Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Garden - Part 1: Picking Seeds

Andrew looooves to garden and since we are trying to be as self-sustaining as we can, he has turned much of our front yard and side yard into garden space for fruits and veggies. (Plus we read this book: Second Nature A Gardeners Education, by Michael Pollan. You will not look at your front yard the same after that!) The front and side yards get much more sun than the back which is shaded by the forest and trees. But, we have gardens down there too!

After living in an apartment for 8 years, this is our third summer with a real garden and we have big expectations. The first year was amazing, but last summer was kind of a bust. Andrew was pretty tired most days, I was preggers and then either sick or visiting Adeleine at the hospital, so the gardens were neglected, the weeds took over and pretty soon we couldn't tell what was edible, and if it was, a snail ate it. It didn't help that we had the worst season for horse/deer/vicious lion/black flies the neighbours had seen in 20 years. Liam and I would RUN from the house to the car in the mornings, since they liked to swarm your hair even at 7am. We've had a very long and cold winter this year so I'm hoping those flies are frozen to death and this year's bugs will be bearable.

Liam enjoys picking strawberries and raspberries right from the vine and popping them in his mouth. He likes the occasional cherry tomato too, but mostly picks those and gives them to me. He has be taught by Andrew to only eat the fruits when they turn from green to red. In the fall, Liam and I were driving in the car and I was explaining about the leaves on the trees and how they would turn from green to yellow and even red. He asked "Then can I eat them?", at first I wondered why he would ask that. He was very insistent on eating the leaves. Then I started thinking about it and it totally made sense. Of course he would ask that! That's what he's learned all summer! When it's red, it's ready to eat! So we had a little chat about not eating leaves. But I can't guarantee he's never tried one. This is a kid that still eats dirt and pebbles.

This summer, since I'm home with the kiddies during the day, I've decided to take more interest in the garden and its crop. The last two years I didn't really know what was out there (besides biting bugs) so I didn't use as much of the harvest as I could have. We picked out our seeds the other day and we already have waaaaaay too many plants! We have some perennials (thyme, oregano, chives, various berries, asparagus), some we will buy already started (basil, tomatoes) but the rest we are buying from an Ontario heirloom seed company called "The Cottage Gardener". Andrew was happy with the seeds we ordered last year so we've decided to order everything from them this year!

The garden will consist of:
The perennials and starters already mentioned
Soup Beans (2 types)
Pak Choy
Snap Peas
Spinach (2 types)
Squash (2 types)
Melon (3 types)

Is that enough, you think? We managed to restrain ourselves slightly, paring down the list by cutting out carrots, peppers and corn since we don't have the right soil/light for those here and we can buy them quite easily from the farmer's market. I really wanted to show Liam corn though, but that would require growing it in the front yard and we are trying not to piss off our neighbours too, too much. Oh! I just thought of another cool plant he could watch grow: must check the book for sunflower seeds!

Our seeds will soon be ordered and we are already dreaming of spring plantings! And if it's too much, then well, our snails will be the biggest in town.

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