Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seed and plant orders have been placed. Copies of the confirmations.

I have been planning, and writing, and planning some more. I have been drawing maps of where the different vegetables will be planted. Where the new raised beds will go. Then I planned some more. So here we are. Christmas is over and it is year end for the store. We are leaving for vacation at the end of January, so getting inventory and year end done before then, as well as get everything done in advance for my being away...means that it was now or wait until march to do these orders. Having never ordered seeds and herbs by mail, I was really worried that if I waited, much of what I would like, may be sold out. So, oh poor me, I had to get the orders done. So here are the confirmation copies of the three orders I did so you can see exactly what I'll be growing this year.

Richters order  Dec 29. Ship after feb 22

  Cat.No.    Item    Price    Unit    Quantity    Subtotal  
P3910 Marjoram, Sweet Plants   $ 3.00 ea 1 $ 3.00
P5300 Savory, Winter Plants   $ 3.00 ea 1 $ 3.00
P6620 Verbena, Lemon Plants   $ 4.00 ea 1 $ 4.00
P1300 Bay Laurel Plants   $ 7.00 ea 1 $ 7.00
P6460 Thyme, Lemon Plants   $ 3.00 ea 1 $ 3.00
P6080 Strawberry, Alpine Plants   $ 1.80 ea 12 $ 21.60
P1870 Comfrey, Common Plants   $ 3.00 ea 1 $ 3.00
P8016 Artichoke, Globe Plants   $ 3.00 ea 1 $ 3.00
Pre-shipping Order Total = $ 47.60 
Currency: Canadian Dollar 
Potted herbs and plug packs ship spring 2012. 
To reserve your plants, you will be charged for them at time of ordering.
Shipping and Handling: $ 35.00
Sales Tax: $ 9.92
Grand Total: $ 92.51

Botanical Interest Order.  Dec 29

Thank you for your order!
Product Name Prod # Unit Price Quantity Price
Beet Gourmet Blend Heirloom Seed
0174 $2.69 1 $2.69
Carrot Carnival Blend Organic Seed
3115 $2.99 1 $2.99
Cucumber Homemade Pickles Seed
0022 $1.79 1 $1.79
Pumpkin Lumina Seed
0158 $2.99 1 $2.99
Squash Summer Early Yellow Crookneck Heirloom Seed
0045 $1.69 1 $1.69
Tomato Cherry Yellow Pear Heirloom Seed
0104 $1.89 1 $1.89
Tomato Pole Black Krim Organic Heirloom Seed
3118 $2.39 1 $2.39
Tomato Pole Brandywine Heirloom Seed
0051 $1.89 1 $1.89
Subtotal: $18.32
Shipping Total: $3.95
Order Total: $22.27

west coast seeds order Dec 29

( 2011-12-29 )
Item Code Item Name Item Size Qty. Price
TM784A Tomatoes>Amish paste 0.1 g 1 $ 2.99 CA
TM780A Tomatoes>Gold nugget 0.1 g 1 $ 2.79 CA
FL2978A Morning glory>Heavenly blue 2 g 1 $ 2.99 CA
FL3252A Sunflowers>Zohar organic 1 g 1 $ 3.99 CA
SQ724A Zucchini>Romanesco zucchini 3 g 1 $ 2.99 CA
PP629A Peppers>Pepperoncini 0.5 g 1 $ 2.99 CA
KL420A Kale and collards>Winter kale blend 1 g 1 $ 3.95 CA
CB242A Cabbage>Danish ballhead 1 g 1 $ 2.79 CA
BT162A Beets>Winterkeeper lutz green leaf 5 g 1 $ 3.25 CA
ON565A Onions>Walla walla 1 g 1 $ 3.29 CA
CF304A Cauliflower>Snow crown 0.1 g 1 $ 3.29 CA
TM792A Tomatoes>Brandywine 0.5 g 1 $ 2.99 CA
Sub Total 38.3
Tax Summary :
GST/HST * ----- $ 4.60
HST Rebate ----- $ 0.00
Tax 4.58
Shipping ( ) 0.00
Total 42.88
Didn't order brandywine, yet it is on order. I emailed right away to remove.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I think Rainier Cherries are the most beautiful fruit.

I was just surfing on the world wide web and stumbled, yes stumbled, on this gorgeous picture of Rainier Cherries. I am trying to find a fruit tree I just can't live without to put right against the back of my house. Would cherry be a good choice for this?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A gardener's dream Christmas.

