Monday, October 31, 2011

ooooooooooo, leaf mulch

Neighbor Judy came over today to tell me that I could help myself to her HUGE maple leaves. Aren't neighbors great?
Look how beautiful my neighbors tree is.
Allan came home and promptly got out the mower and started running it over the leaves.
Partially mowed
The mower was filling up very quickly so the odd leaf didn't get totally mulched, but I am just so happy to have leaf mulch.
Close up of future compost
I actually spread some on top of the straw, on top of the compost, on top of the newly planted garlic!! The rest went into compost bin two.
Doesn't he just make an awesome gardeners assistant?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A lovely new knife...dehydrating tomatoes...and, can you guess?

Aren't these beautiful. Jess's little red and my yellow Lemon Boy tomatoes.
I offered to dehydrate some tomatoes for my sister, so she gave me her bucket of small but sweet tomatoes. I took my lovely Henkel knife, very new and super sharp, kind of like a razor blade sharp (I know, you know where this is going) and started cutting. Tomato number two and I just barely touched my left index finger tip with the knife. It looked like a tiny little nick. And then the blood started. I would have taken a picture at that point, but I was worried about the camera. I went to the bathroom, tried to stop the bleeding as much as I could and cinched a bandaid quite tight to hold the cut closed and a got back to the business at hand. This actually took a while to type, as the band-aid is wreaking havoc with my usually pretty capable typing skills. I didn't actually feel anything until about five minutes ago. It stings now.
Earlier today, I spread some more straw around the Swiss Chard and cauliflower, so while I has at it I tucked some around the raspberry too. I didn't get very much dill this year but what I had I pulled out and cut up and put in the dehydrator too. It won't take nearly as long as tomatoes so I'll keep an eye on it.
It's now looking like it could rain.
Beautiful tomatoes, a razor sharp knife and a very tightly bandaged finger.
Oh my gosh, the whole house smells like dill. I wish I had smell-o-vision so I could share it with you!!

23:00 hours. Update. My finger has a heartbeat. Yup, there's real stinging going on. Just sayin'.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pouring rain and coffee grounds

Okay, so it isn't much, but at this time of year we take what we can get. I went out in the absolutely pouring rain with a full five gallon pail of wet coffee grounds. It was really heavy, maybe thirty pounds? I spread this full bucket between two of my blueberries. My plan is to mulch very thickly creating a bed of black rich coffee grounds, amending the soil and feeding the blueberries the acid they need. So that was it for this very rainy day on Vancouver Island.
My sympathy goes out to all the bloggers out there who posted their snow pictures today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not really...ALREADY!! (add a high pitched shrieking voice)

It is only October 27. I'm supposed to have another nine days.'s the "f" word. Our first expected frost date is November 5. We awoke to frost today!!! It's not fair. It wasn't quite zero degrees, but clearly it was frost. It was white, it was on the roofs, it was frost!!
My husband just came into the living room, laugh, snort, giggle, pulling a hoody on cuz it's so cold in here. He's always been a bit of a lightweight when it comes to the cold.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Plants still determined to flower and be beautiful

Even at the end of October you can find flowers blooming, trying to bloom, sending out new growth...isn't nature amazing!? Here are some pictures of my plants doing just well as a few Japanese Maple photo's just because I love the colour!
Japanese Maple
Japanese Maple, again
Perennial Fuchsia. Love perennials.

Another perennial fuchsia. This one gets flowers about
three inches across.

Looking up into my twenty foot holly.
Daylily sending up another flower spray.
And yet another Japanese Maple.

Sun is therapy...and then you throw in a full day of gardening...

