Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Making your own laundry soap step by step. It is so easy.

I have been making my own laundry soap for about a year. I started with little batches...decided that was silly and now I make about six months worth at a time. Here is that recipe.

Chop up two bars of Castille soap. I use Dr. Bronner's. Chop it up as finely as you can. 

Put the chopped soap in your food processor. 

Put three cups of Washing Soda into the food processor with the soap and buzz it up until really well mixed and all lumps are gone. 

Pour the mixture into your laundry soap container. Put three cups Borax into the food processor and buzz it up just to break down any little lumps. Pour it into the container and stir it up really well. There will be some compacted soap in the bottom of the food processor. I scrape up every bit I can and add to soap. 

This is the finished laundry soap. I have a tablespoon that I keep in the container. Use one to two tablespoons per load of laundry. This is a very concentrated soap and you don't need more. Your clothes will not get any cleaner using more. If you watch your laundry like I did at first, you will see that there are no suds in the washer. It is chemicals that make all the suds in commercial laundry soap, so see the lack of suds as a really good thing!

I haven't done the math but I figure it costs about $7.00 per year.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Trying some kitchen alchemy

I bought a yogurt maker. My cousin has one and highly recommended it. This is my first effort...in pictures.

My probiotic culture to get the yogurt going, my morning coffee and coconut milk for the coffee.

The organic milk heating up. 

Everything getting ready for the warming phase. Note the little package of Compassion Farm sunflower seeds. Can't wait to have my own. They are so lovely.

I am a girl who needs to listen to some tunes while I cook or clean. This was my selection for yogurt making.

The finished yogurt in my granola. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My trillium is glorious. My Dad would have loved that.

I bought this trillium about thirty years ago from a nursery in Ontario. It had a flower or two each year. They seemed small and fragile. I am from Ontario and they are such a symbol of my childhood. They were all through the forest behind our house. So even though it didn't flourish, I loved it and let it be. 

My father died two years ago this month. It has been a time of learning about him. Of reconciling my life without him in it. Joy in knowing that he is with his parents, brothers and Rhoda. The real and true loves of his life. 

When I returned home from my fathers funeral, I walked up the driveway and stopped in my tracks. The trillium had the three biggest flowers I had seen since leaving Ontario decades ago. They were perfect. I was overcome. 

So these are the flowers now. They seem a bit bigger this year. I have given them a bit of fertilizer and I'm going to nourish it and see if I can get five flowers next year. The thing I am sure of is that it will be flowering in April...I love you Dad.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Oooops, I almost killed all my baby Lavender Hidcote.

These little pots of lavender were under the grow lights and on the heat mat in the greenhouse. I went out today blissfully unaware. They were a disaster. If I had waited half a day more, I think they were be beyond hope. After much water all but two look almost back to normal. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learning to graft...I opted out of this one.

Isn't this gorgeous. As part of a weekend long permaculture course, we tried our hand at grafting. When I saw just how we were going to do this, I sat back and watched. It looked very dangerous pushing a knife down through the wood in the direction of your hand. Bam, one of my carpool group cut her hand. Bam, one of the men at the class was bleeding. I'm not big on knives at the best of times. Thank you, but no. I'll pass on this one.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The garden in pictures. It is so pretty right now.

Last year in the garden my nasturtiums were tiny and had few flowers. This winter a plant came up in the greenhouse from the compost I put in the greenhouse bed. It grew and grew and is now about three feet across with lovely pink flowers. I thought it was a bad type of nasturtium that grew super small. I stand corrected...my formerly crappy soil strikes again. 

Need to move this beautiful dwarf iris into the garden. It is much brighter than this looks. 

Alice by the fuchsia. 

Strawberries looking pretty good. 

Fall rye cleaned out totally and beds ready to go. 

Rainier Cherry blossoms.

Blueberry walk in full bloom.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My sister titled this picture "once a gardener, always a gardener".

I was going through my sisters facebook pictures today and stumbled on this picture of me. It was the 80's...can you tell? Everything has changed, yet nothing has!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A weekend check list...

Now that the Japanese Maples have been moved out of Garden Central, I am inspired and anxious to get things moving along. It was pointed out to me recently that a plan is just an idea until you put a date on it. Because of this simple, yet extremely wise piece of advice, I have become fanatical about scheduling myself at the store instead of going in each day and just plodding along getting the insurmountable tasks, orders, taxes, payroll, and on, and on...underway. Now I have a task, maybe two, each day and then just do whatever else strikes my fancy, but without the panic of deadlines looming. It all gets done. This new way of viewing work, has rolled over into my home life. I cannot believe the amount I can get done!!! I highly recommend it. 

        Compassion Farm Sunflowers. They are HUGE!!!

