Saba El-Hilo. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Over 100 new gardens: Looking back at a season of growing in Revelstoke

Three gardeners share their from-the-dirt experiences

When Saba El-Hilo was planning her new garden, she didn’t know how much time she would spend working on it after the sun went down.

In the first month her carefully grown starts were moved from her kitchen to her newly constructed garden boxes, nightmares of their death would draw her to the window late at night.

“It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster now that I think about it,” she recalled with a laugh.

“I planted everything outside and then woke up the next morning and a few were just completely dead. I think I had cutworm.”

Research had her in the garden with a flashlight at midnight, squishing the bugs that were munching on her plant babies.

Now her garden is producing more than El-Hilo and her household, which includes a rabbit, can eat.

She regularly shares with her neighbours and her friends, a major lesson for next year.

“It’s kind of crazy how much food one plant can produce,” she said.

Saba El-Hilo was surprised at how huge her sunflowers, which are probably eight feet tall, grew. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

READ MORE: Revelstoke farmers ramp up production in face of COVID-19

Greg Hill, creator of the Facebook group Revelstoke Gardening Community, said more than 100 people ordered soil through the group – that’s over 100 new gardens in Revelstoke this year.

“So far it is not a cataclysmic end to society,” said Hill with a laugh. “It has been nice to have a garden to focus on.”

Hill’s goal in his own newly expanded garden was to eat as much as he could and not let it go to waste.

“It has been a summer of salads,” he said.

While the work load in the garden has tapered off, Hill said he is now spending the time preserving the food he grew, making things like cucumber chutney, salsa and hopefully some roasted pasta sauce.

Next year he hopes to better adapt a succession-planting strategy, something he learned about but didn’t execute well this year.

He is also thinking about how to have fresh vegetables in the winter, without a heated greenhouse.

He said he will be looking into using grow lights indoors, but doesn’t yet know if that scheme has any merit.

Overall, Hill said he doesn’t think the rewards of gardening are monetary.

While he doesn’t think he saved any money, a positive emotional return is evident in the community.

“Gardening is a really neat way to limit your environmental impact,” he added.

“Though there is research saying the impact of transporting food isn’t as high as you might think, if it doesn’t have to travel, it is better no matter what.”

For Jade Levasseur Forel, her garden is a source of great pride.

Though she and her partner had always wanted a garden, the pandemic and a new rental in the Big Eddy brought about the perfect set of circumstances to make it happen.

Levasseur Forel lost her job in March, so she had lots of time to do the garden and do it right.

She is most proud of her cucumbers. She started them from seed and says they taste good.

She was also surprised at how big her cabbage grew in such a small space.

The biggest challenge was timing, she said. Planting, watering, harvesting – it all has to be done at the right time for optimum production.

Some advice she would pass on to other gardeners is learn as much as you can.

“You will need more information than you think,” she said.

With their successes all three gardeners also had things that just didn’t work out.

El-Hil0’s cucumbers didn’t survive the rainy spring.

Hill found that the things he didn’t put as much effort into, such as cantaloupe and corn, didn’t produce, but the plants he invested time in produced well.

Levasseur Forel had not luck with her peas, saying they rotted instead of germinating.

When it comes to failures, everyone’s advice was the same: don’t beat yourself up and try again next year.

READ MORE: COVID-19 motivates Revelstoke couple to start farming


 

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Jade Levasseur Forel planted a garden in Revelstoke for the first time this year. She was surprised the cabbage got so big in such a small space. (Contributed)

Greg Hill created the Revelstoke Growing Community Facebook page in the spring. He expanded his garden this summer and said he has harvested four times the amount compared to last year. (Soňa Čermáková photo)

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