Zoey Gets Growing

East Village’s community garden is open for planting! The gorgeous new community amenity launched at the start of May and I wasn’t the only one eager to put down some roots as soon as possible.

The new community garden is at the Crossroads park, on the western border of Fort Calgary. (In case you missed it: I wrote about Crossroads this past winter.) It’s got 88 raised beds for community association members*, lots of bicycle parking, a secure shed with gardening gear, water on-site, a newly planted fruit orchard and even a gardening expert who can help everyone’s plot flourish in Calgary’s fickle climate.

When I arrived on Day 2 of gardening opening weekend, several of my neighbours had already planted: a row of baby-sized kale in one plot; four kinds of herbs surrounded by ceramic frogs in another; a makeshift greenhouse coaxing the growth of some little green leaves in another.

I was inspired.

Now, I’ve never been much of a gardener. My experience includes a couple of childhood summer days picking weeds in the backyard and trying not to touch worms, and one balcony tomato pot that yielded half a dozen nickel-sized fruits a few years ago.

But my failures have not ruined me! I love hearing about people who turn their front yards into vegetable gardens and envy my friends who just snip a few sprigs of herbs from a pot while cooking dinner or fixing a cocktail.

So this year, I did a little pre-gaming. I tested my ability to keep some plants alive on my balcony in April. I’m happy to say that my herbs have sprouted from seeds (though it’s still too early to start trimming mint for mojitos) and my tomatoes are even starting to grow flowers (but I’m not sure if bees can fly up this high to pollinate them). My collection of potted plants from a certain Swedish department store look alive enough that I’m not totally sure they’re real, but I’ll take it as a win.

I knew the real challenge would come in my garden bed, where I’m planting mostly from seeds. As soon as the garden opened, I put in onions, carrots, lettuce, kale and some marigold to ward off any pests who dare sniff around my future bounty.

It’s still early days, but I’m confident something green will be poking up through the soil before too long.

And if not? I’ll just bike through Inglewood to the other Crossroads — the Crossroads Farmer’s Market and pick up some Alberta produce from folks who have that farming thing figured out.

*There is currently a waitlist for garden plots. If you live in East Village, make sure you’re signed up for the East Village Neighbourhood Association’s newsletter (and buy a membership!) to stay up to date on the garden program.