Dreaming of Green Grass and Gardening

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It is officially January! This January is unusually mild for us Canadians. No snow sticking to the ground and lots of rain. I am sure we will pay for it later this winter, but for now I am enjoying not having to shovel. The rain is frequent and the smell of the wet maple tree bark is intoxicating. It reminds me of a season not too far away - maple syrup season! Ahhhh maple syrup season..so many blissful scents. Wet maple tree bark, winter bon fires and maple syrup of course! Mmmmm (more on maple sugaring coming soon). This spurred my spring planning. Christmas is over, time to think spring. This has become one of my favourite parts of living on a hobby farm. There is always something to look forward to. Which is great come January and February when the winter blues settle in. I love heading to the local greenhouse and looking at all the spring flowers coming in, dreaming of green grass and gardening.

Before we moved to our farmhouse, we lived in a townhouse in the city with a postage stamp sized backyard. I had a little veggie garden that was 3’x6’. We did alright. We had about 6 tomato plants, some herbs, and always spicy pepper plants. We had always grown Jalapeños and they never turned out spicy. So disappointing after months of work. Our tomato plants were always pretty decent. We had a fair sized harvest every year. Our herbs always thrived. I feel like its very hard to go wrong with herbs. But I always had dreams of a huge vegetable garden.

We moved into our farmhouse a couple weeks before Christmas. Already I was dreaming of a large veggie patch. The house already had a generous amount of flower beds, but needed a big vegetable garden. I wanted to till up half our yard, but my husband is a lawn man. He loves his pretty lawn. So, we compromised. I found a little spot to put our garden, close to the hose to make life easy. We made the garden 11’x16’. This was obviously a huge difference compared to years past. I had so much room, I didn’t know where to start! We planted the usual suspects, tomatoes and herbs. But this time we tried our hand at Cayenne peppers (grown by me from seed), broccoli, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, lettuce, and pumpkins. Well, let me tell you. The soil down here is like crack for plants! Now I know why they call our county “Ontarios Garden.” The tomatoes grew into one big bush, sprawling everywhere. The cayenne plants all thrived and now we have canned peppers to last a lifetime. They were nice and spicy and we were able to make homemade hot sauce as well as chilli powder. The pumpkins, of course took over and ended up choking out the carrots and broccoli. We ended up with over 15 pumpkins. We had planted a variety that could be used for pies as well as carving. Come October our house was very festive with pumpkins all over the place. The chickens looooove them some pumpkins. Our zucchinis went from my fingertips to my elbow. It was incredible. I was flabbergasted. I had never had such pride in my garden.

We learned a great deal from trying all these different plants. First off, I hate “thinning out” seedlings. I feel bad. I know it’s stilly, but I do. Empathy is a gift and a curse. I feel bad killing off those poor little seedlings. So I didn’t thin out my pumpkin seedlings, which resulted in a pumpkin apocalypse. It was ridiculous. Pumpkin vines literally everywhere. So next year, they will be begrudgingly thinned, and will have their own little fence as to not take over. Damn pumpkins. Also having peppers beside broccoli is apparently a big no go. They are not good companions. In the end, this cost me my broccoli (more on companion planting coming soon). Also we will be planting the tomatoes a bit further apart and caging immediately. Staking these giant plants, was just not enough. Now that we have had success with cayenne peppers, we will try Jalapeños again next year as well. We will also be trying our hand in beets, corn, beans, broccoli and cauliflower (again), and sweet potatoes.

But where are we going to put all these plants? Its time to EXPAND! Garden 2.0! We will be growing our garden from a good size of 11’x16’ to a whopping 11’x45’! I am so pumped. It’s going to be amazing. A lot of work, but amazing! Of course I have planned this all in colour coded, excel fashion. Because I am a planner (and a tiny bit of a control freak). I have researched each plant to find their companions and feel confident to not have another broccoli massacre. Fingers crossed anyways. I have also found a nifty way to plant potatoes so that you can harvest without digging! We planted potatoes in buckets last year, but this year I want MORE! So stay tuned for that!

Now its off to find a tiller we can rent for spring and to order some seeds! I’m pumped! Can you feel it? Let’s do it! (I had a lot of coffee today sorry). Do you have a vegetable garden? What are your favourite things to grow in the summer? Got any hilarious garden stories to make me feel like less of a noob? Please share in the comments.