It was NOT easy! I'm an accomplished gardener who can grow plants in a variety of adverse conditions, but 2021 was unlike anything I've experienced.
Yes, we're in the middle of a global plandemic, lockdowns, mandatory injections, forced passports, concentration camps for dissidents, media propaganda, and brutal censorship... but a more direct threat to my garden this year came in the form of geoengineering. In late June, the fake "heat dome" over me in Southern BC Canada, which took entire small towns right off the map with flash wildfires, turned an already dry area into a tinder box. It made international headlines, and was blamed on manmade global warming (even though the fire was deliberately lit.)
Then, the nearby forest fires were mismanaged on purpose, allowed to burn, and then re-lit when rain and cold weather put them out. Now they're doing "controlled burns", continuing the dangerous air pollution for another month. We had orange and purple skies for most of the summer, the air was thick with smoke and ash, and even inside we could barely breathe. My toddler and pregnant wife had to inhale toxic particles and gases for weeks on end, and it's still going on, for no good reason! I documented some of our hell here.
And my garden, which was coated in ash, devoid of pollinating bees, shaded by smoke, and unreachable due to daytime temperatures of 45oC, suffered immensely. See the above photo, which was not altered in any way. It was really that colour, and really that dark, at 6pm in the middle of summer! I set out in 2021 saying it would be my best year for food production EVER. It was a lofty goal, but one I was set to achieve. Food prices are on the rise and my family is on a very limited income. Any change in costs means we take a reduction to our quality of life, so I put hundreds of hours (essentially most of my time and energy) into my garden, hoping to haul in some food and reduce our bills.
I came nowhere near my goal
The 2 tomatoes shown above represent about 5% of my entire crop this year - and I dedicated half my garden to tomatoes! In other words, I'll get a small cardboard box or so, from 10+ plants. I've grown tomatoes for about 30 summers of my life, so it's not that I don't know what I'm doing. I've pulled in much larger harvests, from a similar amount of land, on years with horrible rainy and cold weather. Growing tropical fruit plants in Canada takes a bit of skill but it can be done.
This year? Not so much. I'll barely get all my seeds back. Yeah, I'm 100% heirloom.
The heirloom life
I grow not only organically, but heirloom, which means I don't buy plants, seedlings, seeds, or anything to start my garden. I use seeds/cuttings/bulbs I collected from plants I grew myself the year before. Or sometimes several years before, as in the case of those Old German tomatoes. I got the seeds 12 years ago from a YouTube subscriber, and wasn't able to grow them out until now! Many had died, but I managed to get 5 seeds to sprout. I coaxed 3 into healthy seedlings, of which 2 plants survived to adulthood, and are now producing me a few tomatoes. So I'll get those really special genetics back, and I'll have plenty of seeds for next year etc.
There's another special variety, called Black Plum. When ripe they'll be part maroon and part blackish-green, very pretty and very tasty. I've never grown this particular strain but I've grown ones like it. These genetics are also important to me, and I don't have any spare seeds, so I am counting on these maturing and ripening so I can eat them and save some seeds.
Here are some more Black Plums soaking up the waning Canadian afternoon sunlight, as we head into fall. We weren't allowed to water our gardens just 2 weeks ago because of the drought, heat waves, and nearby fires... tonight it will be cold enough to see your breath, and rain is expected for the next week. Amazing how things can change so quickly sometimes.
It's not pretty, but that will keep frost from ending my tomato season early, tonight. I'll uncover them in the morning.
I still can't get over the change in conditions. Just a month ago, it was MISERABLE. There was nowhere to go, to escape the heat. The air felt like it had no oxygen, even on days when it wasn't smoky. The air was above human body temperature, so fans just made things worse. Night was hardly any better, still too hot to move, or think, or sleep. All we could do was suffer, and endure, and hope to survive. Sadly, at least 1000 people near us perished in that heat.
It's strange, I've met a lot of people who lost family members in the heat wave. And I've met a lot of people who lost family members to Covid "vaccine" side effects. But I've never met anyone who lost family members to Covid.
Anyway, there are several plants out in the main garden, which I've thrown a tarp over:
Again, not graceful, but it will get us through the night. Milder (but wet) conditions are expected after that. If it gets too wet, I'll probably just have to harvest the rest, green. Too much rain causes plants to get moldy and fruit to get split.
Under the tarp is a Roma (great all around red bell shaped tomato), the 2 Old Germans, a Sweet 100 (cherry tomatoes), and a couple Orange Bells. The Orange Bell tomatoes are another old favourite of mine, one I haven't grown since my grandmother was alive in 2015. @MediKatie and I were living with her in Vancouver so she didn't have to die in a care facility. She had a nice old house and garden, and we took full advantage of it by growing food and flowers. I became chronically ill when she died in 2016 (still don't know exactly what's wrong but it's like MS), and we ended up homeless and in bad situations for a couple years. We stabilized in a little apartment, but couldn't really grow tomatoes until we moved out of Vancouver to have our son. This was the first real chance I've had to get my seeds back into soil. Luckily, several of my Orange Bells germinated. I got a few to adulthood, but the heat wave prevented them from transplanting into the garden (plants need cool weather to root). I had to wait until AUGUST (normally tomatoes go out into the garden in May)! So they are (hopefully) going to produce me at least a few tomatoes, so I can get the seeds back, and not lose those genetics. It's a race against the first frost.
