Reflections on Last Year's Season
Before I get started on all the brand new content for this coming year, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how things went in 2017 in terms of gardening and foraging. As you remember I posted my goals at the beginning of last year, and as I was coming up with some ideas and plans for this year I spent some time going over them to see how everything played out.
Last year contained a lot of surprises, and I was surprised to find that while I felt things in the garden went really well I actually didn't achieve most of what I put on my list, or at least had mixed results. I don't feel bad about this. Setting goals in this area helped guide me, but gardening is so unpredictable, and I'm also the kind of person who makes decisions on the fly, so it's not a shock to see that I missed the mark on a lot of things. Every year of gardening is such a learning experience and I feel that I grow each year as much - or more - than the things I plant. I do this to grow food, for sure, but I also do this because it is good for me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I've made some goals again this year, but I fully expect that there will be some that I won't meet again, and that will be ok. I do hope to keep gradually getting better with tomatoes, squash, and peppers though!
In terms of specific goals, foraging went really well this past year. For the majority of the plants on my list I was either able to learn how to find and identify them, or learn how to use the things I already knew were available. Some of the things I missed were my fault, and some - like the Oregon grapes - just weren't producing this year. I also learned to use medicinal flowers a lot more this year and I am very happy to have added that to my life. I made an amazing dandelion and daisy salve that works so well on minor injuries and especially blisters.
There were so many new plants or new varieties of familiar plants to grow this year. We tried wheat for the first time, and I planted some potatoes that I got from a local farmer that are pink all the way through and keep their colour so well during cooking. Even though most of my herb garden didn't make it through the uncharacteristically harsh winter I still got respectable harvests from it. I grew my first substantial carrots this year, and had great success with mystery volunteer compost pile squash. I bought a tea plant and learned to process the tea leaves into a couple very drinkable types of tea.
I hope I can always be experimenting. I have loved the past couple years of becoming familiar with this land. It amazes me that in the place with the least rainfall in the province (and I believe maybe in the entire country) there is still so much abundance.
One downside of this year that did hinder my time spent foraging, and to some extent gardening also, was the terrible wildfire season we had. I am sad to say that it broke all the records and became the worst wildfire season our province has ever seen. There were so many days that the health authority issued air quality advisories, and since we have Little Forager we opted to try to find indoor fun a lot of the time. Hopefully that is not the case as much this summer, although I am sure a few fires are inevitable. As devastating as they can be in a human environment, wildfires are actually a natural part of the rejuvenation process of the land, so it's not all bad. Looking on the what positive sides there are in a situation like this we also got quite a few spectacular sunsets because of the smoke in the air.
One of the things I was so excited about for this year was a chance to teach Little Forager about the garden. I knew he would be potentially also a source of chaos and destruction, but I still couldn't wait until he was old enough to understand some of what he was seeing. I am happy to say that the destruction was minimal, and that he so enjoyed "helping" me. His favourite things this past year were to pick random leaves, to dig with his little shovel, and to spot (and eat) berries and peas. I hardly got to eat any of my strawberries this year because he was so good at finding them. It also didn't help that he considered any berry with the slightest blush of colour ready to eat, but that's ok. Part of the reason I am doing this is to pass on the joy that comes from being in the garden, and if that means fewer strawberries for me that's a fair exchange.
Foraging this year included some items for food, and some items for wreath making. I was able to open the A Forager's Home Shop this past October, and that has been a lot of fun as well as a learning experience. Things are going really well there and I am so grateful for all the support as I try to navigate this whole e-commerce thing.
Although we had terrible luck again this year, I still enjoyed all our fishing trips. We need to get our hands on a boat, or some fly rods since we never catch anything! There are some amazingly beautiful places to fish in Kamloops so I never feel like I wasted my time in going. I think we also need to plan ahead more and get babysitters lined up for when we want to go since it is getting really hard to wrangle a wriggly toddler determined to explore everything as fast as he can, and still try to catch fish. In not too long he might be old enough to try fishing himself, and I can't wait for him to have that experience.
2017 was a really amazing year. I can't wait to see what the coming year brings. I have loads of plans, goals, and dreams for it, but obviously life will bring its own twists and turns. I am sure there will be many challenges to navigate, but many wondrous opportunities as well.
How did your year go? What are you dreaming about for your future? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below. I'm not just saying that, either. I really do want to hear from you - especially after taking the time to read such a lengthy post like this! Best wishes to all my readers for a bright and happy 2018.