I know I am not alone when I say that February is the hardest month for a gardener.
It’s a wee bit too early to start any seeds indoors, the ground is still frozen but we haven’t had our hands in dirt for over 4 months! It’s excruciating!
But Hallelujah, it’s May!
As this is just my second Spring in this house and the land is still in the process of repair, I have tried to hold back my own reins and just be patient so as not to jump the gun and ruin it all.
We learned last year that the big Seed Swap to end all seed swaps is in Enderby, and you would think a rock star was signing autographs by the amount of people jammed in there and fighting to catch a glimpse of the hottest varieties (kale goes fast!). It really is the kick-off to the season and it’s so fun to chat with the other gardeners about what they are planting, what their faves are and even do some trading and sharing.
I started a LOT more from seed this year and am working on planting in guilds, so the veggies can support each other out there, like a good sports team.
Therefore, I have planted lettuce, onion and carrots together in a raised bed that has an ant problem (I hear they don’t like onions)
I am also doing the “Three Sisters” in a couple of other beds (Corn, Squash and Beans)
In my little strawberry patch I am also trying to grow spinach and borage, but so far the latter two haven’t shown themselves.
I have developed quite the seed hoarding addiction, which my other permaculture and gardening friends are happy to feed into. I have managed to gather almost 200 varieties of fruits and veggies and I am on less than .25 of an acre! I am planting much more this year to really fill things in, build soil and organic matter and try to reduce the ridiculous grocery bill. Really noticing those prices going up. For my little family of three we must spend about $800 easy in the non-summer months. So making an investment in $200 of soil and $100 of other garden support items should be a good investment, or as Mike Reynolds of Earthship fame calls it, “tomato security” (when you grow so many tomatoes, your neighbours wouldn’t think of ripping you off in an emergency!).
My son and husband probably feel like I am a bit *too* focussed on the garden this year, but they’ll thank me when they start grazing out back and enjoying the many flavours I am coaxing out. I also take a lot of pictures of the garden (below) but that habit seems to have bled over into my hubby as he now has a “thing” about macro-garden photography. It’s our own petri-dish or science experiment and it’s very entertaining.
Not just for the plants and food, but also for the ecosystem that has been created here.
When we got here there were VERY few birds, bugs or anything. Now it is a superhighway of critters. Even found a weird piece of fur behind the fence that I need some help identifying (can you help?) Thinking coyote, bear or deer. Pretty thick, and there is lots of it back there (yikes!)
You sure do get a sense for the wild world out here in a way you just don’t in the city.
The other day the neighbour was staring at our house, straining to see something on the roof and it was a big black bird (crow or magpie) EATING ANOTHER , SMALLER bird! Feathers were flying everywhere and later we found a wing still in tact.
In terms of soil, I have added homemade compost and I used a bag of ProMix all purpose for the planting of tomatoes and peppers in pots outside.
I have put some out already, although I know it’s early, I have a bit of a microclimate going on in the backyard and it gets HOT out there, even in May.
I have used straw all over the garden this year as I neglected to mulch last year until the damage was done and a lot of my good soil was eroded and washed away when it rained. I should have mulched them thicker over the winter, but every little bit helps. Some people may think that it looks a bit messy as a mulch, but it is affordable, and you can layer it thick and it breaks down into a lovely soil. All I see when I look at it is the service it is doing me. There has been SO little rain this April that any method I can find to hold water in the soil, I will try!
I used straight hay in the fall and random things have seeded, so it’s not perfectly pure and weed-free.
Also, this style of planting, in a “mound culture”, you can REALLY retain moisture, to the point of growing random mushrooms in the Okanagan sun!
Have no idea if this one is safe to eat, but it’s curled up beside a tomato plant and I think I will just leave it.
It’s like my very own science experiment, one where I keep incredibly detailed notes because I learn every day and am amazed at the diversity and beauty of the natural (edible) world. This information will be valuable next year, wherever my family and I may be.
What planting dates worked? What bed worked? What combinations worked? What pests arrived? How did we like the taste of this variety over that? What should I save the seeds of for next year?
Our next home will include indoor areas for all of this seeding and starting and playing and maybe even a way that we can grow more food year round.
Thanks for taking the time to come to my garden 🙂 Will post again when things are really exploding out there.