Elena Erokhina and Mike Mercier won for best back yard garden. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge residents get growing

Winners of 2018 Food Garden contest

If you want to grow food on your little plot of land, you have to be creative when it comes to cultivation.

In Maple Ridge, that can involve steep slopes, one of the issues faced, then overcome, by Darren Manweiler, who won first in the problem-solving category for Maple Ridge’s eighth annual Food Garden Contest.

The city’s agricultural advisory committee sponsors the contest to encourage people to think about growing food on their properties.

Manweiler devised a terraced food garden using stone retaining walls, to provide stability for growing food. According to the results of the contest released last week by the city, the efforts have resulted in baskets of food for his family.

The best front yard garden this year was grown by Ayuko Takahashi. She used raised garden beds and soaker hoses to make best use of water and she rotates her crops through season. Takahashi used echinacea, lavender and scented geraniums to attract pollinators and grew carrots, beans, strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, and Asian pear to reduce grocery bills during the growing season.

Elena Erokhina and Mike Mercier were judged to have the best back yard garden, which also used raised beds, and timed watering systems to grow greens, garlic and carrots.

“One of the best things about having your own veggie garden is that you can come home from the office, hungry, go outside, and pick up your dinner,” they said on the city’s website.

Luka Takahashi, 7, continued the tradition and won the best children’s garden category while Bernice Van Netten’s garden was judged to be the best overall. Van Netten grows plums, figs, raspberries, tomatoes and garlic and a range of vegetables.

She also uses a few tricks to fool the interlopers who might raid the garden. Marigolds and nasturtiums discourage insect pests while strategically placed mirrors scare off raccoons. Sheep manure, aged chicken manure and compost help nourish the garden.

In the self-sustaining garden category, Ken Manweiler won for his garden that’s been producing for years. The heavy clay soil has been improved with compost and he uses a mulching mower that shreds tough vegetation for compost and doesn’t use pesticides.

Renata Trivieri, from Grow and Gather Nursery, judged the entries.

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Darren Manweiler solved drainage by terracing his garden. (Contributed)

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