Gardening - A lifetime of learning

I love this time of year. Finally the snow has melted and even though this particular spring is cooler than I might like, the buds are starting to appear on the trees, the tulips are popping up and my tomato plants are getting ready for hardening off.

When my husband and I bought our house almost 5 years ago, I had very little experience with a vegetable garden, but I knew I wanted one. I wanted to taste carrots like the one's I would pull up from my nona and my aunt's garden, I wanted to sit on my front porch and shell peas and I wanted to know that what I was eating was pesticide free and grown right in my own yard.

In our first summer we just kind of planted things and hoped for the best. There was no plan and between the two of us - no gardening experience. We had some hits and we definitely had some misses. Our tomato plants grew like crazy, so much so that they broke the stakes we had set up and they bent over from the weight of their yield. But even though they looked a mess, we got so many tomatoes that I had frozen tomatoes in my deep freeze that lasted us until spring.

Fast forward 4 summers and I can tell you that I have learned a lot over the past 5 years, but as Grandma Betty puts it 'A garden is a lifetime of learning'.

vegetable garden

But no matter how many mistakes I make in the garden, I never feel like I have had a failure. It always just feels like I learned something 'not' to do the following year. Even with no experience we decided we wanted to grow everything from seed. I was thrilled to discover Cubits at a Seedy Saturday at Evergreen Brickworks. Laura was informative and patient with my endless list of questions. Where the garden is concerned I just throw caution to the wind. If it doesn't work this year, I will learn from my mistakes and try again next summer.

The garden also gives me the freedom to experiment with my preserving. Last year I had a bumpercrop of cucumbers. We had more cucumbers than we could eat even when we shared with our families and our neighbours. Several great things came out of that bumbercrop - Manitoba Pickles and Honey Beer Pickles just to name a few.

The year before our tomato plants were very late to ripen and I had a huge amount of green tomatoes that I knew would go to waste with the first frost - this led to an afternoon in the kitchen and jar after jar of Pickled Green Tomatoes.

This year we are planting broad beans and peas for the first time so once again I will be a novice and will learn a few more things about what it takes to make a garden grown. I hope you all have luck with your garden this summer!

This post is part of The Canadian Food Experience, it began June 7 2013. As we share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.