Agriculture

My Victory Garden

Last year, I realized that water was going to become precious, and expensive, and become a privileged product serving the real estate and tourism industry. To combat that, I’ve started harvesting rain, and have moved my garden into the shoulder season, away from summer heat. My harvest season is from February through December now, with a slow period from June 15 to August 15, when most things burn away in the heat. I’ve been picking the spinach below since last September, with a break for three months of cold, and started again at the end of February. Yes, there was snow on the ground, and many following nights at -8 Celsius. Everyone did fine. I planted it on August 15, from seed I grew from a sowing in early March, 2019. It’s not under glass.

I’ve picked it about seven times this spring. Same with the Welsh onions below. It’s late in the season for them now, and they’re about to bloom, just as my other green onions are coming in.

This wild arugula, a perennial, is starting to turn sharp as the days heat up (as is my mountain cress). I’ve been harvesting both for a month. I’ll be changing my recipes to match their new flavours, and am moving over to the dragon’s tongue arugula, which being a later perennial, is just coming on, as tender as can be. By May it will be like fire. In the cool of fall, this wild arugula will cool down again and I’ll keep harvesting it until frost.

My rhubarb is promising desserts this week. It’s growing in a bed of wild garlic. They seem to all get along. My regular garlic is a foot high in the front garden, mulched by last year’s end-of-season garden stalks and leaves.

You can see below how enthusiastic last year’s dill is. And the mustards. I’ll move the red orach when it gets a bit bigger, then I’ll start replanting and thin out that dill. That dandelion’s days are numbered. Delicious!

Salad (and dill) everywhere you look, really. I’ve started plundering this bed for bedding plants, as you can see in the kale and mustard. If I wasn’t pruning tomorrow, I’d move all that lettuce into open boxes, but it will have to wait.

Cilantro’s ready for a second big spring harvest. It too was seeded on August 15, with a big harvest in late September.

The corn salad on the left below, also seeded on August 15, is now flowering after fall harvests until frost and spring harvests starting in February, and will sow seeds that should sprout in early to mid-summer again. The mesclun mix on the right was planted two weeks ago. I started harvesting it today. That dandelion is destined for a salad soon. Sneaky thing.

The dandelion, in my garden steps below has found a sweet spot. I can’t dig it out, and in return its leaves are tender and sweet.

I have thirteen salad greens for harvest now, and four herbs, with more on the way. I didn’t know the world would shut down for Covid-19, but it was obvious that something had to be done. I also realized that the literary world had become a world of social poetry and since my poetry comes from an intimate relationship with the Earth, that I would have to work on that social relationship, to create two new hands-on books, one on herbs for the Okanagan (I have over a dozen), and one on changing the season. For that to work, one has to have done it. So I started last August. So far, this:

The potatoes are three inches high in the greenhouse, ready for their pots to be hooked up to a drip system at the side of the house. By garden-planting time on the May Long Weekend (five weeks hence0, all these covers will be put away and their space devoted to my warm weather crops. In mid-summer the garden will sleep, and in September the covers will come back. I am fortunate to be able to do this. I intend to share that fortune. We need to feed ourselves and each other and stop relying on hydroponically-grown, tasteless vegetables at $5 a bag, or about $150 a month, most already rotting before we get them home because we’re at the end of the supply chain. That food is dead. We need to be able to convince our farmers to adapt to a new seasonal model. The future has arrived, a little earlier than I thought. I hope to do my part to make sure it’s full of life, sparing of water, and grown in appropriate seasons. That’s how I’ve been spending my isolation. It has been enormous fun.

7 replies »

  1. Skipping those torrid months makes sense to me. I garden from April 25 to mid-October. But our dill is everylasting dill (we let it seed itsef) as we do with spinach and leaf lettuce most years. I think the -40 C. doomed the little plantlets this winter, though. I empty spaces–after pea harvest, e.g.–with oats that grow and die in the winter, making cultivation unnecessary; I just plant through the mat of dead oats.

    (There’s hardly room for your 24-foot-wide riding lawn mower in that yard.)

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  2. Wow–well done. Just beautiful. I can almost taste the arugula! On the poetry front, I should think–especially now–that Earth poetry is poetry of society, as you demonstrate over and over in your writing here.

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  3. Congratulations on your ingenuity, and thank you for previewing you new/current projects … they seem full of life.
    These particular garden notes inspire me to reconsider “gardening” in new ways,
    thank you!

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