Donald Gordon Mann has been seeing some big results in his garden.
The retired police officer, who has lived in Red Deer since 2002, says the use of composting has been his secret to growing high-quality vegetables this year.
“It’s a matter of getting into the habit of taking things out to the compost bin after you cut them, whether that be scraps of lettuce, cabbage heads or whatever,” Mann said while standing in his backyard garden Wednesday morning.
“I’ll mix the compost with some potting soil, earth and manure, and mix it around.”
Mann says he was shocked by how big some of the vegetables in his garden are getting this year, especially the radishes.
“The (radishes) kept getting bigger every time I looked. I like to try to get two or three crops every year, because they only take three or four weeks to grow from seed. This year has been phenomenal,” Mann said, adding this season’s rain has helped the radishes grow as well.
Mann grows his vegetables in boxes that had previously been used to store old oilfield tools – an oil company had given the boxes away to anyone who wanted them.
“I thought it was an easy way to garden,” he said, adding he owns about six containers.
“They were all reinforced and it was something I didn’t even have to build, other than a false bottom underneath, because you don’t need it all dirt underneath. I built a false bottom and drilled in a few holes, because you need drainage.
“I put in some dirt, but said, ‘Why don’t I start composting?’ I started seeing great results.”
Mann, who lives with his wife in the Eastview neighbourhood, says gardening is more of a hobby than anything else.
“I enjoy just giving the stuff away (to co-workers, neighbours and friends) because we can’t eat it all. It’s now my summer passion,” he said.
“When you’re gardening, you’re kind of in your own world and you can get lost – it’s a good time to think. Then at the end, when everything starts to come, it’s rewarding.”