Growing up in the 70’s & 80’s, well life was much simpler back then. There was no technology to entertain us other than the great outdoors. It was the mid 80’s when my parents built and moved into a house on a 1/4 acre lot. I watched from afar as they planted a garden starting with just your basics, potatoes, beans, peas, and carrots. Over time, as they mastered these plants, more and more were added to the garden. A greenhouse for tomatoes and cucumbers, the back part of the yard became Berry Lane with raspberries, red currents, strawberries and gooseberries. In later years we added a Saskatoon bush, that came about following a trip to visit family in Regina and my secretly harvesting a branch from one of our relatives Saskatoon Branch. I safely transported it all the way back to BC and we planted it. A miracle really but it grew into a massive bush that lives on to this day.
Also added into the mix in the front yard were fruit trees. Crabapple, Damson Plum, Cherry and Apple. I still remember fondly my dads constant battle with the robins to keep them away and out of his Cherry trees. He tried everything except a gun. Which was probably a good thing since we were in a residential neighbourhood.
As you can imagine this labour of love produced enough fruits and vegetables each year to fill a grocery store. Or at least it seemed like it through the eyes of a child. There was canning, jams, jellies, pies, pierogies and eventually fruit wine. And as a child I didn’t see it then, but looking back I was really lucky to grow up surrounded by all this freshness. Clearly the impact on me is obvious!
As an adult with a family of my own, I haven’t lived in one place for very long, or rather long enough to establish a garden until recently.We are Zone 3 for growing here in Calgary, and that is challenging at best as our season is short.
Our yard has needed a lot of work and it’s taken time. We’ve dug out a garden and been working on the soil. So far the kids and I have done some planting, mostly container planting and have managed to successfully grow beans, peppers (from seed), tomatoes (also from seed), peas, carrots, radishes and lettuce. Two years ago we planted raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. So far we’ve had strawberries and I predict raspberries this summer as our raspberry bush has quadrupled in size and gave us some berries late last Summer which didn’t have enough time to ripen. I can’t wait for the kids to start picking fresh raspberries!
The exposure to gardening I had growing up taught me to love most fruits and vegetables. I immensely enjoy how it feels to grow your own food and love teaching my kids how important it is. One of our family favourite vegetables is carrots. You can do tons with carrots including salads. My mom used to make a grated carrot and raisin salad when we were kids. I also love fresh herbs and tend to have these in container pots. One of my favourite herbs is Mint and so adding it to this salad, or almost any salad really, makes it magnificent!
We’ve kept the flavours in this carrot and mint salad simple. And it works cause the minions love it. Perfect side. Perfect meal for one.
The Canadian Food Project Experience was started on June 7, 2013 by Valerie Lugonja of A Canadian Foodie. It’s a compilation of Canadian Food Bloggers who are committed to sharing their time, unique regional Canadian food experiences, and recipes. We hope to bring clarity to our Canadian Culinary identity.