Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Beginning.....


I love gardening - specifically, I LOVE vegetable gardening.  Not to say that I don't like flowers, decorative plants, etc., because I do.  One of the things that drew me to our house when we purchased it was all of the beautiful plantings - mind you they were massively overgrown & I didn't know what most of them were but it had that abundant English cottage garden feel & I fell in love.  However, put a gorgeous flower beside a gorgeous heirloom tomato - well, there's no contest there - the tomato will always win!

When I was growing up in Toronto, I actually set up a little light stand in my room with a bunch of herbs underneath.  Not that I cooked or anything - I left that to my mom.  But I just wanted to grow something - anything - that could be put on a plate.  I can't recall how well these herbs did or how they tasted - I can only remember the thrill of watching them grow.

When I finally purchased a house of my own, the backyard was tiny.  But the most problematic aspect of the yard was that it was surrounded by a 6' tall solid fence.  This was a new development and the fence was put in by the builder and was mandatory.

Being a complete novice, I figured - eh, what's a bit of shade?  Every section of the garden gets a few hours of sun each day (some areas more than others), right?  That should be enough.  I think that even I knew better back then, but I wanted my vegetable garden so badly that nothing was going to stop me.  To make a long story short, I dug up most of the grassed area in the yard and I did end up having a wonderful vegetable garden.

I looked and looked but couldn’t find a photo of that backyard – the only thing I have is an old sketch that I used to plan the garden using excel.


My First Garden
 
Quite frankly, I scratch my head when I look at this sketch – I had a spot for tomatillo’s (which I don’t even remember growing & have never actually cooked with) but no carrots or spinach – what was I thinking?

When I look back now, I have a feeling that my perspective at the time was pretty skewed - anything, really, would have been wonderful:  A tomato plant that produced 5 tomatoes - Great!  7 or 8 leaves from a head of lettuce - Fantastic!  The one thing I do recall being disappointed with were the peppers.  My plants hardly grew and I think I got one tiny pepper from a couple of plants and none from the rest.  But what I can't believe is that I actually sat there for several years wondering - why don't my peppers grow well?  The light (he he) eventually came on after an embarrassingly long time!

After I got married, we moved a couple of times.  I didn't have a vegetable garden in either of the next two houses as we knew that we were only going to be there a couple of years and I didn't want to put in the time & money to build up a garden.  Plus we had other priorities at the time as we were in the process of adding to our family.
 
Our Previous Backyard - The entire yard was on a fairly steep downhill slope
in addition to being shaded by several huge trees
 
About 4 years ago, we moved to our current house.  Two years later, I built 4 raised beds - FINALLY!  After my 8 year gardening hiatus, I was so anxious to get started that I could barely stand it.  And let me tell you, once I got going, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

My beds are not large (4'x8' each) but they are a start.  I had been planning to add to them last year, but the summer just got away from me.  And I am planning many, MANY more beds.  And some apple trees.  And a peach tree.  Oh yes, we need some berry bushes as well - raspberry, blackberry, blueberry.  And some asparagus.......(insert husband's eye roll here).

So there is lots to do and each year I am planning to strike a few more things off of my incredibly long edible garden list.  I don’t think I have ever gotten everything on my “current year” list accomplished - but that’s ok.  Half the fun is in the dreaming and the planning.

Here is a picture of what my little raised bed area looked like in early June of last year:
 
My 4 Raised Beds - Early June 2013
 
Yes, I know it’s a bit of a mess but this photo was taken for me to get a sense of where the garden is at during different times of the season.  Had I known it would be for public consumption, I would have prettied it up a bit – or at least tried!

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

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