If I pull this off, I'll have SIX really really good tomato strains in my seed bank:
- Sweet 100
- Amish Paste
- Old German
- Orange Bell
- Black Plum
Heirloom gardening has pros and cons, and overall is a little bit trickier than buying and raising plants from a store. But you are your own store, forever, once you figure it out. And you're doing things the way Nature has done them for thousands and millions of years. From seed, to soil, to plant, to flower, to fruit, to seed. Nature works in a neverending cycle, and humans can fit into that cycle if we do things right.
Yeah! Pumpkins! I used to hate the idea of eating pumpkins... aren't they only for carving into Jack O Lanterns at Halloween? Hehehe, it wasn't until I hit 40 or so I discovered they are just a round and organge squash, one of hundreds of different squashes. No wonder pumpkin plants look just like squash plants! And the seeds are the same. And they taste the same. I guess I should have figured that out sooner, but better late than never :))
I got 2 pumpkins about that size, from 3 plants. Not great yield at all, but I got something. Looking forward to carving and/or cooking them!
Again this year, I grew a few large squash plants right in the middle of the back lawn. They did well this year, but a lack of pollinators (like bees) meant I only got 5 successful fruits off it. They look great, though, and will end up in stews and curries as the weather turns cold here. Yum!
Turns cold? It IS cold! I'm sitting here in my sweat pants, and I've got the heat on.
But cool weather is good for spring crops. Since we had no spring this year, I'm going to do some spinach and peas now. Why not? I should have until at least Halloween, perhaps longer, before truly cold weather puts an end to gardening for the year.
The potatoes will be dug up soon. And it's time for the garlic to go back into the ground for winter. If you don't already grow garlic, get a bulb from the store (organic is best), break it up into cloves, and plant them a few inches down and a few inches apart. Do it 2-3 weeks before you expect freezing temperatures, and they'll be ready to harvest in July.
Despite all the time put into the garden this year, and the low yield, it wasn't a total loss. I spent time outside, and much of it with my wife and son. I got more experience, especially with growing in drought conditions. And it looks like I will get my genetics back, restocking my seed bank.
It could have been much worse. Grama was always big on "count your blessings". I'm counting my blessings, and there are many.
My little indoor medicine patch, with 3 Reclining Buddha cannabis females, has reached that special moment, too. It's graduation day!
It was a pretty solid grow. I think this was my 8th time growing - all right here on the blockchain - with this technique, which means basically like any other houseplant. They just sit in the corner of my little office, with a lamp and fan, and I give them plain water. I like proving that just about anybody can grow cannabis. It's not a difficult plant to get a basic understanding of. It doesn't require any equipment, it's not expensive, and it's not very hard.
What's more, cannabis is an incredible plant, with intense medicinal properties. It's not just about that one particular effect (getting "high"). There are over 100 cannabinoids, and dozens of terpenes and other active compounds found in cannabis. It is one of the safest psychoactive substances known. My wife would not live long without it. It saved my life. I know a lot of people who have similar stories about cannabis.
This plant isn't very hard to grow, and doing so can save lives. THAT is why I'm passionate about sharing my experiences here with you!
Mmmmm, drying in the dark and stinking up my bedroom! I love waking up in room that smells like a dispensary stock room. A black market, non-legalized dispensary, of course.
My 3 plants are partly trimmed and hanging, which is a good feeling. This crop was almost at the same time as my buddy @jonyoudyer's, and it was fun growing along with him (and some other guys). It's always nice when the garden is empty, but yeah, it isn't long before you start to itch to have something growing. It's truly an urge. If you're not growing right now, but you have in the past, you probably know what I mean. Yeah it's a hassle, but it's also what fulfills a need deep down in your soul. Or, at least it does for me. It's in my blood, and I intend to grow cannabis every chance I get for the rest of my life.
Times are really hard, really scary, really dire. We're heading into global communism, and supply chain disruptions or even breakdowns. I think more than ever, having some good seeds for your region, and some tools, and some skills, is incredibly important. I don't want anyone reading this to feel pressured, or shamed, or inadequate if they don't have those things. I'm not trying to discourage anyone. On the contrary, I'd like to encourage you and empower you. If there's any way I can help, please let me know. Even if it's just a little gardening advice here and there, I don't mind at all.
I am sincerely hoping near year will be better in terms of weather, politically-caused fires, lockdowns, etc. Assuming I'm still at this spot, I'm going to be doing it all again, but this time, hopefully with even better results!
Grow in peace.