I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a natural green thumb, however together with my co-gardening significant other we’ve managed to make a few things grow over the past few years. Our gardening methods so far have involved largely buying plants at (insert large national chain here) and planting in pots and raised beds with varying degrees of success.
Some things we’ve learned so far:
- Basil will grow wild in a large planter in a sunny location. The same cannot be said for the soil directly beside that planter.
- Yes, it is possible to kill mint. No, it will not survive in a planter over Eastern Ontario winters.
- Kale, on the other hand, can live through the winter if left in the ground
- We have many rabbits in the area that enjoy parsley.
- Squirrels like green tomatoes, but they prefer to pull it off the vine, take one bite, then leave it on our doorstep. Ditto for cucumbers. And peppers.
- Groundhogs will desiccate broccoli. And onions if they happen to sit on them while chowing down on the broccoli.
With all that said, we have had some successes that more than made up for the misses. The previously mentioned basil, once happily planted in the pot, was wonderful all summer and lives on in frozen pesto remaining in the freezer. The mint, once happily planted in the ground, dried beautifully and the mason jar full I keep at work in my desk drawer for tea gets me weird stares and mutters of “hippie”. The tomatoes that weren’t eaten by squirrels were delicious straight off the vine.
Being someone who loves to cook and cares deeply about food security and where my food comes from, I feel it’s important that I improve my gardening skills. This year, our garden plans have grown exponentially larger, involving several yet-to-be-built raised beds and growing from seeds! If you are new to growing from seeds, as I am, you might find the following post from NW Edible Life helpful (How to Pick Your Vegetable Seeds Without Going Crazy). I love her blog, she’s incredibly knowledgeable about gardening and I love her writing style.
Here are a few reasons why we decided to grow from seeds this year:
- Greater variety of plants to choose from
- Control over what inputs the plant uses from start to finish
- Save money – a packet of 20-300 seeds (depending on type) will set you back about $3.50, and those seeds will generally last several years
- Greater self-sufficiency – especially if you save seeds from the plants you grow
- Preserve seed heritage by growing heirloom varieties that don’t do well in factory farms and would otherwise become extinct
- Satisfaction seeing the plant grow completely from seed
We bought our seeds from Greta’s Organic Gardens. Greta’s is a mail order business, but lucky for us she’s physically located in Ottawa so we made an appointment to stop by her farm and buy from her in person (the farm opens for regular business starting in the spring). Here is a sampling of the 17 seeds packets we came home with: