The balance created by millions of years of evolution gives us this momentary veneer of calm and beauty. It is such a precious thing, this instant of life and yet we challenge that balance with our greed and lust for convenience.