Saturday, January 28, 2012

The book made it...I have reading material for my vacation!

I am so thrilled that my book is in. I want to read it on vacation. I like to sit up after everyone has gone to bed, and read. I have a few files on my ipad and a calendar that will keep me on track with my plantings. The thought of having veggies all year round is very exciting.
I went out and perused the garden today and notice a whole lot of little green shoots that are my future garlic plants.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goodbye my beautiful Izzy.

Izzy and Beamer

I haven't been writing very much in the blog of late. My beautiful Himalayan cat Izzy hasn't been feeling well and had lost quite a bit of weight. I have been spending a lot of time spoiling him. At midnight on Sunday night I decided to run him in to the 24 hour vet hospital to get an ultrasound. I just suddenly had a feeling. Allan thought I was nuts. I got out the crate and put it in the back and headed in for a little road trip and some peace of mind. Six hours later I drove home with my sister at my side...but no Izzy. He had cancer and his colon had a two inch tumor that was completely blocking him. If I had put him in his huge overnight crate and gone to bed, he would have had an awful night alone in pain. In hindsight I am so thankful for the little push that made me leave home in the middle of the night. I am thankful for my sister Jess who drove to town at 2 am to be with me and with Izzy when he passed.
I am thankful for my friend Cheryl Dawn a healer and shaman who called me from Hawaii that afternoon to tell me that Izzy was telling her that he wanted to go never let's me out. True. He wanted to feel dirt on his feet. There were about 80-110km winds so I bundled him up and took him to the greenhouse so he could pad around in the dirt where it was warm. He got to be a real cat. The lettuce and big orchid that he rubbed along must have felt like a jungle. I let him just roam around for about a half hour. I intended to do this every day. It was very cold and windy, so I bundled him back up in the blanket and showed him around the yard. He was bundled like a baby with just his adorable face peeking out. He seemed so happy. It's like the universe knew that it was Izzy's last day. Izzy and I just didn't. Farewell my beautiful boy. I miss you more than I can say.
I will post a picture later, he was wicked cute. And he was a hugger. God this house is not going to be the same.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Holy's as windy as I've ever seen it on the west coast

The weather network says the gusts are up to 110 km per hour. The cats are on high alert. They look extremely concerned. It is roaring.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seeds, I forgot a few...and it's snowing...and a recipe for Peanut Butter Pie

I have done another small order with Botanical Interests. Lettuce-Butterhead Buttercrunch and Butterhead Speckles organic seeds, Parsnip All American Heirloom and Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I am not sure how I missed them as they were on my list. I know that this seems like an excessive number of seed varieties for a newbie, but I have a plan. I am using this year for seed trials. I want to see what will grow well here. Based on last years mini-trial, I am going to put hoops over one veggie garden this spring to grow basil. I don't want it in the greenhouse as that area will be for tomatoes.
The book Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour is available in Canada now. It has come highly recommended!! I am going to go to my local book store, Tanner's, to pick up a copy tomorrow. If it is not available locally, I will order a copy. If it is as good as 'they' say, I will be carrying it in my store.
The beginning of the snow on Vancouver Island today.

On that note...please support your local bookstore. Between the recession, amazon and ebooks, it is really difficult for them right now. If you've ever seen the movie You've Got Mail, the predicament that the Shop Around the Corner faced when Fox Books moved down the block, is becoming a reality. Losing our little independent booksellers, is, in a way a bit like losing our small farmers. Once it happens, it will be next to impossible to turn back the hands of time.

The most incredible Peanut Butter Pie I have ever tasted. Yummmm.

Peanut Butter Pie

16 Oreo Cookies, broken into rough pieces
4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 c. marshmallow creme
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. heavy cream, separated
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. chocolate chips

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor, process the cookies until finely ground.  Add the 4 T. melted butter and pulse until incorporated.

Sprinkle mixture into a 9" pie plate.  Press the crumbs evenly across the bottom and up the sides.  Bake until fragrant, 10-15 minutes.

Let it cool completely.

