Hopes and Dreams

So I started this blog to share my adventures and my knowledge with you.

Today I would like to share my hopes and my dreams with you.

Because I’ve realized (and known for awhile) that I don’t have that much knowledge. I am not an expert in most matters. But I think the thing that has inspired people the most, that has excited people the most, is when I speak to them about my hopes and dreams.

I think that perhaps, the fire they see in my eyes, is inspiring. And it inspires people, not to live the life I want to lead, but to live the life they want to lead. Passion is contagious.

When you see someone so passionate about something, it inspires you to the find the same passion in yourself.

And so today, that is what I am going to do.

Ever since I left university, and finally felt free to do whatever it was I wanted to do, my life motto has been “who knows?”. Who knows what will become of my future. There are an infinite amount of possibilities. And that is extremely exciting.

Who I am today, and who I am tomorrow are two different people. How am I to know that what I want today is the same thing I will want 10, 20 or 100 days from now.

There are many things in life that are out of our control, and you never know what life is going to throw at you.

So, as much as it is in our nature to want to be able to predict the future, we ultimately cannot.

(However, I do believe in creating your reality, and believing in something so much that you make it happen)

Nothing is permanent in life. Something is always changing. No one and nothing belongs to you.

I’ve come to the point in my life where I am aware, that I know nothing for certain, I simply choose to believe.

And even at that, I don’t attach myself to any ideas or thoughts of the future. Because you never know what is going to happen. You might want to, in order to make yourself feel secure, or safe, but life is about being able to go with the flow. It’s about choosing to see the positive side of the coin (being aware of the negative) but choosing to focus on the positive (because why the hell not).

Anywho, I’m getting off topic.

After university, I travelled to South Korea, because I wanted to travel, and experiment with teaching.

I loved teaching, but didn’t love South Korea. So I decided not to spend any  more time in a place that I knew I didn’t want to be in, and took off travelling.

At first, I thought I would fly straight to Malaysia and start organic farming, which was something I also wanted to experiment with. However, I was so close to Japan and the Great Wall of China, that I told myself “take advantage of it while you can, because you might never get this opportunity again”.

And the more I live life, the more often I am grateful for the times that I told myself, “take advantage of the opportunity you are being given now”. Hop on it. Either you will be thankful you did, or you will learn an important lesson. It’s a win-win scenario.

When I got back from travelling, I went back to the Keg because I was in debt, and it was the easy thing to do. But I am so thankful that I decided to go work on a farm the following summer. (I love the Keg, but “been there, done that”).

I very much believe in the slogan “it’s better to regret having done something, than to regret not having done anything at all”.

Again, farming was something that I figured I would try. Either I was going to like it, or I wouldn’t. If I didn’t, well then it wasn’t a mistake, it was a learning experience. If I didn’t like it, at least I could say I tried it, and now it is off the list. But you have to try things in life to figure out what you like doing. And I really do believe that most of life is about trying things and figuring out what you don’t like doing until you are left with what you do like doing.

But I really do feel like I struck gold somehow. I had been listening to my heart for awhile at that point, and it finally brought me to the place that I wanted to be. In that moment that is. I feel like I’ve stumbled along a path, and that path is currently bringing me through organic gardening, farming, homesteading. But the path is endless, and perhaps this forest will last forever, but I may also come to a clearing at some point, or a river, or a volcano, or who the hell knows.

But once you’ve started listening to your heart, it’s extremely hard to not listen to it. And it will lead you wherever it wants to go. (Of course these are all metaphors, God knows what I am even saying).

Okay, off track (a bit) again.

I got back from farming, and told myself that my one goal for the next year was to learn how to be self-sufficient. To learn how to grow food on my own. To be able to feed my family and friends.

And that is what I am doing. Granted, not as well as I would have liked. I had over the winter, put more focus into my job and paying rent than really doing what I had wanted to do. “As is life” many of us would say.

But I have now decided to follow my heart once again.

