Archive for October, 2011

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Well, we have had a few busy days .. this being the weekend and all!  Early Saturday morning, we drove out to Dakota Cafe for an early breakfast.   The food was delicious .. the service was divine.  And the garden was doing well.

We just love visiting the restaurant and the flying club .. our home away from home .. but .. soon we had to make our way back home. Things to do.

DH is working away, installing windows and door to our previously unused front porch.  Feels refreshing to use space that we had hitherto not used!   It was always an area to be used in passing from the outside to the inside.

Except now .. it is a wonderful new room!  Totally insulated against the cold, rainy, snowy weather that will visit us.  DH worked very hard, installing the windows and door .. including all the hardscape and insulation.  Me .. I went shopping for some funky drapery panels and hardware ..soon they will be in place and oh, what fun we will have with this room.

It is always exciting go make use of space that wasn’t used before.  Kind of exciting.  Lots of work and very satisfying also.

Yesterday the weather was rainy .. every time the sun came out from behind the clouds, I started to make the effort to go outside to rake leaves . .. and then .. it would rain.  So, I finally gave up and decided to start the project of organizing my compute room.

oh boy ..

After a few hours of sorting books … and then starting to read some of them .. I realized that this would not be an easy task.   I started off with sorting my fiction books (and I was glad that I wasn’t able to make the last “Friends of the Library” sale .. as I still have quite a selection of books to read!

Then I looked at my painting (watercolour, doors, cupboards, whatever) books, realized that I had quite a few.    Assembled them with my beading books.   After this I went through my sewing books ( 4 from Sandra Betzina ..when she came to Victoria for the Sewing shows, a number of years ago).

I do love sewing and so I leafed through these lovely books, became inspired and vowed to continue creating fabric items.

I’m about halfway done .. and I realize that I truly love being in such a creative atmosphere.   Looking at my collection of beads, sewing items, craft ideas and the like .. I just want to play and play and play.

So I worked on for a while .. feeling the joy that creativity brings .. and then put everything away for the day.

Spent a few hours outside today, playing around with placement of plants, propagation areas, pruning tree branches.  Digging away at good garden soil.  Wondering how to create a cool separate garden.  Thinking about that.

It’s been a brilliant weekend.

So now it is time to relax and enjoy the quite time of a Sunday evening.  Soon enough .. it will be time to get up early in the morning … rain or shine .. time to work!

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Friday, October 21, 2011

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Weather has changed slightly today.  It’s kind of a rainy morning .. unlike this past week of sunny days.  Oh, no, I don’t want to do indoor things today .. I want to run outside and seek creativity in my garden.

Yesterday I had to go somewhere mid-morning …. so I had to forgo hours of fun in the sun, working (playing) in the backyard.  I couldn’t stay away though, and wondered outside .. checking on the level of food in the bird feeders … and noted that I’ll need to top up the hummingbird feeder.

The wasps/hornets are nearing the end of their timelines and are being nasty to the h/birds .. who do their best to avoid these nasty (but necessary) insects.

The Anna’s are quite active recently and I believe that they are nesting or planning to nest throughout the yard, in their particular territories.  I’ve been noticing the high-pitched whistle sounds as the males zoom swiftly from the sky … marvellous.

The brown shouldered Chickadee’s are quite abundant in the yard … I hadn’t seen them in previous years and welcome them in the garden.  They are reputed to eat tent caterpillars .. oh happy day … I had thought that no birds likes these things!  But a sign at Swan Lake showed that they do .. and thus I am thrilled to have them in the yard.  They are voracious insect hunters.  I’ve seen them clinging to the sides of the fence, tearing away at the lichen on the trees, even picking away at a wooden window frame.

Ok, the lichen on the trees … this is definitely the first year that this material has been pecked away .. so that proves that this is their first year here.  Welcome, little buddies!

I’m glad that I stocked up on high energy bird suet at Canadian Tire a few weeks ago, so I can keep the suet holders full all winter.

Every day I’ve heard the magical trill of the Spotted Towhee and actually saw one of them on the ground, pecking away.  I look forward to the fall/winter/spring season of seeing and hearing these magnificent birds.

Poor little Youbou ..  he is such a sweet little kitty kat!  Since his problem with lameness in his right hind leg … he has to take Prednisone daily .. and I’m the “bad guy” who has to give him his little pill.  The pill popper (like a plastic tube) is not large enough for the pill .. and darn if I know where my two pill cutters are.  I’ve seen them “somewhere”.  Which reminds me .. I need to organize kitty kat paraphernalia in one container and place it in one room .. this is one of my “rainy day” inside projects.   Of which there is quite a few things to do.