For the pie:
In a large bowl, beat together the marshmallow creme, cream cheese, 1/2 c. of the heavy cream, peanut butter and the butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  In a small bowl beat the remaining 1c. heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  With a rubber spatula fold the heavy cream into the marshmallow creme mixture and pour into the cooled pie crust.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips.  Drizzle over the pie.  Cover pie loosely with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until serving.

Our winter compost teepee

Allan has taken mercy on me and rethought his compost tarping. Before it looked like a very tidy rectangle. The tarp was pulled so tight, it looked like it had hospital corners. This was accomplished by putting my extra pallets over each bin and then tarping over that. It looked great. What it didn't do was function great. The pallet resting on each bin prevented me from having access to stir, or add, or aerate...without bending in half. I mentioned this to him and I came home from the store the other day and looked out as I always do, and there was a teepee formed over the bins, making access easy. Thank you my dear.

As I am a compost obsessed, you know I took its temperature right? It hasn't budged. I stirred it up and it really has lots of moisture and I noticed quite a few worms this time. So, I'll just leave it much as I am capable.

Sorry about the blue tint pictures. Allan's camera has gone weird on us and I, with menopause brain, keep forgetting to bring mine home from the store.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fruit trees have been ordered for spring

I am very excited. I've ordered a large size Meyer Lemon, a Violette du Bordeaux aka Negronne Fig and a Rainier Cherry tree. I'm sure that my blog and gardening friends will get this....I am excited out of my mind!!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Perfectly beautiful furniture for the greenhouse

I know I've asked before...but have you seen the movie Practical Magic? I spoke in a past post about the beautiful conservatory in the movie. In addition to the wonderful bell jars, everything is sitting on old white tables and chests. I plan to spend some time haunting thrift shops looking for similar tables. There was a time that I never would have considered a table with worn, chipping paint. What was the matter with me?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Things seem to be budding early

I was just in the garden and noticed how many plants have little green buds on them. The blueberries, blackberry and most of the bushes around the yard have little leaf buds swelling. I worry a bit for them, should we get a hard frost.
Last year in the heat of summer I planted three young cranberry cottoneasters that I grew from seed. They really suffered from the bad planting time coupled with the drought we get here in the summer. They were planted in awkward areas where the hoses don't reach. They dropped all of their leaves, and even though they are notoriously tough plants, I thought it was possible that I had killed them. I am thrilled to report...they are all alive. All three have teeny little green leaves coming out. I have a real soft spot for cottoneasters. I have two regular varieties growing against our shed. They fan up in a flat style that makes them perfect for walls. In the spring they get covered with small white flowers that the bees go crazy for. Right now they are covered with small bright red berries. The birds will devour them eventually.

Monday, January 02, 2012

I am obsessing over my compost temperature

I ran out to the compost bin today certain that when I plunge the thermometer in, it should at least be a little bit warmer. So...thermometer in, and, no difference at all. So I threw the tarp back and grabbed my pitchfork and started tossing it. It has now been thoroughly tossed. And like a crazy compost woman I was tossing and trying to figure out how much brown I had to my green. I've already added old compost and some manure. So in my best whiny voice "so why, why isn't the compost steaming like garden guru Jim's?" So now I wait.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Compost aerator review and compost thermometer

I LOVE my new compost aerator from Lee Valley. This year we have a pallet on top of the compost bin to hold the tarp up and in place. What this means is that any compost turning I do has to happen with me folded in half and digging is sideways. The aerator is really easy to push into the compost and grabs a big load of it to stir up. Really effortless and efficient. At the angle I have to work at, it is much easier than my pitchfork.
I took the compost pile's temperature with my new thermometer and found that it is quite cold. I did turn it a few weeks ago. I am hoping today's turning will get things going.
Garden Guru Jim told me that his garlic is starting to poke thorough the ground. I parted the mulch I had loaded on the garlic bed and realized that it was very deep and matting. I got out the wonderful old pitchfork that my parents gave me a while back. I gently slid the fork into the mulch and lifted it off. I made a pile. Indeed, under all that I found a garlic shoot just breaking the surface. I sprinkled a much thinner layer of mulch back on.