Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another try at permaculture

Hubby picked up some other permaculture books that I had waiting for me at the library. I went to sit out on a blanket in the sun to relax and read them. I started reading about keyhole pathways. But, the thing's way more fun to do something than to read about it...and soIdeally I would have planned this in the fall and then turned the turf upside down in the spot I took it out of, added more layers of sheet mulch, and had really fantastic soil to put the blueberries into come Spring. But...that isn't really my style. I'm not so much on the planning ahead at the best of times, but also, these blueberries really needed to be rescued from the backyard where visiting dogs kept stomping on them. I already lost one whole bush and another is down to one stalk left on it. So, essentially, this was my emergency rescue plan - there was no time for planning ahead. ;-)
While I was working on this my neighbour came by to tell me that the woman we bought this house from 9 years ago had died. She would have been in her early nineties and she was a gardener (and a food preserver) too. (her obvious love of gardening in this yard was the reason we bought this house) Interestingly, last weekend when I was working on this blueberry job, I was thinking about her. There was a car driving by slowly having a look at our place and I recalled that I hadn't seen her drive by for awhile, and wondered if it was her. (after she sold to us she used to have her family drive her past here every once in awhile, so she could have a look) So, yesterday I hoped that it had been her driving by the prior weekend (my neighbour told me she had been in town for Easter weekend), and that she had been happy to see her old home, and pleased with my changes. I also hope that she knows she left her gardens in good hands.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Composted dog poop??? Wha???

Another one of our goals for this year has been to reduce our garbage even more. We usually have the equivalent of two grocery bags - one is our household bits of plastic food packaging that are non-recyclable, the other is dog poop and cat litter. Encouraged by a friend's tale of her handmade dog poop composter (would that be a compoopster??), I decided to make one today.

We took some of the wire that was left over from our potato growing bin, wrapped it in leftover landscape fabric, and that was it. It took about 10 minutes. Our dog is on a raw diet, he eats veggie mush and raw meat with bones; his poop is white-ish and dry, rather like bone meal. (is that too much information?) I think it will compost quickly and easily without any smell. We plan to just toss it in the bin with some leaves or grass clippings. I think I might grow some flowering vine-like thing up it too. And yes, my husband does think that I am weird.We live on a pretty regular size neighbourhood lot, but I think that this is unobtrusive enough to not cause too much alarm in the 'hood. :-)

**Rebecca - those are the rescued rhodos.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thoreau on seeds

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."

-Henry David Thoreau

Me too!! Me too!! I'm also prepared to expect wonders. And wonders I shall have. :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good Stuff

My folks often bring me things that they have decided to clear out. Quite often these are things from the 60s or 70s; things from my childhood that they think I might like to keep; things that have been sitting in the attic or the crawlspace for sometime, just waiting to be sorted.

Some of it I keep, most of it I pass on. This lot included bits and pieces of fabrics and crafting books. There was some more curtain panels for me to make into produce bags. I got a kick out of this book - it has the rules of pattern-cutting. Well, I'm not much one for rules on such things, but I am enjoying the pictures of the clothing.

This one went in the get rid of box but then I pulled it back out to have a closer look.

Well, it has Barbie patterns, and you never know when you might get the urge to make Barbie clothes.Or, say...a kaftan. :-)
Actually this way my favourite thing in this lot of goodies. And this, unlike the kaftan above, I will actually wear. It just needs a zipper put it. I think it must have been one that my mom made in the late 60s/early 70s??? I love the fabric and the colours.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Robins are back.

I love robins, and this weekend I noticed that they are back...big time! When I look out my kitchen window I can see them in all the trees. I thought I would take a few pictures of them this morning, while I was still feeling happy to see them. (in a week or so the novelty will wear off as I see them scratching about in my garden beds eating all my lovely worms) After I snapped a few pictures I noticed something and zoomed in.....
See that little terror?
There she sits, lurking about in the treehouse, just waiting to get her teeth into one of those robins. Sigh. What to do? She already wears a bell. Scolding doesn't work at all. I've already posted about a previous victim of hers here. What to do?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Coffee table?

You didn't really want to use that as a coffee table did you? Nah, I didn't think so.Some things are just more important than having a spot to put your coffee cups...even when you have company for the weekend.
At any rate, I don't think any visitors will complain about seedlings getting prime space in our home, because it is these very plants that provide the ingredients to make the salsa that we give to all our friends and family.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I love long weekends!

Doesn't a three day weekend just seem sooo much longer than a two day weekend? There was time for all kinds of fun.

An egg hunt that somehow seemed to involve bits of costumes!?!? Does it look like they are practically flying into action trying to find chocolate? Because they are.
A decision to start trying to add some permaculture methods to my gardening...and to start with blueberries planted under the Japanese Maple. These are in my front yard so that the dogs will not be able to trample them. I planted three varieties that I don't have yet - Northblue, Northcountry and Chippewa.
My husband doesn't even flinch anymore when I start ripping out grass.E discovering blooms on the Hazelnut trees, the male blooms are the catkins above, and the female blooms are the little blossoms below.The flowering Almond just about to start bursting into bloom, this will be stunning in another week or so.And time for weekend company as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A little egg magic.

