Taking Back the Land: Remembering Roots

My career as a serial plant killer has ended as of this June and there are herbs, vegetables, and fruits happily growing in my yard. I was definitely hopeful, but never thought things would actually turn out as well as they have. Optimism does help!

Pulling flowers from basil to encourage leaf growth. Weird, but I kept smelling my hand after that.

Something nice about this garden has been having a goal, but needing to adopt a more gung-ho attitude to get to this point. Looking forward to a morning dose of sunshine is a good kick in the pants, to get out of bed.

It’s difficult to choose what I like best about this new hobby. When you think about it, growing something and keeping it alive is an incredibly simple concept, but because many of us are so far removed from it and the food production process, reconnecting with the earth is at once, humbling and empowering.

My earliest memories of food in the garden are from my grandma’s house. She immigrated to Canada, from China, sometime in the 40’s and worked hard, toiling in the fields with many others like herself. Her home had rows of her own vegetables and trees, which is not uncommon to people of her culture. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of other Chinese families who have impressive crop yields, and walking through the area makes me smile.

I had a sad thought the other day, that in about 30 years, many of Vancouver’s elderly Asian citizens will have passed on, or might be unable to plant food anymore. Our beautiful Chinatown could potentially face a huge change, in addition to the face of homegrown food, as most of our relatives came here so that their families could have better lives, and now that we do, our interests and leanings don’t necessarily revolve so closely around such familial/cultural traditions. My generation and the one coming after it are seemingly plugged into a lot of things, but disconnected from others.

There are some though, who are reaching out and yearning to take charge. Canadians are so lucky to live in a country where there is just too much food. The only real issues we have to contend with are what type of food there is, how it gets distributed, and to whom it gets distributed. Local and organic food, farmer’s markets, sustainable/local/organic restaurants, and cultivating or preserving your own yummy nibbles are surging in popularity, which makes me happy. So what if they are “newly” novel, quaint, and trendy, I don’t care, as long as it gets people paying attention to what they eat, where their food comes from, how it impacts others, and maybe even encouraging them to start digging and planting and growing. Food is a major connector, and learning is too, so putting the two together just makes sense. Sharing knowledge and edibles with others is now changing our society, plate by plate, and bringing us a real sense of community.

I feel like we as a people are returning to a simpler time, and the little chunk of peace that I get while watering plants in the morning is definitely a welcome escape from doom-and-gloom news. Here are some photos to perk you up!

Go put your hands in some dirt. After making sure your tetanus shot status is up-to-date.

Eat well!

Kari

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2 Responses to Taking Back the Land: Remembering Roots

  1. B says:

    Small tip: On hot days it’s better to water in the evening around dusk. Watering in the morning is fine for the plants, but it can waste water because it evaporates from the soil throughout the day. Unless you water at like 5am, in which case there is still decent soaking in time before the heat rolls in.

  2. kchellouf says:

    Hi B!!

    I’ve done both to see what works best. I usually water around 9 AM, before it gets really warm out, and have tried watering in the evening around 8ish.

    It’s true that a lot of the water evaporates because of the heat of the sunlight, but I met a Master Gardener at a farmer’s market and she and the other MG said that if I water in the evening, the water does stay with the plant longer, but can lead to mold growing in the soil and infecting/killing the plant. Eeek! It was a little weird to me because I usually think of mold growing in places that are warm, not cool in the night, but that doesn’t stop food I’ve left too long in the fridge from going fuzzy. Bleh!

    What I settled on was continuing to water in the morning, but to go around the garden twice, or water them for a bit longer, so they don’t get thirsty and the water has a chance to evaporate through the day. It’s a bit of a compromise, but the plants seem to enjoy it!

    Thanks for the tip!

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