The Artist’s Garden

GarlicI am slowly and reluctantly coming to the realization that I’m not much of a gardener…yet.  (Hope runs eternal for me)  After several attempts in Alberta in crappy soil, (that’s my excuse anyway), I usually ended up with several vegetables that survived despite my neglect.  Overrun with weeds, they would stubbornly grow and then beckon to be picked…and sometimes I got to them in time.  I did manage a wonderful crop of zucchini once.  I and several of my friends had to have a zucchini salsa making intervention to help me deal with them all.  Potatoes can’t really be screwed up too badly, so I often had a fairly good crop of those, if I remembered to heap up the dirt around them to keep them safe from frost.  Yes, I have been known to be digging frozen potatoes out of the ground.  Cucumbers, however, completely elude me.  And I love those darned elusive things fresh from the garden.  I remember as a very young kid when my mom kept a garden for a couple of years, we had fresh cucumbers for sandwiches, and an entire salad of just cucumbers, and of course pickles.  Yum!  I guess I didn’t learn much about gardening from mom in those early years.  I was too young and by the time I could be taught, mom’s gardening days were taken over by the growing tasks of a mother with now 3 girls.  So, I grope about in the dirt without a clue what I’m doing.  And it shows.  Now living in the delightful growing weather in the Cowichan Valley, (the Warm Land) on Vancouver Island, I had high hopes for my gardening dreams.  I planted all sorts of things in much too small a space….I was eager.  The asparagus never made it out of the ground.  The sweet pepper plants are barely 6 inches tall now at the end of September.  The kale and Gai Lan yielded a few leaves, but got way out of hand and overgrown when I went on holidays.  The tomatoes are now massive plants with a very few tiny green fruits…still.  The strawberry plants seem to be thriving, and if I can beat the slugs to the berries, we even get to have a few of those.   So, this year I’m settling on a healthy crop of leafy red char which fills my blender regularly in healthy green drinks.  And that old stand-by, the hearty garlic.  Like the potato, I think garlic is a plant made for a thick gardener…pretty hard to screw it up .   With that in mind I thought I’d celebrate what did grow for me, and I carefully hung the garlic bulbs to dry until I could braid them into this lovely bunch to hang in my kitchen.  That’s about as “Martha Stewart” as I get.   I’ll have to learn how to coax a tomato plant to grow fruit instead of branches next year, and maybe I’ll get real brave and try my beloved cucumbers again.  For now I’ll just have to be happy sketching rather than growing my vegetable bounty.Fruit and Veggies sketch

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