I still want to do my garden. And I do not want to do it half assed. (Screw multitasking which gets you nowhere quick, instead of doing one job extremely well in 5 days, you do 10 jobs 10% well.) I want to do it well. And I will see where that takes me.

Perhaps I will do a great job and the nuns in the Monastery will ask me to use their land next year to grow on a bigger scale.

Perhaps I will gain the confidence to work on a bigger scale and use land in Oka that a friend of the family has.

Perhaps friends of mine will buy a piece of land and I will live on it and start a successful business that we can split 50/50.

Perhaps I will not get into commercial farming at all (or at least not yet) and instead I will choose to live off grid, in a sustainable, self-sufficient community.

Perhaps I will go to construction school around the corner for cheap and learn how to build my own home, and learn on the side how to do so with recycled materials and alternative energy sources.

Who knows what will happen!

All I know right now, is that I want to work on my garden. And I believe that if I do that, and listen to my heart, then only good things will come. And really, that’s not what makes me feel good. I don’t rely on good things “coming” to me. Instead, I focus on what makes me happy. And doing what makes me happy. I do believe that if I do that, then good things will come (because that is what I choose to believe). But my focus is not on the ends, it is on the means. Because you never know what is going to happen.

But if life is a summation of the present, then as long as you make sure you are happy in the present, you are bound to have a wonderful life. So that is what I plan to do.

And a wonderful life is what I wish for all. Whatever that life is. All I can say is follow your heart, it won’t let you down.

follow your heart

So I need to add on to this post.

I forgot to mention my present, most grandiose dream.

It’s an expansion of the “off-grid, sustainable, self-sufficient community” dream.

I would love to work outside every day. I would love to grow my own food. I would love to have mobile greenhouses set up for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sweet potatoes. I would love to have a super greenhouse for avocado trees, lemons, grapefruits, figs, and even banana trees. I would love to have apple trees and other native fruit bearing trees. From which we could make apple juice, apple cider and apple cider vinegar. I would love to have maple trees from which we could harvest sap. I would love to have bees, to help rebuild their community and ensure they do not go extinct.

All of this of course is a lot for one person. And that is why a community is so important. Everyone has their specialty, something they are better at than others. And so everyone would have their specialty, and we could share amongst ourselves, but we could also come together to help each other with our daily tasks when need be.

I also love the idea of having camps or educational programs, where kids could learn about food and take part in producing it. Not only would it be great to have young kids taking part in all of this, but I also think it would be good for kids in Juvy or having difficulties in life. Learning how to grow your own food is extremely empowering, and can build your confidence like crazy. It also makes you feel like you are doing something very productive, very important. It would also be good for sick people or elderly people. Basically, being outside, getting dirty and breathing fresh air is good for everyone’s mental and physical health.

Everyone would be welcome. And those who really enjoy the life style would be welcome to stay, given that they contribute in some way. Because it doesn’t matter how young, or old, or educated you are. Everyone has something to contribute.

So that is my “big” dream at the moment. Really, I believe it’s not that big and it’s more than attainable.

I’ve begun listening to my heart again in the past few months, and when you do, things just seem to fall in place.

I am very excited about my future at this moment. And that is a wonderful feeling.

Granted if we were always excited, we wouldn’t know we were excited. So we can’t get down on ourselves when we feel like we are missing that excitement in our life.

But it is in those times that it is important to sit down with ourselves and tune in to how we are feeling and listen to what our heart is really saying. Which means letting go of all your thoughts about what you are “supposed” to do, or what other  people think you of you or what you should be doing. A lot of things in this life are bigger than us, and you need to stop holding on to what you think you want, and just go with the flow.

(Did I mention I also hope to get my hunting license. I figure if I can’t kill it, I shouldn’t eat it. But if I can, then I can also provide myself and my family with meat for the year. It would have to be rationed out of course and I think we would therefore be much more appreciative when we ate it.)

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What NOT to do when Gardening

mistakes

Okay. So this post is about, you read it, what NOT to do when gardening.

I’ve talked to quite a few farmers/gardeners now, and it seems we are all learning together.

