Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Give me Lee Valley and I'm like a kid in a candy store.

Today, after months of waiting, I had an appointment with a cardiologist. I am very relieved to say that surgery to replace my defective aortic valve, does not have to be done anytime soon. I have to improve my blood pressure a bit, but that's it for now. I am ecstatic!!! Now...as if that wasn't enough good in one day...we took a side trip to Lee Valley. I went crazy. I had a list. Should I really bore you with the list? Okay, okay. Here we go. I saved and treated myself to: deep seed starter trays, a heat mat, red plastic for under the tomatoes, a stainless steel canning funnel, floating row cover (remay type cloth), plastic for hoop house, caps for bamboo canes (4.50 to save an eye, sounds like a good deal to me), a muddler for mojitos, a book holder for holding my ipad which I use as a cookbook among other things, and a 21 LED flashlight for nighttime strolls to the greenhouse. I recommend the flashlight. It is super bright, small and quite a lovely little thing.
We are having a huge wind storm tonight. I love storms. I went out and put the unplanted raspberry in a more sheltered area. It is bloody cold out there tonight.

So that was my very awesome day.

My son Noel and Amanda's wedding in Hawaii

What a beautiful, beautiful day!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Every single garlic sprouted. The slugs have decimated the chard.

Yayyyy. Garlic.
I drove to Marigold Nursery yesterday. It was hailing. Hailing hard. It was actually like a blizzard of hail. I also had to navigate the interchange from hell. I'm not sure but I think they've changed the signage. It wasn't as tricky this time. It was VERY cold and my sister and I froze. That didn't stop me though. Here's the shopping list. I bought two Meeker Raspberries, one red currant, a Sorbet peony, lily of the valley pips, a packet of Jarrahdale pumpkin, lemon cukes and nasturtium seeds. I got some coconut fibre pots, soilless mix for seeding and clay pots for Christmas cacti. I planted one Meeker Raspberry and discovered that the ground was absolute mud. Didn't plant anymore but I did take a large division of my amazing chive plant for Jess. My mom bought the chive plant in Alberta. She brought me a piece of it about ten years ago? It grows super tall. A least two feet tall. And the chive stems are really large so when you slice them they make good sized rings. I love that plant.
It's just after 3 here and the snow / hail has just finally melted. There was about an inch of it this morning.
Backyard at about one today.
I did my usual walkabout. The previously awesome chard has been decimated by slugs.
Former Bright Lights Chard

Slug decimated cauliflower
I have decided that I am going to try Sluggo. A lot of organic gardeners swear by it. I have heard of others who won't use it. After chatting back and forth with Erica from Northwest Edible Life, I've decided I need to do something. In one night slugs took out a whole planting of lettuce in the greenhouse.
It is wonderful to see that all of the garlic has sprouted. The brussel sprouts have tiny little Brussels forming. I LOVE gardening. Don't love slugs, but I LOVE gardening.

Some happy sights in my garden today.
White primrose
Baby brussels
Last but not least, I believe these are tiny little out-of-focus flower
buds on my Shiro Plum.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I won't miss word verification

It is a good news week. People are dumping word verification at an ever escalating pace. A few weeks ago I was trying to leave a comment on a blog. I didn't count, but I must have tried eight times to get the right words in the little damnable box. I finally gave up. I have never had it on my blog, and I so thankful that so many of you are dumping it. I put the little box on this blog declaring I'm word verification free.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Buying veggie seeds in Hawaii

I bought some seeds in Hawaii. Brenda at Gardeningbren Blog, suggested there might be varieties of lettuce and spinach that tolerate heat better, so they may do better during our summer. The other day I bought some Red Salad Bowl lettuce for winter growing in Canada actually. Then today I got a Mesclun mix, a Bib or Limestone lettuce (no idea what it is but the picture looks great), Spinach Bloomsdale, some really cool looking red and white beans called Frijol, Huerto Pinto and a package of cosmos seeds. I saw a picture of them last night and thought...I should grow those again...they are so pretty. So even on vacation, I can't help but grab a few seeds.

"Hello, my name is Erin, and I am a gardening addict."
"Hello Erin".

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wedding at Old Airport Road State Park...my baby is grown up

Today my son Noel married Amanda at Old Airport Road State Park in Kona Hawaii. What an incredible day. I cannot load pictures to my ipad, but I will post a whole lot of pictures when I get back to my computer. In Canada. Where it's cold. We're leaving when. What!!?? Monday night. Nooooooooooooooooooo.

Heavy-duty disinfecting the non-toxic way with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar

I found this post on Root Simple blog, which I read faithfully. I am always looking for new ways to clean better...naturally.
Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Vinegar works for almost everything. That and plain castille soap. This recipe is for cleaning up chicken juice and anything else that could be deadly.

1) Take a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3% solution, the kind you buy in the drugstore). Leave it in the brown bottle it comes in because hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive. Screw a spray bottle nozzle onto the brown bottle.

2) Fill another spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar.

3) Mist the surface you wish to disinfect with one spray bottle first, and then the other, immediately after, like a one-two punch. Do not combine the two liquids in one bottle for the sake of efficiency. That doesn't work. It makes a new chemical altogether which is not effective for this. Keep them separate. Always apply in the form of mist.

