Building Character – Growing your Own Fresh Veggies

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

For the past few years I have added the joy of keeping a small vegetable garden for our family’s enjoyment. Though we are in the heart of the fertile Holland Marsh, nothing compares to the opportunity to go out your back door and pick your own freshly grown and nurtured veggies to accompany any meal.

Though we are on a country property with lots of wildlife around, my first year was clear sailing without even having a fence protecting the space. I did grow marigolds around the perimeter which gave happy colour all summer and seemed to distract curious four legged nibblers.

The next year was not a repeat performance unfortunately. We have a rock pile close by the garden which is home to a family of ground hogs (they were present the first year). For some reason, they began to take an interest in the tender shoots coming up and completely demolished all of the lettuce, radish, bean, pea, spinach, swiss chard and beets greens as soon as they were identifiable. Ouch…my hard work destroyed overnight! Ok – it was early enough in the season to start again. Up went a 2 foot high chicken wire fence and the rows replanted. Once again all was fine. We have so much green space around us that even though the ground hogs could easily burrow underneath…they did not. Another successful year of enjoyment.

Now I believed I had the formula. The season began a bit later this year due to mother nature, but the seeds were sown once again with love and anticipation. The fence was up and now time was working its magic. Soon the shoots began to surface and one evening after a hot day, I watered my beautiful plants. As my husband and I sat on the patio enjoying the evening and our dinner, I looked down towards the garden to see the groundhog family out munching on the surrounding lawn as normal. Then my eye caught activity in…was it true…the garden!!!!?? I leaped up and ran like a crazy woman to the garden and sure enough, every single freshly watered shoot was eaten to the ground, even a 10 inch high tomato plant! This was not good – I was not happy. They had in fact burrowed under a section of the fence to enjoy the different varieties of greens.

Now what do I do? We were already much further along the growing season and time would not permit the replanting of certain items like the carrots (my favourite). I realize that we no longer have our dog or outdoor cat who likely deterred some of this behaviour in the past. I could have just let it go for the year and enjoyed the fresh produce at the farmer’s markets, not worrying about all the extra time, love and care it takes to nurture a garden. Somehow, that was not acceptable to me as we now know the difference in taste and nutritional value of having our own produce. I decided to salvage what I could.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

So – the fence was reinforced; I replanted some items and went out to purchase a few pre-started plants. While it is definitely a paired down version of last year’s variety, we are well on our way to enjoying the fruits of our love and labour. We have enjoyed the herbs, some first cherry tomatoes, and a couple of zuccinis.

Life has set-backs and it is always an opportunity to build our character. We get to look at what is important, what is worthy of our time and energy. What is the Joy Quotient it brings?

What set-backs have you experienced that developed character?

I’d love to hear from you. Share your stories with me. Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one. You can reach me by phone or email, leave a comment right here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,

Karen

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11 replies
  1. Matthew says:

    I have started growing punkins and peepers in pots to see what happens..so far no disaster but some curious things happening. Fun article…home you beat the furry

    Reply
    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hey Matt – so you’ll have to enlighten me on what peepers are? And of course my curiosity is now built to beg the question on what curious things are happening in your yard??? I’ll be calling. xo
      Karen

      Reply
  2. Ariana says:

    Hi Karen. I was just munching on a homegrown cucumber (the third so far this year) as i found your blog in my inbox. Was just outside in the garden thinking about how lucky we are to have such a lively cucumber patch this year despite the cucumber beetles (which killed all my plants last year). Thanks for the ever-timely and inspiring posts.
    Love,
    Ariana

    Reply
    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hi Ariana,
      It is amazing to hear from you through this post. I have been thinking of you lately and am ready to pick up the phone and call to see how life in Nova Scotia is this summer. I am glad the message resonated with you enough to reach out. It is wonderful to know you are connected. I must say again how much I love your latest CD..your voice is magical and Andy is a genius! Keep on loving those beautiful veggies. xo
      Karen

      Reply
  3. Joanne says:

    With our impending move, for the first time in many years, I did not put in a vegetable garden. I miss the excitement of watching the seedlings pop through the soil and the undeniable pleasure in harvesting and feeding the family with fresh, untainted produce. I even miss the rascal chipmunks and rabbits who I have to outwit on a yearly basis to get our harvest! I look forward to finding just the right spot in our new home for a new garden and seeing who I might have to outsmart there lol. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  4. Eva says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love the look of your basil. My looks really poor this year. It has been too cold and wet and it is quite distressed and stunted.
    But I could not agree more. It is still worth the effort. Other vegetables like peas, lettuce. potatoes, garlic are doing really well this year. I hope to have a good crop of carrots too. Just planted the late fall crop, so I should have plenty to share.
    I will certainly save some for you too. 🙂
    Eva

    Reply
    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hey Eva – that is exciting to hear that your carrots look great! Mine will be sparce this year and they are my favourite. Nothing beats the taste of a fresh garden carrot. I’ll be happy to share some basil with you. Thanks for sharing your experience! xo
      Karen

      Reply
  5. Carl Lehman says:

    Hi Karen
    Gardening has become a most enjoyable part of my (semi) retirement life. We built the beginnings of our vegitable garden last, learning by doing, all went well like yours, other than we planted way too much, those seeds are so small! This year the rabbits found our patch and breakfasted on our beets and carrots. My fence is now up and the second seeding is protected. However the squirrels (which we seem to have about twice as many this year) have cleaned out two pear trees of all the tiny fruit, don’t they know it gets bigger and better if they wait. Waiting and watching patiently to begin to enjoy the fruits (apples only this year) of our effort. Hopefully the tomatoes will be blight free this season. Two of my beds are raised and the animals have avoided them, except nut burying by the squirrels.
    Enjoy your summer.

    Reply
    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hi Carl,
      Great to hear from you and know that you are still enjoying the semi-retired life style. It is pretty tricky working with mother nature – I think it keeps us on our toes. I think it says something about the quality of the food when everyone is interested in it. I also notice that the little critters I think are so cute don’t seem so cute any more unless they are somewhere else! lol. I hope your tomato harvest is bountiful – wishing you both a great summer too!

      Karen

      Reply

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