Straw mulching happening today
There is nothing like a full day of sun and gardening to make your spirit soar.
Cuttings snuggled in for the winter next to the greenhouse
I transplanted a small basil I got at Thrifty Foods, but I don't think it is going to make it. It was in weird soil that dried out in a day and it would wilt. Maybe my hopes of growing basil indoors through the winter are just that...hopes.
Cauliflowers are now about a foot across
Allan went to Buckerfield's for me and picked up another bale of straw. I spread compost a couple inches deep over the garlic and then a few inches of straw. I have so much straw that I mulched the strawberries, rhubarb, fuchsia, Spanish Lavender and the little row of grocery store garlic. I have cuttings of Spanish Lavender and the gorgeous fuchsia along side the greenhouse in five inch plastic pots, so I piled straw around them.
Spanish Lavender mulched. Next weekend more straw and burlap!
My neighbor Judy who has a huge maple dropping leaves in her front yard , told me to dig in!! We ran the mower over them and put the resulting leaf mulch in bin two. Bin one is the building compost pile and bin three is temporarily holding the straw bale. We pulled the tarp over it.
The eight foot sunflower is starting to fade
I watered all the straw to keep the dust down.
The lettuce in the greenhouse is starting to grow. Look how beautiful they look with all the new growth.
Greenhouse lettuces

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I was actually able to pull the tomato plant out of the ground

Unripe huge Lemon Boy beside ripe one of normal size.
For over thirty years I did not garden in this yard. The clay that we are in, turns to something resembling concrete in the summer. Actually, no, I'm not exaggerating one iota. If you were to take a shovel, and try to dig in the clay, you would literally have to scrape the ground to remove a thin layer and keep scraping. You could not push a shovel into it at all. Not one inch. I think you get the idea. It was hard.
This spring I put in my first lasagna garden. It has been a dream. I can plant, I can weed, I can pull tomato plants out of the ground. No shovel at all.
The last tomato, Lemon Boy, looked like it had some blight on the top leaves. I decided to pick off all the remaining tomatoes and put the plant in the trash. There is a tomato that must be five inches across. I am so thrilled to have gardened somewhat successfully...for a newbie. Just for the record, I will not be growing Lemon Boy again as it is a Seminis seed which is owned by Monsanto. As is Early Girl.
The lettuce in the greenhouse is looking good. I think we'll have plants big enough to start harvesting in a few weeks.
The slugs have begun to nibble the cauliflower and chard in the raspberry bed. It looks to me though that the plants are hale and hardy, and should be able to survive. I did break off some leaves that look like they may have leaf miners.
Dehydrated tomatoes

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A rainy day on Vancouver Island...sigh...but autumn is deeply beautiful

It is ten degrees and raining in Sidney today. I have a full five gallon pail of coffee grounds to spread. I think rain or not, I will be spreading it under the blueberries today.

I get very conflicted at this time of year. I really miss the gardening and the time I spend outside in the summer (which is substantial)...yet on the other hand, I love fall. Every thing smells so rich and damp and everything is so bright and beautiful. The winter plants such as my holly trees, the evergreen trees with their pinecones, the roses, pansies, snowberries and the winter vegetables look very lovely and have a warm cozy feel to them. Even if it's from the house.

Enjoy the quiet beauty that is autumn. It is special, even though all of us, the gardeners, lament the passing of summer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Like...sometimes gardening can be a really painful thing...well, so I've heard

You know how bend over and do a bunch of deadheading...but you're like all leaning and stretching...and the backs of your legs kind of hurt a bit...and then its like...I'll just gouge out these peony's and then I'll stop...and then much later you go in the house a bit stiff...and then the next get up like...and ouch...that hurts...walk it off...and then you go to your store to work...and like Christmas orders come then you're bending into boxes...and your seized muscles are screamin'...and the pain is right up there near a ten...Huh?...What?...No?...
Nah, me either...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another amazing day. How lucky are we.