The best way to learn in life, is to f** things up, pardon my language.

You can read as many books as you want, you can create as many charts as you want, and you can intern for as long as you want, but really, sometimes the best way to get things started is to just jump in and get dirty.

Which means you are going to make mistakes.

So I thought I would share my mistakes with you, so that perhaps you can avoid them. (However, you might not really understand until you go ahead and make them yourself.)

So, things started off well.

I planted one seed per tray and most of my seedlings germinated (thank you Greta’s organics and Jardins de l’écoumène)

I misted them 2-3 times a day, making sure they never went too dry.

And I bought a SunBlaser lamp (for germinating). However, I feel like this was an unnecessary investment. I think they would have germinated just as well (practically) without it. I think they would have done just fine in regular sunlight.

All of my seedlings seemed to grow upwards too quickly. So they were tall (wonderful!) but their stems were too thin, and therefore they weren’t as sturdy as they could have been.

I do have to look into this matter a bit more, but I think this was due to the sunlamp. Perhaps it was because it was positioned too high above the trays, but regardless. I still feel strongly that it was unnecessary. And so in the future, either my plants will be in a greenhouse, or they will simply grow inside with the help of natural light. (Granted when you do this, you do have to rotate your trays often as the stems grow towards the light, causing your plants to grow slanted).

I feel the sunlamp may have also provided too much light (I didn’t think that was possible with vegetables) but when we are talking about artificial light and sensitive seedlings, I think it may be possible. It almost seemed as if some of the seedlings were burnt by the lamp (too much light). However, this burnt/yellow affect could have been caused by moisture or soil quality, but again, I would put my money on the lamp.

But that does bring me to my next mistake.

Using store bought soil and not homemade compost.

I have read over and over how homemade compost is the best. How if you want to do it right, start making your own compost. It may require an initial investment (building a compost heap), and time, but it totally pays off in the end.

When seeding and transplanting I bought seedling and potting soil from the store. I didn’t add anything to my seedling mix (first mistake), such as compost/fertilizer/other nutrients. I did buy certified organic bone meal to add to my potting mix (which the dogs loved by the way), but even that probably wasn’t the best idea.

My stuff grew well, but they looked sad in comparison to the spaghetti squash seedlings that a friend gave to me. They didn’t even plant spaghetti squash seeds. They sprouted in their compost, all by themselves (they must have thrown out some spaghetti squash seeds at some point).

I tell you, after seeing these spaghetti squash, I now understand why homemade compost is the best. And I will make sure to have my own compost for next year. There is no going back!

Next: it’s never a good idea to do any type of gardening in the middle of the day (11am-2pm). Basically, avoid the hottest part of the day. Not only is it better for you, but it is also better for the plants.

Always water plants in the morning or the evening, if not, you risk “frying” them.

Also, do not transplant your seedlings during the hottest part of the day.

And to top that off, make sure to harden off your plants properly. And do not leave them exposed to extreme conditions, too long or too quickly.

I transplanted my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis during the middle of the day, in the 30degree heat and sun a week or two back, and a bunch of the leaves turned white and translucent. This is due to too much sun (an extreme change in weather) before they were really ready to be left outside.

I don’t know what I was thinking. But I can tell you I won’t be doing that again. I was able to revive most of them as I brought them in once I realized why they were turning white. But alas, there are some that simply did not make it.

It is for these reasons that I am happy that I am taking this summer to figure stuff out on my own. I didn’t really want anyone to be relying on my for advice too much, seeing as I am still figuring this stuff out. If I make mistakes that cost me money, at least it’s my own money, not someone else’s.

And last but not least, (and I can’t really speak against this yet from personal experience) but do not till. I still feel guilty that I used a rototiller for the garden, instead of mulching. Everything I have read, and continue to read, has only made me more sure that mulching is the best long term solution to weed suppression and healthy soil. Basically, mulching will help improve your soil, whereas tilling will diminish the quality of your soil. Tilling may be the easier solution and provide short term benefits, but they will wear out in the long run.

