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Connor Rowe

Garden Hill, Ontario, Canada

Connor's Garden

Garden Hill, Ontario, Canada

My name is Connor Rowe and I have been full-time market gardening since 2019.

My family owns 50 acres of land in Garden Hill, Ontario, Canada. Approximately half the land is forest and the other half is hay fields that we have let naturalize since we bought the property. The hay fields are flat and easy to work with when starting no-till market gardens from scratch, using tarps to kill turf and weeds via light deprivation. Then, simply adding a generous mulch of rich compost to make a healthy garden. My goal is to protect the environment, produce food that will come from a place of rich biodiversity, and ultimately keep people healthy. No-till/no-dig is essential for this.

I have two gardens that I manage on the property with the help from my long time friend and now assistant grower, Barb. The two gardens, despite being relatively close together, offer different challenges when it comes to maintenance, weeds, and pests. The garden closest to my house, which I call 'the small garden', is easier to provide water to as it is next to our pond and also well water connection. The big garden needs water taken to it via a tank on a trailer or ATV. The small garden is more difficult to maintain weed free as field horsetail, a nearly impossible to manage perennial weed, creeps in from the edges of the garden. No-till gardening is essential for controlling weeds but perennial weeds can still be difficult to deal with, especially at the borders of the garden. Ironically, field horsetail doesn't seem to grow in the hay fields, making for a more manageable garden in that respect. The pests the two gardens deal with can also vary, mainly when it comes to deer and rabbits. Our native cottontail rabbits prefer the habitat of shrubs close to the small garden where they have plenty of cover to run to if their vegetable garden meal is interrupted. The hay field has no cover for them and so they're not a problem there. The deer however, don't mind the open and are keen on beet tops, but they don't come close to the house and so have never been a problem in the small garden.

The small garden is often the central hub of activity. It's where my four compost bins are as well as the chicken run and coop that I too use to make compost. The chickens has access to the compost bins which makes for top quality compost as the birds add fertility with their manure and help to turn the compost as they scratch around. The scraps from the garden supplement their diet, saving on feed costs and resulting in happier and healthier birds. Plant and animal life is deeply connected in nature and I believe it is important to replicate this in the garden as much as possible.

The small garden has a few other notable and interesting features. Two polycarbonate greenhouses that act as a nursery, season extender and a place to grow especially heat loving plants like cucumber, peppers and eggplant. Also, every other 100' long beds have a trellis system in place with cedar posts spaced 10' apart. Each post has a dwarf rootstock apple tree. There are eight apple varieties and over fifty trees in the garden. 2024 was the first apple harvest and hopefully there will be many more to come.

The total size of the combined market gardens is under one acre but the overall size is growing each year. The plan is to have the total size at over one acre in the coming years. Follow along if you want to know more!

Myy email address and my instagram @connorsgarden_, and Facebook

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