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Green and clean gardens

BY BILL BRADLEY The proof is in. The photos tell the story.
John and Theresa Cook are nearly lost in the lush fullness of their garden. More garden photos are available at


The proof is in. The photos tell the story.

You can have a showpiece lawn and garden without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, says Suzanne Harvey, co-ordinator of the annual Pesticide Free Sudbury best organic garden contest.

"We had some great entries this year, all 100 percent organic and for the first time our contest embraces all of Greater Sudbury, instead of Minnow Lake where we began last year," said Harvey.

Click to view more photos   view more photos

The judges for the Pesticide Free Sudbury garden contest were Harvey, a nurse and organic gardener, and Ersin Abdullah, owner of Planet Earth, an organic landscaping business.

This winners this year, John and Theresa Cook, received their $250 purchase certificate, courtesy of Dumas Grocers, last month at Market Square.

Here's a glimpse of the Top Five organic gardens in Greater Sudbury.

John and Theresa Cook, Ridgmount Ave.

"The Cooks won because their whole backyard is a paradise - a huge vegetable garden with flowers mixed in," said Harvey.

Theresa's parents believed nothing in the garden should be wasted, including vegetable matter, so they stopped using chemical fertilizer 15 years ago.

 "Whatever comes out of the ground should go back into the ground, to replenish the earth. My husband John keeps a big compost pile at all times," she said.

When it comes to dealing with pests, the Cooks have nature's little helpers all over the garden.

"We have lots of birds. I believe they are attracted to our site because we have a lot of diversity in terms of plants and shrubs, as well as water in the birdbath for them to enjoy. Once here they really take care of the insect pests that we don't handpick ourselves.

"We also have no problem with pollination because all the various flowers attract the bees and there are no pesticides used which might harm them," she said.

The Cooks also welcome frogs and toads and the smaller species of snakes in their yard.

"We leave a little water for them so they can wet themselves. The little garter snakes we have just love our insect pests. I believe they over-winter in the warmth of the big compost pile. Why wouldn't we accept them and the toads with open arms - they do our pest control for us, let them do their job," she said.

 Al Thompson, New Sudbury

Harvey said Thompson won second prize because he did "a wonderful job of replacing his front yard with a paradise for wild flowers and little creatures."

"I hate cutting grass so I got rid of my front lawn, replacing it with a parabolic bed, set off by flagstone and filled with perennials," said Thompson.

"I also did a lot of interesting things in my backyard, establishing theme areas including herbs, a butterfly garden, organic vegetables, and more conventional peonies and gladiolas. I cut my watering needs by installing soaker hose I bought at Canadian Tire and by using rain barrels to capture a free water resource coming off my roof during rainy spells."

 Everett and Loretta Mullin, Horseshoe Lake Road

"They have a stream going through [their property] and lots of natural flowers and plants - it is very pretty. Even a blue heron visits the site," said Harvey.

Tamara Gagnon, Minnow Lake

Even very small gardens can be winners.

"Tamara has just a tiny space available for her growing area but she cleverly used raised box gardens," said Harvey.

Julie Boissonneault, West End

"Julie took advantage of a shady nook and rock area to turn disadvantages into assets," said Harvey. 

"I thought shade would be a challenge but I found it easier once the plants became established after three years or so.

There are fewer weeds to contend with but you have to deal with roots from the trees," said Boissonneault.


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