Friday, 25 May 2012

Just Call Me Mrs Greenthumb!


There is a very good reason why I took a horticulture related program in college.  I love it.  I love plants, I love gardening, I love being outside working on even the hottest of days.  I even love hard labour (seriously I love shovelling, digging, and hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt).  The only I thing I don't love, or even like for that matter, is bugs.  But it's something I'm willing to deal with to do what I enjoy.

I have been out of the garden for many years now since getting pregnant with Tristan and had almost forgotten how much I love it.  A few weeks ago my dad asked us to clean up his backyard which Tyler had landscaped last year.  It didn't take me long before I was back into it and happily spent hours there weeding, cultivating, pruning and mulching.

The fact that I am currently 7.5 months pregnant has not stopped me from getting my hands dirty.  Ever since our family has embarked on this hops farming adventure I have been longing to jump in and help out.  But being a full-time mom has meant I couldn't do that.  I was actually jealous of Tyler and his parents being able to get out there and do some hard labour, but whenever I would go with the boys I would have to spend pretty much every second watching their every move.

Over the winter I was able to stay involved by helping plan our vegetable garden.  I was responsible for researching and picking out what plants we were going to grow, and for setting up a gardening, sowing, seeding, and transplanting plan.  I had no idea what I was doing, but figured I'd be learning in the process. 

In March we started sowing our seeds and I finally got to put my hands in the dirt a little bit.  We would sow them on nice afternoons in the backyard into cell packs, and then transfer them into the basement where Tyler had set up an area for them to grow and germinate.  It wasn't long before all our little seedlings were emerging, and we were on our way.





The past few months have been an experiment in starting seeds indoors for us.  While we had a very high success rate for germination, we were always struggling to figure out what each of our individual types of plants needed.  And as they got bigger we struggled to find room for them since we were constantly sowing new seeds.  At first we were certain we'd have such a warm, early spring that they could go outside earlier than usual, but it turned cold on us and we had to keep them inside.  We even had some that got stunted from the cold when we tried to harden them off.  We kept juggling all our plants, moving them around as they got bigger and trying to get some of the hardier ones outside into the hoop house at the farm or even in the backyard.

Finally we were able to start transplanting some into the garden, and eventually we were able to start direct seeding as well.  Now we are in business, and our garden is filling up nicely.

Filling up!

For awhile I was still more of a passive player in this gardening game, but in the last few weeks I have stepped up and gotten involved.  The weather has officially turned hot which has made it more comfortable for me to be out there with the boys.  They are now familiar enough with the property that they are willing to hang out near me while I work, and I just have to keep an eye on them but not worry about them wandering off.  Usually a few toy trucks are enough to keep them happy!

My little gardening helper with his tractor and wearing his favourite John Deere shirt

I have been spending most mornings recently working in the vegetable garden, especially since Tyler has been so busy helping his parents plant the hops.  It's go time at the farm and there are always a million things that need to be done.  Last weekend we went as a family and planted some of our tomatoes in the hoop house.  This past week I have been going with Finn and planting some more seedlings, as well as working on keeping the weeds in check.

We sowed so many tomatoes and peppers that we're having trouble finding homes for them all!  Those two types of vegetables where the ones we knew we'd want a lot of, and we chose several different varieties of each.  I think we have 7 or 8 different kinds of tomatoes, and 5 different kinds of peppers.  We've put some of each into the garden, but have also decided to plant some in the hoop house too to see how they do.  We're hoping to have enough vegetables that we could even sell some.  I'm sure we will!

The hoop house

First row of tomatoes planted and mulched inside

So many tomatoes!

Both boys love coming to the farm and hanging out with me while I work.  I have gone a few afternoons this past week with both of them, but I have gone most mornings with just Finn.  He is my little gardening buddy and is so great about hanging out with me.  I think he is a little farmer in the making!  He will often play in the dirt with his toy digger or tractor, or he will just wander around the garden area.  But he never gets upset or whiny, or asks to leave.  Tristan will hang out too, and sometimes he will help me pull weeds or lay mulch.  He really loves hanging out with Tyler though and will jump at the chance to 'work' with Daddy.

At the moment in our garden we've got a variety of leafy vegetables like lettuces, swiss chard and cabbage, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, onions, and artichokes.  Our strawberry plants are still in pots and are thriving, but we really need to get them into the ground asap.  We won't get a harvest from them this year as the advice is to pinch off the flowers in the first year to encourage stronger plants, but we are willing to be patient to get a good crop next year.  I have sowed some greenhouse variety cucumbers which are just sprouting, and will direct sow some more next week along with some other things like squash, corn, melon, pumpkins, and subsequent crops of carrots.  There is so much going on in our garden right now!  And we still have no idea what we are doing or what is going to work out, but boy are we having fun.  We have to learn somehow and it is all trial and error.

Red cabbage

Peppers

Lettuces

Strawberries, carrots and onions in pots

Tomatoes and beans growing up the poles

I am remembering what it is like to be out in the sunshine with my hands in the dirt, and I am loving it so much.  It means I have been spending less time at the gym, but I don't care because it's so good to be out there in the fresh air.  I also love that the boys are enjoying being out there and are learning about gardening and farming along with us.  I hope it won't be too long until they're actively involved in the process and hopefully gaining a strong work ethic from it.  I can see them spending summers working there and I hope they enjoy doing it as much as Tyler and I do.

I look forward to the future and getting to do more of this.  With a new baby soon to be here, my involvement will still be limited, but I hope that I can still get out there and keep tabs on my garden.  When I look into my future I see myself being more and more involved with the farm and all that is going on.  I love being at home with my children and do not wish that time away, but I look forward to when they are older and start school, and I will be able to play a more active roll on the farm growing my vegetables, and helping with the hops as well.

It truly is a dream come true!

Mommy and her little sidekick!


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