Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gardening, Communist Style

There is a community garden here at The Cottages. When I first read about it on the website, and before I had actually come down to look at the place we now call home, I was very excited at the prospect of a community garden. I had visions of my own little plot, and the things I would grow in it. It made it easier to think about parting with my much loved garden in Kamloops.

Unfortunately, what I had imagined in my head and what actually existed in reality were two very different things. I was quite confused when I saw the community garden space for the first time. There were no individual plots. It was just one huge mass of neglected vegetables. The lettuce had gone to seed, the rhubarb had seen better days, the cucumbers were a tangled mess. However, there was a sign on the deer fence that surrounded the plot, saying new garden committee members were always welcome. I filed that information away until this spring, and last week I went to the first meeting of the year.

Now I understand. It's a communist garden. Individual plots don't exist. The planting is done as a group. Weeding and basic maintenance are done on an "as needs" basis, and committee members can harvest the vegetables during the growing season whenever they want. Then in September whatever is left gets picked and the committee has a group dinner. In my head I'm now calling it the Karl Marx Meal.

This morning we met to do our first planting. The garden is tucked away in a corner of the property by the pond. It's just behind that half-dead tree in the centre of the picture.


It was actually a lot of fun getting together and working up the soil and planting the early crops like spinach, lettuce and onions. The best discovery of the morning was seeing the asparagus bed. It's now in its third year and it looks like it is going to be a bumper crop. There's a still a part of my brain that can't wrap itself around this communist gardening thing though. How does it work with the asparagus? If I take as much as I want there won't be a single spear left for anyone else on the committee. But what if, out of a sense of group fairness, we all hold back and the asparagus doesn't get picked? It would be a crime to see it go to waste. Here's a close-up shot of the communist plot (pun intended).


There has been some capitalist gardening as well. This past week I went to the garden store and came home with these goodies.


I miss all the lavender I had in Kamloops, so decided I needed some here at our cottage. This variety is called Phenomenal, and I was told it lives up to its name.


This is the thing I am most excited about. I have wanted raspberries forever. When I talked to Brian Minter at the Minter Country Garden Store he suggested I get something called Raspberry Shortcake. It's an everbearing thornless raspberry that is a bush rather than a cane. I have planted three and can't wait to see if they actually produce berries this summer.


There's more big gardening news, but I'm saving it for another post. This gardening season is going to be an interesting experiment. The garden committee members are all really nice, but honesty forces me to admit that I'm sure glad I don't have to share my raspberries with them.

49 comments:

  1. Yeah, that seems like a weird way to set up a community garden to me. I'm in my second year at mine and we all have individual plots. We have communal tools but we're pretty much left to our own devices as far as planting and harvesting go. I don't think I could handle doing it your way! I'd feel about the tomatoes like you feel about the asparagus. Too stressful!

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    1. It isn't how I would have set it up, but I'm going into it thinking it will be more for the social aspects than the actual harvest potential. That's great that you have a plot! Gardening is almost as much fun as knitting. :-)

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    2. And for me, gardening usually gives much faster results!

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  2. I bet I'd be the one who picked some of the asparagus the gardening committee queen had mentally earmarked for her dinner party...

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    1. Ha! I am trying to avoid doing something similar. The good news is the garden plot is tucked away, out of view of any of the cottages. If I take more than my fair share at least they won't know it was me who did it. :-)

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  3. Perhaps there is a real Communist behind this plot! ;-] I'm with you on the sharing aspect of it. Perhaps it will take someone to come in and take as much asparagus as she wants to turn it into a community garden instead of a communal one. It sure is in a lovely setting, though. I hope your raspberries flourish and am glad you don't have to share them! Unless you want to.

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    1. We are asking for more space for another large area to be fenced in. If that happens it might end up being a more traditional community garden. But right now there really isn't enough space for everyone to have their own spot. As for the raspberries, I am only sharing them with Lucy. :-)

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  4. So funny, the Communist garden. I look forward to further episodes on this subject. Meantime, I am dying of jealousy that you can buy and grow raspberries - one of my favourite fruits/flavours. May they grow and flourish for you Kristie!

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    1. I'm so sorry you can't grow raspberries where you live, Patricia. Is it because of the extreme heat?

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    2. I think so, Kristie, or possibly the humidity too. They might grow in the odd cooler pocket in Queensland but generally strawberries are the only berries which flourish here.

