Sunday, July 16, 2017

Community Garden Check In

Here's my first substantial bouquet with flowers from my community garden plot! The Zinnias and Bachelor Buttons were all grown from seed, the Aster (large pink in the middle) and red & yellow Dahlias (at bottom) were bedding plants. Half of my 4' by 16' plot contains vegetables and the other half is flowers for cutting. While I have made some poor choices for flowers that are good for cutting, it's all part of the learning curve! The Dahlias that I planted were a short variety, not the long stemmed ones that would be better for bouquets. I also grew some Purple Cone Flowers from seed. They are looking very healthy and might eventually be very good for picking, but a woman in a neighboring garden plot, who is very knowledgeable, informed me that they would likely not bloom this year and that they are perennials and would have to be remove at the end of the season. I moved them out to make way for better "pickers" .... as it turns out the Cone Flowers are deer resistant and hopefully will survive in my yard!

Progress Report!

Above on the right is my garden plot May 22nd, 2017 and on the left is the plot July 13th, 2017. Can't see any flowers in the left hand photo you say? That's because I keep them well picked! I am reluctant to pick flowers from my yard and deplete the show, but in the community garden, the whole point is to pick them to enjoy in my house, or a friend's.

At the moment Zinnias, short stemmed Dahlias and Bachelor Buttons are my main harvest. I'm still waiting for the Snap Dragons and Cosmos ....... will keep you posted!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Canada Day 150!

It was a dark and stormy night  day! Yes, rain and fog from Ottawa to the east coast but celebrations took place in spite of the inclement weather. We had our own little celebration at our house with funny Canada Day hats, drinks, snacks and a little bit of Canadian trivia. While not quite the affair on Parliament Hill, we did have a bit of fun ...... and learned a few new facts about our own country.

I didn't know that:
  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau, in his early years, was arrested in Palestine as a suspected Israeli spy!
  • John Cabot, who claimed the North Atlantic coast of Canada for Henry VII of England in 1497 was Italian!
  • Canada is the second largest country in the world, but only fourth in terms of land mass due to its large number of fresh water lakes.
  • Our national anthem, O, Canada, did not become official until 1980.
  • Canadians eat more macaroni and cheese than any other country in the world ... who knew?
What I did know was: ..... that the preferred alcoholic beverage of most Canadians is beer (that's a no brainer) and that Canadians often call a sofa, a chesterfield

We played our little game and had a few laughs. The Trivia Geeks of the night are featured below with their Canadiana prizes.

I also learned, while listening to a playlist of hit music by Canadian artists, that Steppenwolf was Canadian! Guess I wasn't paying attention in the 70's .... okay, I know I wasn't paying attention in the 70's!

So that was our little celebration for Canada Day. However, after our company left and hubby went to bed, I stayed up to watch some of the festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on TV. I enjoy seeing all the dignitaries especially if there are a few "Royals" there. The theme of the event came through loud and clear in all performances and speeches ..... that we as Canadians aspire to have a tolerant, welcoming, and peaceful country. ....... Makes me proud to be Canadian!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

First Road Trip of the Season

Blue Rocks Nova Scotia

Ah .... summer in the Maritimes..... It don't get no better!

Just got back from our first road trip of the summer season. We set off on a wild and wet Friday that eventually gave way to a perfect warm sunny Saturday and Sunday in Nova Scotia. Our first stop was Kingston N.S. to visit my hubby's brother and his wife who always make us feel right at home ..... a few swigs of beer and a tasting of a wee dram of whiskey or two encouraged lots of laughs and reminiscing! The next day we drove to Lunenburg on the south shore to see our son Joel and his wife Alicia

After checking out their new place, which is very spacious with room in the basement, walkout garage for his carpentry and her flower (growing & design) business, we headed for downtown to take part in the Lunenburg Heritage tour.

Alicia's flower operation in the basement of their house

Lunenburg Heritage Tour

On the heritage tour we were able to see inside houses, churches and a school (check the academy, top photo) that are all pre- 1867! The homes we viewed were all well preserved or restored and served as modern day living spaces.

Our tour ended at Blue Rocks on the coast where we enjoyed the scenery and got to explore an 1850's Cape Cod style home once owned by a family of fishermen.

Scenery at Blue Rocks

Ross & Joel at the heritage home at Blue Rocks (near Lunenburg)

Our Saturday ended with a BBQ on Joel and Alicia's sunny deck and an evening of chit chat. The next day I was anxious to see Alicia's new location for her flower farm. Large plots of sodded field had recently been turned over by a tractor and the daunting task of transplanting perennials and preparing the soil to plant annuals lay ahead. First, however there was the dilemma of getting a pump "rigged up" to provide water for thirsty plants from the nearby well. ..... the flower farm business is not for the faint of heart (or the lazy!)

one of the fields being prepared for flowers

Check out Alicia's work at Littlest Flower Farm on Facebook and Instagram:

After spending a little time at "the farm" giving a little help and moral support, we left the "youngins" with all the hard work and headed for the big city of Halifax. I had booked a nice hotel in the downtown area through Hotwire (which I have used before) and thought I had gotten a good deal. However, I failed to notice that the price was in US funds! About fifty bucks more than I thought .. yikes! Anyway we had a nice time enjoying the city before we headed home on Monday.
......... Looking forward to more road trips this summer!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Rhubarb Chutney

It sure is great to see something edible popping up in early spring long before anything else. Rhubarb, with its poisonous leaves and sour stems, happens to be one of these plants that we have in abundance this time of year..... but what to do with it? Oh we can make rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb juice etc. But all that requires lots of sugar and frankly, the last thing we need is dessert!

