For the past few years, about six, to be frank; I have been dabbling in gardening, indoors and out. Starting out with plants in my city apartment, then trying my hand at lavender bushes at a friend’s cottage, to attempting a proper garden now, at my home. It is something I have learned to love to invest in. The learning process has not been easy, by any means, but the reward of eating and admiring the beauty of your own hard work is beyond anything of monetary value, to me. It has been a rough start with many ups and downs. I find I ask for advice and am only able to retain about 10% of what I hear, due to lack of experience. I am a hands-on learner and I find it hard to digest information about things that are abstract to me, for an example, growing grapes is abstract to me right now. I have one grape vine, I planted it in spring of 2013. It seems I didn’t do a horrible job choosing where on the property to plant it, it grew and I was able to eat some plump concord grapes near the end of the season- with a huge smile on my face. But, I have yet to see if it returns to life this coming year…
Many of my life’s lessons are by trial and error, with gardening being no exception. I like to think I employ a kind of science behind it. I come up with a few different hypothesis, such as where to plant my new “experiment” and I review my variables. Variables such as- how much sun does this area get a day? How much of it is morning sun and how much of it is afternoon sun? Have I noticed that the area floods when it rains? (This was my particular problem this past summer… I picked so many stones out of my planned garden bed that the actual bed concaved and I inherently drowned all my work with the rainfall we received. I am still sad.) And my latest dilemma, where to plant this new rosebush I acquired, as the past two I have planted have had nothing but problems. (It’s a wonder they are even still alive!)
So, this brings me to investigating methods of planting. I have been searching out books on gardening, but it seems, like any other hobby, I can infinitely spend money on information… But, what information actually applies to my situation? My situation being that I live in Eastern Ontario and am situated on what I presume to be an old quarry. (The veins of crushed rock I have encountered here and there the past two summers have lead me to believe that). So, my predicament is that I want to ultimately learn how to plant a garden that every year I can keep investing in with minimal loss. I am reminded of the century-old gardens I have toured all over Western Europe and England, and I want to create my own. The video of the Quebec farmer makes it look and sound so easy, but then I realize that he has already invested decades into what has become his garden sanctuary. That saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” comes to mind…
When I listened to what that farmer was saying, about planting this here, so this fosters that, and even if pests do come, their damage is mitigated by the way the plants are separated by different species so that it doesn’t promote over population of that particular pest, I was amazed and astounded. Amazed because it all sounds so simple, with the right formula, and astounded that yes, I could do this too. So now, here I am, searching Google and Amazon, high and low, for that perfect handbook that will impart this divine knowledge that I can exploit to make my own personal sanctuary here. I envision a future of beautiful fruit bearing trees, an abundant vegetable garden and scattered bushes throughout that will scent the air with their intoxicating bouquets. I want to do more to relish the upcoming spring. At this point now, I have about 4 different kinds of tulips to look forward to, a hearty sage bush that gets more beautiful each year, a complaint-less chive bush, a questionable grapevine, a few berry bushes and two near-fail rosebushes plus a new one to plant come spring- if I can manage keeping it alive over the winter inside!
In all honesty, last year was not my year, and it wasn’t for many others in this area, (I won’t lie, this does make me happy to know!) which is why I am spending time now to educate myself on how to go about this coming year’s garden. The past two years I have gone to the heirloom plant sale at Upper Canada Village and it makes me happy and inspires me to no end. I get the same feeling when I go into a large bookstore, the inner joy I feel is as though I am surrounded by infinite wealth, I feel the urge to nourish and protect it, no matter that it does not belong to me. In 2012 I harvested easily 100lbs of beautiful heirloom tomatoes, with an abundance of other vegetables, and that is when the gardening bug truly bit me, and that I suspect I will always be happily infected by.
There is nothing more beautiful than nature itself and to grow ones own food. This man in the video has it right and it reminds me of what my husband says about his own country where you can taste the real fruit and the real sugar in the fruit and not like the garbage that we buy in the stores. Everything today is mass produced and no taste at all and all GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) that cause cancer and other diseases. The beauty of the bees and other insects that pollinate the fruit and the flowers – there is nothing like it. When we drive through the farms we say that is God’s country – it is heaven.
Jules, if GMO foods caused cancer, David Suzuki group would not say that is unfounded.
Of course, fresh, natural and local would be best.
I consider myself a permaculture gardener, and my favorite two books on the subject are:
“Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture” by Austrian permaculture pioneer Sepp Holzer, of course, and
“Permaculture Handbook”, by Permaculture Activist Magazine publisher Peter Bane.
Permaculture is a glorious adventure that can be practiced on any scale, and results in the feeling of being more in balance with Nature. I love it!
Fun essay. I too am a life-long gardener. But the nightly 6 o’clock TV news is hardly the gold standard of journalism. To suggest that colony collapse disorder is “hidden” even on TV news is a little naive. The issue (bees) has been covered by all major news outlets around the globe. In North America, just try Googling The Globe and Mail, the National Post, the CBC, New York Times, National Geographic, Forbes, TIME magazine…heck, even the Standard Freeholder. And this partial list doesn’t even touch the best sources, the science journals. The problem is, too many people may not read anymore.
I used to keep bees until about ten years ago. Battling the bee mites was a never ending problem, so I finally gave up. Now, thanks to Monsanto and the like, the wild bees are all but gone around my area.
Oh no Furtz you killed the bees with Monsanto garbage. You bee killer. No wonder I see very few bees with the garbage that Monsanto puts out it would kill anything.
About David Suzuki he calls we humans magots or something like that. I like David Suzuki but he also has some screws loose in the top or is not telling the truth to the sheeple. He is rolling in dough and that is his first priority.
Eric the best food is what you grow yourself and nothing tastes better at all. My parents had gardens all their life and I made a garden while living in Cornwall. I miss that so much but I do what I can here in concrete jungle and make one on my balcony to add cheer and I grow a few herbs and tomatoes as well. We love herbs in the cooking and adds flavor and very good for the health.
Thank you so much for your comments, everyone. I am happy to say I ordered some books, 2 of which were recommended through these comments, and I anticipate learning more and writing about this journey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment, I am greatly appreciative 🙂 Cheers!
Hey Garden Girl, I have 4 ripe coffee cherries. Do you want to try and grow a coffee plantation?
http://www.permaculturedesigntraining.com/ offers a free PDC(Permaculture Design Course). I have not taken this class, so I can’t comment on its quality(though I have taken a PDC). It must be said, however, that Permaculture isn’t a list of gardening recipes, and to be honest, there really shouldn’t be such a thing because each place is different. Permaculture is more than just growing plants naturally and mimicking nature, it also deals with gray/black water, housing, local economies, energy and even politics to a certain extent. It’s a design science that forms a fundamental framework. It’s all about Perma(nent) Culture and working with nature instead of against it, while producing significant results when done right and given enough time. It takes 3 years to get pest predator relationships back in sync, and it takes about 7 years for soil hydrology to peak. Nothing worth doing is ever done quickly.
Permaculture has been around since the mid-1970’s, so well out of the age range of a fad which lasts only a few years at best.
I’m late to the discussion but myself and others are starting a permaculture group in Cornwall called EarthWorks Permaculture Community.
If you’re interested please let us know!
We have a facebook page and our website is http://www.earthworkspc.org