Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sometimes Its Just the Little Things

SPRING IS just around the corner and each day, ignoring the foot or more of snow we have, my eyes are on March. Here in our area of Nova Scotia, we were blessed with a day full of sunshine at the end of January. Most of the snow had melted in that interlude since Christmas and it was actually really WARM. Well, nine degrees warm ;-).  Protected in sheltered spots the soil was soft, damp and rich with the scent of spring. Gathering eager little bulbs, showing points of green, the sun beating down on my back, has to be one of the most lovely individual pleasures of a gardener. These were mostly snowdrops and that little blue flower that seems to be the star of early beds, "Glory of the Snow". They came to visit one day and never left.
The above were photographed last spring, but those tucked in the little pots on that warm January day, are doing quite well also. "Woodie" is doing a great job protecting them.
You might notice the beautiful hand thrown vessel in front, which was made by fellow blogger GZ . When I saw it on her Etsy shop I knew it would be perfect for my well being. In fact, it has a twin. Second to a garden, I love ceramic pots, but then, they are both of the soil and happen to go joyfully hand in hand. Gathering sea glass is another natural pleasure.
I look more to my garden for joy than anywhere else. Always something to do, and never a dull moment. Honestly...never a dull moment.

May I share with you something that is niggling at the Captain and I. The fence pickets are rotting at the bottom and all getting rather shabby. Definitely in need of a new lick of stain and perhaps some replacement. But...we have been thinking about removing the garden as it is, and doing a low raised bed arrangement that is still welcoming and will still have some bones (structure) in the winter months. Not sure we've got it in us this year as it would have to happen (begin) soon. But he did bring his BIG measuring tape home from work, .....and I am trying to find a large piece of graph paper, .....and I do have an idea of what we'd like which involves galvie. If you don't hear about this again, you will know, it was a no go. ))))  For now

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just a Few Words

Dear mom, she never cared too much about gardening. It was dad who had the green thumb.. just more work for her, having both hands full with us kids. Bless her. What to do with "all those tomatoes" for instance. Surely that thought came to her one blistering hot day in late August thinking of the job ahead; canning the back garden harvest. That summer day is my earliest and most vivid tomato memory.

A lady from church came by to visit and Mom, generous as she always was, but going a tad overboard, gave her the whole lot from the garden. I mean every single one of dad's cherished red tomatoes. I don't think she really meant to give it all to our visitor but, caressed with encouragement she just, got carried away. Well you could have lit a match and no more fireworks could ever erupt from that house then when dad arrived home from work! I smile now at the unfortunate memory but some days, when I am here working in the kitchen trying to 'put by' as they say, I feel perhaps mom had a good idea there. (Sometimes fireworks are worth enduring, if you don't have to can tomatoes ;-) By the way, I did speak up to mom and the church lady that dad 'won't be happy' in my quiet be a good little girl voice...and the lady with her three bags full did have a glimpse, just a tiny glimpse of guilt on her face, but only for a moment...then she walked out the front door like a queen...the 'tomato queen'.
Life is turning to a new normal here. Most of dad's old seed catalogues, given to me decades ago are read year after year. As for the new catalogues of today, they've been poured over, penciled and stuck with fluttery sticky notes. Needless to say, that first list is the "I want all of it" list. After that, is the "smarten up Brenda" list. But soon, the orders will go in and soon, we will start our own tomatoes and the new growing year.  Never to be like any other year before; a new beginning built on the past, including its loss.
You see... mom passed away days before Christmas eve, so you can imagine what it was like saying goodbye to the matriarch of our family who LIVED for Christmas. Her generosity was overwhelming, all of her life. "Do good and be kind". Those words would sum up my mother's life. Someone recently said to comfort: as long as that person lives in you, they are not gone, nor are they forgotten. I do feel her there, inside, in my heart and mind, and although she doesn't respond to my questions, my pleas or my jokes, she is there. Thankfully.

Magnolia blooms are asleep, warm in their furry pods. Witch Hazel 'Diane' has been feasted on, but the rabbits own the garden too, and the birds and the squirrels. We must provide for the littlest among us. Hope, and promise, the words and value of spring shared recently here. We must have hope and there is promise. For now, that is what sustains.

Linked to dear friend Pondside.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Of Cabbages and Things

As the garden winds down preparing for winter sleep; the oak and beech around us begin to drop their leaves, floating ever so quietly, blanketing the ground. The dogwood trees are especially lovely, their leaves turning a beautiful purple, fading to red and finishing so slowly they cling until they can hold no more. Their red berries have been snached away by squirrels, chipmunk and crows so it's usefulness in our garden landscape serves many purposes.

