Friday, 10 June 2016
This is such an exciting time in the life and maturity of my garden. We've lived here 7 years and in that time, we've been transitioning 2.5 acres of mostly grass into a productive food growing oasis. It's been hard but incredibly rewarding work and I'm grateful for the learning that has come as a result. My many mistakes and "trials" have taught me what won't work but in that "failure" process, I've learned what WILL work in our cold climate.
These early strawberries are the direct result of using thermal mass to full advantage. The reflective heat off the concrete driveway coupled with the temperature regulation it provides through the night (as the stored heat is released from the concrete) has netted strawberries a good 10-14 days sooner than I'll see from plants just 10 feet away (around the corner and away from the concrete). Using thermal mass strategically works, my friends :) I'm in the process of potting up runners from these plants so I can take them with me when I move. It will save me money and I also like that I'll be bringing a piece of my Alberta garden west with me.
The Haskap berries are in full production so I'll be picking those today and for many days to come. They are quite tart but are just loaded with antioxidants. I'll probably add them to smoothies with banana to sweeten them up a bit and I'll make a syrup for our weekend pancakes. I won't be making jam as we are moving and I don't want to add any weight to the moving truck so we'll have to eat this bounty fresh and call on friends to eat any surplus.
The lettuce is at peak production and so healthy after a struggle to establish (due to high heat and drought in Spring). We've been enjoying the wonderful flavour and tender texture in sandwiches and salads. There is NOTHING like fresh picked lettuce - it's incomparable to store bought. The cost of buying organic lettuce here is very high and I must say mine is eons better than store bought (which has travelled for many hundreds if not thousands of miles to get here). Even local lettuce is harder to come by as I have to drive a long distance to get to the farmer's market. With a little planning and some shoulder season protection, growing food in a cold climate can be very rewarding and extremely helpful in reducing food costs.
Our raspberries are absolutely LOADED with berries this year and we will soon be eating them. It will be our biggest bounty EVER and if all goes well, we should be able to eat a good portion of them before we move. We'll call on friends to come pick as I won't be able to freeze any this year as I usually do.
The cost saving of growing raspberries is staggering as they sell for $5-$6 per half-pint/pint here. Using those prices, I'd be rich if we sold all that we grew! There must hundreds of thousands of berries forming and I know from experience growing them here that they produce for many weeks in the summer. I'm also potting up all the new shoots that are coming up near the parent plants. How fitting that I'll be taking those with me as 7 years ago, this patch was started from shoots my Mother brought me from HER garden back in BC! My gardens have truly been a frugal mish mash of sharing and generosity which I hope will continue long into the future...
We also have kale and spinach ready to eat and peas growing up the garden fence. That will be the extent of my harvesting this year as we're on the move in a month's time. So exciting but also a bit sad to leave the garden I've worked so very hard to establish. I'm quite excited to apply my learning to our new location, though and my mind is really spinning with ideas.