So, I haven’t written in a couple of weeks. The reason is because I hate this time of year. Hate it hate it hate it. The frosts come and tip everything with ice, the light thins out, becomes watery and impotent. And the darkness is so much more than the lightness. I am pretty sure I need one of those SAD lamps or something. But from about October 1 until mid-May, I live in sweaters and scarves, swaddled in slankets, sleeping on heating pads.
This year, the loss of the light and the heat also brought the end of my garden experiment. As you may have read, I had a total food spaz in the spring and then went completely overboard and planted pretty much every vegetable on the planet in my backyard.
I’m sure everyone is just dying to know how it all turned out, so I’ll tell you. There were successes. There were failures. There was life and death and the circle of life continued. Ok, that’s dramatic, but I became very attached to my garden and the things living and growing in it. My favourite part of the day was coming home in the afternoons after work to explore the new things that had grown during the day.
So. The successes. Well, despite having murdered my first crop of plants by forgetting to water them for a week, my tomatoes actually turned out surprisingly well. The absurd variety of lettuce I planted also thrived, until I also forgot to water it in late August and it got all shrivelled up. The herbs came along nicely as well, aside from some atrociously bitter parsley.
So yeah. I guess that’s it then. Three successes. That’s not to say I didn’t grow anything else. On the contrary, I did grow plenty of other veggies, but just not very well. Pretty much everything else had to be coaxed and coddled into producing anything edible.
First of all, I would like to tell the Farmer’s Almanac to just fuck right off because peas are NOT easy to grow. I planted regular shelling peas and sugar snap peas in six (that’s right, six) different areas of the garden. As this first year of gardening was an experiment, I had grown a bit of everything all over the place, to see what grew best where. Well, my peas did not grow best anywhere. They were plagued by a black patchy mold in one place, a white blotchy mold in another, and leaf miner bugs and aphids everywhere. The first crop of peas was not bad, but subsequent pods became weirdly deformed and full of flesh but no pea.
The carrots were hit and miss. They tasted fantastic but were very small and many of them grew twisted and gnarled, like witch hands. Likewise, the parsnips were skinny, runty little things that pretty much disintegrated when cooked. The beets weren’t bad. Some grew to a decent size, but some didn’t grow at all aside from a thin red root.
The beans did not like me at all. Their vines languished throughout the summer, producing nary a bean until suddenly inspired, they grew like weeds throughout September. Sadly though, the emerging pods began sprouting too late and they simply froze to death. I harvested a grand total of two beans. Two.
The onions and garlic either grew very well or totally disintegrated. I planted lots of onions and at harvest time when I went to pull them up, nothing was on the other end. That was disappointing. I also planted broccoli, which I learned afterwards is a very hardy, cool weather crop. The things grew like weeds all summer but produced no florets. However, when everything else starting dying off, the broccoli seemed to be getting bigger. So far, I can see a couple of teeny tiny florets peeking out from the leaves. Hopefully those don’t die before I can pick them either. Lastly, the cucumbers. Here’s the tally: long English: 1, straight: 3, pickle bush: 0. The ones I did get were tasty, but tiny and phallic. Oh right, and I grew a single zucchini.
So, the goal for next year’s garden is to improve the soil. It’s rock hard, has lots of clay, and is dry as a bone. Also, remembering to water things would probably also be beneficial. I’ve already expanded the garden, preparing it for next year’s garden additions, like chickpeas and lentils. And more medicinal plants. No, not those kind of medicinal plants. Wait…that’s actually an excellent idea. Adding to list.
So, even though my garden didn’t produce as much volume as I would have liked, I discovered that spending time in it, with my feet and hands in the dirt and the sun on my face, is therapeutic, despite the farmer butt crack tan I developed.
There’s science in the garden too. I learned about what nutrients and minerals and bugs are critical and what they do. The pH of my soil is too alkaline, I must increase its acidity for next year.
But best of all, there’s an intense feeling of satisfaction in eating something that you have laboured over and grown yourself. The garden is peaceful and green and quiet…except for when those terrible neighbour children come out to play in the park and then I’m like FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP SCREAMING! I’M TRYING TO BE FUCKING ZEN HERE!!