I've always loved colouring eggs, it is something I have done every year for as long as I can remember. It is amazing to me how easy it is to make eggs looks so beautiful - no offense to hens, you do good work and the eggs are lovely just as they are, I just like them even more with a little colour.
We had some fun on Friday with a dozen eggs. We have done natural dyes in the past, but decided to keep it simple this time. We used these old bottles of food colouring, you can still see the 35 cent price marked on top.Here are the results; the boys did 5 each and I managed to keep 2 to dye myself. We always enjoy doing this so much that I really think it should be a twice a

year tradition.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Potatoes the easy way?

Several times over the last 9 years I have grown potatoes here, and I usually end up wishing that I hadn't. (but for some reason that doesn't stop me from planting them again and again- what's with that?) The potatoes are good, don't get me wrong, it is just that they take up a lot of space. They also end up taking a little more effort than I like to spend on potatoes, and then when I dig them up I still have to scrub them. To me, this seems silly because I can easily and inexpensively buy them at my local green grocer where they are already cleaned too. I guess that I would rather use my garden space for things like tomatoes, peas, tender baby lettuce, raspberries, strawberries and all sorts of other treats. I suppose what I am saying is that the lowly potato gets pretty low priority around here. However, this year I kept coming across the no-work potato method in all my reading. All you have to do is lay your potato starts on the ground and then cover them with a bit of mulch. As they grow you just keep adding mulch, and when it is time to harvest you just grab your nice clean taters out of the pile of mulch. That sounded pretty good to me, but I still kept thinking that I didn't want to "waste" the room on potatoes. (Everyone who has seen the size of my garden is thinking that I am crazy right now. I know, I know, it is a huge garden with plenty of space...but priority has to go to all those tomato plants)Anyway, I've always been the sort of person who likes everything to have multiple uses, so when I was trying to find space for my hoard, erm...I mean, my good-grief-what-excellent-foresight-get-all-the-neighbours'-leaves-quick-quick stash of leaves I thought perhaps I could combine some ideas. I had already planned to make some sort of leaf mulch compost container, so why not use it to grow potatoes too? (I've recently learned that this is a very permaculture way of thinking) So, my lovely hubby scored some wire for us, and before you knew it, I had me a leaf-mulchin', tater growin', compostin' spot. I think I might even use it to grow some sort of vine on too, perhaps some sort of melon.
And yes, I do realize what an excellent husband I have. We've been busy plotting, scheming, dismantling and building for most of the day on all kinds of projects, something know as the "it's never just the one thing" event, around here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lunch (or dinner) on the go...

My family loves calzones. It doesn't seem to matter much what the filling is, as long as it is in a pocket of dough then they are pretty happy to eat it. We normally make them with tomato sauce, mushrooms and cheese, but this time I decided to try a broccoli cheese type of filling based on a delicious snack that we bought when we were in Maui (at my favourite heath food store) this Winter.

I made a cream soup substitute with some olive oil, flour and broth. I added some grated cheese, steamed broccoli and grated carrot. This made 8 calzones and then the other 8 were our usual pizza type. My plan was that we would eat 2 each for our dinner and then have 2 each left for our lunch the next day. Ha ha ha ha...the best laid plans and all that, my guys were practically rolling on the floor in hysterics when I said that. There are 2 left in the fridge for lunch.As soon as the spinach I planted is ready to eat I will be making spinach, feta, garlic ones to take on our hikes too. And I will be making a quadruple batch, so there. Delicious!

Homemade Granola

We usually eat granola for breakfast. Years ago I found a recipe that was simple and good tasting. We like it with soymilk, nutmilk or yogurt and fruit. We often sprinkle flax seed or hemp on top too. I use a can of apple juice concentrate and dates as the sweetener. I throw that in the blender with some tahini (or almond butter), a bit of grape seed oil, and some cinnamon. Once this is all blended into a slurry, I pour it over the oats and then just bake for a few hours at a low temperature. I've found that if I bake it at 350, as most recipes call for, I invariably end up burning it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oooh, pretty!!

Ever notice how at this time of year, every single little bit of green showing through the earth is a Big Deal? I know that in just another month I will start to be all, "oh ho-hum" about the flowers in my gardens...but that's not for another month. In the meantime, I shall bore everyone silly with far too many pictures of tiny little shoots and buds. :-)Love the stripes on that crocus. Peony shoots.Lupins, Lupins, Lupins. What to do with so many Lupins. My problem is that I always let them go to see. I always figure that for sure people will want loads of Lupin seeds...but then they spread all over my gardens.The first year we had these, I thought that they smell was so horrid when they were this size - just like skunk. When I saw what they grew into, I quickly decided that I could deal with the skunky smell quite easily. Here is what they will look like in a few months, and when the flowers are fully open they are just stunning.
And just one more...ooooh, pretty!