My home vegetable garden, the farm I grew up on is my home base for a few weeks on my 2016 road trip. Manning, Alberta is a small town of 1100 people, situated along Highway 35 in the northern part of the province. The farm is just 7 miles west of the Manning.
I am north enough to have sun setting close to midnight at this time of year, something I have not experienced for a long while. I have not spent more that a week or so visiting here since I left for university in 1979.
My family moved the homestead in 1963 when I was two. Our house had been an old school
house that was moved onto this property. My
6 siblings and I grew up in this house and on this farm property. Throughout my childhood my dad was a grain farmer and my mom tended the garden, chickens and occasionally other farm animals. Looking back we had a very ideal and loving upbringing.
The garden patch was always huge, I remember on a Saturday morning my Mom would pick 5 gallon pails of beans and peas, we would have to shell the peas and cut the beans for canning. It felt like a chore at the time; now it would be wonderful to have that time back. One of the other things I remember having to do was hill the potatoes. We always had potatoes all winter as well as seed potatoes the next spring.
Another memory is loving the fresh carrots. Pulling them, wiping off the dirt on my pant leg and eating the crunchy sweet veggie.
Since I started gardening myself I now know how hard my Mom must have worked to feed us. We ate what she grew; she canned and froze enough to carry us over the winter months. I remember the root cellar was always filled with canning and stored potatoes.
A few thinks have changed since the 1970’s. Over the years the garden patch has gotten smaller. In the late 1980’s a greenhouse was moved from her parents farm PIC so Mom could start her flowers and grow tomato, cucumbers and peppers. More flowers than vegetables were suddenly showing in the home vegetable garden. Today the greenhouse is still standing a little ram shackled but still smells of warmth and earth.
Since we all left home Mom started reducing the size of her vegetable garden and increased her flower garden. Soon there were more flowers than veggies. Her garden was on the local garden tours for several years.
In the last 15 years of so as my Mom’s mobility changed her garden moved up to the deck around the house. Beautiful pots of flowers like peonies, dahlias and more pots filled with veggies like tomatoes and herbs. My Dad started taking over planting some basics in the home vegetable garden – potatoes, carrots. The raspberry patch and rhubarb is still going strong today.
Four years ago my parents moved into a house in town. They sold off the land except for 21 acreages around the yard or homestead as they still call it. The farm house now sits with just the basics in it. My older brother lives here part time when working in the area so it is inhabited some of the time.
Since moving to the town house my Mom's passion for gardening is still strong. Every year she plants pots of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and many flowers in a garden bed as well recycled washtubs and an old milk separator.
Even though my parents have a wonderful guest room in their house in town I decided to stay at the farm house for the month that I was visiting. I live in Vancouver, a very busy, always moving city, so part
of my choice to stay on the farm was the quiet. Sitting on the deck and hearing the breeze through the trees was very relaxing and nurturing. I wanted to have time to write and felt
embracing this space would be good for me and I was close enough to visit my family every day.
My Dad comes to the farm most afternoons to work in his workshop and mow the huge lawn. Last year the garden had been decimated by grasshoppers so he is hesitant to plant anything this year. He said the winter was not really cold enough to kill them off.
Since this home vegetable garden is
now more of “something to do” than needed for food he will cultivate the soil and let this home vegetable garden rest this season.
This acreage is a big part of my family history, however living so far away the last 3 decades I have not been able to really enjoy it. Perhaps it is in my future - as I dream of retiring and having a tiny house, this would be the perfect spot to enjoy over the summer months tending this beautiful and nurturing home vegetable garden.