So, my garden tasks:
-remove tags from Japanese Maples.  DONE
-spread manure in the perennial flower bed.  HALF DONE
-more manure on blueberries.  DONE
-manure on asparagus and rhubarbs.  DONE
-mix a big batch of organic dry fertilizer.  DONE
-prune rhodo at front after flowering.  DONE
-feed citrus trees.  DONE
-remove grass from around fruit trees.  ALMOST DONE
-plant Compassion Farm sunflower seeds.  DONE
-clean up the last bed full of fall rye.  DONE
-start weedwacking the back yard for cardboard and lasagna beds.  DONE
-remove strings from Jonagold.  DONE
-tie down the ambrosia tree branches.  DONE
-plant pansies.  DONE
-figure out where to make a tiny hedge of six lavender Hidcote  DONE
-pot up the cuttings from the fall.  DONE
-transplant cymbidium orchid.  DONE
-divide the mint and oregano.  DECIDED THEY CAN GO ANOTHER YEAR!!

Had to stop...plain old exhausted.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Summer is just around the corner...here's the proof.

Here is the roof of my greenhouse. Look at the vent. It is solar powered so it opens automatically when it gets hot in the greenhouse. Today is the first day this year that the vent has opened. I knew it was going to be a great gardening day. It was almost 17 degrees celcius. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Making more garden room...

At some point last year I realized that my Japanese Maples were planted right in prime gardening real estate in the back yard. I dreaded asking Allan for help. He grumbled the whole time we were planting them several years ago. I told him I was going to move them to the front garden and I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel in his temple. When he went inside I grabbed the shovel and got to work. It took me about four hours to dig out the four maples and move them to the front garden.

Three of the four holes where the maples were. See those three fruit trees to the right of the holes. They are now called "My Orchard". 

Here are the maples in the front garden sitting on the soil while I place them. 

And here they are...planted. I am so happy with how they look. I know they will be happier here. The soil in the back is rock solid clay. I am happy and oh so, so, so, so sore.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Moving an apple tree to give the Ambrosia Apple more room.

This is the Ambrosia Apple now staked to grow like a proper dwarf apple. I will stake the branches down so they are almost horizontal. 

This is the new home of the Tydemans apple I moved away from the Ambrosia. The far white flowering tree is a dwarf Shiro plum. The closest tree is the dwarf Rainier Cherry. In the middle is the apple. I am calling this "My orchard."

Monday, April 07, 2014

Potato planting Erin Style!!

I have created a whole new way to grow potatoes. I guess I should wait and see if anything grows before I lay claim to a whole new way of growing potatoes. First of all the potatoes were bagged and put in the cool dark crawl space. Allan pulled them out one day and they looked like this.

He tried on several occasions to throw them out. I kept rescuing them and saying "they are from compassion farm...I can't throw them out". So I took the bag and hid it in the shed. 

After turning the clods of clay and rye and disposing of them in the compost bin...then NOT cutting up the potatoes, instead opting to plant the whole potato multiple eyes and all down a few inches with two foot long.....(what are the long pink branchy things called?) pink branch things lying along the top. Then topping it with about four inches of manure. I left some of the pink branches sticking out. I'm planning to top up as they grow. They looked like this:

And now you have to look hard to see the little shoots coming up through the manure.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fall rye...the experiment is a failure.

In the fall I sprinkled fall rye in all the garden beds but one. It grew beautifully over the winter. It was time to stir it in and that is when I discovered that fall rye and clay soil is not a good fit. You can't pull the rye out, you can't fork it out and the clay/thick clumps that came with the rye, do not break down. So using shovels and rakes, we ended up throwing most of the rye and clumps of thick soil into the compost bin. Then taking wheelbarrow loads of our precious horse manure and topping the beds up. So all in all it came out beautifully, but it was the work. The backbreaking work. 
If I didn't garden in raised beds it would have been easy with a rototiller. So lesson learned. Do not plant fall rye in raised beds with thick dense soil. 

To be continued......

Saturday, April 05, 2014

...and it was my intention NOT to buy any new seeds this year.

I have so many seeds stockpiled in the fridge door I was determined not to buy any additional seeds this year. I have failed. I haven't gone crazy, but there are new seeds. 

Here is my confession / list. 

Anuenue Lettuce....because it is Hawaiian and heat tolerant

JalapeƱo Pepper....to add some heat to our cooking

Arugula Roquette...because I love it on pizza 

(thank you to Donna at Beacon Landing in Sidney for introducing me to this on her amazing Fig and Prosciutto Pizza)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The mother ship is back in my yard. I've missed it.

I LOVE it when the grow lights are on in the greenhouse. I can actually look out and feel a bit like I'm in the garden. It is amazing just how bright they are!!!