Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Out and About, a Symphony in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

An Overwintered Boat on the waterfront near the twin schooners
Will spring ever arrive? Ahhhhhhh....  Took a run up to Lunenburg a few days back, one of those blue sky, sunny, still, very cold days. Two schooners are being built on the waterfront, and I must say, it's great to follow their blog and see the progress, but actually standing beside the hulls, in all their glory, well, it was a monumental experience.
Two women caulked one of the boats, while another worker faired the hull. The second schooner has not been faired yet and has more work to be done on it (see below). The Twin Schooners blog keeps the locals and the not so local, well informed of the progress.
Is that stern not totally SWEET!

Unfaired and not caulked yet.
This area of Nova Scotia has a huge history of boat building, but it's been a long time since we've seen schooners built on the waterfront. There's another even bigger schooner being rebuilt just minutes from these two, our Ambassador, the famous Bluenose II. View the webcam where you can watch the rebuild in action.

As for garden action..well some bloggers are reporting the winter gap for vegetables in the garden, although we do have some beets and carrots under the row cover, and a variety of greens still available in the covered raised bed. But really, to be honest, I am looking forward to spring, ripping out those greens in a short while and replanting fresh, especially arugula and mizuna. The snow is back now, arriving just when I began to see bulbs pushing through the ground. Fired up by those few days of sun, I had cut down the ornamental grasses and started to pull the old tomato vines off the trellis at the back of the garden. But now it's back to the white stuff.
Inside, my spirits are lifted by the tiny Tete a Tete daffodils growing in pots on the windowsill. Thanks to blogger Gwynneth from her Etsy Shop, they are truly enhanced by her terrific thrown pots, Tenmoku glazed sitting pretty on dainty sculpted feet. Spring's waiting, just over the horizon!
Thanks GZ !

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Late Winter Salad Greens

A few weeks into the new year, it was time to sow fresh seeds in pots for salads. I use long outdoor planters bought year end, locally and fill them with sterilized Fafard Agro potting mix from Upper Canada. When the seeds are broadcast, they get a light covering of worm castings, although generally, I don't cover lettuce seeds too much. It's important to keep the seeds moist so I also loosely put a layer of cling film over all this. If I were a more organized person, there would be three or four planters on the go, but, two have produced and more greens will be started today. The summerhouse is about 12 degrees Celsius, and the baby lettuce, once germinated, are placed under a grow light there. I have had those old grow lights for years; an initial investment of about twenty dollars each unit, they have grown thousands of dollars in plants.
Under the Grow Lights-There is More to Life than Increasing it's speed!
Along with "Cooks Blend" of greens, we are snipping early scallions and Asian Greens; complimented with overwintered herbs like mint. This makes for awesome sandwiches! Delightful how the black seeds stick to the tips of the germinated scallions.
Outside in the raised bed... mizuna, mache, spinach, arugula and even baby garlic bulbs have been harvested but they will soon be removed and new life will begin there. Robbed a few shiny red mini chard leaves as well, but lost about half of the mother plants trying to overwinter in the raised bed. Just a test...but feel I would have had more success if they were in the center of the raised bed instead of next to the wall. I can get a trowel fully down in the center, on a sunny afternoon when about five degrees outside. I found that, rather remarkable. Nice to smell the soil when the cover is lifted.
The raised beds were introduced to their new seed packets the other day...excitement!! Only one order has arrived...sooo not organized this year!! These seed packets are from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and include, Atomic Red Carrot, Green Leaf Gailan-Chinese Kale, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Michihli Cabbage, Mizuna Green, Monstrueux De Virofly Spinach and Red Round Turnip. Some of these are recommended in the book Year Round-Vegetable Gardener mentioned in my previous post.

Are your seed orders trickling in now?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Earth Laughs in Flowers and Books

A few weeks after Christmas, on one of those woebegone days when you think Spring will never come, I crunched through the icy snow in the back yard, snipped off an armload of forsythia, brought it inside, and waited for the magic. The living room now has a blast of yellow as it's centrepiece; joyful abundance. Forsythia's my go to shrub for forcing in winter although there are many others you could try...plum, apple, quince and more. But I love yellow; it makes my heart feel good deep inside. White won't do, or pink. It has to be yellow.

I only noticed when downloading this photo, our cushion in the back, "Earth Laughs in Flowers"..Emerson. Today, I laughed a lot, a good thing to do in February...on those wobegone days mentioned previously. Shared were garden conversations with old friends...and best of all, new garden friends. It was, a most uplifting day, like the blooms on the forsythia giving me a boost, an afternoon at Halifax Seed attending the book launch of Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, made me appreciate my veg garden even more. Quite frankly, I think this book will change how gardeners grow food in our area and anywhere else for that matter.

It's been an experiment for many, like myself, for about four can we push the envelope..what will germinate and stay alive under a cold frame so we can harvest through the colder months. Niki followed our garden through 2010; Joe her Storey book Photographer, arriving each season... and so, we became part of a garden book as did other local gardeners, neighbours and friends, including blogger Thomas.
Niki Jabbour at her Book Launch Today
I've been waiting about five years, for a book like The Year-Round Gardener, referring to Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest to help extend our growing season up until now. Niki Jabbour's book just speaks to me, as a woman, as a gardener, as a mother ... it's full of encouragement and advice. The Niki's piks on the vegetable sidebars are exactly what I was craving...I don't have to keep trying to see what works any more..she's done the research. By that I mean home grown research. Also, the planting calendar at the foot of each veg page..tells me when to direct sow in the garden, direct sow in cold frame, germinate inside to transplant outside, timing perfectly with last spring and first winter frost.

It ended up, while we were spending those past few years, trying to figure out what vegetables would take our minus 22 C degree temperatures, this young woman was diligently working on her book, not four exits along the highway from where we lived. One day, after starting my blog, I googled Nova Scotia vegetable gardeners, found her and followed. About a month or so afterwards, she realized I didn't live too far away and came by for a visit. A garden girl friendship evolved..and, like she does in her book, she encouraged, enthused, advised, cared and shared. That's what you will find in her writing, that same kind of personality, sharing lots of information you will reference time and time again. She's done the leg work, grown the seeds, trialing them so she could share her favourites and best performers. Most important to me, she dispels any fear of insecurity, regarding extending your season.  You can do it! Absolutely.