Bee (Photo by Donvirko/Pixabay)

Bee (Photo by Donvirko/Pixabay)

My happy place

Cucumbers vines, mid summer (Photo by NCC)

Cucumbers vines, mid summer (Photo by NCC)

By Carys Richards, NCC communications manager for the Alberta Region

I always knew that spending time outdoors was important to me. I love adventuring and travelling, whether it’s halfway across the world or exploring the natural areas close to my house. It took being stuck at home during a pandemic, however, to really appreciate the nature in my backyard.

When my husband and I became first-time homeowners in the summer of 2019, it was an understandably exciting step in my life. Ever since I moved out of my parents’ house, I’ve lived in numerous apartment buildings and townhouses across Alberta, and this was the first time in many years that I would have a real yard again. Even better, now that I owned the place, I could do whatever I wanted with the space.

I had big plans for this little yard: I’ve always dreamed of a having a vegetable garden. I’ve grown herbs in pots out on the deck before with moderate success, but I’ve never undergone the process of starting plants from seeds, nursing them to maturity and then harvesting the delicious veggies from them. My front yard already has a mature Evans cherry tree, which produces so much fruit I've eaten cherry syrup on my pancakes all winter. This spring we planted an apple tree in our backyard.

Baby lettuce mix in early June (Photo by NCC)

Baby lettuce mix in early June (Photo by NCC)

One week in May, my husband and I devoted some time to designing and constructing raised garden boxes for our backyard. We decided to make four boxes, in which I planted lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, beets, beans and cucumbers.

Having this little garden has become an unexpected refuge for me. In the midst of COVID-19 and all of the personal stresses that have come along with it, this small slice of my backyard became a place that I could escape into. When I was stressed, tired or anxious, I would often put down whatever I was working on and go outside for five minutes to tend to my growing plants.

Rain or shine, I would slip into my sandals and head out back whenever I needed to give my brain a break. I would pull weeds, remove dead leaves and focus on giving some love and attention to one of the few things I had the most control over in my life.

Garden boxes in late August (Photo by NCC)

Garden boxes in late August (Photo by NCC)

Over the course of the summer, my little garden has gotten bigger. My plants have produced food, and I’ve enjoyed the rewards of my efforts. Some plants have grown even better than I’d hoped. Others haven’t fared quite as well, but even the less successful varieties have given me great joy and provided valuable learning experiences.

Being in nature makes us happier, healthier and more productive. For me, my little garden oasis has become a safe haven at a time when I felt like the world may be on the verge of falling apart. I would encourage everyone to make the best of their situation and find ways to incorporate more nature into their lives. It’s hard to stay stressed or sad when I go out to water my plants in the morning, and I watch the bumblebees and butterflies exploring my little garden.


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