Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kickin' it Old School

Today I'd like to share a little gem I've uncovered while waiting out the hurricane on Sunday. The NFB has posted an interesting and very informative documentary made in 1984 entitled "My Urban Garden".


This film is filled with information about vegetable gardening in an urban setting that is totally relevant today. It will be of particular interest to Haligonians as it documents a backyard vegetable garden right here in our hometown!

Seriously, this film is great- i've watched it three times already and wish I had stumbled upon it earlier. Was Carol Bowlby, the gardener featured in this documentary, ahead of her time? Or are we in 2009 only re-discovering a lost art?

After you get past the retro-style of the film (did we really look like that in the 80's?), you will enjoy her laid back style (she gardens in her bare feet!).

The number of parallels there are with this film and what I have been trying to do in my own back yard are many- it covers gardening in raised beds, organic gardening, composting, dealing with cats, cabbage worms, growing in plastic buckets (my self watering container being the modern version)- it's all here!

She talks about growing vegetables intensively, to get the largest harvest she possibly can in the smallest amount of space. What is a square foot garden but a method of growing vegetables intensively? The only difference it seems, is that the square foot gardening method is a little more precise in terms of plant spacing with the aim of avoiding thinning and saving seeds.

I especially like how Bowlby uses everyday items from around the home to achieve great results- no fancy equipment- old storm windows and plastic jugs are used as cold frames. What looks like old toilet roll holders are recycled as containers for starting seeds. Old raspberry canes are laid on the bare ground to deter cats. A lot of re-using and recycling was going on even in 1984.

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