2012 Winners of the Edible Garden Container Photo Contest!
Best Overall Local Winner: Laura Tuck (Antique Furniture Garden)
From Hockley Valley, Ontario... "This is my edible garden of herbs consisting of thyme, flowering oregano, sage, rosemary, ornamental peppers and pink flowers. I planted these items in an old double sink, and placed them on top of an old wood stove in front of my wood shed."
From the judges: "This arrangement went straight to our hearts. It's like an altar to plants, to honour and thank them for being in our life. Isn't the balance of plants alluring?"
Prize: Planter with Blooms from Vandermeer Nursery plus Gift Certificates from Veseys Seeds
Best Mobile Container: Per Drewes (Tomatomobile)
From Newmarket, Ontario... "I have tried to grow tomatoes in our backyard without much success for many years. The problem is lack of sunshine. We have a lot of 60 years plus maple and spruce trees in our yard and in the forest to the south of us. I am not willing to cut down these beautiful trees to grow a few tomatoes. This year I reused an old wheelbarrow complete with holes in the bottom, filled it with dirt from our kitchen composter and planted beefsteak tomatoes, the hardest to grow. By moving my "tomatomobile" twice per day, I have managed to collect about 25 fully ripe tomatoes to date, with about 10 green ones remaining on the vine. The challenge for next year will be to move the wheelbarrow with a photovoltaic-powered motor, complete with a sun tracker!"
From the judges: "This looks like a very modest competition entrant, just one edible plant. Yet the irrepressible and resourceful spirit behind it inspires. We can expand, we can question boundaries, we can automate, and starting small is glorious. That's the small-scale garden spirit!"
Prize: Artisanal Vinegars Gift Box plus Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichel
Best Canadian Theme: Henni Katzer (Rockycanoe Garden)
Gardening on the shores of Georgian Bay has always been a challenge. There is no soil to speak of - rocks rocks and more rocks. We bring 30 bags of topsoil up from the city by car and then transfer the bags to the boat. Its a 10 mile ride up the coast from Honey Harbour, then we carry them up a steep hill. The red canoe was no longer seaworthy after our kids folded it over a waterfall and we thought what a good way to recycle it. Inside we planted carrots and various kinds of tomatoes at one end. then around the poles are beans. Along the outside edges are cucumbers and squash.
From the judges: "The Intrepid Canadian's garden. This gardener is too busy having adventures to be tied down to daily watering, too full of fondness for the garden to let it die, and too resourceful to go blaming everything else if it did. There is always a way, and she has worked one out with this clever self-watering system."
Prize: Gift Certificate from Renee's Garden plus Gardening With Colour by Rob Sproule
Most Accessible Garden: Linda Crabtree (Seven-Barrel Garden Salad)
From St. Catharines, Ontario... My garden came about because I am a 70-year-old woman who loves to make things grow. Due to a neurological disease, I cannot walk, stand or use my hands very well as I have no grip. Every fall I try to plan something wonderful to look forward to coming up in the garden in spring. Last fall I had my heart set on a raised cedar garden bed. I drew up plans and learned the price would be well over $3000. Our backyard is too shaded to grow vegetables but I could put a vegetable garden on a small, sunny cement pad off our driveway. I thought about how I could build a garden that I could plant and weed myself from my electric scooter without spending $3000. The local wineries sell half-barrels for $50 each. My husband bought 7, drilled holes in the bottom and covered the holes with wire mesh. But the barrels weren't high enough. I found a lumberyard that would cut 6"x8"x22" oak pieces. I bought 14 so we could put 2 under each barrel. A landscaper who was putting in new sod for us filled the barrels with light soil and vermiculite. But before they got around to it, the barrel rings began to fall off because the barrels were drying out. Using small brass screws we affixed the rings into place. For $500 plus the price of a box of brass screws, seeds and a few greenhouse seedlings, I had my seven-barrel salad garden!
From the judges: "The easiest way to have happy healthy plants is big, insulated pots. With added height they will get lots of attention!"
Prize: In-store Landscape Design Consultation & Garden Guide from Sheridan Nurseries plus The Plant Finder: Finding the Right Plants for Every Garden by Tony Rodd & Geoff Bryant
Linda's story continues...
Because we had an early two weeks of spring in March, I bought my tomato plants then, selecting 5 varieties, which resulted in bags of tomatoes to give away from only 6 plants. I planted cucumbers, green and yellow beans, thyme, basil, lemongrass and Swiss chard (red and white). Between the tomatoes and the front of the barrels I spread salad mix seed. To add colour I put beautiful marigolds in the front of the barrels and popped in nasturtium seeds, the vine type, to flow down the barrel sides facing the street so passersby would have something nice to look at. Our tomatoes grew so tall they bent their wire supports and started up the Blue Spruce behind the barrels, and our cucumbers spread over the driveway. As long as the barrels were watered daily, everything flourished, except the chard that didn't like the summer heat.
