This is my first time really being involved with the Vegetable Garden or really any garden for that matter. I was not prepared for what it needed or had to offer. Carla handled pretty much all of it while we were in Kitchener and the majority of it our first year here. Sure, I’d help at the start by making the beds, whether raised or on the ground and getting them ready to be used, but she did the “gardening.” The planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, ...everything. I don’t even know why really, it was a default choice and something I thought I wasn’t interested in, but wow was I wrong. It didn’t take long for me to realize I find it rather enjoyable, relaxing almost. For the most part, I’m more of an introvert and I’ve really been enjoying it as time for me to recharge.
2020 was our biggest Vegetable Garden to date: a 10x10ft square we crafted in a random spot on the property, a huge increase from our Kitchener backyard. We had great success, and it really excited me and made me want to be in the garden more. I got into a very enjoyable routine: making some coffee and going on a walk with it to the garden to see the growth from the day before. So when Carla said she wanted to grow our garden to 1500 sq ft, I took a big gulp, asked if she was serious, and quickly replied “let’s do this!” Keep in mind up until this time I really hadn’t done much other than observing and the watering.... no weeding, no planting, no harvesting.
Neither of us have ever believed in using chemicals or pesticide on our lawns, flowerbeds or vegetable gardens. We go out of our way to ensure we use only natural and organic practices in all aspects of our hobby farm. I generally don’t care about weeds and if they are or are not present. They can be in the lawn, along the driveway, sneaking up through patio stones. It doesn't bother me. For the most part they flower and bees and other pollinators love to visit them.
I never imagined there would be so many weeds in the garden, and that they would grow so quickly. Our biggest nuisance is Cow Vetch (Vicia cracca - tufted vetch, bird vetch, blue vetch, boreal vetch).
I only learned about this creepy crawling, purple flowery weed because it is everywhere! This Lavender look alike enjoys creeping up in the vegetable garden and strangling our crops. If you keep up on it you can keep it under control. But it takes a lot of time, especially with our Vegetable Garden that is 50x30 feet.
This year, I have found myself spending up to 90 minutes a day maintaining the garden. This pre planting picture shows off it's size. Its easy to get lost in gardening while listening to a great podcast or recharging with my own thoughts or the birds singing in the background.
Also our beehive is located right next to the garden, beside the blueberry patch we’re working on. If you listen you can always hear them buzzing away. It’s enjoyable to stand or lay (a few feet back of course) from the hives and watch all the bees leave and come back with their legs full of pollen. It can be very relaxing and calming. The combined daily maintenance of the garden is definitely surprising, especially because that doesn’t include the evening and weekend adventures Carla and I do together when she’s away from her study.
It makes sense the cow vetch is all over; some of our property used to be a working cattle farm and it's a top fave for the herd. Keeping permaculture practices in mind, we have embraced it as the bees and other pollinators love it too! With a large portion of the property maintained or intentionally wild, it's really interesting to see all the wild flowers and weeds grow, compete and service the bug and insect population.
These are 3 very cool looking ‘weeds’ I had to look up:
Milk Thistle, a medicinal weed that all bee types seem to enjoy.
Chicory, a wildflower that is edible to humans though we have yet to try it.
Milkweed, essential for monarch butterflies which we’ve had so many of and thrilled to spot this little guy.
Also, we didn’t get rid of the 10X10 garden, oh no. We cleaned up the old garden bed and planted 88 cloves of Garlic for the 2021 season!
Stay tuned for a post on the harvest!