Urban farming in Langley City: battling Langley’s clay ground with straw-bale gardens

Urban farming in Langley City: battling Langley’s clay ground with straw-bale gardens

I live in a Langley subdivision with a dream of someday owning a hobby farm or a cool property on Salt Spring Island – but the truth is, I’ll never be in a tax bracket to afford that lifestyle. Ever. So, I’ve decided to bring the farm to me. I’ve made a plan to use as much of our Langley backyard as my family will let me (and front yard as of this weekend) to try some urban farming.

I’m inspired by the LCFM farmers and vendors that faithfully set up their goods on Wednesdays: it’s a communal effort to show Langley that there’s another way to eat and live that is healthy and environmentally sustainable. I’m a city girl through-and-through, so I’m very green at this (see what I did there?). I grew up outside of Toronto and was raised on Kraft Dinner©, PopTarts©,  and Twinkies© . My parents were part of a post-world-war-II immigrant generation discovering convenience and abundance. We now know the negative effects of that convenience. I try to be environmentally conscious and eat healthy, but Kraft Dinner does have a home in my cupboard, I confess.

I would love to tap into the expertise and experience of other Langley City/Township folk who do some type of small space, backyard farming-even if it’s in one planter on your condo’s deck. We share the soil-type, sun, weather, and resources. I have so many questions. I’m new at it, but maybe I have an answer or two for some others.

For example, I am constantly losing the battle with my yard’s clay ground. I decided a few years ago to try straw-bale gardening on top of the ground:

  • it’s great for small spaces in the city (any space that gets at least 6 hours of sun/day)
  • it’s cheap ($11-$15 per bale)
  • it decomposes by the end of the summer, so you can add the compost to other gardens
  • it conserves water because of hay’s retention of water
  • straw = cereal grains/ hay = grasses     (Straw is preferred according to Idiot’s Guide to Straw Bale Gardening

If you’re interested in the details of having this type of garden, I’ve outlined specific steps for prepping the hay/straw bales in an earlier post on my personal blog:

http://www.green-ish.leanne-stam.com/blog/ 

The two cents I’m looking for from Langley residents: how do YOU deal with the clay ground?

I can’t break culture with a straw bale, but at least it’s one step toward a different way of being that isn’t  purely  consuming.

Thank you, LCFM staff, for providing the awareness and passion for good food and good community through all your organization and creative ideas.

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