Sunday, February 15, 2015

The slog and the blessing of a vegetable garden

One of the reasons why I love hearing comments from new veggie growers is that it inspires me to keep going. Everyone who has tried to grow vegetables on a large scale for home use knows that its 90% labour and 10% pleasure - that is until you put your first salad on the table.

Strawberry popcorn

 We put our first plant in the ground in June 2008 on this property and it was so exciting! The excitement continued for 2 years as we claimed more and more ground for vegetables and fruit. Even though we spent most weekends either directly in the garden, processing the pickings or sowing seeds, there was a huge measure of joy. At least there was for me! I think Superman and the kids may have felt a little differently, but in my effervescence I *may* just not have felt their reticence.

At the end of 2010 my back was so sore from the lifting and carrying, the digging and bending, that I had to pull right back and focus on repairing my back, resting and becoming pain free again. It was a sad year for me watching the weeds take over, having to buy almost all of our vegetables again and making very little progress towards our self producing goals.

Healthy granadilla vine
We bounced back a little in 2013 and 2014 and of course, having Sam here each Friday is a HUGE blessing as he takes care of the slog part of vegetable gardening. He does the lifting and the carrying, turns the compost, digs it in, prepares beds and more. We couldn't continue to do what we are doing here without Sam.

New lemons
As I look into 2015 I hope that we will get up to full production again. I see it now as a Sam and I journey as my children all have other goals they are pursuing at the moment. Life really does change quickly...Back in 2008 we were all working together, but now with two homeschool grads, one who is engaged to be married, another pursuing a career option which has taken us all happily by surprise and both of them working in Funky Chickens there is little time for them to get involved beyond watering and picking the harvests. The younger two are still busy with homeschooling doing Gr 10 and Gr 7 (more or less - you never know with us homeschoolers which grade they are actually in!) and following their passions in different ways, are more involved in food preparation than gardening.

So it is a Sam and I thing.

In all vegetable gardens there are those slog chores - weeding, feeding plants, composting, watering, raking and others. But there are also those fun chores like planning, sowing seed, watching things grow (it still amazes me every time!) and harvesting...oh! and of course rolling the delicious foods around your mouth as you savour home grown goodness!

Cavelo Nero - Kale

It is the anticipation of the foods that makes gardening a blessing when it takes time from other pursuits, or when you have to drag a hosepipe around the garden, or when its hot and you have just one last patch to plant...I think about the crisp fresh salad on my plate or like tonight a slow cooked bolognaise using a thick fragrant roasted tomato sauce from our tomatoes, or strawberries hot from the sun into your mouth. Nom!

Maroon beans!

We often talk about one day when the children are grown and moved out as to whether we will sell this home...while at the moment it seems small as we are 6 people with big personalities living together, working together, learning together...but it may be just too big for Superman and I when we are alone one day.


Who knows?

So we keep on planting and learning about growing food. I try to find a new place each year for fruit to grow (this year it was two apple trees, a lemon tree and two granadilla vines) or plants to combine in a small space or how to make the large are of paved ground still be productive...and one day if someone want this little urban farm, then it would be their choice to carry on what we have started or convert it back to a normal tailored garden.

Sunflowers at my pond

But even now after counting the cost in many ways for starting on this adventure, I think we will soldier on for the reward of some, not all, our vegetables, salads and fruits grown at home.


Tami said...

I too wonder when I'll say "it's too much to manage" and then we'll sell and downsize. It makes me sad to think that we'll likely have to breakdown the veggie patch and turn it back into lawn. Most folks don't want to deal with it.

Urban Homestead South Africa said...

Yes, Tammi, this is a challenge for the pensioner years! Will we convert to lawn or live out the rest of our days here? I hoe the latter.