March 23, 2009

Spring Sowings and Peas...Please

Hi again!

After a long hibernation this winter I've finally awoken to the smell of spring and the many gardening and cooking possibilities that await us in the growing season ahead! My thoughts are on fresh snap peas picked and eaten instantly- save a few for a warm lentil and goat's cheese salad or stir-fry with sesame oil, cashews and rice noodles for an easy dinner. Mmm, the potential for enjoyment is endless...

I hope that everyone had a restful winter because now is certainly the time to begin preparing for the growing season if you haven't started already. For those of you in the UK I'm sure the daffodils are blooming and the weather is 'absolutely balmy' at this point in the season- Enjoy :)

Here it is the first day of proper spring for gardeners across the Okanagan Valley. My neighbour and I were both in the garden this morning planting our first crops of the year. Admittedly I'm playing it safe for now and simply planting cold and frost-hardy peas (Snap peas and regular shelling peas), and Broad beans (also known as Fava beans) which are great sautéed as part of a warm salad. Throwing in some chance (this is like garden financials!) you could plant some lettuce seeds now and they will happily start growing when the soil gets reasonably warm - probably in one month's time- but sometimes the weather surprises you with a really early crop- always a treat!

Last autumn I planted some Kale in mid-August expecting that would allow plenty of time for it to provide a late crop before the winter months set in. Unfortunately the Valley doesn't experience the extended 'Indian Summer' months that I had so enjoyed in the UK, so the Kale's growing season was cut drastically short. However, in the spirit of experimentation, I left the plants in the soil to see if they would survive the winter and continue to grow in the spring.

To my surprise the Kale has started to grow again after the harshest winter seen in years. The snow is still on the mountains and didn't leave the ground until very recently so I am seriously impressed with this Kale and very pleased to be getting an early crop of spring greens. Hurray for positive results! From now on I will plant Kale in the early spring AND early August.

Random Musings:

A little note about winters in Canada:
From what I've experienced this year, being 'new' again to the snowy winter season, winters here are simply enjoyable, quiet, and relaxing. They seem to consist of playing many board games and watching lots of films, trudging through the occasional bit of snow to the local wine bar or café, visiting with friends while bundled up in ski jackets and scarves around huge log fires (going for the maximum warmth factor here), and of course- to offset the pounds of sweets enjoyed over Christmas - lots of skiing and snowshoeing in the great (and very wild) outdoors!

Of course many people here seem to opt out of all of the above and 'fly south' to the U.S states of New Mexico or Arizona where they can enjoy the same activities as in the summer here, but all year round. These people are called 'Snow Birds' by the Americans and a large portion of my family is also a part of this mass migration south. From what I've heard there are literally thousands upon thousands of Canadians in this part of the U.S every winter. I've also been told that a local group has created an entire colony somewhere in Panama...
My view is that, although these trips make for a great renewal, due to the bright, warming sunshine, they can also take away from the forced rest and natural hibernation that a cold and snowy winter provides- something I noticed was greatly missing in the UK- where life was g0-go-go all the time. However, you have to wonder, after experiencing the longest winter ever, not only what I'll say when I'm 60, but also what I'll say next winter.

I wish everyone a productive and enjoyable first couple weeks of Spring season seed sowing!


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