I know container gardening in wine barrels isn't terribly innovative but it is a solution for someone who cannot stand, walk or get down on the ground to work the soil and can't really use their hands very much. My garden tools were a large salad fork, a dessert spoon and an old vegetable knife. Anything heavier I simply drop. The soft, light soil mixture pleased the plants and made it easy for me to poke in seeds or pull a small portion of soil aside to drop in a seedling. I used simple scissors to cut beans and salad greens and two hands to pick tomatoes. Hubby fertilized with Miracle Gro for veggies and, did it work! Now that the vegetable plants are finished and have been taken out, the barrels are full of beautiful yellow and white mums. The oak slabs have weathered to a soft grey to match the barrels. next spring more tomatoes will go in but I will concentrate on the ones that were really good this year: Sweet Millions. i'll put in more beans, see if I can get some chard going and just have some more wonderful fun from my scooter, planting and watching things that are good for us to eat, grow in my Seven-Barrel Salad Garden out on our driveway. Cheers!
Most interesting multi-container arrangement: Nicholas Potovsky (Garden of recycled bags)
From central Toronto... "I made these planters from re-useable shopping bags that had been gathering dust in my closet. I always find that people have too many of these. My partner and I wanted to have some hanging fabric planters for the railings on our front porch. Originally we were going to buy Woolly Pockets but we found them to be too expensive. Instead, my partner suggested that we use shopping bags and I came up with a design. They use most of the shopping bag with little material left over as waste. The handles of these bags can be detached and used as straps to tie them to railings, as you can see in the photos. Aside from that, I just needed to get thread and grommets from the fabric store. I used my mom's sewing machine to make them and can make 3 or 4 in an hour. We filled them with potting soil and have grown strawberries, basil and tulsi in them. The strawberries have been healthy but didn't give us much fruit. The basil has worked well and we've particularly enjoyed the tulsi from which we make tea."
From the judges: "The resourcefulness and lateral thinking here is adorable. We love the way Nicholas doesn't just do what's easy and hang the baskets as-is, but is enthusiastic to spend time reinforcing and making things durable. Results, not excuses!"
Prize: Gift Certificate from Botanus plus Gardening With Colour by Rob Sproule
Best Out-of-Province: Thuoc Cam (Garden of Recycled Bottles)
I love recycling and gardening. I have a very tiny balcony and wanted to transform it to an edible garden. It was really difficult to decide what would grow in this small space. I thought greens salad as the best choice for my growing conditions as well as for my taste in the summer. That is how my Gourmet Greens Salad Garden was born.
From the judges: "Now THIS is the kind of balcony garden that will save the world. It's organised, it's laden, it's succeeding, and it's so very resourceful. We wish we were neighbours."
Prize: Bragging rights! (as per contest rules, out-of-area contestants are not eligible for a material prize)
Most Exotic Container: Gerrie Burnett (Moroccan Lamp Shade)
From the east end of Toronto..."the home of small gardens and enthusiastic gardeners. Although my planter isn't on a balcony, it could be hung from a railing if need be. It is just outside my kitchen door for easy access, and contains parsley and rosemary which the squirrels have miraculously ignored! I added some wires to an old goatskin lamp shade purchased at a souk in Morocco years ago which had a tear in it due to the grandkids' enthusiastic hockey playing in the house. I repurposed it this summer and so far it has held up well in the heat and rain."
From the judges: "It seems such an obvious re-use for a beautiful object, but not until somebody actually does it. And here she has!
We expect lots of imitations of this good idea, a way to make a micro-garden that hangs just in your line of sight, a line of attention and affection. Of course, the delicate taste and balance in how the plants are arranged are harder to copy."
Prize: One-hour, face to fact Advice Session with a Toronto Master Gardener plus Gift Pack from Urban Harvest
Best Vertical Garden: Rick Hutchings (Lettuce and Lattice) Click to view image
From Leaside, Toronto... "As a volunteer at Thorncliffe Park School, I was given two trays of vegetables that the children started over the winter. Not really a gardener (of vegetables), and not wanting to hurt their feelings (in case they were ever to visit my yard) I had to come up with an idea to hold these new seedlings. I decided to try vertical gardening on my garage door. A quick trip to Home Depot and I found 2x4's with grooves to hold a piece of lattice in its track. I cut the 2x4's on a 45 degree angle at each end and nailed them together to form a frame. Once filled with potting soil and mounted on the garage door, they were ready for the seedlings and flowers. All in all, it allows me to hang my new vegetable art in plain view for everyone to use when they need. A quick fix for a quick fix... of vegetables and herbs!"
From the judges: "This would be easy to get into a magazine: it looks gorgeous, and within reach of our abilities, something we could spend a really happy weekend putting together. Versions of this garden will start appearing all over the place."
Honourable Mention (until jpg format provided, as per contest rules): Gardening With Colour by Rob Sproule