Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This could very well curtail my gardening for a few days.


I'm not sure, but I think I may have broken my baby toe. I was walking to my bed in the dark last night, and somehow forgot that the camelback trunk at the foot of my bed was there. The corners are metal and I smashed my baby toe into it. I have a high pain tolerance, but I could not stay asleep because of the pain. It is the same toe I broke when I was a teenager, nigh on 45 years ago. Hurts like Bejezus. 


Here is a picture of it...what do you think? Broken?


This is the corner I smashed my toe on!!

Update: It's after eight pm and the pain isn't as bad now that I've been wearing my slippers for a while.  The pain seems to be subsiding a bit. Still hurts, but not as bad. I may very well take these battered old slippers to the store tomorrow. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

A beautiful root cellar at a school in Sweden. I would love one of these.

This has to be the best idea I've seen in ages. Isn't it brilliant to feed the students mostly organic and home cooked food. How progressive is that!? Down further in the article are pictures showing how it was done.

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The story of the cellar:

  • Located at a Waldorf School in Örebro, Sweden
  • The left cellar room is for roots and the right room used for fruits and fermentation.
  • The school serves 85% organic food and the kitchen staff cooks 100% from scratch.
  • This cellar is designed to suit the Nordic climate and saves the school considerable electricity
  • It has allowed the school to transition from receiving multiple food deliveries a day to one delivery a week
  • This was a commercial project, the kitchen goes through 150+ kilos of vegetables alone every week as 95% of the food served at the school is vegetarian and therefore a lot of fresh produce is required.

Design & build

  • 70 cubic meter excavation.
  • 12 cubic meters of mixed, compacted sand/gravel/stone as a bed/foundation.
  • 960 19 x 19 x 59 cm “Leca” blocks used, not including the foundation layer.
  • Over 1/2 kilometer of 8 & 12 mm re-bar used.
  • 12 cubic meters of sand used as insulation to the walls and a blend of sand and 3 cubic meters of loose 6- 20 mm “Leca” in the arch.
  • “V” shaped beam joining the arches was poured in-situ with lightweight reinforced concrete.
  • Only the arches are covered with a solid water barrier, all horizontal surfaces are breathable (a must)
  • Traditional arch design facilitates far better air circulation vs. flat roof= mold in the corners.
  • I read 2 great books in the design phase, but they’re in Swedish…

I’ve never seen or even heard of a double arch root cellar although they probably exist somewhere up here in the higher latitudes. Considering the problems of storing, for example apples and onions in the same space for any length of time, the double arch made sense, and heck, I love a design challenge, and the thought of building something with the theoretical life span of a Giza Pyramid thrilled me.

I’m not a stonemason, but I’ve been a carpenter/ furniture builder for 24 years and have done my share of concrete work for foundations. This was the first time I’d built with bricks or blocks. My success here was probably based on being obsessed with Legos when I was a child and having a great drafting teacher when I was in high school.

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This article is from 

http://rootcellarsrock.ca/2013/06/school-root-cellar-in-sweden-stores-fresh-food-for-students/

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My okole is broken. I have not worked this hard since the big greenhouse clean-out of 2011.

Before the clear cut. To the right of the greenhouse are the snowberries.

The snowberries were really pretty in the winter.

In our house, when you work really hard, and everything hurts, we say 'my okole is broken'. Okole is backside or butt in Hawaiian. Today my okole is broken. I came home from the store early so that I could get into the garden and enjoy the sun and heat. I have an area of the yard I have left wild for the birds etc. it was all snowberries. I put in three plants about 15 years ago, and they have taken over a large part of the back yard. They were working their way to the blueberry walk through runners.  I cut them away from the greenhouse last year, and have tried to reign them in so they didn't take over. I failed. So, I got my long handled loppers, the new ratchet loppers that I posted about last week, pruners and gloves and just started hacking. I forgot my camera at the store, so I'm going to go out tomorrow with my ipad or phone to take pictures. It is a dramatic change. It took me about four hours of non stop work. I also borrowed Lance and Judy's ladder and climbed up and used the ratchet loppers to cut a lot of branches out of the birch. I feel very sore...but oh so satisfied. 