It is sunny...again. It was between 13-15 degrees. I spread a bag of compost over the garlic. I weeded all the gardens. Deadheaded the asters and cut the peonys as short as I could. I'm going to top dress them to try to eliminate the blight thing that they have. I then hacked back the pinks that strolled about three quarters of the way across the sidewalk and made my husband crazy. It's a pet peeve of his. Plants roaming across walkways, plants making opening doors difficult, that sort of thing. I hadn't noticed during the summer that my cottoneaster was pushing against the door of his shed. To be fair, I never go in there, so I wasn't aware. On the deck I have an old Woodstock water bell fountain set up in the summer. The bells make the most wonderful sound. Today I cleaned it up and put it in the greenhouse for the winter. It feels really good to have most of the cleanup done. Allan will go for a bale of straw this week, so we should be able to wrap everything up within a week.
Oh I forgot, I cranked up the dehydrator and did up a load of red and yellow tomatoes. They turned out fantastic if I do say so myself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunshine...what more could a girl ask for

Look at that sunflower against the blue sky
I liked the sunflower picture so much, I thought I'd try it in the header. What do you think?
I have not seen a cloud in the sky today. It is cool. 10-13 degrees or so. I couldn't get outside fast enough. I put on my rubber boots and red plaid flannel (warm) shirt. Tied my hair up in a pony tail. What a vision. First stop, the greenhouse. I noticed that the basil was getting some dark spots. I'm not sure if it is the cooler temperatures or the humidity or both. I cut it down to a few inches and piled it in the basket. I also noticed some very wet mushy tomatoes as well. Unsure whether blight is afoot, or just being colder now. I took the last tomato plant out of the greenhouse. I put all the tomatoes, red and green, in the basket. Next stop, the gardens.
The sorrel has really taken off
The remaining tomato, Lemon Boy, looks fantastic. A beautiful plant and the tomatoes look splendid. A few are ripe, so I put them in the basket. I'm going to use my dehydrator to preserve/dry them tomorrow. The last batch I made in the oven were burned to a crisp. Sigh. Back to the garden. All looks well with the raised beds, but I am going to get another bale of straw to mulch the strawberries and garlic beds.
I managed to get a full 500ml jar of pesto from the basil I picked today. Oh joy.
Salad Bowl lettuce going to seed hopefully
Blueberry bushes turning beautiful red

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's International Space Station viewing time again!!

Yayyy, it's time to see the Space Station again. I am such a geek. At this time of year, it can be cloudy, so you probably won't see it this often. If you live somewhere else, not in Sidney, either go to the NASA site or download the app. I use the app. It's free. Here are the viewing times for Sidney.

Oct 16-8:22PM SSW
Oct 17-7:24PM S
Oct 17-8:59PM WSW

The past two nights viewings have barely come up over the horizon. Tomorrows will be much higher and last five minutes. A really good one!!

Oct 18-8:01PM SW
Oct 19-7:03PM SSW
Oct 19-8:39PM W
Oct 20-7:42PM WSW
Oct 21-6:44PM SW
Oct 21-8:21PM W
Oct 22-7:23PM W
Oct 23-8:02PM WNW
Oct 24-7:04PM WNW
Oct 24-8:39PM WNW

Happy viewing!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend...what a beautiful thing

Yesterday my whole family descended on my Mom and Dad's house for a lovely turkey dinner. There was laughter, toasting, stories, and general turkey fatigue. Today, my husband gifted me some of his time. We pounded 8' long 3/4" pieces of rebar two feet into the ground to stake up the two dwarf apples. Then he dug the holes for planting. All the while it was pouring rain. I had the gruelling task of pouring the compost into the holes and tamping them in. I was super careful to get the soil level of the potted plant flush with the new soil level.
Murphy's law...the sun came out just as we were finishing up.
Two newly planted dwarf apples.
Now for your viewing pleasure, a pictorial essay of what is going on in my yard this fine Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy.
One of my sister's strawberries. I thought this one was a goner. I was wrong.

The newly opened sunflower. This is the same one that blew
over in the wind storm a couple weeks back. I measured it
today and it's eight feet tall!

