Sidney resident Donna LaFleur lavishes attention on her one-year-old English Bulldog, India, while out in her micro-garden next to the townhouse where she lives. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

HOMEFINDER: Sidney gardener shares the joy of micro-gardening in small-space living areas

Small garden spaces can made townhome living more enjoyable, says Donna LeFleur

Living in a smaller space within a growing community doesn’t necessarily mean people have to give up gardening.

Just ask Sidney’s Donna LaFleur. She and her husband Mike – and their one-year-old English Bulldog India – live in a townhouse complex off Resthaven Drive. On the east side of the multi-unit complex, the builders left space for small gardens. For LaFleur – who recently retired and moved from a house in North Saanich into the townhouse – having garden space was important. Now, from within her four-foot-by-two-foot raised garden bed, she is able to keep her family in fresh vegetables and fruit for most of the year.

“One of the things that attracted us (to the townhouse complex) was the garden space,” she said. “The developer built here and dedicated that spot for small gardens.”

She calls it micro-gardening. LeFelur rotates crops in and out, depending on the seasons and the weather. Right now, she’s growing kale, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, strawberries, chard and artichokes. The soil is warm and the space gets sunlight all day, so she said the small space has a great yield – she said in the summer the garden provides them with 100 per cent of their fresh veggies. That might also have something to do with how busy she keeps herself tending the garden – with some help from India, of course.

LeFleur’s neighbours also tend garden spaces of their own – some growing onions and garlic and others a variety of other veggies. One has even let LeFleur use their appointed patch of garden space. And what she cannot use immediately, LaFleur said she freezes or cans.

Micro-gardening can be done all year long, she continued. Come the winter months, she said she changes her crops to more hardy things like carrots, potatoes and more beets, for example. And to keep it all growing, she said she uses local organic soil and kelp fertilizer.

“And everything just grows big here.”

Of course, not everything grows here, so she does supplement their fruit and vegetable supply by visiting the local grocery stores.

LaFleur said she’s seen Sidney grow over the years, with single family homes being replaced by multi-unit condo buildings or townhomes. But, she said, that’s no reason why builders or the eventual owners of these units cannot make room for green spaces like small gardens. She said it’s healthy and has the added benefit of getting neighbours outside and socializing.

“It’s just so relaxing,” she said of her own patch of garden.

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