Fall has always been my favourite season.
The chill air, the brown-and-yellow leaves dusting the forest floor and even the darker nights appeal to me when I can curl up inside with a good book and let the world pass me by.
This fall, though, I’m busy harvesting my first ‘real’ garden, such as it is. It was pretty hit-and-miss – zigzag rows of baby carrots, hills of red potatoes, late-ripening tomatoes. The beets, kale and squash were a hit, but the cucumbers were a definite miss, along with the onions that were either eaten by the deer or squashed by them (I caught them more than once laying in the bed).
It’s pretty cool seeing the fruits of my labour – I even got a meagre handful of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries – and knowing that we could probably survive for a little while on what I grew myself. Soup’s on! But it was also hard work caring and tending all those plants, and later harvesting and preserving the ones that bore fruit. Peeling, chopping and slaving over a hot stove in a too-tiny kitchen was even more intense than planting or picking it. And I won’t even get into the run on jar lids.
READ MORE: Farmers’ market harvests successful season
It got me thinking about our food security, and just how much effort and time and patience growers and producers put in around our region. I’ve always been in awe at farmers’ markets, where vendors show up with leafy lettuces and bushels of carrots and delicious breads and chutneys. My respect is even higher now, especially since my carrots were late to the show and wimpy, although they did taste amazing.
My neighbour, a longtime country-dweller, popped over the other day and offered some sage advice. “You know you can get all that down the road.” He also warned me that he’s seen many city folk move to the country, grow a garden and then get discouraged when their greenhouse collapsed under the first snowfall.
I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. Now that I’ve had a taste of gardening and have a better idea of what garden soil is best for my plants – not the deer patch – I’m hoping I can grow an even bigger harvest next year. Last Saturday, the Heritage Market at the 108 had a giveaway basket to the vendor with the biggest zucchini. Mine would not have been contenders (I only got two and they were average) but you never know.
I will no doubt have more misses next year, but I know where I can always get a good head of lettuce or a few onions even if I do. Speaking of which, the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market has one more day left in the season, this Friday, Oct. 2. Shop local.