Don’t tell Richard Robinson you can’t enjoy your own homegrown tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers just because you live in a two-bedroom, third-storey apartment.
The harvest he and his family enjoyed this summer from the plants soaking up the sun on his balcony shows you can attain some self sufficiency in food no matter where you live.
“It was pretty substantial what we had out there. The kids did almost all of it,” said Robinson, who lives near the Ridge Meadows Hospital.
The Robinsons had five types of tomatoes and two types each of lettuce, beans, peas and cucumbers growing their balcony.
To spice things up, they also grew basil, dill, oregano, parsley, cilantro, onions, garlic and sunflowers.
Lettuce and green onions grow all year long.
“It takes a little bit of work to set up. The big thing is to make sure everything gets enough water.”
Robinson said their south-facing balcony that allows plants to soak up the summer rays for 18 hours a day helps with productivity. Also, the plants have to be regularly watered. He uses coffee grounds collected over the winter as a mulch.
Robinson entered Maple Ridge’s Front Yard Food Garden Contest this year, although he didn’t win anything.
Maple Ridge recently has handed out its awards, gift certificates from the Haney Farmer’s Market, for the fifth annual contest.
Winners were chosen based on the quantity and range of food produced, the health of the plants and design of the gardens.
The event is held to raise awareness about the importance and potential of growing food locally and to show that food can be grown in people’s front yards and that “food production can still be a thing of beauty,” said organizer Diana Hall.
Winning the child’s category was Jamie Thomson while Julie Lloyd won in the category for space that’s 500 sq. feet and over.
Tan Uong won the 100 to 500 sq. feet category and Lorraine Bates won the best garden for under 100 sq. feet when she grew lots of vegetables in a chuck wagon on display at the Albion fairgrounds.