I have everything I need. I told everyone that there just isn't any material thing
that I need. After much persistance on their part, I came up with a short list of
gardening things from Lee Valley. I told them if they just got one thing, that would be plenty. I think they went out and bought everything on my list. They will be hooped next year. Now I really need...nothing.
At our house Christmas is called paper day. We fling it everywhere.
The cats love it!
Sorry about the quality of the pictures. I used Allan's camera, which obviously isn't working perfectly at the moment. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Calendula flowers in the dehydrator

We have a customer I'll call J. He does a bang on rooster crow. We are graced with said rooster crow a couple times per week. J brought me a bouquet of calendula flowers the other day. In the bouquet was a dried flower head full of seeds. Yayyy. I was actually going to order some seeds to grow calendula for tea and making salves next year. Today I was going to dispose of the flowers and realized that I could dehydrate them. Duh.
The petals of calendula are small and light. Which means...they blow all over the place in a dehydrator. I think I should have figured that out before hand. They are now in the greenhouse drying in a dish.
I've just washed a box of mandarin oranges. Why you ask? I found a recipe for a rub which calls for dried mandarin orange peels, buzzed up to a coarse meal..mixed with herbs, coarse pepper and salt. Rosemary-Mandarin Orange Spice Rub. Doesn't that sound wonderful.

The link will take you to the recipe located on one of my favorite blogs. Check out Northwest Edible Life. Erica is a wonderful writer, hilariously funny and brilliant at what she does.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The garden in December

Snowberries in the 'Wild Area'
There is something wonderful about an unexpected sunny day in December. I added some more coffee grounds to the blueberry garden today. I also noticed some little green shoots that look like grass in the heavily mulched strawberry bed. I have a feeling it could be canola shoots from the organic fertilizer I made. I'm going to have to start sifting the canola. The seeds are a bit of a problem.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Would you eat anything cooked at this house?

This is my cat Beamer. He was a barn cat that had been a pet once and dumped. I scooped him up and brought him home with us. He is a delight and frankly our girl cats think he's really hot. (No pun intended) He is the Brad Pitt of this cat world. Allan made a grilled cheese sandwich and found this situation a while later. I guess it's been colder than I realized.

I love how he seems mesmerized by something out the kitchen window. Most likely birds.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Urban farming starting to take root in Montreal...{come on Sidney, if Montreal can do it, surely little Sidney can}

MONTREAL – The city's public consultation office will hold hearings in the spring into the issue of urban agriculture, after volunteers gathered nearly 30,000 signatures on a petition requesting this.
It’s the first time the right for citizen-initiated public consultations in Montreal has been used successfully since it was introduced in January 2010.
Usually the city’s executive committee decides topics for public consultation.
Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay congratulated the volunteers who collected the signatures. They needed to gather 15,000 signatures in a three-month period, but collected 29,068.
“Urban agriculture addresses social, environmental, economic and educational issues,” Tremblay said.
“I hope that the public consultation will allow the sharing of constructive ideas that will improve the quality of life in Montreal by further integrating urban agriculture into the city’s development.”
Many Montrealers already practice urban agriculture, he said, through gardening at home or in community or collective gardens.
Several Montreal families are already raising backyard chickens, although the practice has been banned in the city for decades. North American cities are currently grappling with urban-agriculture issues such as raising animals in the city, allowing beehives and using public land for agriculture.
The Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal was one of nearly 50 organizations involved in the petition drive.
It said the public hearings, held in different parts of the island, will provide an accurate picture of the state of urban agriculture in Montreal and help to develop a vision for its future.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Study: Organic Farming Outperformed Conventional Farming in Every Measure

The results are in from a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute. Contrary to conventional wisdom, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every measure.
There are about 1,500 organic farmers in Saskatchewan, at last count. They eschew the synthetic fertilizers and toxic sprays that are the mainstay of conventional farms. Study after study indicates the conventional thinking on farming - that we have to tolerate toxic chemicals because organic farming can't feed the world - is wrong.
In fact, studies like the Rodale trials ( show that after a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields What is more, the study showed organic crops were more resilient. Organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional in years of drought.
These drought yields are remarkable when compared to genetically modified (GM) "drought tolerant" varieties, which showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.
More important than yield, from the farmer's perspective, is income, and here organic is clearly superior. The 30-year comparison showed organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems. The average net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/ year versus just $190/acre/year for the conventional systems. The much higher income reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.
But even without a price premium, the Rodale study found organic systems are competitive with the conventional systems because of marginally lower input costs.
The most profitable grain crop was the organically grown wheat netting $835/acre/year. Interestingly, no-till conventional corn was the least profitable, netting just $27/acre/year. The generally poor showing of GM crops was striking; it echoed a study from the University of Minnesota that found farmers who cultivated GM varieties earned less money over a 14-year period than those who continued to grow non-GM crops.
Importantly, the Rodale study, which started in 1981, found organic farming is more sustainable than conventional systems. They found, for example, that:

. Organic systems used 45 per cent less energy than conventional.

