In the Garden column: On your marks, get set, grow up!

Lynda Pasacreta says the joy of gardening doesn't need to be sacrificed if you live in a condo or townhouse

The month of May is always such an exciting time for gardeners. Vegetable and flower seeds are planted. Tender plants are moved outdoors and line- ups begin at our local nurseries. 

Our fingernails are embedded with dirt and our knees are permanently callused and stained with delicious black soil.

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Richmond Garden Club conducted a member survey recently to determine how people are gardening these days. Many of our members are living in multi-unit housing such as townhouses and condominiums. 

According to the 2011 census, approximately 55 per cent of Richmond residents were living in multi unit housing. 

That number has probably increased in the last five years. So, small space gardening has become a popular topic within the gardening community.

Another trend that is gaining momentum in our community is food security. We want to grow our own healthy fruits and vegetables that have not been contaminated with chemicals. 

The joy of gardening does not have to disappear when living in townhouses or condominiums. The magic word is “vertical” ­— grow everything up!  Vertical gardening gives the illusion of more space. 

There is lot of produce that can be grown in pots these days — tomatoes, beans, peas, potatoes, raspberries, blackberries, salad veggies and so on. 

Living in a townhouse allows a bit more space to incorporate raised garden beds. Not only do raised beds make it easier for some of us not-so-flexible gardeners to get up and down but it’s also easier to control weeds. Some of our garden club members are quite creative in what they use to encourage plants to grow vertically.

There are some great finds at second hand stores, such as old fireplace screens, umbrella stands, large pots, baskets which you can use to create interest in your little garden. Small obelisks, bamboo stakes, even strong branches can be used to create your upright garden!

Richmond Garden Club members maintain a delightful little urban garden on the rooftop of the Richmond Cultural Centre. We seem to have a knack for finding these little gems in the middle of our concrete jungle here in Richmond.

This tiny little space up on the second floor of the cultural centre looks out at bricks and mortar. The most notable thing about this diminutive garden in the sky is how much produce has been planted in this confined space. Use of large steel containers, low garden beds and vertical plantings along the surrounding chain link fence should yield a good crop of vegetables and fruit in the fall.

So don’t be afraid to get out there and grow your favourite fruits and veggies. There is lots of help out there from your local nurseries and new products to assist you in creating a small space garden on your balcony, your patio or in your small yard. Pick up small raised bed containers, fill it with soil, plant some of your favourite veggie seeds or seedlings and you are off to the races!

Lynda Pasacreta is the current president of the Richmond Garden Club. If you would like to join the club or would like more information, email the club RichmondGardenClub@gmail.com. Visit their website at RichmondGardenClub.ca for information about upcoming events and membership.

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