Veggie City has been very fortunate to have such amazing gardening gurus in our own backyard! Veggie City staff met with two of our mentors this past week, and one thing is for sure: our mentors are truly inspirational!
The first house we went to was Vince's. Vince belongs to the London Fanshawe Horticulture Society. He wanted to donate some heirloom vegetable plants to Veggie City, so we headed on over for a visit. What a garden Vince has! Vince and his wife love to garden, and we could tell! They had numerous varieties of lilies, blood root (named after the red colour that seeps from the roots) and many other prized plants. Vince indicated that he had over 90 varieties of hostas growing in his garden! The piece de resistance came when we headed down to his vegetable garden. It was quite the sight to see all of the onions, herbs and red and green leaf lettuce poking through already. And the raspberry cage- that was fun to see. Vince tells us that caging the raspberries ensures that there will be some fruit left for him and his wife, since the birds and other creatures love their raspberries just as much as they do! Vince shared many tips and tricks throughout our time, but his best advice? "Everyone thinks that belonging to a horticulture society is for people who are retired. But don't wait until you are retired to join! That way, you won't make the costly mistakes that beginning gardeners make. Every time I attend a meeting, I come out learning something new!"
Some of the yummy vegetables that Vince and the London Fanshawe Horticulture Society donated include garlic, onions, tomatoes and the hottest pepper ever, called Scotch Bonnet. Vince warned us to "make sure you wear gloves when you handle these peppers! They look so innocent and good to pick, but if you don't wear gloves, you'll be sorry!"
Many thanks to Vince for the wonderful tour in the rain, the gardening advice and the vegetable plants!
The second mentor that we paid a visit to was Pam. Pam used to tend a goat farm in Nova Scotia and her husband used to cultivate garlic. Ever since moving to London, Pam has kept garlic and herbs close at bay. She grows many herbs for use as medicinal teas and felt at ease during our tour to share tips and tricks for herbal remedies from the garden. Pam also shared with us a fabulous way to grow tomatoes, that comes from her roots on the East Coast. Because the soil is so rocky down east, residents grow tomatoes on an angle and prepare the soil with some eggshells mixed with compost before planting. She shared a story with us about growing small tomatoes once right in a box of compost: her plant grew so high that it ended up in the neighbour's yard! "I never had so many tomatoes before!" she told us. Pam advised us to start collecting our eggshells now, to add vital calcium to our vegetable roots. Pam is also an expert when it comes to companion planting, which she confides is "the only way I plant". Pam told us that placing basil in between our tomato plants helps keep pests away. Before the end of our visit, Pam made sure we took home a huge bushell of garlic to share with our resident shareholders. Passionate gardeners are so generous when it comes to sharing knowledge and plants!
Thank you Pam and Vince for the great tours, the conversation and for being a part of this exciting project!