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    3. That would be the difference between where you live and our old home in Kamloops. Raspberries grew there in the extreme summer heat, but we didn't have any humidity.

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  5. I look forward to your gardening reports.... :)

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    1. I'm hoping there's lots to report about, Anne!

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  6. Not sure I fancy a community garden, as you say what if someone takes more than their fair share, difficult. I like your restyled blog, good to see Lucy made it into most of the family photos

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    1. It will be an interesting gardening season, that's for sure. Everyone who is part of the communist plot is very nice, so I figure even if I don't get many vegetables out of it I'll still have fun. Thanks for the compliment about the blog changes. When I went through my photos looking for updates most of my pictures had Lucy in them :-)

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  7. Hmm, I'm with you, capitalist gardening is more my thing! Especially where raspberries are concerned. Do please share with us how your raspberry plants fare, those bushes would be suit my limited gardening space.

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    1. I will definitely give a raspberry update at the end of the season. I am really hoping these live up to all the hype!

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  8. I have been unlucky with raspberries, all the canes perished within a year. Maybe a bushy variety might fare better and I will be interested to hear how yours are doing. A communist garden is a funny thing. I would be a clandestine asparagus harvester, for sure! Enjoy the tender spears when they appear. I very much like the new look of your blog. x

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    1. Thanks for your kind words about my blog's new look, Christina. I wonder if you have this variety of raspberry in the UK. It is very new here, and was developed in the US. That must have been so disappointing to have your canes die out within a year. I think raspberries can be tricky to grow. As for the asparagus, maybe I need to knit one of those black face masks to wear when I go harvest some. :-)

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  9. I hope the raspberries do well, they sound amazing. I think the garden could be a really good thing, but I understand your concerns. I think communist gardening is a hilarious concept, but it won't be so funny if some of these concerns come to fruition. Hopefully it all falls into place; maybe there are more rules than it seems right now. Haha.

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    1. I'm going into it with very low expectations. Mostly it seemed like a good way to meet some of the people who live here. I'm a double introvert, so it takes an extra effort on my part to socialize. Gardening seems like the perfect solution. :-)

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  10. Wow, I can't believe your gardening season has already begun! Spring is just now starting here (and reluctantly, at that - forecast for "rain or snow" next week, sigh...). I'll be interested in knowing if the lavender lives up to its name. Being a "double introvert" makes it sound like you and I might be kindred spirits (except I don't like to garden)! -- R.

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    1. Not only has gardening season begun, my husband mowed the lawn this afternoon. :-)

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    2. Argh! Rain, ice pellets, freezing rain and snow tomorrow for us (yes, all the same day)...:(

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  11. Love your new blog look, very nice! Hope that the communist and capitalist gardens do really well and that you manage to resolve that asparagus question! It would be a horrible shame if no one picked and ate it! I wonder which garden will do best! xx

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    1. Thank you Amy! I think I will keep a close eye on that asparagus patch. If it looks like the spears are getting too big I will pick some. Just to be nice and do my bit to keep the garden in good shape, of course. Ha!

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  12. Oh I love the new look of your blog, I've obviously been a bit absent of late! The gardening plot sounds.... interesting!? Good luck! I love the sound of your raspberry bushes, we had canes here, but they never grew, and gave less and less fruit each year until they vanished!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! Raspberries can be tricky to grow. I'm trying not to get my hopes up about these bushes, but it's hard not to after being promised such great results by the master gardener who sold them to me. :-)

      I just answered your question about West Highland Terriers on the Fergus Friday post. If you have any more questions please ask. I'm always happy to talk about Westies!

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  13. I too would love to hear how your raspberries do. We had some canes here when we first moved in but they had grown unloved for quite a while and in the end we had to dig them up.
    Good luck with the community garden!

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    1. It's amazing how many people are curious about these raspberry bushes! Several friends have said they want to buy some, and when I told the communist gardeners about them they were all intrigued. For now it's a matter of "wait and see."

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  14. I could eat every spear that garden offered. I would have to join such a gardening co-op only for the hope of learning something about gardening - then plant a private patch of whatever I liked best!
    -- stashdragon

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    1. I feel the same about the asparagus. It is in grave danger with me living nearby. And to think, I didn't even like asparagus when I was a kid!

