In Nova Scotia, roots grow deep in culture, families and gardens. Growing up around the country, I always knew where I came from and how important it was to know my roots, thanks to my parents and extended family. It didn’t matter which province we lived in, home was always here. “What’s your Fathers name?” is a phrase that is as common to identification as Black Eyed Susan’s are to the side of the maritime roads. Every summer was spent from beginning to end with grandparents, aunts, uncles and hoards of cousins, nuturing our relationships and honing our berry picking skills. Most days were spent in bathing suits, running around in the fields, using outhouses, playing cards, baking and creating. There were bonfires, sing alongs, epic games of Lee Hockers in the dark and of course music, dancing and food.
Cape Breton Wildfowers, Grandma’s lupines, Aunt Pat’s tiger lilies, and Grandma D’s dahlias were the start of my fascination with flowers. They were centrepieces for every table and window sill. And what an honour it was to have your garden’s splendours displayed on the altar in mass on Sunday morning!
Papa’s rhubarb, blueberry patch and crabapple trees were treated as precious as gold, we all drooled waiting in anticipation for his applesauce, jellies, stewed rhubarb and blueberry pies. I was taught by a great many of relatives that to let a wild berry go unpicked was next door to a mortal sin. Bugs, bogs and thorns were very weak excuses indeed. My gardens are now home to many “roots” transplanted from many generations of my family. I get to remember precious moments shared with now passed loved ones every time I sit in my garden.
Before any seed can grow, it needs a solid foundation. A fertile, well planned plot with lots of sun, good drainage, special friends (bugs) to pollinate it and defences to ward off those pesky invaders who may try to take advantage of good intentions. This time of year, January, is when I start to dream and plan. Of course I have helpers! My littlest daughter is my biggest ally. We love to sit together and list out what we liked about last year, what new ideas we may have for this year and look through pictures that lift up our spirits while it is still too cold outside to play in the dirt. I like to think that even something as simple as planning our veggie rows or speculating on how tall our sunflowers may grow this summer is laying down some firm roots in our own little family. Her vivid imagination never ceases to amaze me and I cherish listening to her thoughts, even if it means we will end up with a “purple veggies only” plot this year!
It isn’t quite time to start sowing seeds, but it is never too early to dream, share and get prepared!
My to do list for this week:
– Pull out old garden plans and pictures to make sure we don’t plant the same thing in the same place as last year. I can’t grow everything in our zone 5/6 garden, or without an infinite amount of space and time, so planning what we really want to plant now saves a lot of impulse buying when the seed catalogues and greenhouse adventures begin. I also “weed out” anything we tried last year that was not a hit so as not to make the same mistakes again. I was the only one who liked turnip…60 pounds may have a bit excessive in hindsight!
– Draw out any new planned development and start thinking about supplies, I really want to finish my raised bed border around the main part of the veggie garden and attempt a “squash arch”. And what the heck am I going to do with the garden beside the shed??
– Make a seed starting calendar, so I know when to get started. I have jumped the gun far too many times and have had 4 foot tomatoes in the porch in April….websites for local seed companies, “like-climate” blogs and books by gardeners from our local area are fantastic resources.
– Dust off my favorite books and magazines to scour through again and again, always finding something new and exciting to try this year…I am thinking maybe peanuts?
– Connect with friends who are looking to share ideas, seeds, separated plants and a cup of tea (or glass of wine). It is far more fun to plan with friends – even a yoga class can be a place of veggie inspiration. Bok choy is a great veggie to meditate on!
“Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits. Take care of your garden, And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words and Kind deeds.” – Longfellow