Ripening in the garden. Tomato Lemon Boy.
Cinderella Pumpkin. About ten inches across.
Compost bin. We've been busy.
Japanese maple.
Behind my herb border is this old variegated holly. I planted this when I was in
my 20's. So that makes the holly about 30 years old. I needed to include this
today...I think I can feel winter in the air.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Today is the day that we take stock and count our blessing for all that we have. Later today we will be going to my Mom and Dads for turkey dinner. At this dinner will be my darling sister Jess, her husband Pat, my beautiful son Noel and Amanda as well as my husband and I. Allan and I lived without family on the west cost for about 12 years, so one of the things I am most thankful for is having my family here around me. I am blessed.
I am thankful for getting to do what I love and for my store that nourishes my spirit.
I am thankful for the home I have lived in since 1979. I am thankful for the gardens and that my yard is large enough to grow some food.
I am thankful for my good health.
I am thankful...for everything.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bunny poop

Thank you to Caroline for giving me some of her precious bunny poop. I spread it in the greenhouse garden bed. It is full of basil, one tomato and assorted lettuce. And now...bunny poop. I've heard that it is one of the best fertilizers going. So thank you darling rabbits, thank you.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Make your own all natural anti-bacterial spray...smells clean, is safe and affordable

In the store I bottle and sell essential oils. I make my own cleaners and anti-bacterial spray. I cringe every time I see the commercial showing a chemical anti-bacterial spray in a can being sprayed all over the house and on children's toys. To make a safe, easy, effective and cheap spray take a bottle that will hold two to three cups of water. Add fifteen drops each, essential oils of Tea Tree, Oil of Oregano and Eucalyptus. Do not add the Eucalyptus Oil if you have cats. A vet told me that Eucalyptus is toxic to cats. Shake up the bottle each time you use it and use freely knowing that it is safe!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The mystery tool has been identified

Thanks to Erica at the brilliant blog Northwest Edible Life, my mystery tool has been identified. It is a Japanese Nejiri garden hoe. I highly recommend that everyone treat yourself to one of these. It is the perfect tool for creating a seed trough, or drill, or using the point to gouge out little weeds. I LOVE my Japanese Nejiri Hoe.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

What is this mystery tool called?

This is a wonderful tool for seeding. It cuts a perfect trough into the soil. I discovered this wonderful "Garden Tools of Maine" tool among several others when cleaning out the greenhouse. (I am not sure this company even exists anymore?) I had totally forgotten about it buried in a canvas bag. It is about 15-20 years old, yet in mint condition. I have some lovely garden tools. We have a wonderful shop in Sidney called Dig This. It has been around in three incarnations over the years. I bought my tools there from it's first. I have these wonderful hand tools and equally wonderful full sized shovels, forks etc. I am in, what I am sure is the worlds hardest clay. It is literally like concrete in the summer. You cannot push ANY tool into it more than about an inch. And that is after some serious chopping. I refused to use/abuse my beautiful tools in that fashion. So now, as I embark on the gardening journey, using raised beds and serious soil they are. Lucky me!

Fall cleanup...can it really be that time already?

Fall...ahhhh the colour
I looked out at my split, awful, rain bashed tomatoes, and thought, I need to get out there. So, I got out there. Two tomato plants looked 'done' so I took off the red and still green tomatoes and dug the plants out. Pulled a few lovely carrots. I emptied out the black plastic compost bin. We have been filling it for about a year. There was actually some lovely compost in it. I moved all the contents to the new three bin system. I made the decision to move the nice compost as well. It really wasn't enough to make a big difference in the beds, so my thinking was this. It was full of worms and healthy microbes, so they will hopefully kickstart the new bin. In the bottom of the plastic bin was one of my teaspoons. How does that happen?
Plants heading for, and in the compost bin
I dug out the fading Salad Bowl lettuce. It is am amazing lettuce. It has a strong taste, but does not bolt so you get lettuce all summer. It is just starting to bolt now, so I left the two largest healthiest plants so that I can take seed. Then I dug up the smaller lettuce plants that I planted a while ago, and moved them to the greenhouse for winter lettuce.
Salad Bowl lettuce babies now in the greenhouse
Not basing any of it on experience, or books, just following my gut today. Maybe my Grandparents and Uncle Harvey were guiding me today?

Can't even tell it's a cauliflower
Same bed, looks more like a cauliflower
This cauliflower is in the raised bed and about 5x bigger...huh?