. Production efficiency was 28 per cent higher in the organic systems, with the conventional no-till system being the least efficient in terms of energy usage.

. Soil health in the organic systems has increased over time while the conventional systems remain essentially unchanged. One measure of soil health is the amount of carbon contained in the soil. Carbon performs many crucial functions: acting as a reservoir of plant nutrients, binding soil particles together, maintaining soil temperature, providing a food source for microbes, binding heavy metals and pesticides, and influencing water holding capacity and aeration. The trials compared different types of organic and conventional systems; carbon increase was highest in the organic manure system, followed by the organic legume system. The conventional system has shown a loss in carbon in recent years.

. Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off. Water volumes percolating through the soil were 15-20 per cent higher in the organic systems. Rather than running off the surface and taking soil with it, rainwater recharged groundwater reserves in the organic systems, with minimal erosion.

Organic farming also helps sustain rural communities by creating more jobs; a UN study shows organic farms create 30 per cent more jobs per hectare than nonorganic. More of the money in organic farming goes to paying local people, rather than to farm inputs.
With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias.
Still, the global food security community, which focuses on poor farmers in developing countries, is shifting to an organic approach. Numerous independent studies show that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future. In fact, agroecological farming methods, including organic farming, could double global food production in just 10 years, according to one UN report.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pictures of my store...for Mark

Store Christmas window
Greeting cards
Front of the store, with Christmas things!

Only in Sidney...someone walking miniature horses in
front of the store.

Looking to the back of the store.
I hope you enjoyed the little tour of my store Dragon Horse. If you would like to see more pictures Mark, just go to and click on the photos page or just look around the site. I am very visual, so there are lots of photos.

"Farmers are the only indispensable people on the face of the earth." Li Zhaoxing    

Every little bit counts.
"Farmers are the only indispensable people on the face of the earth."
Li Zhaoxing   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Planting future salads in the greenhouse

It is sunny and beautiful. There is a coolness in the breeze. I spread another five gallon bucket of coffee grounds under the blueberries. While I was doing this, I noticed little buds on the end of the branches. I then noticed that both the carrots and parsley are sending up new green sprigs. Everything seems to think it is spring!
I planted a row of spinach and a row of deer tongue lettuce in the greenhouse bed. Thank you for the seeds Joan.
It felt quite wonderful to put some seeds in soil.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Forgive me if the postings are 'thin' for the next month. Retail gets a bit nutty.

I am going to do my best to keep up with the posting during the next month. I own a store in Sidney BC called Dragon Horse. The store is a passion for all of us who work in there. I have the most wonderful staff that anyone could have. We are truly a family.
We will be very busy between now and Christmas. So if I don't have time to do as many postings, please forgive me!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just when you thought blogging couldn't get any better

There is a very private blogger out there who has done the most wonderful thing for me. Delivered to me at the store, in the middle of a regular work day, by her soaking wet husband...was a lovely bag, with a stamped wheel barrow on it. Inside were seeds. White patty pan seeds. I LOVE white patty pan squash. There was also a bag of her own saved seeds. Okay...that would have been enough. More than enough. But, in the bottom of the bag was an adorable short canning jar with a jute cord and label identifying it as Tomato Jam. I mean really, how often in your life, does something like that happen? I cracked open the jam right after supper. Allan and I each took a spoon and had about half a teaspoon each. Just to try it of course. It is sweet and after the sweet, comes a spicy/hot whisper of flavor. I have never understood what people meant when the describe a flavor as complex. Now I know. I have no idea how it's made, but I'll probably spend many an autumn trying to create something akin to this epicurean delight.
I can certainly see how foodies get addicted to the search for new tastes.
Thank you B, more appreciated than you will ever know.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I worked on the compost and spread bunny poo. We processed a lot of organic apples.

