What’s growing in my garden 2020
This past year has led me to reflect on how much my daily habits affect and enrich my life.
My veggie garden has definitely been a practice I’ve enjoyed cultivating this season. Five years ago, when I planted my first plot I never realized how enriching this hobby would become. From practical knowledge, patience, community and the act of sharing have all been pillars I’ve been gradually developing due to my time in my yard.
Before moving to big city Vancouver my partner and I lived in the Fraser Valley. Like many suburbanites we lived in detached houses with expansive lawns and other amenities. At that point, between full time work and maintaining a house, my young adult self was up to my eyeballs in responsibilities.
We definitely had more than enough space for a garden but the thought never entered my mind because my mind was at capacity with other multiple menial tasks. Ironically when we decided to move to Vancouver, as top floor tenants of a house that was built in 1908 in Mount Pleasant, where the lots are three feet away from each other and space is in short supply is when I got inspired to grow vegetables. I had less physical space but more mental space and time to conceive my gardening plans.
My first season I planted everything, eager to put things in the ground and watch them grow. From beets, carrots, cauliflower and more, I had the whole produce section of a grocery store in my six by ten plot. That year I learned a lot about bugs and spacing. Many things didn’t work out and some have become staples like beets and squash. Every year there were new challenges. For instance, we had to declare war on the rats that were stealing our tomatoes, that was a lesson in pest control. One of our arches collapsed under heavy snow, that was a lesson on structural integrity. After one year of planting many potato seeds, at harvest we only cultivated one very massive potato, nothing else. Maybe a genetics lesson…not too sure about that one.
This year I’ve reflected on my time in the garden. Being my fourth season now, I am quick to make parallels with planting with how I navigate other practices in my life. I’m invested and only want my garden to be healthy and thrive. I need to be consistent and spend a little time singing, weeding and taking care of that ecosystem. I’m also learning on the fly, absorbing any information at that time to help me benefit next year’s yield.
Other heartwarming benefits are the connections I’ve made
Working outside in my garden chatting and catching up with my neighbours sweetens the time pulling weeds. Any of-the-cuff plant chats with strangers or clients about their gardens is always enlightening. I love getting garden updates! Discussions about what people grow in their own garden or what to do about blight and powdery mildew make my middle aged D.I.Y. lady soul sing. Another simple pleasure is sharing the fruits of my labour. They might come with aphids or a green caterpillar and a slug or two sometimes, but bringing my veggies to work or sharing them with friends ensures that the food I grow won’t go to waste, also knowing my friends have fresh food to cook and experiment with makes me ultimately happy.
Like everything all these blissful benefits come with some barriers
Back aches, sore knees and tender sunburns to name a few. Gardening injuries are up there with other summer activity mishaps coming through my treatment room. The best advice I can give is to move and change positions often. Weeding for over twenty minutes in the same stance can quickly lead to aches and pains. Being aware of your posture and keeping a fairly straight back while also using your stomach muscles will prolong the time in your plot. If you have many projects to tackle consider warming up with some gardening friendly exercises.
Any functional exercises that mimic movements in the garden will help in the long
run. From squats to help you lift heavy bags of manure to push ups or planks to help you drive your lawn mower. Staying hydrated and protected from the sun are equally as important and will stave off unnecessary exhaustion. Gardening is a good form of physical activity itself but taking these tips into account and being proactive about your physicality will only add to the experience.
Being outside in the backyard has enhanced my 2020 life in so many ways. I feel stronger, happier and more connected to my surroundings for it.
This year will be my first foray into winter crops, micro greens and expanding my knowledge of herbs. Planning and looking forward to things like this have put this year in perspective. Finding joy and solace in everyday things have helped ease the anxiety of larger stressors.
I can’t wait to see what next season brings.