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It’s a Good Year to Get Into Gardening Because of Weed

Gardening is good for your soul and also it’s good for getting plentiful and extremely cheap weed.
Image source: Shutterstock | Art by Noel Ransome

January is an excellent time to start thinking about gardening. Especially if, like me, you have no idea what you’re doing.

I have always wanted to grow plants. My parents grew vegetables in our backyard growing up but I was only ever involved in the maintenance and harvesting. And at any rate, a dozen years of bouncing around the city and the country in student housing doesn’t lend itself well to growing much more than a tiny herb garden. Which is fine! It’s where I started. My wife got me a tiny hydroponics set for Christmas and now already we have an infinite supply of dill. (Please give me recipes using dill.)


I’m not sure how I got so horny for horticulture. One morning just before the new year I was checking the seed pods in the kitchen and when I saw the first tiny sprout coming up out of the soil, something moved deep in my heart. Since then I have spent hours browsing gardening videos on YouTube and leafing through local seed catalogues and watching how the sun and the wind move across my backyard.

No, there isn’t much to do in the dead of winter except watch the barren ash trees bend in the brutal Newfoundland wind and dream about the life you will sprout up in spring.

A small vegetable garden on the back deck will be a fine summer starter project. Along with a nice flower bed in the front so the house doesn’t look so much like how I feel. I found a little dogberry sapling in the backyard that has already grown into a spiral, so I’m also thinking about training it as a bonsai, because I’ve gone insane and now I’m completely obsessed with trees.

Once you start consciously thinking about the plants around you as living creatures—utterly alien yet intimately familiar—it becomes an event to just go outside and look around. Not far from my house is a crabapple tree that was knocked over about a decade ago but lived to grow sideways through a chainlink fence, flowering and fruiting over a hillside full of trash. It’s very ugly and also one of the most beautiful scenes in the neighbourhood. I smile whenever I think about that handsome, shitty tree.


But OK, sure. You are like me a month ago: unmoved by the prospect of rediscovering a sense of sublime wonder among the banality of everyday life. There are other reasons to get excited about gardening—namely, growing cannabis.

When marijuana legalization is law in Canada, you are entitled to grow four personal plants of up to 100 cm in height. That is one hell of a home garden. Depending on the strain you grow and how you set it up—Grow cabinet or greenhouse? Space Bucket or a pot of soil?—it’s not too hard to harvest close to an ounce or more of dope per plant if you care for them properly. Even at a conservative estimate of 20 grams a plant, you’re laughing.

You can learn a useful skill and get in touch with nature while saving hundreds of dollars a year on quality-controlled drugs. There is no better time to start developing your green thumb. Plus, then you’ll be ready for next year when you won’t lose half the natural growing season waiting for the plant to be legal.

It will always be more convenient to buy it than grow it, which is fair. I buy all of my vegetables at the grocery store and most of my beer from an Ultramar. But I‘ve already found that the serene contemplation of plant life goes really, really well with marijuana, so I think it makes sense to take it to the next level.

I bought a used book on gardening last week, an old CBC-radio approved guide to gardening on Canada’s East Coast. The man at the counter told me I was mad to think of starting a garden in St. John’s; not only is the climate hostile, but most of the soil is polluted with old lead paint.

Challenge accepted—there are ways to work around poor soil. But it did give me a new appreciation for the spindly little spruce trees growing up among the garbage in the woods behind my house. The earth is poison and the sky is dark and the wind is enough to snap the stands in half but the trees keep growing anyway.

All the ugly trees in my backyard are strangely reassuring. They are living reminders that even in the depths of corruption and decay, life will always find a way. The unseen machinery of the universe is maybe best understood as a kind of cosmic mulcher. Nothing is ever really lost; it’s only rearranged.

They taught me this in my high school chemistry class. But it took me 16 years and a basil sprout to finally understand.