Our gardening season has begun! The motivating force of the Freedom Project along with the peer support of local gardeners on Twitter have inspired me to give it a lot of energy this year.
My attempts in the past have included very successful container tomatoes, a few flowers, herbs, strawberries, lettuce, catnip and a bed of organic veggies that was cursed by shade and then abandoned for a 6 week summer road trip. (Apparently the peas were good, though I wasn’t around to enjoy them.) We took one cherry tomato plant on the road with us to Nova Scotia – I needed to prove to myself that I could grow food and eat the fruits of my labour, though this feat was attempted under ideal or even normal conditions. The trip was hard on Tiny Tim and we left him to retire in Nova Scotia.
This year I resolve to grow more of the food that I eat – and eat more of the food that I grow!
Save from a number of 2-5 day camping trips, I plan to be in Victoria all summer to be a good mother to my plants. Since I am a planner, I have begun with research. Since I am such an obsessive planner, I have begun with the action of getting my seeds going. I have made the mistake in the past of trying to do too much, and the result has been discouragement. This year, I will take it one step at a time.
I have purchased a few books to add to my resource library. A few years ago for my birthday my mother sent me The New Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada by Reader’s Digest. It is a great reference book, very practical, but does not emphasize organic gardening methods and isn’t all that inspiring. When Mat was at Lee Valley the other day, he picked up Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. Lasagna Gardening is a No-Dig system that I was first introduced to at The Compost Education Centre here in Victoria. Mat is really excited to try the technique to grow potatoes, leeks and onions. To round out the perspective of these books, I picked up Food Not Lawns by H.C. Flores, a woman who is a role model for garden activists everywhere. There are a lot of great books of gardening, and also a lot of great blogs and websites. If you are looking for help and resources, try community gardens, online forums, the library, garden centres, neighbours, family and friends. Pool resources, share ideas, peer into peoples backyards, look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere.
For me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a radical act, a way to flip the bird at agribusiness and invest in local food security. It is a crucial part of my goal of becoming more self-sufficient and building a community of like-minded people. Gardening is an investment, in my health and that of my family and friends, my community, and the earth. When you put it that way, it sounds daunting. Fortunately, it all begins with the simple act of planting a seed.
A few days after the new moon and a few days before the first official day of spring, I planted my first seeds of the season in their tiny mounds of earth. This is how I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, the anniversary of my good friend Kevin’s death and the death of my Great Aunt Joan. I started new life. No big deal.
I had saved toilet paper rolls for months, intending to do something like this with them; that is, until I realized I could do this – hello! I began to see all of my bits of hoarded (and neatly organized) trash in a new light – styrofoam, coffee cups, take-out trays, plastic bags, used tinfoil, etc. Most of it will be re-purposed in our garden. I find this act oh so satisfying, centering and…freeing! I love it for the same reason I liked the boxcar children books when I was little – trash becomes treasure in the practical world and for the imagination.
I followed the instructions on this blog to make little seed starter pods. They are easy to make and when the seedlings are ready to transplant you can plop them into the soil as they are because the cardboard will decompose. I’m working on making little greenhouses for them and am thinking of using clear plastic wrap (any thoughts?). I have already planted zucchini, peas, beans and catnip. I also picked up organic seeds for tomatoes, basil and italian flat-leaf parsley and a bag of seed potatoes. Outdoors I will be starting beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, and my herb garden. The butterfly and bee attracting flowers will come, but for now I am focusing on food production.
I’m having the usual parenting anxieties: what if there is not enough sun coming in the window for them to sprout? Did I plant the seeds too deep? did I tamp too hard with my fingers? What if my green-thumb skipped a generation? But I am trying to trust myself and trust the little seeds that have done their thing much, much longer than I have. They know what they’re doing.