Funny how things happen. This evening I was thinking (especially as it got closer to supper time and I got hungrier) about growing vegetables in the big garden at the Manse, and had decided that would be the subject of tonight’s post. And then I discovered a most interesting comment from a reader, Liz, to yesterday’s post about shutters, and Liz has a blog called – ta-da! – Digital Gardener. It is a beautiful blog about, you guessed it, gardening, but somewhat unusual gardening; in addition to vegetables and things, Liz grows fibre and dye plants. Imagine: in Eastern Ontario, she is growing cotton! Now that is cool. I encourage you to check our her progress: digitalgardener.wordpress.com.
So yes, it’s about a garden. When my family lived at the Manse we had a huge garden: the side yard of the house (the photo atop this post) plus, eventually – when Will and Isabelle Holmes across the street (Will being the gent who warned us “Don’t drink the water!” on our very first day at the Manse in July 1964) were too elderly to keep up their garden – another large plot. So while in summertime we kids were spared the “Wood!” (I’m quoting my dad, being imperative) chore (that would be filling up the woodbox for the wood stove in the Manse’s kitchen), we instead had the weeding chore. Which I loathed, but I think in my approaching dotage I can get quite into it. Very zen, it seems to me.
What also makes it appealing is that we can’t really grow stuff where we live in Montreal. Our house has many charms, but a sunny balcony is not one of them. Our back deck gets some nice morning sun, but not enough to keep plants happy. Every year I try to grow a collection of herbs (the most important thing in the garden, as far as I’m concerned; there is nothing like cutting some fresh rosemary or sage or parsley to use in dinner), and every year it’s pretty much a failure. Herbs are so undemanding, but the one thing they do want is full sun, and we just can’t give them that.
So the first thing I will plant at the Manse will be a herb garden. Maybe at the front of the house, on either side of the steps down from the front porch. Chives, parsley (Italian and curly), chervil, oregano, thyme, basil (though basil always reminds me of the ’80s, when we all ate more pesto than enough), marjoram, sage, tarragon, rosemary. But no coriander! It is loathesome. (Raymond does not agree. I read an article a few years ago [it’s here] that said people have a genetic predisposition to find the taste of coriander – or cilantro, if you want to get all fancy about it – either delightful or disgusting. I fall into the latter group. As, I am proud to say, did one of my very greatest heroes, Julia Child. You can watch Julia making an omelette here. Do so, and bon appétit!)
And in the garden proper I will have:
Tomatoes (it will be fun to research the various heirloom varieties), corn (old-fashioned yellow, not peaches and cream), green beans, peas, beets, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, rutabagas, squashes summer and winter, maybe spinach (is spinach hard to grow?), carrots, and most important of all: potatoes! (That’s the Northern Irish in me.)
And Raymond says garlic. Can one actually grow garlic successfully in a home garden?
More to the point: has a Sedgwick ever had garlic in his or her garden in all of recorded history? (We are Protestants, after all.)
I feel there are seed catalogues in my future. And garlic adventures.