Arts & Life

Spill the Beans: Waiting for growth

When I moved to the farm after 13 years of living in the city, my grandmother suggested I start small. You know, small garden, only a few chickens, don’t bite off more than you can chew…I didn’t really listen. Maybe I should have. But now, almost three years into my prairie farm life, I think it might be too late to heed her wise advice…

Spill the beans is a weekly column chronicling my attempts at a self-sufficient life on this small prairie farm.


It’s early. Like really early. But, as usual, I couldn’t help myself. After a winter of eating plastic boxes full of lettuce and spinach, well…there just wasn’t any choice.

I planted my lettuce on April 12.

And up until this point, it was totally hiding under ground, (no… seriously…I’m beginning to think that veggies, or at least lettuce, is an intelligent life form) afraid to come out, for fear of either being frozen to death, blown out of the ground by the wind, or rotting in the ground before germinating. I could see glimpses of green beneath the soil for about a week, waiting for rain, but not even thinking about breaching the soil.

Normally, lettuce is one of the easiest and most reliable veggies to grow. It germinates quickly, and is ready to eat (sometimes) within the month. And it keeps growing even when you cut it to make your garden-fresh salads. So you can see why I was motivated to get it in the ground.

Not, apparently, if you put it into the ground on April 12.

Finally, today, after about two and a half weeks, the lettuce finally decided it might be warm enough (on a 25°C day) to show its tender green face. So much for planting early, I guess.  You’re probably thinking it serves me right, for thinking anything I plant will grow just when I want it to.

But here it is….as stubborn as could be…taunting me with it’s tiny lime green leaves, knowing it will be at least three weeks before I can eat it (as long as the deer and the rabbits don’t get to it first..bastards).

Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

Right now, I’ve got two sorrel plants that appear to be dead. This exact thing happened last year. My sorrel looked dead so I bought a second plant. And the day I planted the second sorrel plant, the first sorrel plant had a few green leaves. Both plants grew to astounding heights and I couldn’t make enough Mennonite soup to keep it tamed. This year, they both look dead, and I’m considering a third plant. What is wrong with me?

Friends, it’s a curse.

Apparently, I am not blessed with a gardener’s patience. I want to know that everything I planted last year and the year before that is healthy and thriving and coming up bigger and better than last year. And I don’t want to wait to find out.

But waiting is all you can do.

So today, after some warm sunny days, and a little bit of desperately needed moisture, I walked through my gardens. (Actually, that last sentence made it sound like this is something I never do. And that would be a lie. I am neurotic about checking the gardens to see what is happening. It’s not unheard of to see me, wearing a dress and heels just home from work, digging weeds out of the garden with a spade. But I digress…)

This time of year is the best. Or the first part of the best (there are many “bests” to come, trust me).

A word of caution about the following pictures, though. This is real life gardening folks. It’s messy. There are weeds. Debris is everywhere. Deer poop might even show up in a couple of shots. And yet, I hope you see the beauty of it and are perhaps inspired to try it yourself.

Spinach – growing in places I did not plant it. But welcome nevertheless. Photo credit: Jamie Dyck


Nanking cherry
Nanking Cherry, getting ready to bloom. And I’m definitely considering the possibility of jam. Photo credit: Jamie Dyck


The chives are over a foot tall and looking unruly as always. Photo credit: Jamie Dyck


Jamie Dyck is newbie farmer. Follow her on twitter @jndyck.