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Growing your own

It’s that time of year again when we start to fantasize about all of the wonderful fruits and vegetables, mushrooms and berries to be foraged and harvested in the fall.

Larry and I have been gardening since we bought our first house 26 years ago. I’m not sure we knew what the heck we were doing at that time but we managed to grow a few potatoes in a small raised bed. I’m not sure we know a whole lot more now, but one would hope that practice eventually makes perfect.

We’ve always had a small garden. I say “we” but it’s been mostly Larry that’s been the vegetable grower in our house and I’ve been responsible for the flower beds, which I love, love, love. Over the years, Larry has grown a variety of different vegetables. It has alway been for the pleasure of having a little taste of something that he has cared for all summer but never on a grand scale to feed us many meals.

All of this has changed since I began my journey as a health coach. It finally hit me, and I began to really appreciate and understand the value and importance of growing your own vegetables. Not only is it healthy fuel for your body but it nourishes you on a deeper level as well. You get a chance to be creative as you plan your garden's layout. It’s a very effective way to move naturally in a physical way. It provides a deep family connection as everyone shares the enjoyment of watching the garden grow. Harvest time becomes a celebration as we share the successes of our labour.

I’ve been asked by a few people lately about our garden so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you what we’ve been up to these past couple of years.

All hell broke loose, last year. Larry bought himself a new tiller and we decided to go big or go home. Gardening was going to happen on a big scale at our cabin, as we have more space there and the ground had been used as a garden many years ago by Larry’s parents. We cleared a space, approximately, 35 ‘x 35’.

Here’s a picture of me last year as we we prepped the soil and planted our crop, May 24th weekend.

We planted directly in the ground and placed a fence around it to keep the rabbits out.

We planted: potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnip, beet, kale, spinach, swiss chard, collards and brussels sprouts

You can see the potatoes and onions are doing well in this picture.

Larry fabricated a dome like structure and placed gardening fabric over parts of it to create a green house effect (pictured on the right).

What do you think of the scarecrow?

A little later in the season...happy with the overall results.

Our root vegetables

I love having an abundance of leafy greens to add to my breakfasts. Leafy greens are extremely nutrient dense and I try to add as much to my diet as I can.

Our overall harvest was great. The spinach and Brussels sprouts didn't grow at all. The spinach bolted and turned to seed (apparently it happens if it's too hot...wait now, is it even possible to get too hot in NL?).

The brussels sprouts were eaten by meadow voles. Yes, those cute little creatures can wreak havoc when you're not looking and they could get through the holes of the fence.

We will always have to battle with some kind of visitor to the garden, however cute they may be but we were very happy with our garden.

Having said that, there's always room for improvements and further education.

Our plans for this season's garden have changed dramatically and it started with a workshop on creating a year-round garden with Dan Rubin from Perfectly Perennial in Flat Rock back in April of this year. I have to say that we were extremely motivated after this workshop and have put some elbow grease in revamping the whole gardening experience.

We bought 2"x10' boards that Larry cut each at 3'. That left us with 2 pieces per board that measured 3' and 7'

We built a raised bed structure that is easy to move and place in whatever location you want.

We sifted existing soil and placed in the boxes.

We built 10 structures on May 24th weekend and mixed the soil with peat moss, compost and lime.

We build additional 3'x7' structures to layer over selected ones on the ground to create deeper beds and double as wind blocks.

We also covered some of the structures with garden cloth.

These raised bed structures provide warmth, offer wind protection and are easy to navigate around.

Access to the centre of the bed is accessible from either side, making planting and weeding easier.

We have planted potatoes, carrots and parsnip in ground and the following have been planted in the raised beds:

brussels sprouts, cabbage, other varieties of carrots, kale, spinach, swiss chard, collards, jerusalem artichokes, french sorrel, onions, garlic and beet.

Gardening doesn't have to be on a large scale. In St. John's, we have one box, which is big enough to keep us busy during the weekdays. We plant lettuce and string beans. Our son , Isaac, likes to experiment with a few things so we let him grow whatever he wants in the city.

I will keep you posted on how well our garden grows. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you and your gardening adventures.

Happy planting!!

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