Well, hello there! It’s been… a while, to say the least. The blogging and writing has been overtaken by the garden. It keeps me busy and (mostly) out of trouble but doesn’t leave a lot of time for other pursuits like writing. But that’s a positive, as it keeps me moving – “Motion is Lotion”, as one of my favourite MSers loves to say.
It has certainly been a peaceful and hopeful place to spend time during the pandemic, and I am grateful for that every single day. The pictures really don’t do it justice, and things are just starting to come together after years of redesigning and refiguring, but I hope you can experience even a fraction of the joy that I find here every day.
The Working Garden – The Vegetables
As you see, I like to mix it up and stuff many different vegetables into a container or raised bed. I’m not sure it’s the most efficient or productive method but I like the variation. Not only does working in the garden keep me physically and mentally healthy, growing our own food has been a huge factor in getting my symptoms under control.
Gardening is a lot of work, and can become overwhelming if it gets away from you. I’m very lucky that my husband and I share the passion and the work. Adding a chronic illness to the mix can make it seem impossible on some days, with crushing fatigue, dizziness, pain and brain fog making the simplest tasks insurmountable. Those are the days to rest and enjoy, meditate and reflect.
Just like housework, the weeds will always be there and there is always more to do than time to do it. But that’s a gift. And, like everything in life, it’s all about perspective and what you choose to focus on. On my good days, I move slowly, take lots of breaks and hydrate constantly. On my bad days, I focus on what’s blooming, what’s growing well, and the overall beauty of the garden. There is always something to appreciate.
Wishing you peace, love, hope and joy, today and every day.
P.S. It’s always interesting to see the changes from year to year. So, here’s the May Tour from 2020. Also the Vegetable Tour.
I can walk! After doing the June tour on crutches, I finally got an X-ray and found out that what I thought was a sprained ankle was actually a spiral fracture of my fibula. So, I’m madly rehabbing my ankle constantly and being very careful but I’m thrilled to be mobile again. I have even more appreciation and compassion for people with permanent mobility difficulties. I tried not to whine, really.
Vegetables and irrigation
Needless to say, the garden isn’t quite where I envisioned it would be pre-wipeout. Although I give my husband, who is more of a landscaper than a gardener, full credit for managing single-handedly as well as he did. Hand watering the vegetable containers alone could take an hour or more to do properly, so in the last few days I finally built a drip irrigation system. Hallelujah!
It’s not pretty (yet, but the tweaking is half the fun) but it only takes four minutes per zone to get everything watered through. It’s mind-boggling to me, I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it but the plants are showing the difference just from two days watering, and plants don’t lie. Why did I wait so long???
The Garlic Experiment
I grew garlic for the first time last year, not altogether successfully. I didn’t know that the ‘flowers’ that garlic throws up are called ‘scapes’, and beyond being my new favourite raw vegetable to snip over my salad, now I know that you need to clip them so the growing power goes into the bulb, not the flower. One of those duh-in-retrospect moments.
This year has been much more successful, due mostly to better planting, fertilizing and watering – and snipping the scapes. There is just no comparison with grocery store garlic when you slice into it. So satisfying!
But check this out, last fall I planted some of my garlic in the ground (left) and the rest of it in half gallon containers (right). I transplanted the container garlic into the ground in the early spring, and the difference was unreal. It was all absolutely huge, whereas the in-ground garlic developed into several smaller heads. I’ll also wait longer to harvest it next year because I just pulled out this monster (bottom right) the other day! I intend to use the bigger heads as my seed garlic in the fall.
And now for the flowers…
The sunflowers are lovely but I’m rethinking my decision to try to use them as trellises. While kind of amusing to go bushwhacking hunting for peas, beans and cucumbers, it’s not especially efficient – or user-friendly. So the vegetables will stay in the containers close to the house in future, and the back garden will be for perennials, annuals and herbs.
Alright, we’re off to our favourite spot on the west coast for my 50th 😱 birthday holiday. Be kind, stay calm and stay safe.
I can’t believe it’s the last day of May! I wanted to complete my May Garden Tour with a record of how the vegetable beds closer to the house are looking. It’s a crazy windy day – again, ugh – so I snapped them quickly, but such is life.
Unfortunately, the damn deer got in again last night. We can mostly thank our nature-hating, pavement and power tool-loving neighbour for basically killing the hedge on his side. Okay, vent over. Check out the temporary fence – it’s like living in a junk yard! 😂
On the back deck we have potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and mint. My potatoes have never been this tall before. I’m hoping for a better yield this year, so fingers crossed.
In the raised beds we have potatoes, garlic, radishes, beets, lettuce, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, peppers, beans and cucumber.
We bought these 20 gallon containers for cheap this year. They’re amazing for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and big enough to stuff in some basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, spinach and lettuce.
Tomatoes are so satisfying to grow. I planted these from seed and was horrified when I broke the first one when transplanting. But I pinched off the bottom leaves and stuck the stem deep into the soil and voilà! I also stuck the root ball into the garden and it’s started sprouting new growth. Life will out. 🥰
Alright, I hope this finds you well. Any gardening tips always appreciated!
Well, yesterday was DD day at our house. Apparently, the deer around here read WordPress, and my May Garden Tour post was an invitation. Whoops.
They ate the kale…
They nibbled the potatoes …
And snarfed ALL but two of the bush beans!
And that’s not all…
So when the deer come chomping, the gardener(‘s husband) builds a fence.
But there’s always something positive happening in the garden. I’m thrilled that this method of interplanting worked. I planted radishes and carrots together so the fast-sprouting radishes shade the finicky slow-sprouting carrots until they germinate. Now I’ve pulled the radishes and the carrots are perfectly thinned and ready to keep growing.
Aloha! Since my backyard urban farm in-development has taken up all my focus and energy and I haven’t been writing at all, I thought I’d share photos of how I’ve been staying busy.
Honestly, it has become a full-time job. There are days when the MonSter awakes and I drag myself out of bed hardly able to face the thought of all the tasks calling for attention. But I make myself get out there every day at least for 20 minutes. Usually that ends up with me outside all day.
Besides the obvious advantages of all that vitamin D and fresh air, I know that digging in the dirt is helping rebuild my immune system and my gut microbiota. So even on the toughest days, I rest a lot but I make myself do the lighter tasks. The trick is to not focus on everything that needs to be done but to put the blinders and just do one, small, task.
Anyway, enough of that. Have a wander through our garden.
I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a yard to garden. But even a small pot on a windowsill can grow parsley, basil and cilantro. Food security is a serious issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of people’s minds because of the Covid-19 situation. Start small and grow your own!
Alright, thanks for joining me. I didn’t even get to the vegetable beds by the house, but I’ll leave that for another post.