As I write this, I find myself feeling very grateful for silver linings. I am referring to all the positive things that have happened in my life because of the global pandemic which has caused us to isolate at home. I posted in May about how Corona impacted us and you can read the article here.
I realize that some people have had a much sadder experience with COVID-19 and my heart goes out to them. I'm one of the lucky ones, and most Canadians I have spoken to feel blessed about their situation this year.
My husband and I had planned to spend the spring of 2020 touring Australia in a rented camper van, and then venture out on summer camping trips with our travel trailer to various regions of Ontario. The realization that we would be spending more time at home this year lead us to research growing a vegetable garden. This project has become my favourite 'silver lining'. Check out the lettuces I'm growing (shown above and below)!
Bare shelves at the grocery stores this spring resulted in many people growing a vegetable garden, similar to the Victory gardens of the second world war. I think taking concrete action gives people a sense of control in a time of uncertainty, and growing food in our own back yards makes us feel useful and gets us out into the fresh air while safely spending time at home.
My husband built me two raised bed planters for my food garden in March (shown above in his workshop) and I filled them with organic matter and soil and planted a square foot style garden in a sunny spot in our yard in April and May. I wrote an article showing this process here.
We had a cold, wet spring but the heat really came on in June and July and the plants took off. This is what my west planter looks like now (pictured below).
The front row is 5 varieties of pole beans (vines) climbing up bamboo teepees. They are flowering now (shown below) and will start producing fresh beans within the next few weeks. They will continue producing beans for about 3 months, until hard frost kills the plants. I have grown pole beans before and they are excellent producers for small gardens, since they take advantage of vertical space.
Behind the beans are 6 tomato plants supported by spiral stakes. The huge plant on the left (taller than I) is a cherry tomato and I picked my first ripe one this week. The other tomato plants are beefsteak (shown in the first photo at the top of this post) and Italian (shown below). I have hundreds of green tomatoes and I'm going to try my hand at canning when they ripen.
Behind and around the tomato plants I have sweet peppers, chives, basil, parsley, thyme, and marigolds growing. Below is a photo of my baby sweet peppers and parsley.
My east planter is pictured below and contains onions, carrots, raspberry bushes, leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, radishes, mesclun mix, and marigolds.
I've been picking baby lettuces and spinach since early June and they are excellent - mild and tender - and very prolific. I thought the lettuces might bolt (flower) in our excessive heat the last few weeks, but they are still growing tidy little leaves and taste great (pictured below).
The spinach has flowered so I pulled it out today and will plant more seeds in August for a fall harvest. I had less success with radishes, harvesting a half dozen before the plants flowered. I dug up my first samples of onions this week to check the size and it looks like I will have a large harvest of small onions. Carrot tops are looking healthy and I have my fingers crossed.
Shown above are two more food gardens. At the house foundation is a row of rhubarb, which I harvested twice this spring and preserved rhubarb nectar (shown below). I mix this sweet syrup with club soda to make a delicious rhubarb lemonade.
Next to the rhubarb garden I am growing 6 blueberry bushes (in cages to protect from rabbits) and 50 heads of garlic. Shown below are the garlic flower stalks (scapes) that I harvested a few weeks ago. I made a delicious pesto for pasta, and froze some chopped scapes. They are very tender and mild and I enjoy them sauteed with potatoes.
This week I dug up the ripened garlic bulbs (about half the crop - shown below) and will wait a week or two to harvest the rest when they are ready. I will set aside enough bulbs to plant 50 cloves in late October and use the rest for cooking from now until next July.
I'm 'cautiously thrilled' with my Corona garden and am hoping that pests and diseases will stay out of my beautiful raised beds. So far, so good.
I will post a garden update later in the season so you can see how things progress. If you are growing a Corona garden this year, I hope you are enjoying it and have good luck with your silver lining. Be well and safe.
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