Getting down and dirty

They say April showers bring May flowers. In the Okanagan this year, we are all hoping very strongly for that to happen, since we are feeling a bit waterlogged.

Thankfully, here in Paradise, a slump never lasts long – as I like to say, if the weather is all there is to complain about then we’re doing alright.

That said, I do have a few pet peeves I will share with you; if you are a fellow gardener or even just a foodie I think you will commiserate with me. The flowers of May might magically appear after a rain, but the vegetables need considerably more work before they decide to grace my garden with their presence.


Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get your fingernails clean after a day of gardening?

Even if you wear gloves, there is a pesky line of microscopic and super-heavy dirt particles that settles at the bottom of your nails. No amount of soaking, scrubbing or washing will get them clean. I have a feeling gel nails were invented by a female gardener who had a few parties to attend in gardening season.

Dirt is even more difficult to remove when it gets wet. Here at Rabbit Hollow, we have heavy clay soil. As mud, it sticks in big clumps to gardening tools and gloves, gumboots, and dog paws with a vengeance.

On a rainy day I have a three-phase, canine paw-washing procedure that is required before we go back inside.


You may think I’m being ridiculous – and in case you’re wondering, yes, I do have some raised beds and containers.

Even those are still only “a wee ways” off the ground, as my Gramps would have said. I am six feet tall. That’s a lot of bending. Gardening has made me flexible, bending at the knees and with my back and reaching with my arms.

My real reward comes later in the season though, when plants grow taller and I can look up again.

On a revolutionary note, I can tell you we are looking into getting a Tower Garden for the winter. As the name suggests, the format of this growing system is a tall cylinder with lights and an irrigation system.

It would allow us to have some homegrown edible greens year round, with no bending over. That’s a system worth saluting.


Curiosity is one of the qualities I have in abundance, and it is often piqued in the garden.

I try all kinds of different plants every year, and different growing methods. When I lived in Calgary, I so desperately wanted to grow heirloom tomatoes. Unfortunately, the ones I chose took too long for a place that was notorious for late summer snowfalls.

I was left with only green tomatoes to harvest.

One of my earliest motivations for having a green thumb was the good old chia pet. Who wouldn’t want to try growing something that would almost change in front of your eyes? The only thing better would have been edible sea monkeys.

Alas, nothing I have ever planted grows quite that fast.

All kidding aside, after years of mucking about in the dirt all hunched over and flailing in autumn storms to gather what bounty there was, I have come to love the satisfaction of toiling in the earth and having something to show for my efforts.

I have huge admiration for farmers, those dedicated individuals who choose to work with mercurial Mother Nature for their livelihood. I have discovered that weeding makes for excellent anger management therapy.

Best of all, my faith is renewed every spring when the flowers reappear and I feel the giddiness of a child when the first radishes peek above the earth and beans grow on the stalks. A sense of reverence envelopes me when I harvest my very own veggies and serve them as a meal. 

I suppose that’s worth a few dirty fingernails, a bit of impatience and a sore back.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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