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  15. I have heard of Community Gardens but never thought about the issues of sharing the produce! It will be interesting to see how it enfolds! Your raspberry bushes sound interesting too. I love your new look and the updated pictures down the side. Sarah x

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    1. Most community gardens give each person their own little plot of land, so sharing isn't an issue. This is the first time I have ever seen a community garden arranged like this one. Thanks for the compliment about my new blog look!

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  16. A commie plot! LOL!!! That's wonderful.
    But I worry nothing good can come from this. In part because of the weeding and maintenance being done on an "as needs" basis. That's how the gravel road to my parent's house was managed. Guess who was always the first to think it was needed? (my dad) Guess who ended up swinging the pick, hauling the stone, etc., etc.? (me) Oh well...he always said "if we don't do it, no one will" and in that case he was right. But I'm sure it won't be that way with the garden--because good things will come from it.

    You have bigger news than thornless rasberries?

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    1. It's going to be interesting, Rick. There are about 220 cottages here, but only 24 have people living in them year-round. I suspect it will be the year-rounders who end up doing most of the weeding, etc. But I also suspect it will be the year-rounders who end up eating most of the veggies.

      Yes, on the gardening front there is even bigger news than the raspberry bushes. :-)

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  17. Kristie you are hilarious! It totally is a communist garden.It's such a great concept and our school has one that has been a thriving success. Yours looks brilliant. These are becoming very popular here, especially in the cities. We've been slaving away on our own capitalist plot here at home with varying degrees of success. Raspberries were a total failure so I'm very envious of yours. Keep us posted on the progress...Mel x

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    1. My reply is below your comment, Mel. Sorry about that!

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  18. I love the idea of schools having kids do a garden! There's so much to learn from it, and it passes on a valuable life skill. As for your capitalist plot, there's probably one big difference between your garden and mine. I'm guessing you have to watch out for snakes. Yikes! I love gardening, but I don't know if I would have the courage if I thought something that was deadly poisonous was curled up by the lettuce, waiting to get me. :-)

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  19. Oh, thornless raspberries! I think I might have to keep my eyes open for those around here.

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    1. Thornless raspberries are fairly common here. The thing that's different about these is they are a bush rather than canes. It means I won't have to stake them, and they won't take up as much room. I'll post an update about them this summer. Hopefully it's a good report!

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  20. I wish you luck with your raspberries Kristie, my favourite fruit. I haven't tried growing any myself but might have a go. Look forward to hearing more gardening news.
    Patricia x

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    1. You should live in an area that would be great for raspberries, Patricia. Maybe if mine turn out you will be inspired to start your own patch!

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  21. I love the idea of a communist garden - from each according to his ability, to each according to her need. I bet your need for asparagus is overwhelming at times. :-) The raspberry bushes sound intriguing and I will follow their progress with interest. I've grown raspberries with some success in the past, but the canes do tend either to run riot and take over or die off. A bush is more containable and I really hope yours flourish.

    I too love the blog's new look.

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    1. Thanks Perpetua! The blog has been long overdue for an update. My son-in-law the computer whiz has promised to help me, but he is very busy so I decided to take matters into my own hands and see what I could do.

      Yes, I think I need that asparagus more than anyone else. Entitlement at its finest!

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    2. I love that approach. I need my asparagus, and my raspberries. I'd be hard put to share either. I have a riot of canes, but we have a big space. I'll watch the progress of your variety with interest, Kristie. No gardening for us yet.

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    3. Lucky you Mary Lou to have a large space for raspberry canes! We had a big patch of raspberries on the farm where I grew up, and I didn't realize how fortunate we were until I moved away. I still miss that patch!

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  22. "Communist plot" made me laugh out loud -- good one. Are you planting rhubarb in that garden? I'm anxiously counting down the days until our farmer's market opens so I can (hopefully) get some good rhubarb. One of my favorite memories from childhood was munching raw rhubarb sticks dipped in salt, and only recently I realized that I haven't had good rhubarb for decades.
    I really envy you having enough sunshine to garden...I love my woods but I do miss the ability to grow things here.

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    1. The communist garden has a big patch of rhubarb, and I have also planted some here at our cottage so there'll be no shortage. :-)

      Rhubarb and salt? I've heard of people dipping raw rhubarb into sugar, but never salt. Interesting!

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