This methodology was developed in the mid-90's by Susan Sumner a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. She actually developed this technique to remove salmonella from the surface of meat and vegetables. Yes, it can be applied directly to the food! I gather you rinse it off after application. It is said not to leave lingering flavors, but I haven't tried it.

This combo works like gangbusters at killing salmonella. Nothing else works better. The magic is in the mix, somehow. As Sumner told Science News Online,

"If the acetic acid got rid of 100 organisms, the hydrogen peroxide would get rid of 10,000, and the two together would get rid of 100,000."

This one-two punch spray is very effective at killing germs of all sorts wherever it meets them, not just on food, so you can use it in on your cutting boards, in the bathroom, in garbage cans...wherever you need the extra assurance. And it's so safe, it's edible.

So no more excuses for clinging to your bleach, people. Ditch the poison!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Greenwell Farms Kona Coffee In Kealakekua Hawaii

My sister told me of a tour she took at Greenwell Farms Coffee Farm. She said I needed to go there. My sister Jess knows that I love farms a LOT and that I needed to see it. It was a wonderful tour and coffee tasting. I learned a lot about avocado, banana and coffee plants. Coffee plants are self fertile and they grow their cherries on new growth. The plants came from Guatemala in a time when all coffee came from brazil. They were brought to this 200 acre farm in 1850. The incredible Hawaiian avocados are a variety called Bacon. Go figure. They really taste like butter. Banana trees grow a bunch of bananas and then must be cut down so that new shoots will grow up and bear the next bananas. They will only make one bunch per tree trunk. They are small, sweet bananas called apple bananas. Yummmmm. We had a tasting of coffee. I have never been a fan of Kona Coffee. it always tastes a bit bland to me. Well...I was wrong. I was drinking the wrong Kona Coffee. This coffee was so rich and full of flavour. Wow. We bought a pound of their chocolate coffee for a treat. It's incredible.
It is my dream to have a small coffee bar within the store. Wow, Greenwell Kona Coffee. Wouldn't that be fun.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Now I know what ass over teakettle really means

I'm in Hawaii. Allan and I went up to Waimea today to go the wood artisan show. We were walking up to the front door. Allan says to me "is this a banana tree"? I look to the left, and...that is all I remember except, 'oops, I'm slipping, oh crap, this is not graceful...OMG I'm going down, I'm going to land on my knee." I should be so lucky. I land on my right hip, 'oh god I hope no one is watching this...oh for Christ sake, my shoulder is banging on the ground...oh for the love of god could this get any worse...yup...then I planted my face firmly on the grass'. I rolled on my back laughing so hard I could hardly get up. Allan got me to my feet. Tried to brush all the grass off me. It turns out my shoe and purse were still on the sidewalk. I was on the lawn with my sunglasses. Even now I am laughing so hard I can hardly type. Anyone who reads the blog knows how much I love slapstick.
I think I put my right hand out as my wrist is sore and my shoulder is sore. But aside from that...A.O.K. We drove down the highway for a few minutes and I said 'hey, upside, apparently I'm too young to break a hip'. TA DA!!!

Sunday update: Shoulder totally sore. Took Tylenol.
Tuesday update: All better. If I push on the muscle that tore or whatever...I can feel it, so, I don't do that.
Friday update: Pretty much 100%. My ankle hurts a titch and the shoulder twinges now and then, but better. I'm a tough old bird.
April 10th update: Just like whiplash, sometimes things take a while to take hold. I've been to the chiropractor several times. My back is back to normal. The side of my foot that snapped over the edge of the sidewalk is still very sore and sensitive and my right shoulder...well, it hurts. Sometimes a lot. It feels like it has a really sharp kink, but it won't release and the muscle at the front gets a sharp pain when I move my arm backwards. I keep forgetting about it and hurting myself. But then...I suck it up and get back to gardening!! I have an ultrasound scheduled for May 25th. I'll know then what is really going on.
May 4th update: my shoulder has been getting worse over the months instead of better. I was sitting on the back step last week. Without thinking, I reached up, grabbed the rail and pulled myself up to stand. I am not exaggerating when I say, it felt like lightening struck my shoulder. I grabbed it and held on tight. I thought I popped it out of the socket. I walked around for a few minutes muttering. Oh crap, oh damn, etc. after about ten minutes I felt normal again. It is the weirdest thing.
May 28th update: I went for an ultrasound on Friday and it turns out I do not have a torn rotator cuff. He couldn't see what it is, but now I know what it isn't. I imagine it's a torn ligament. We shall see.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Reading the Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and enjoying the sun

I am on the Big Island of Hawaii. I brought Niki Jabbour's book The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener on vacation with me. I was reading it on the flight from San Fransisco to Hawaii and the hours flew by. Nothing like gardening to occupy my mind so totally I completely forgot to be counting the hours grind by slowly. Whoosh, and we are here. The book is amazing. I have seen the odd mention of Mâché but never really knew anything about it. I certainly did not realize that it is a reliable and perfect salad green for the winter months. Thank you Niki. I can tell already that there is no reason at all, with all this information, that I couldn't grow vegetables all year round. Especially living in zone 9a. I have no excuse. Although, a little excuse could be the vegetable clear cutting techniques of the west coast slug. They are a total pain.