Sweet-potato-harvest-TorontoThe Movie that Pushed Me Over the line into Vegetable Gardening

Growing up my mom use to grow tomatoes from started plants she would buy from stores and street vendors, around the end of May, here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; in addition we had mint. I didn’t appreciate the growing of tomatoes for the family back then because I was busy being a sibling, friend, daughter, on top of normal teenage stuff. Plus the fact that we had tomatoes in the backyard, meant I had to help my mom water them. That would not be a big deal if you just had to grab the hose and spray; but my mom was very specific about the watering. No hosing the plants, you had to fill the bucket and put some water on each and every tomato plant base, individually. This meant filling and watering over 40 plants one by one. Let’s just say it took a long time to finish the chore. I don’t even remember appreciating the fact that in the summers in Toronto, we would have and eat fresh tomatoes right from our back yard.

In the 1990s I worked landscaping off and on during breaks from my university studies and in between my part time jobs. Then I had one stretch in 1999 where I was landscaping 4 months straight because I had just finished my BA honours in political science and social science, but could not find good work for over 9 months. I had decided I would not take any more temp positions in different offices and venues, I was going to landscape until I found something good, something solid, where I could use work experience and my university education to start and move forward in a career. One thing I noticed from the nineties, was that I didn’t mind the landscaping, pruning, cutting grass, planting flowers and plants.

I liked being outside in the spring, summer and fall. I recall liking the fact that when we left properties, they looked good, they were prettier, clean cut and ready to take on another week or two of nature, growth and use. However, as a landscaper I always felt raggedy, wearing long sleeved clothes with green brown stains, with an old cap and perspiring because of the work or the work and heat. I really appreciated getting home in the evenings, showering, and prettying up to chill out or step out with friends, I remember thinking boy, my nights are such a contrast from my days, but I knew it was temporary.

In the 2000s I was slowly exposed (or paying more attention) and learning more and more about the food and drinks we intake as North Americans. I think it started with Animals by Jason Young, 2003, Super Size Me, 2004, through to Food Inc. 2008 and so many more in between and after. Since then, each year I read, I watched and I learned, sadly it could be summed up into we are not in good shape for food and drink, and we can make better choices for ourselves and our families. When I actually took some action was spring of 2011. After years of learning about fast food and the negative impacts on health, current food production and negative impact on food quality and genetically modified food and the negative and unknown impacts of it, I heard some advice at the end of one of the documentary films that made me stop to think it through and plan out my next steps of growing some of my own food. The advice came in at the end of the documentary Food Inc. and was among a list of something of a top 10 things you can do.

The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Buy foods that are grown locally. Shop at farmers markets. Plant a garden (Even a small one) (Robert Kenner, Food Inc., 2008)

That’s it, I remember thinking and rethinking “plant a garden, even a small one”. So my change came slowly and gradually from watering tomatoes one by one as a child, to landscaping to learning more about our food. It wasn’t only that movie, which I enjoyed, but it was the suggestions at the end and particularly this suggestion that pushed me over the line into vegetable gardening.

So I finally took the plunge in 2010 and started taking care of the little food already on my property left behind by previous owners. I took care of them so that I could then consume them. Raspberries, mint, sage and some other herbs I wasn’t so familiar with. It was great, I loved actually being in the garden daily to have a look and take care of them, loved consuming them and sharing them with family and friends.

Every year since, I’ve been adding different veggies and fruits and herbs to try out around the property. I’ve had plenty of failures too, but they were still fun. Today I love growing my own fruits, veggies and herbs. Plus I’ve learned I love being out in the gardens, I find them so relaxing, sometimes hours have passed and I don’t notice.

Blogs to follow will cover the following topics:

What herbs, vegetables and fruits have worked well for me here in my Toronto, ON garden over the past 7 years
Sowing seeds and caring for seedlings indoors to have the small plants ready to transfer outdoors once the risk of frost is past and spring/summer weather is back
Sowing seeds outdoors that can withstand the early spring frost and weather
Sowing seeds that like warm temperatures and no frost
Sowing seeds in late summer
Sowing seeds in the fall
Let me know if there is a particular topic or challenge you would like me to cover.