By Amy Woodward, Peterborough Master Gardener
Last year I went to the Master Gardener Technical Update at Toronto Botanical Gardens. One of the keynote speakers was Mark Cullen and he was discussing how Canadian Gardening has evolved. The way we garden is constantly changing by utilizing small spaces, composting and appreciating insects and the natural environment.
Many in urban areas are limited to the space they can garden in. There are numerous examples of minimal space gardens such as in apartments, community allotments, rental properties and new homes with smaller yards. A change in my gardening pattern has been from the old fashion long vegetable rows to square foot gardening. Mel Bartholomew, creator of square foot gardening, was disenchanted with long rows that took up too much space and involved too much weeding. He came up with the square foot method of gardening that takes up much less space, less weeding and minimal maintenance. This method is very popular amongst our Master Gardener Organization and for those short on space. Other approaches to limited space are container gardening, rooftop gardening and lasagna layering.
Although composting has been around for many years, we have seen changes in the way people compost. For instance, in the past, leaves were known as a nuisance and people would rake them, bag them and wait for the municipality to pick them up. Now it is recognized that leaves are a great addition to the compost pile. Leaves are rich in carbon and balance out nitrogen rich green material. You can also use leaves as mulch. Simply rake leaves onto the garden and the leaves will keep the moisture in and weeds out. Leafs are also used to improve soil texture and encourage earth worms to reside there.
The public is now more educated and interested in how to save native pollinators such as flies, wasps, beetles, birds, butterflies and most importantly bees. Unfortunately, pollinator populations are decreasing. A number of steps have been adopted to protect pollinators including choosing native plants, planting milkweed, decreasing pesticides and installing insect hotels. The critical role that pollinators play is why the public is so concerned and methods of gardening are changing.
Overall, gardening continues to change and evolve. It will be interesting to see what our future has in store for us.