I have no idea what I am going to do with this newly found part of my yard. It is right by the 'hedge' so too shady to grow anything. I'll probably spend a year or two battling the snowberry runners, but I think I will just bark mulch it and maybe set pots of something there. 

This pile is much bigger than its looks here. Those branches you see are up to ten feet long. The pile is about six feet high and 12 feet across. It's one of two piles. 




This greedy gardener has been wanting to put in a second greenhouse. Hmmmm.




Monday, June 17, 2013

The beans are up!! Three types this year.


I have decided to try three different types of beans this year. Last years Fortex produced heavily and yummily. This year I wanted to try dry beans. I know we would use more dry beans than frozen green beans. So I set up the bean pot with Fortex, Borlotti and Orca. Borlotti is a red and white dry bean and Orca is a black and white. It is also called the Yin Yang bean. Can't wait to see them.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

I've finally figured out what has killed my raspberries......again.


Last year I lost all of my Meeker Raspberries. I had no idea why. They limped along. Got wilty, turned brown and crispy, and died. I replanted with Tulameen. They didn't even live as long as the Meekers. Sad and upsetting. Raspberries are my favourite food in the world!!! So it has been two seasons of disappointment. That said, you should see the Fallgolds. They are HUGE and thriving. In the same bed as the dead plants. I started reading yet again, trying to figure out what is happening. I'm sure all the seasoned gardeners out there recognize the symptoms of Root Rot. It turns out that both Meeker and Tulameen are very susceptible to root rot. Fall gold is not. I read about root rot last year, but could not accept the verdict. 
My neighbour Judy has several varieties of raspberries and has given me some plants. I am going to wait for them to send out the new shoots and put the shoots in the bed and see if they live. Judy doesn't know the names so I need to test them for resistance to Root Rot. I love Tulameen raspberries, so I will need to set up another raspberry bed somewhere for them.

I am hopeful that this is not the end of the raspberry story.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Deadheading chives....where the heck was that bee I didn't see....but felt.


I didn't see the bee on the chives, but I felt it. Then I saw it. 
So, it hurt. But I had a job to do, so I finished deadheading. The pain was fading, but still 'stung'. My mom is a Oregano Oil advocate. She advocates it for everything!! So I poured some on. It stopped stinging right away. Really. So then I poured some tea tree on it for added measure. And now I'm telling you all about it. So I highly recommend Oil Of Oregano for bee stings. Here's another picture. The sting is just at the base of my thumb on the pad. See. The OOO worked so well you can hardly see it. 


Growing veggies right in the front yard


I'm sure you've heard that there are people all over North America being fined and threatened with fines and jail time because they grow vegetables and/or fruit in their front yards. The city or town will have a bylaw saying something like 'suitable plantings are required'. It is often subjective. Take the Drummondville Quebec garden. It is beautiful. First the city said they were going to tear it out if the owners didn't. There was an outcry and the city said they could keep it until harvest at which time they were rewriting the bylaw to expressly forbid food growing in the front yard and it would have to come out. It hit the blog world, Facebook etc. and people from everywhere were writing to Drummondville council and it made the press etc. So, the city took a step back, decided to rewrite the bylaws to allow veggie gardens in the front yard and it sounds like implementing an Urban Farming bylaw. As if that weren't enough, they have asked the couple who owns the home to help with the bylaw. I love it.
This is happening so often that I actually went to town hall here to see if I could grow fruit trees or veggies in the front yard. The woman looked a bit puzzled. I explained what was going on out there, and she said. 'it's okay, you're in Sidney'. I'll never forget that. I love this town. Now if they would just get that bylaw amendment done to allow chickens. Then I move on to bees. We currently can't have them.
So that brings us to my gardens. I have a rhododendron and Japanese Maple garden along the front of my house. We just mulch it and ignore it. It is along the north side, so in their summer it is cool and only gets morning sun. Allan wants to edge it with nice looking stone blocks. I was thinking that I could bring the soil level up a bit and plant lettuce and spinach there in the summer.
There is a young couple a few blocks from here that have Bright Lights Swiss Chard growing along their driveway. At this time of year it glows.