Last week, I noticed a jar of homemade "rhubarb chutney" that someone donated to our local food bank (where I volunteer) and it started me on a quest to find a recipe. I love red pepper jelly on a cracker with pepperoni and cream cheese topped with mango chutney .... so maybe rhubarb chutney would be a great topper for various appetizers or an exotic addition to chicken or pork?

After a little research on Google and Pinterest, I found a recipe for Spicy Rhubarb Chutney! (I'm also hankering for a recipe with jalapeno peppers in with the rhubarb. Yum!)

Spicy Rhubarb Chutney: from "An Oregon Cottage"

Made it, and the verdict was positive! It would be great to have on hand to serve with crackers, cheese and pepperoni or to give as a little gift with some nice cheese, crackers or cocktail napkins.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spring Stunner


by A.A. Milne

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

All these years and this is the first time I've planted daffodils! What was I thinking? For a deer ridden neighborhood, they are a must!! They pop they're lovely heads up through snow or spring muck and worship the sun. Their showy bright yellow blossoms last for weeks giving us hope that summer is just around the corner. They give us visual interest while other plants are just waking up AND they multiply so that there will be more next year. How great is that!!!
I suppose that to anyone south of the 49th parallel this celebration of daffodils on the long weekend in May would seem strange, but such is life in the land of the short growing season!

For some good info on daffodils, check out the American Daffodil Society!

American Daffodil Society

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

There's an App for That!

I had my first big day in the garden on April 24th. Did mostly clean up and planted my Johnny Jump Ups in the planter out side my kitchen window. I started a few things from seed indoors and put out a pot of Calendula that I hope will survive and blossom in a few weeks.

Every year I try to remember when things were planted the year before and when various perennials start to bloom. And every year I keep saying that I should record these things in a journal. I could get a book and jot down notes, but it would be really great to be able to put pictures with them. Somehow I couldn't see printing photos and pasting them in a scrapbook. Thus, I went in search of some kind of electronic type of journal so I could easily merge photos and notes.

I shouldn't be surprised, but believe it or not there is actually all kinds of software for gardening journals compete with spread sheets and charts. However, just being a casual gardener, I was looking for something simple where I could just add notes and photos as the season progresses. So, I went shopping at the Google Play Store (free shopping that is) and found a simple but very cool journal app. It's called "Journal" .. how about that? (just type "personal diary or journal" in the search bar)

As you can see, above, the screen shot of my electronic journal shows both pics and notes. I can also create different chapters complete with tabs. When you begin using the app there is a great tutorial and so far it seems to be very user friendly. This can all be saved and printed .... and you can fill more than one journal!

I should wait until I've used this for at least half the gardening season before I give my stamp of approval, but it is just so darn cool I couldn't wait to post about it!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Signs of Spring

Spring arrives late in our neck of the woods so when we see little signs that it is just around the corner, we are excited. I planted about fifty daffodils last fall and I was anxiously waiting to see their little shoots poke through ...... so here they are! I've also been having fun "forcing" spring to jump the gun a little.

Oh the things you learn at the gym! Besides learning how to get buns of steel do squats so you can hover over a toilet seat in a public washroom, or at least get yourself back up from a stooped position, you can also learn how to force branches!

While doing my usual routine on the elliptical, I was intrigued by an interview on "Your Morning CTV" about clipping branches from your yard, that look as dead as doornails, and "forcing" them to bloom. You simply cut branches from flowering shrubs and trees, bring them indoors and stick them in a container of warm water and in a week or two you have spring blossoms indoors!

Your Morning CTV Forcing Branches

As soon as I got home from the gym I dug out my pruners and headed out over the crust of snow in my yard to take some cuttings for my experiment. The best specimens are early bloomers such as forsythia, azaleas, magnolias, various fruit trees etc. I didn't have any of these, but I did have lilac and spirea, which were also on the "best to force" list.

I followed the recommended procedure and in a week the spirea was sprouting and the lilacs were going crazy. I could actually see little tiny clusters of lilac blooms, still green but definitely visible.


After a couple of weeks or so, the lilacs ran their course. (I didn't really imagine that a large cluster of purple blossoms would actually form on these branches sitting in tap water.) The spirea and potentilla, however were still showing little green leaves and looking very spring like.

Recently, on Easter weekend, my daughter in-law was able to use the "greenery" branches, along with some pussy willows, that we found along the side of the road, to create this lovely Easter bouquet for her grandmother.

So, each day I look for new spring surprizes in my garden, and continue to clip bud bearing branches and bring them indoors to see what they will produce.