2012 Vegetable Garden – Planting Time

Grandpa GeoK grew up on a small-holding and as an adult he carried on his family’s practice of growing fruit and vegetables. Growing up, Mrs. GeoK spent many hours out in the garden picking raspberries, pulling carrots, eating peaches and apples picked off the tree and generally enjoying the taste of homegrown produce. While it was easy to grow a wide variety of produce in the sunny Okanagan (British Columbia), it’s a little more challenging to grow things in here in Calgary (Alberta) – but that hasn’t stopped us from trying!

When we moved into our home in the early 1990s, we set aside a portion of the back yard for growing fruits and vegetables. Mr. GeoK carefully constructed 4 raised garden beds for vegetables and we planted a half-dozen bare-root, everbearing raspberry canes. Our GeoKids are experienced potato, pea and carrot farmers and are expert raspberry pickers.

This year we’re changing things up a bit. Last fall we tore out some of the lawn in the back yard and planted a couple of apple trees and a cherry tree. We’ve planted a dozen strawberry plants in the new planting bed around the cherry tree. Last week we added a whole bunch of new soil and steer manure to the raised beds. We decided not to grow potatoes anymore, since they usually take up half the growing space and we’ve had very poor harvests over the past few years. Instead, we’ve planted 8 new raspberry plants in one of the raised beds, including golden and black fruit varietals. We hope these raspberries will supplement the harvest from volunteer descendants of the original plants from 2 decades ago, since the deer did quite a bit of damage to those ones over the past winter.

We just finished planting the remaining three plots with carrots, beets, parsnips, leeks, scarlet runner beans, a cabbage plant, a couple of zucchini plants, peas and tomato plants. Although we’ve grown carrots and peas in past years, we’re trying the rest of these vegetables for the first time. We also put another couple of tomato plants and a sweet bell pepper plant into pots which will sit alongside the raised beds.

Our 2012 vegetable garden just after planting
GeoKs’ 2012 vegetable garden just after planting.

Now comes the tricky part of keeping the soil moist – but not too moist – until everything sprouts. And we also have to keep a close eye on the weather forecast so we know whether to cover the tomato plants at night.

Frost bonnets over the tomato plants
Frost bonnets over the tomato plants.

Raspberry harvest
We’ve observed over the years that there seems to be a two-year pattern to our raspberry crop. It seems that if we have a big crop one year, we should expect a much smaller crop the next year. We try to balance things out by putting more raspberries into the freezer in years of plenty, so that we always have home-grown fruit to use when baking muffins and coffee cake and making jam.
We look forward to discovering what grows well and what’s a waste of our precious garden space as the 2012 growing season progresses. And most of all, we look forward to the upcoming harvest!

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