Growing up in Toronto meant that there wasn’t a ton of opportunity to grow your own food in your backyard. Chalk it up to dramatic temperature changes and the frozen winter. Even though we didn’t have a grocery store in our backyard, my parents always instilled in me a love for fresh, homemade food that I appreciate everyday. Since I’ve moved to Vancouver, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to year-round local produce from the Farmer’s Market (yes, even in the middle of the winter) and growing our own herbs on our front patio. While one day I’d love to have a much bigger vegetable plot, I’m more than happy with the arugula, jalapeño (not doing that well this year) basil, celery, parsley and rosemary that we grow. It makes upping the flavour profile in your food that much easier, and I absolutely love the look and smell.
While sitting around the dinner table last weekend with Peter’s parents and munching on an egg dish filled with potatoes, peppers, onions and zucchini all from the garden, I mentioned that I would love to one day have a chicken in our backyard. While the drawbacks of having such a…pet…may inhibit us from actually taking the leap, I was pleasantly surprised by what was said: “Sophie, you’re such a farm girl at heart!” While most people know I’ve lived in the city my whole life and I’m pretty far from being a farm girl, I was happy that my roots (my dad grew up on a farm) were somehow shining through in my adult life. I’m also lucky enough to date an Italian who’s family is full of gardening experience and advice and who yearns to carry on the traditions of his parents and grandparents while I’m along for the ride.
While I may never life on a farm (never say never) and I may never have a chicken, I’m lucky to see the value in growing your own produce: ease, affordability, health, and beauty. I’ll always have some sort of vegetable/herb growing near our home and I’ll try to make use of it as much as possible.
One thing we try to keep in mind is: sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Last year, we planted a jalapeño plant that got about 6 different peppers on it. This year, no dice and who knows why! Just keep trying new things and you’ll realize what works and doesn’t work. We tried to plant strawberries as well and we yielded one strawberry…in two years. It was a really good strawberry though.
Ultimately, it’s all about having fun and being inspired by your surroundings. Walking into our place and seeing our herbs everyday gives me a sense of homeyness that would definitely be missing if they weren’t there.
Do you grow your own food? What works for you?
PS – it’s almost my favourite time of the year in Peter’s grandma’s garden – FIG SEASON!