A friend of mine once told me she avoids reading blogs because they make her feel inadequate. So, I’d like to preface this post by reassuring readers that I in no way intend to make anyone feel inadequate about their gardening skills, or even their complete disinterest in the subject. So please note, while I love gardening, I can’t say I’m particularly good at it. Yet. Instead, I write this to illustrate another instance of me succumbing to Full Gord Syndrome. At least I can say I’m addicted to gardening and not say, crack cocaine.
This season will be my third for vegetable gardening. What initially started out as a way to casually, cheaply, and healthfully grow a few of my favorite veggies rapidly escalated into an obsession with increasing the variety and output of my garden.
I just can’t help it. I learn about a new herb, variety of veggie, or medicinal plant, and I MUST GROW IT. I probably need a buddy to accompany me on trips to the garden centre to supervise my purchase of seed packets. My husband gently inquires as to where, exactly, I intend to plant everything, and if I really need to grow 12 varieties of peppers (YES OBVIOUSLY. There are peppers for salads, for pickling, for drying, for crushing, for powdering, for smoking, for salsas, for hot sauces…have I ever smoked or pickled anything in my life OF COURSE NOT).
SEEDS, GLORIOUS SEEDS!!!!
I’ve been trying to analyze why I go Full Gord on stuff, particularly with gardening. It’s definitely related to food anxiety. I have such a love/hate relationship with food. I have food allergies, which can often make eating boring and repetitive. I have a chronic condition that sometimes makes it hard to prepare food, and that leads to hanger and feeling like garbage. I feel a lot less anxious about food knowing that I literally have some growing in my back yard.
Another thing that has me hooked on gardening is being able to grow way more awesome varieties of things than you can buy in stores. I was running all over town trying to find a specific variety of fresh chili when it occurred to me I could just grow it myself (a discovery that obviously led to the 12 kinds of pepper situation). Even if you can find produce like black cherry tomatoes, or purple beans, or yellow carrots at the market, you usually pay a premium for them. $9 for a bunch of that white asparagus? NO. To be clear though, I’m only growing green asparagus. I don’t need no pasty-man peens popping up in le jardin.
Gardening also helps with my mental well being. The exact reasons are unclear but I think the garden is so appealing to me because it’s kind of primitively spiritual. It provides me with a connection to the earth; I care for it and it rewards me. Such an apparently simple relationship becomes complex when you realize all the factors at play. Sunlight and temperature and soil structure, insect activity, predators, weather patterns, chemistry, sex (yes, sex! So much sex in the garden!). All these fascinating and nutritious plants come from only a tiny seed, and the interaction between all these things. For millennia, humans have relied on these relationships to nourish and provide sustenance. That blows my mind.
These earthworms are totally doing it. Fascinatingly, they’re hermaphroditic so if you look closely (like I did), you can see both their male and female parts getting involved.
Also, I’m a cheap bastard. Having gone from a high paying corporate job to a $0 income and then having to work only part time in the following years means I’m perpetually broke. But it’s OK, I’ve been broke more often than not and I’ve developed skills.
The goal this year is to increase production and storage so I can enjoy the fruits and veggies of my labour and save money throughout the miserable winter. Maybe even have some stuff leftover for friends, family, or the food bank. Growing from seed is much cheaper than buying fully grown plants (OK, OK, I exceed my budget here. Habitually. But at an average of $3 per packet, it’s a reasonable addiction and I can save the seeds for next year AND you know there are no horrible, bee-murdering pesticides sprayed all over them).
As for cheap soil improvements, I’ve so far proven a terrible composter, but my mom knows a guy who says he can give me buttloads of free aged horse manure. Literally buttloads HAHAHAHAHA. But seriously, that shit is gold for your garden. See what I did there? HAHAHAHAHA. My dad would be proud.
Garage sales are fantastic ways to find old garden tools and pots. Identifying garbage or recycling that can be repurposed into plant pots saves money and saves it from the landfill. OMFG I sound like a bloody Pinterest pin. Deepest apologies. At least I didn’t mention anything about using old shipping pallets for anything.
Anyway, it’s a privilege to have the time and space to attempt to grow seven kinds of squash and oh lord, I just counted the kinds of beans I’m planning on growing and I’m not even going to tell you because it’s totally batshit. I liked the idea of growing proteins so I got a little carried away with bean and legume varieties (oh really?). And actually, now that I’m writing it down, where AM I going to put everything? My garden is actually pretty small. Whatever, I’ll figure it out. My point is, I love the sun and the dirt and the rain and I want you to also.
I hath spawned a mutant. This behemoth cherry tomato plant got so big so fast I had to find a stick from the yard to stab in the pot to prop it up! It’s over three feet tall!