The Harvest Apron

I finished my harvest apron today and I’m going to tell you how I made it.  But first, let me set the stage. 

But they grew! And the critters stayed away! And while it was wet and not that hot last summer, we got some green tomatoes. To be fair, it really wasn’t a bountiful garden but it was successful enough for us to feel like we could try again.

So we decided in the fall that we would actually research and learn a few tricks of the trade so that in the spring we could really garden; you know, bias ourselves for success as we say in the education world. We borrowed what we’d been told was the Beginner’s Bible for gardening, From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green by Jeanette Haase, a gardener who actually lives in our zone, which meant we could follow her guidelines and timelines directly from the book.

We went to a Seedy Saturday seed fair in Almonte in February and spent $60 on heirloom seeds. I really had no idea there were that many varieties of vegetables. I actually got really overwhelmed when we first arrived and I had to sit down and get my bearings. I felt like we were getting into something too deep, too complicated, that we knew too little, who were we to think that we could GROW things???  But the vendors were so excited when they found out we were total newbies.  We took recommendations from them, they gave us tonnes of advice, some free seeds and lots of encouraging words. We bought tomatoes (several heretofore unbelievable varieties like Black Beauty and Berkeley Tie Dye), cucumbers, carrots, salad greens, peas, beans, and peppers.

In March, the COVID-19 lockdown hit and food security popped into our minds. (Food security, food sustainability, buying local and organic, and changing our consumerist ways into something better for everyone is a huge topic of conversation right now, which is one benefit of the pandemic.) In the past, we have tried to be more mindful of buying sustainable meat or buying local but over the weeks of businesses being shut down, I think the whole country (the whole world) started thinking about food differently.

Our garden-to-be became a very good idea indeed.

And as it turned out, not just because it is a more sustainable practice but because I could finally feel the therapeutic benefits of working with soil and seeds and nurturing something natural. The world became a stressful place, an uncertain place, a digital space and gardening became a place for me to retreat to, and of course, it had the added benefit of potentially producing food for us. 

We planted our seedlings at the beginning of April, I bought a grow lamp online, we listened to podcasts (our favourite is The Grow Guide) and researched. It’s a lot to learn. We were the type of people that pretty much thought you could throw seeds to the wind and they would grow. But no, there are times to plant and they need the right amount of water, and they need to be thinned and then hardened off. It’s quite a bit more work than I had anticipated. But instead of scaring me off of it, I have taken to it with gusto. Mind you, I spend most of my day in front of a computer screen so it makes sense that my soul is screaming for something concrete and tactile. 

While we nourish and grow and wait to plant outdoors, we made three raised beds out at the cabin. We added lattice work to one for peas and beans. We moved the rain barrel to the side of the cabin with the beds. We added eavestroughing to that side. We also have pots and room on the deck for some other plants, should we choose.

Now, we are approaching the time to transfer seeds. My Italian uncle has a splendid garden every year and he is adamant that nothing should be transplanted before June 12th, the feast of St. Joseph. So we will heed his advice to a degree and not plant as early as the May long weekend.

Now are in the hardening off stage. (It’s true, I didn’t even know what that meant a few weeks ago.) Getting our little ones ready for the big bad world!

I have a friend who is quite earth spiritual and she is always telling me to to put messages out to the universe to invite positive energy into my life so that I can accomplish what I’d like to accomplish. So as a symbol of my commitment to this endeavour and to invite positive energy, health and fortitude into my garden, I decided to make a harvest apron. Because I will need one when my seedlings grow into full and bounteous crops over the summer. Amen.

I love it. I’m so proud of it. First of all, I used scraps of fabric. Even though my favourite fabric shop is open for online orders, I didn’t want to buy new fabric. I really want everything in the cabin to reflect the minimalist and rustic heart of it. I wanted it to be in the spirit of balance and non-consumerism.  So I used two different linens leftover from two pieces of clothing I’d made. And secondly, I feel it’s a testament to my skills as a sewist because I didn’t have a pattern.  (The reason I didn’t buy a pattern was because I couldn’t find a pattern for one that I liked and I am honestly sometimes just too frugal. I did my research on Pinterest and felt comfortable that I had the skills to create this on my own.) 


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