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Garden Update - August 2021

I had big plans for my garden this year.  Much of those fell to the wayside as reality sunk in - I didn’t have time, budget or energy to create the container and raised bed gardens I wanted to.  You may have heard of the person at a buffet whose eyes are bigger than their stomach … they take too much food and can’t eat it all so it goes to waste?  Well my garden plans were like that this year … my containers have soil? With nothing planted in them and some of my raised beds sit empty but I have packets of seeds waiting to be planted …. A little too late for this growing season but I’m better prepared for next year.

There are several people I purchased plants from within Prince Albert and surrounding area.  Some of you waited quite a while for me to pick up my plants and I thank you, again, for your patience with me as I prepared my gardens.  It wasn’t just about the garden, my physical health also has been a challenge for me this summer.  With the intense weather fluctuations fibromyalgia flare ups have been a weekly challenge for me.  I have talked to many people who suffer similar symptoms as I have and some of have even been able to cure themselves.  So far their guidance hasn’t given me that type of success.  What I have learned is that I need to recognize my body’s limitations.   When I don’t, I am limited in what my body is able to accomplish and then my mental health is affected in the sense that I become depressed when I focus on what I wasn’t able to do rather than feel proud of the things I did do.  There was a time, not long ago, when a task list of five things took me over a week to accomplish.  Now I’m strong enough, on a good day without flare ups, I can finish a task from start to finish.  For example, with modifications to how I accomplish each step in preparing dinner, I am now able to see this task through to the end.  There are still days where I get the meal to the point it needs time to cook and I ask someone else to oversee it while I go take a nap.  I need to sleep so I can wake up and complete my day.  Sometimes it’s just about getting warm and the pain isn’t as intense but other times I really do need that sleep to recoup energy.  My plants in the garden remind me of what it looks like to live with chronic pain.  On the outside, my plants look glorious.  Some of my tomatoes are five feet tall.  Others have branches as thick as willows.  Most of them are blooming and producing fruit.  I even have a pepper that I grew from seed I harvested from a pepper!  But I’ve gone too far ahead in my story.  

I waited until June to plant my containers.  May’s weather was unpredictable and extreme.  It was either hot or cold.  Several of my gardening friends on my online gardening club (in Saskatchewan) reported frost on their plants  well after the May long weekend (which I affectionately call Gardening long Weekend as it’s when I traditionally plant my garden).  So when the second weekend of June rolled around and I still had plants to go into the soil, I thought I’d better get to it.  But right about that time we had a terribly violent thunder storm with intense wind, rain that felt like bullets ricochetting off bare skin and about one quarter to half an inch of hail falling in a matter of minutes.  I didn’t think my tomatoes would recover.  Some were absolutely decimated.   More experienced gardeners in the club said to trim the damage and leave them be.  “They’ll come back” they reassured as they commiserated the damages of the storm.  And they were right.

This year I have two container gardens - one in Prince Albert and one up north near Air Ronge.  People told me nothing would grow up north but I recalled seeing a picture in the T & T seed catalog several years ago - mammoth sized vegetables grown in a northern community so I knew it could be done, even if it does seem to be a colder climate with a shorter growing season.  Yet, it is my northern garden I am most pleased with.  I’ve already had a couple of tomatoes, picked off the vine: red, vine ripe and sweet.  I’m growing a Russian tomato this year.  I bought four plants from a lady in Prince Albert.  She says the plants grow tall and spread - up to six feet.  These plants are doing so well in my northern garden!  In Prince Albert, the two plants I put in my garden are half the size of the same variety up north.  This, despite the fact my PA garden is watered some times more than once a day during a heat wave, I talk to them and I fertilize them once a month.  

I have blooms on my pumpkins in my northern garden but experience has made me jaded, so I’m not ready to get too excited just yet.  In previous years my PA garden has produced plenty of flowers on my squash but they’ve died before they produced fruit.  The flower died, not the plant.  So I’m cautiously optimistic I might be canning or freezing my own squash this year… otherwise I buy from the farmer’s market.

I’ve enjoyed visiting the farmer’s market in Prince Albert and Saskatoon.  If you go online and Google Saskatoon farmer’s market you’ll find the locations of where you can go buy fresh fruit, vegetables, honey and more.  I was on the hunt for beets - found them but also found someone selling beet tops too.  I need those for beet rolls.  However, I also learned, in a pinch, spinach can be used in place of beet tops.  Maybe, but not nearly as traditional or as delicious, in my opinion.  That’s like saying you can use turnip in place of potatoes in a pieroghy.  No. You. Can’t.  We have a farmer’s market on Central Avenue in Prince Albert Wednesday morning and in the City Hall Parking Lot on Saturday.  This is my source for cucumbers, carrots, dill, some tomatoes and fresh jams and jellies this year.  I’ll likely also get more beets, zucchini and squash this year - all grown and sold by local vendors.

As for the people who are selling their harvest, to some it’s not just about making a living.  One lady I met (remember those massive tomato plants?) uses the profits from selling her plants to support a cat rescue in Melfort… I think it’s CATsask but I’m not sure.  All I know is it sure is really nice to see the creative way people have to volunteer their time to causes close to their heart.  It kind of makes me wonder how I can contribute more personally to causes that mean something to me.  

I hope your gardens are growing well, that your harvest is bountiful and if you have excess, just because your neighbour’s door is open doesn’t mean you should drop off a zucchini (or a dozen) anonymously, while their back is turned!  I’m looking forward to a trip out to Jessy’s Garden soon as I want to give support and also know I’m feeding my family really good, healthy food.  Plus, what a great way to spend quality family time!

Take care and have a great week everyone.

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