*This post was written a while ago and I missed it. Still timely and valid. People are still being persecuted for front yard veggies, chickens that are not allowed, zoning, and on and on. For a real eye opener, google Dirk Becker Lantzville. This organic gardener has been the subject of a hostile neighbours harassment and the town jumped right on board with the neighbour. They are now exhausted by the fight and are putting Compassion Farm on the market. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

"Good Neighbors". My favourite urban homesteading show EVER!!


I've been wondering for a long time, why, oh why, don't they ever rerun The Good Neighbors, (The Good Life in the UK) a BBC show from the 70's. Allan and I were crazy about it. We watched it faithfully. It was about a couple who chuck their jobs and in their upscale home in an upscale neighbourhood, aim for self sufficiency. Their interactions with their neighbours is hilarious! So...every now and then over the years, I've popped into Amazon and check out the price of the series. I finally bit the bullet and just bought the darn thing, I am watching the second episode in the series as I write. My life.....is now complete. 




Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Have you heard of dryer balls?


I made myself a set of dryer balls. I have been feeling very crafty lately and it gave me a little project during peak gardening season. The theory is, the lanolin in pure wool reduces or eliminates the static cling in the dryer. The balls bouncing around keep the clothes apart which substantially reduces drying time by 30-50%. 
How to make dryer balls:
Buy 100% pure wool yarn that says "hand wash only". I used Paton.
Wind them into tennis sized balls. Be sure to tuck the ends in so they don't unravel. I used a large crochet hook. You can use a plain inexpensive wool for the core and then wind the outer layer with more expensive pretty coloured wools. You can make them in people's favourite colours as gifts. You can also scent the balls with their favourite essential oils. 
I tried several ways of felting the balls. What I found worked best was to simply pop them into a big pot of boiling water. Keep an eye on the water level. I boiled them for about an hour. Then I spun them in the washer spin cycle. Into the dryer on HOT for about a half hour. Done!!

UPDATE: I used four of the dryer balls in my drying today. I had several pieces that always cling with static. The balls worked. No static. Also, I now keep them in a bowl above the dryer. That way you count them as your using them, and then you know how many to look for when the drying is done. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A glorious day in the sun. I got so much done.

I had a to-do lit this weekend. It was in a form of Erin shorthand. Here is my list, including the crossed out items as I finished them.

plant Bluebs
weed whip and vinegar
- Re-seed squashes
- re-seed morning glory
- drip irrig in greenhouse
- plant pumpkins in manure
- set up bean pot
- straw and soil potatoes
- put a Tulameen in a pot 'nursery'
- move citrus to deck


Moved the Meyer Lemon to the deck.


Moved the Bearss Lime to the deck.


I put the shade cloth in the greenhouse. 


Allan topped up the potatoes.


Aren't strawberries just beautiful.




Coolest garden tool ever.


Here is a picture of the most incredible garden tool ever. I got these as a gift this Christmas. I had trouble figuring out how to work it. Then I figured it out. It is a ratchet. You put the branch in the 'mouth' of the jaws. And you close and open the arms. About three of these movements takes off a branch two inches across. Effortlessly. I was saying to Allan that it makes us even in the strength department. That feels pretty cool. 
These loppers are $59.50 at Lee Valley. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

The Blueberry Walk. Almost done.

My weekend consisted of two hot sunny days. How lucky am I. Today I went out at about 11 am. I came inside at about 2 to use the washroom and bring out a big glass of water. I worked outside until about 6. It was then that I realized I hadn't had lunch. My big must do project for the weekend was get the blueberry walk ready. I had two large bushes to plant. Then I am going to get a few smaller sized ones to fill it. If you remember the walkway had to be moved which exposed some of the blueberries roots. I used straw to shade the roots and keep them moist. The topsoil and bark mulch has taken care of that. 

Here is a before of the walk. Note the straw and grass.


 Here with mulch and grass weed-whacked and vinegar treatment.


And lastly. The finished result. Well almost anyway. I need to put in the smaller blueberries and then mound them with mulch. 


Ta da!! 

Tomorrow, more pictures of my day in the sun,