I really did not expect to get out in the yard today. I was pleasantly surprised by the weather. It was cold, but not raining. I put on my usual garden garb. Red plaid flannel shirt, pink flowered rubber boots and an old plush lined denim jacket. I wanted to get my elephant into the greenhouse for the winter and you know how one thing leads to another.
Allan had placed the two bags of bunny hay and poo into the greenhouse. I realized they weren't open so I opened one and saw that what I had been told was true. It was starting to decompose. So I poured it out of the bags and spread it on the gardens. I put some in the compost as I've heard that it really gets the compost going!! I love my compost.
I then heard the distinct sound of raking. Raking can only mean one thing. LEAVES!!! Next door neighbor Barb was raking her leaves. I went over and helped and carried back garbage cans of leaves to throw in bin 2 which is holding the leaves I've been collecting. It is really full. I am going to Slegg this week to pick up the wire to make the wire ring for leaves.
I can't even be reasonable about compost and mulch. I am in LOVE with it. Today Allan and I used our really cool peeler to peel another batch of organic apples given to me by Karen. I ended up with three big bowls of peels and cores. What is it about taking pails of peels outside to put in a compost bin, that feels so good?
Do you know what else feels really good. The smell of a wonderfully easy Apple Brown Betty cooking for dessert. Does this house ever smell wonderful right now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a score...a discontinued book of Fruit Trees

I found one of these wonderful Harrowsmith Fruit Trees books on Amazon. It has been out of print for a long time. It has a ton of information, that I, a gardening newbie, am really happy to have. I am a HUGE fan of the old Harrowsmith magazines and books. I have a lot of cookbooks and my very favorite 'go to' cookbook is the first Harrowsmith Cookbook. Everything I've made from that book has turned out perfectly and all the recipes are short and simple. Harrowsmithhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I miss you so much.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bunny poop bags and art

This wonderful artwork was attached to the bunny poop bags.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here are the photo's of my infamous 'Ugly Chair'

Isn't it a beauty?!

The very well balanced books, cup, camera case......
Cats artistry

Cats again...the back of the chair
My beloved ipad...thank you Allan
So here it is in all it's glory. Isn't it special?! After my day is done, or just beginning, I sit here and read, surf, watch TV, blog and search for new products for the store. Note the ipad opening on the Blotanical site. And see the little wee sunflower. That's my blog!! Anyhooo, isn't it all I said and more. Note the precariously perched piles of gardening books, and the Bird ID book. Also, my favorite coffee cup à la Tim Horton's. And why isn't there a Timmy's in Sidney. Man, when I win the lottery, I am so opening one here!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Something I didn't know about bunny poop. Added bonus, my old chair.

My friend Bunslove gifted me two huge bags of bunny poop recently. You can see the two bags in the picture below. Buns love contacted me and told me I needed to open the bags or the contents would rot rather than compost. Who knew!! I wonder, is it that way with all poop, or are bunnies special? I'm such a newbie and I have so much to learn.

I have a very tattered old wingback chair that I sit in to blog, or watch TV or just sit and read. It's ugly but so comfortable it's ridiculous. I'll take a photo for you. This chair sits by the bay window that looks into my front yard. Right outside is the rhododendron that is flowering and a birch tree. All the leaves are bright yellow right now. It's beautiful. A little flock of Bush Tits (oh stop...for heavens sake, they're tiny little birds) just descended into the rhodo along with a Junco. What a beautiful sight.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More autumn cleanup and planning for spring...and a Blotanical milestone

The compost bins had been put to bed. I had to wake them up, get out my super cool pitchfork and toss the contents, sprinkle with water and put them back to bed. While tossing the contents I observed something amazing. It smelled wonderful. Like dirt. Not rotting anything. Just dirt. So I know I'm making my first compost!!!
Then gardeners assistant Al, helped me put straw around my clay pot and wrap it in burlap. I moved the Guava and Fig to the south side of the greenhouse and tucked straw around the pots so the heat radiating through the glass with keep warmth in the straw blanket. It will help them get through the winter. We are having a La Niña winter which means colder, wetter and even...gulp...snow.
I took the Toro Blueberry to the garden and planned to put it in the blueberry border, but there isn't enough room. I wandered aimlessly with it...came to the conclusion that I didn't have a clue where to put's back on the deck, sheltered from the wind. It'll stay there until spring. When I can carry it around aimlessly again, but in warmer weather.

