Thursday, 7 August 2014

Zen and the art of garden maintenance

Mr. Finnegan enjoying the backyard
The summers of my childhood were short, short seasons.  We lived in three places – the beach, the forest and the garden.  When my sister and I were small, we use to spend a couple of weeks every summer at the beachside oasis of my grandparents’.  Years before common folk were priced out of the market, they bought a little piece ocean frontage in Deep Bay, where my mother and her siblings roamed feral along the sandy shores and swan in the bath-warm ocean.  My sister and I were lucky enough to get to experience this same freedom.  For me, the best part of this was riding my bike up the hill to my great grandparents’ house.  My Nana had a seemingly endless supply of fruits and veggies, and I would hunker down like the wild beasty I was, and pluck juicy raspberries from the cane and crisp peas from the vine.  Luckily as a six year old sprite, I did not inflict much damage, though, I’m sure Nana wouldn’t have minded.  I would then proceed to mooch cookies and juice from her.

My grandmother also had a significant garden, but she was less tolerant of my pillaging.  My mother too had the gift of a green thumb, and I have inherited my love of the earth and the feel of the soil being worked with my hands.  A day that concluded with dirt lodged under my fingernails is counted as a good day.

Flutterbys and bees love our yard.
The spring after Jeff and I bought our house was an exciting one.  I waited patiently to see what wonders would pop through the earth and bloom.  While delighted by the potential, I was also taken aback by what did emerge from winter slumber.  The yard had once been grand, but it was clear that it has suffered about a decade of neglect.  Perennials were alternately choked by overwhelming ground cover or crying out in desperate need of splitting.  I rolled up my sleeves, and while I dug, I watched the sun and dreamed of my own patch of garden fresh foods.

Four summers later, the yard is coming into its own.  My nemesis – goutweed – continues flash incursions into my reclaimed territory, but overall I am happy with my blend of natural and cultivated.  Best of all, our veggies have been a moderate success.  We’re still trying to compensate for limited amounts of direct sunlight due to the abundance of mature trees in our neighbourhood, but without a trip to the grocery store this week, we are hardly suffering a shortage of produce.  And a bite into a crisp bean or plump strawberry makes it all worth it.
Baby squash looking very adorable.

In the ground this year:

Red leaf lettuce
3 varieties of bush bean
2 varieties of climbing bean
Butternut squash
4 varieties of hops
Culinary lavender


Happy gardening!

My very first raised bed.

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