URBAN GARDENER: Trend puts a new spin on vegetable gardening

Checking Out Other People’s gardens is a constant source of inspiration. I visit some amazing backyard vegetable gardens.

Checking Out Other People’s gardens is a constant source of inspiration. I visit some amazing backyard vegetable gardens.

My friend and mentor, Georgene Price is one of those especially gifted gardeners with a mystic ability to make anything grow. Georgene is over 90-years-old and still has an abiding delight in the wonders of growing food.

Last year, she sold her Candy Lane home and moved into a waterfront condo at Willow Point. Leaving her beloved vegetable garden behind was a painful wrench but it didn’t take long to find a niche. She immediately volunteered to work on the window box flower display at the late Sybil Morgan Andrews cottage garden where she had spent so many happy hours years ago learning to paint under Sybil’s tutelage. It was obvious that tending that small garden wasn’t enough for Georgene’s boundless energy.

The next task was to take on the development of her son Gordon’s back yard. He’s working out of town now and she has a generous space planned out and already partly planted.

Spin Gardening Is An Off-Shoot of Spin Farming. That is essentially what Georgene is doing. The gardening part of the spin is where a person, who does not have land, offers to cultivate a vegetable garden in someone else’’s back yard in exchange for keeping the owner supplied with fresh grown food.

This concept, on a larger scale, was pioneered in Canada by Sasktoon farmer, Wally Satzewich and his partner Gail Vandersteen. They have become an urban phenomena throughout the country. Satzewich is now renting around 25 backyards in the city totaling about a half-acre of growing space. He and his partner make a good living on their market sales.

In Victoria, Spin Gardening is wildly popular and not only are these gardeners providing food for the property owners but are marketing the surplus at either a market garden co-op or a direct-to-the door system. It is exciting to see these new developments on Vancouver Island that reduce our dependency on shipments from the mainland and also provide us with fresh high quality foods.

That Long Rainy Month of May is thankfully over. The few warm days in June have made a difference. I have had a great yearning to begin eating something produced in my own garden and the only plants in the patch that were bursting with enthusiasm were the perennial parsleys, chives, chard and sorrel.

The huge Portuguese kale had taken a battering over the winter and despite the lure of consuming those big crunchy leaves I left the plant to recover. Making do with what was available, I chopped up one cup of chives and parsley, two cups of leftover cooked potatoes, two free-run eggs, and mashed them all together with herbed seasonings.  Shaping them into large patties they were grilled in a hot cast-iron pan.