Friday, July 18, 2014

Old Broken Canoe to Ecclectic Veggie Garden

I've always love the idea of a garden, but my practical experience has been a little...overwhelming.  I've had gardens in the past, but they've always been too big, inherited large gardens from my Grandma when we bought her house, and half of a cousin's ginormous garden plot out in the country.  Too much for a kid who wasn't that into gardening.  So when I decided I wanted a garden at our place in the Yukon, I knew it had considerably smaller. 

Since our soil is thin and utter crap, we're stuck with a container garden.  But who wants an army of pots in their backyard?  But then what do I find in my inspiration folder (that I've been saving pics into for years) but a picture of a canoe garden.  YESSIR I'LL HAVE ONE OF THOSE PLEASE.  

I posted an ad online, asking if anyone had an irrepairable canoe they'd like to get rid of.  Long shot, eh?  NOT REALLY!  Within 24 hours, I'd found this little gem:

Okay, so maybe gem is stretching it a bit.  But what do I care if it's a little crumpled and cracked?!  Not like I'm going to be floating down a river in it!  Amazingly, underneath that crummy old canvas and chipping paint was this:

Beautiful old cedar.  Ripping off the old canvas was easy peasy - the sudden rainshower while we were moving the canoe into the backyard probably helped with that.  I didn't get a picture of it, but the inside of the canoe had a ton of old peeling varnish, but a cheap plastic bristle brush and some elbow grease got rid of that right quick.

Our yard is sloped, so I spent a bit of the day digging out a divot in the yard for the canoe to rest in.  I didn't want the weight of the soil to cause even more cracking and buckling in the canoe. 

After adding a lot of soil (about $120 worth!), this is what I had to work with; a relatively small but manageable (not to mention adorable) little garden.

Two months later, I HAVE ACHIEVED FOOD!  Well, a little bit so far.  Spinach, lettuce, and a bunch of radishes have made it to our table as tasty salads this week, and I love being munch on a radish within minutes of pulling it from the ground.  The carrots and beets have a bit of growing to do, but those are mostly destined for canning this fall (stay tuned!), and I'm stoked to have fresh green onions and green beans later on in the summer!  I hope, anyways.  The Yukon growing season is much shorter than down south.

Don't mind all of the weeds.  Those little suckers are history!
The only problem I've had is the bloody neighbourhood cats!  I love that they catch all the voles running around the area, but I was ready to put up an electric fence when the buggers started digging in my garden right after I planted everything!  They're the reason why half of one row of beets are empty, why there's a blank spot in amongst the beans, and why the second lettuce plant is now mysteriously located with the carrots.  Buggers.

Have you used an unusual item as a garden?  Some people have recommend old tires to me, which apparently helps extend the growing season because it keeps the soil warm for longer.  I can't help but think that all the crap in tires can't be good for veggies, although that could be a fun idea for flowers...


  1. Heather, it is a beautiful garden.... About the cats, you can sprinkle coffee grounds in the soil. I've read that it keeps the cats and dogs away..

    You can get coffee grounds in coffee shops,.. It is usually available for asking.... And it's also very good for soil.

    1. Ooo, that's a good idea! I haven't had any problems with the cats since the plants grew in, but I'll definitely try this next spring. Thanks!

  2. Try covering your garden are with some netting. Like this stuff.

    Cats don't like walking on it and will avoid your garden, and the plants will grow through it, and if necessary you can cut larger holes as the plants grow. Has always worked well for me.

    1. Huh, that's a good idea. Like I said above, it hasn't been an issue since the plants have grown in, but I'll definitely keep it (and the coffee!) in mind for next spring. Thanks!