So to recap:

  • Grow lites are not absolutely necessary. Unless you are growing pot for money, or have a commercial garden (in which case you would have a greenhouse, not growlites) growing your seedlings in natural light will work just fine.
  • Homemade compost. Homemade compost. Homemade compost! (I don’t think I can stress that enough)
  • Avoid doing any type of gardening work during the hottest part of the day. Take a siesta instead!
  • Take the time to harden your plants off properly before transplanting.
  • Don’t till. Mulch!

So there you go.

I’m sure I will have more mistakes and mishaps to share with you as the summer progresses. But hopefully, I will also have some amazing results to share with you at the end, despite my mishaps.

Till next time!

Happy Anniversary!

I realized about two weeks ago, that this time last year, I had made my way to Luxy Farm.

And that means that this site is now over 1 year old.

I began this blog to recount my adventures on Luxy Farm. I had also hoped to continue this blog past the farm, as I continued to learn about gardening, nutrition and the environment. I wanted to share what I knew with others and perhaps demonstrate how easy it can be to grow your own food.

I’m pretty happy to say that I’ve kept it up. But really, I’m happy to say that I still enjoy doing it. And that I am happy to see other people enjoying it as well. (Now that I’ve learned about tags, my blogs are accessible to anyone and everyone, not just friends and family).

I do this because I enjoy it. And I take great pride and joy in knowing that others are learning with me, and that I have inspired some people in the process. Nothing beats that.

I must admit, I did not realize what a great impact such an experience was going to have on me, or how it was going to shape my life. I went to the farm as an experiment; to see if it was something I was actually really interested in. Looking back on it now, I realize how much it has shaped who I am and who I want to be.

I’ve spent most of my life not really knowing what I want to do. When I was younger, it was something that stressed me. As I got older, I realized that it wasn’t worth stressing over, that most of us don’t really know what we want to do. And more importantly, life is about change and experiences. And so I floated around for a bit, letting the wind take me wherever it felt like going.

I knew that I could succeed at whatever it was I decided to do. I could have become a doctor, a mathematician, an engineer, a physical therapist… There were so many things that I knew I could do. But as happy as I was to float around, I think I was always waiting to find something that I really wanted to do, that I could be passionate about and believe in with all my heart.

That’s why I had hoped to work for an NGO for quite some time and help those less fortunate than I. Part of me has always wanted to help alleviate hunger in the world. The idea of children in third world countries dying because they lack access to clean water or proper nutrition, when we clearly have more than enough to go around just kills me.

So I thought maybe I would be a doctor, for Doctors Without Borders. Or I could be a teacher. Or I could be a logistics person in charge of a team. I just wanted to do something, anything, that would allow me to help out in some way. For awhile I was focused on the end and not so much the means.

But eventually, as I have said before, I began to realize that perhaps the best way for me to help out, was not to travel to other places and preach, or attempt to show people how to survive, but instead to learn to survive on my own, and remove myself (in part) from the society that has created such huge injustices in the world.

I say “in part” because I’ve realized that although it would almost be easier to simply remove myself from society completely, as it can be difficult to live in this society but not participate in, doing so wouldn’t do much good. It wouldn’t really have an effect on anyone but me. It’s easy to critic the system and abstain from it. It’s much harder to learn to know yourself, believe in yourself and thus have the confidence to stand your ground and help make the world around you a better place.

And seeing as I have always enjoyed a challenge, I’ve opted for the more difficult path.

I went to Luxy Farm with an idea about what I wanted to do. I left Luxy Farm knowing what I wanted to do. And what I’ve experienced and learnt since then has only made me more sure of where I am going.

And that is how I will end this blog. My next blog will be a takeoff of this one.

I started this blog wanting to speak about some other things, but I am happy with how it has turned out. And so for now, that is where I would like to leave it.

Once again, I would like to thank the Luxy crew for such an amazing experience. And as always, I thank my friends and family who have supported me, and everyone who reads my blogs and is learning with me. You all mean the world to me.