This morning my dear readers made my blog the Number 1 favorited blog on Blotanical!!! I am very excited and flattered. Thank you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fig leaves dropping and lots of pictures of the garden and greenhouse

Peter's Honey Fig...losing leaves
Peter's Honey Fig is dropping its leaves. I have mixed feelings. I am sad to see it wrapping up for the season, but happy to think that when it breaks dormancy it will grow like crazy. Such is the cycle of life.
I noticed that one of my azaleas has turned red.
Azalea with fall coat of red
I have had azaleas for over thirty years and have never had one turn red. Interesting. And while we're on the topic, for the third year in a row my rhododendron has some flowers in November. I planted the rhodo 32 years ago and never had a flower until spring. Something has definitely happened with our weather. Last year during this freak flowering, little chickadees were collecting white seeds from the cones on neighbor Barb's fir tree, and tucking them deep into the pink flowers, I assume to retrieve later in the winter. I hope they do it again this year.

Chilean Guava

Lettuce in greenhouse
Greenhouse bench, primroses, Christmas cactus budding, catnip and various others
Fuchsia's still blooming
Neighbor Lance's new leaf mulching facility...oooooooo, I love leaf mulch
Yes, I'm yelling!
Bunny poop percolating under the deck
And finally...only in Sidney...a rose bud

Friday, November 11, 2011

An afternoon of coffee and Practical Magic

Have you ever watched the movie Practical Magic? It is a feast for the eyes. The old Victorian house that the aunts live in. The beautiful conservatory with the old panes of wavy glass full of plants and old glass bell jars. Can you imagine a garden full of those beautiful bell jars as cloches. There are flower gardens and raised herb beds. Hanging bunches of garlic in the old Victorian kitchen. I am going to make a wind chime like the one in the movie. It is made of forks and spoons. The costumes are fabulous. The Aunts clothes are amazing. Lots of botanical prints, linens and wonderful straw hats. Filmed in Washington State, the scenery looks very much like the area I live in.

11:11 and 11/11/11 and New Age thought

Today is the day to set your intentions into the universe and believe. See clearly what you want for your life. 11 is the number of manifestation. I chose 11:11 this morning to set my intentions. 11:11 tonight will work just as well!!! It becomes 11/11/11 and 11:11. Wow. I will say that my intentions involve a tractor (yes I've really become an obsessed gardener) and a farm. Enjoy today and may all your intentions come true!!!
Ahhhh, nirvana

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The sun is so bright it looks like summer. And yet...

I find myself pining for summer. The sun today makes me want to run into the garden, but it's over for now. And then...
Bright Lights
I stroll. All there really is to do in the garden is walk, stop, breathe and admire. The beauty of Bright Lights Chard in the sun takes my breath away. Then look at the cauliflower and see the little holes slugs have eaten, that give the leaves a lacy look. And I'm not mad at the slugs. I can see that the Salad Bowl lettuce is still not flowering, but I have hopes of seeds. The lettuce I've put in the greenhouse bed looks about three weeks to actual salads! The garden beds look wonderful covered in straw with little vegetables and berries peaking through. I marvel at how much we accomplished in six months. My heart didn't know there was an empty spot, but now that it's filled I feel very complete.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Wow, post #100 already!!! The sun is out...I see gardening in my future.

I have reached the 100 post milestone. Wow, it went by very quickly. Thank you to all of you who have found me and read my blog. It means the world to me.

I received a package of seeds from Joan at My Mountain Garden Gleanings. Thank you Joan. Deer Tongue Lettuce and a package of mixed greens. Joan did a post about collecting seeds so it made it very special to me that she had grown the plants and collected the seeds. I am too new to have very many collected seeds, but I am letting my lettuce bolt. It still hasn't formed anything that looks like a flower. It's only about a foot tall. So I'm not sure I'll get any seeds other than my and my sisters marigolds. I'll be more on the seed part of things next year.

It is a beautiful sunny day in Sidney by-the-sea today. It's cool but sunny. And we had a time change last night, so I'll have some extra gardening time this morning. I forgot my camera at the store, so today's pictures will have to wait. Too bad, it is a golden and sunny, beautiful day. We will have more of those, right? Today two big bags of straw and bunny poop arrived at my house. Thank you Caroline and your bunnies.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Just in case you haven't 'got' what a huge leaf mulch geek I am

I got home from the store and asked Allan if he had a good day. Without pausing he said "I raked up the maple leaves next door and piled them by the bin so the wind won't blow them away." That made my whole day.

And he had dinner ready. Wow.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Two more pallets, lucky me

My gardening assistant Allan, aka my husband, snagged a couple more pallets. I have piled enough leaf mulch into the compost bins, that I needed another pallet to keep the contents from pouring out all over the lawn. I will post pictures on the weekend. I LOVE compost and mulch!!! Can you tell?

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?