Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to help create a space for a reconciliation garden at an Almonte church. This garden will provide a space for gardeners to grow indigenous plants and share wisdom about growing food and living sustainably.
The space is about 600 square feet. A sunny site was located; the centre marked with a stake and a circle with a 25 foot diameter was marked. A sod-cutter was rented and the existing grass was quickly cut, ready to be rolled. The sod-cutting machine weighs a couple of hundred pounds and is somewhat awkward to operate, but is an incredibly cost-effective way to prepare a site. At a cost of about $80 we were able to prepare sites for four similar sized gardens in one day. With the right soil-moisture conditions the sod-cutting goes very quickly.
Once the sod was cut, it was rolled up and moved to a location where the grass can compost and then eventually be added back to the garden. Pathways were marked with stakes and twine and dug out to a couple of inches. Meanwhile four cubic yards of mushroom compost had been delivered and dumped close to the garden. Volunteers with shovels and a wheelbarrow spread the compost on the areas that will be the growing beds. The final steps were a roto-tilling to mix the compost with the existing soil, a levelling of the beds and then spreading of straw on the pathways.
The whole process took about five hours spread over a couple of days. Up to a dozen volunteers were involved – many for shorter periods of time. And if truth be told, the volunteers included a photographer, one woman with a wrist in a cast, and a fair amount of time standing chatting and drinking coffee and eating some delicious home-made muffins!
Next week the planting will begin with corn. In a week or two this will be followed by beans and squash.
Dave Hinks, May 5, 2018