This is my favourite time of year. The robust earthy smells of composting, the crisp cool air reminding us winter is but weeks away, the hurt your eyes blue sky that only autumn seems to display and often, days full of the sound of wind and rain..."time to sleep, time to sleep".
Over the years we've noticed how much more purple we see in the garden especially this time of year. Purple Cabbage is one vegetable garden plant that has not performed really well in the past, and yet other brassicas do alright. But I couldn't resist a few six packs of transplants last spring and in they went. Was the secret this year, a long wet winter and short spring? The result has been a grand harvest.
We forgot how crisp and sweet, cabbage can be when it has been touched by frost, and shredded for slaw or braised with apples, sultanas and malt vinegar. A sprinkling of caraway seed is a nice addition.
Even on overcast days, the autumn colors glow; a good time to re-evaluate the bones of the garden. This year, we've made some tough decisions about what should go and what should stay. As I prepared to put my bulbs in, I felt I had lost my initial vision of a perennial bed surrounding the veg garden. Grasses had morphed into monsters, baptisias were failing, bee balm that is work year after year and this year, totally out of control....needed attending. So while the weather holds time to get the shovel, rake and barrow out, and get dirty. Well, at least there will be a nice rustic cabbage soup waiting for me after a long day if I make it before I go out ;-).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Busy Summer

If you are still out there friends and fellow bloggers, and I do sincerely hope you are, thank you for sticking with me over the summer break! It's been a great harvest season so far and more to come. My high-five cherry tomato this year has to be a variety called 'Jasper'. Sweet candy in clusters; we're still picking. It's a sprawler, so if you try this next year, be aware of that. But it is highly resistant to blight being an AAS winner and so far, so good!

Don't think I gave an update on the animal watering trough we filled with soil and planted with tomatoes, nasturtium and chard. It has done very very well and it looks pretty awesome in the front yard when you drive up. Would be a perfect solution for anyone physically challenged as in reality, it is simply a raised bed. Chief finds it very accessible as well and you know he loves his cherry tomatoes ;-)

The trough is not totally full of compost and has a drain hole to one side at the bottom which has worked well to keep the plants from being waterlogged. Yes it sprouted some weeds but they were soon covered over by the rapid growth which from first photo to second was only five weeks.

Most years, I am on top of garden weeding and harvesting, but the winds have changed in my life and there is too much to be done and hard to keep up. I no longer stress as before, and take more time to enjoy the fruits of our labour....and heh, if we don't get everything eaten or processed, it makes compost.

Off to my neighbours to get a load of dry seaweed and pine needles for the garden paths which are getting too compressed. As a senior gardener, I imagine I am looking towards more raised beds in my future but until then, it's carry on as usual. But remember to stop and smell the roses! Here's Vavoom in all her sweet scented glory.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rainy Day Musings

We've jumped ahead soooo quickly since my last post in early May! It's a spring I can't ever remember experiencing before. The PJM Rhododendron bloomed along with the Magnolia. Early tulips opened with the daffodils; the cherry and plum tree are a flutter of blossom; close on their heels are lilac and Red Chestnut. Finally, days are warm enough to sit out and relax listening to an anthem of birds and bees. At least two blue jay families have set up home nearby, also two crow families but sadly, the one tiny male hummingbird distinctive by his slight size, has not convinced a female to join him in matrimony. He tries his heart out, swooping on his dare devil flights up and down, but I guess, we will just have to wait and see.
Ignoring his attention!
The beds are almost finished having their spring tidy up, but I am a little perplexed by a fern in the side bed. That's the photo in the header and if anyone would like to give an opinion on this unique scape (there are four or five of them) half deep green with the top almost white. I would appreciate that.

The tomato plants have grown well and we are glad we waited a few weeks longer to start them inside or they would be far too leggy. The're just about the right size now, so managed to get ten in the ground before our three days of rain set in. The rest will have to wait.
I've written before about our experience with late blight about four years back and how we lost so much of our tomato crop. So, with guidance and suggestions from Niki Jabbour and other blog friends, we are planting our so far faithful, Sub-Artic Plenty and new this year, Mountain Merit, Oregon Spring, Torento and Jasper. These should all crop early. Mexico Midget has always taken a long time to germinate but there was no success from the seeds this year, started inside, and out. Very hardy against late blight I might add. I love that little tomato and so does our puppy Chief, so we hope to get some reseeds from the garden itself. My original packet came from The Tomato Man via Niki...thanks you guys.

The raised beds with the lexan cover and sheet plastic cover, have kept up with their greens supply so we have not had to buy any so far. Even the radishes plumped up well this year.
Todays Rainy day Photo
I was so looking forward to the lovely dwarf cosmos I planted in the back raised bed and boy did it germinate well. Did you ever notice how much it looks like dill? Well we had a good laugh over that, as it was not cosmos in the raised bed at all. My foggy memory seems to think someone advised to plant dill when it is cooler and I must have thought, why not give it a try in the raised bed and plant it out if that works. Well, it did germinate. So you might try that if you find you can't grow dill as I had very poor success with it in the past.
The herbs are a wonderful addition to our salads now, along with the green garlic and baby Egyptian onions. Lots of zing along with the mustards and radish. But on rainy days, I don't feel like a crisp salad, so, we make a pesto out of whatever is going, with the usual cheese, nuts and oil, tossed with a bowl of pasta and a squeeze of and comforting.

Here's to a warm, wonderful June and a warm smile from Johnny Jump Up and his orange Pansy friends.

An update...the fern is full of spores and is called an Interrupted Fern! Only the mid area carries the spores which after being distributed, that part of the frond falls off, leaving top and bottom and no middle. Interrupted!