Some rainy day projects to be done:   drapery adjustments (unpick seams and join sections together, hemming); organize my computer room (ha ha ha ha); other miscellaneous sewing items;  catalogue my gardening books  – ha ha ha .. that’s too funny .. I know what will happen.  I’ll pick up a pile of books, open up my laptop, set up an excel sheet, open one book .. see a plant description .. hmm… look for information on same plant in 20 other books .. hours later I’ll decide it’s time for tea and so the day will go.   No surprises there.

Ah, yes, I have great plans for rainy days.  No boring days ahead for this little lady!

And of course, there are my craft projects.  To create nifty outdoor treasures for the garden.  Perhaps create an item that I could produce for sale .. something unique.  I certainly have all the supplies needed.   Just need some good old rainy or snowy days .. to allow myself lots of time to just play away.

Hmm … time to get going on this day.  Time for a little grocery shopping .. plan to pick up some pizzas.  Some local large supermarkets have started having fresh “you bake” pizzas on sale and this is the second week.  So that will be our supper tonight … easy preparation .. more time in the garden for me!

Not that I don’t mind a little time here and there for meal preparation .. but it does take me away from my garden time.    Now I totally understand the famous Ruth Stout .. who so detested wasting time cooking her meals when she could be in her garden .. that she decided to eat only raw vegetables!

She was a lady well ahead of her time .. using bales of hay (or was it straw?) in her garden, thus achieving the most amazing soil.   Her book “How to have a green thumb without an aching back” was wonderful .. I did have a copy once and hopefully I still have it amongst my treasures.

Well .. time is marching on … I should have been out and on my way half an hour ago .. so time to get going ..

Fingers, toes and eyes crossed that the sun will be out by the time I return home and so I can go outside and play.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

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Yesterday was truly a thorough working day.  I was determined to spend the whole day outside, creating order out of chaos in the middle section of the back yard.  The day started out sunny and cool weather was predicted for the afternoon. So I worked hard trying to clear up this area.

Started out with just staring at the space, sipping my Y tea .. trying to imagine how I could create a nice little flow from the newly reshaped veggie garden into a little seating area and then a propagating area.

No flashes of inspiration.  Started moving the rocks around .. I’d used them to edge the veggie garden areas last year .. found myself tripping over them a lot .. so decided to just throw them, helter skelter over here (easier than carrying them over, saved time .. and time was important).

Since I decided to line the veggie gardens with bricks, the rocks, all shapes and sizes would be used elsewhere .. don’t know where just yet, though.

I’d promised my DH to not overtake the whole yard and make it into a series of gardens.   He would like a specific area for grass .. so I started to mark the line of division.    Finally, a flash of inspiration … bricks would make a great transition.  The lawn mower would easily pass over them quite easily.  The only problem .. where in the yard could I find more bricks?

Aha .. I remembered the bricks I’d used at the side yard .. there certainly would be enough there.  And I’d replace the bricks with some of the rocks!  So I started the trek, carrying a container of rocks to the sideyard, remove 6 bricks, replace with stones, carry the bricks over to the garden, repeated until I had enough bricks.  I felt like a little ant, carrying things back and forth!

And I like the look of the rocks at the side yard, they blend in much better than the bricks did .. the look is more natural and relaxing.

I always find it interesting when I start out on a project, not sure of the changes that I’ll make .. work away .. and then suddenly, the creativity starts.  The ideas arrive and the energy takes over.  How fun.  I love this process, it always surprises me .. and perhaps it shouldn’t.  What happens is that I’m allowing myself to tap into my creative energy and it’s like delving into a treasure trove!

Back to the new garden area .. on my hands and knees, digging spaces for the bricks ..in some places the roots of the cherry tree are too close to the surface, so I can’t place whole bricks there.   Luckily I have some split bricks that suit  the purpose.

A few hours later, the bricks are in.  I’ve filled in the empty spaces with the newly sifted soil and the area is starting to take shape.

Next I start gathering my bags of leaves, bags of compost, bags of soil into one area.   Wow … hadn’t realized that there was so much material.  It is going to be heaven to have one area for propagation!  I’ll set up a proper work area .. for now, though, it’s enough to assemble all similar materials.

Then, I moved those lovely styrofoam rooting containers into one area.  Hmm.. didn’t realize I had so many of these, either .. and I still plan to fill more.

Time to put all my lattice frames in one space .. hmm.. I do have some, don’t I!  These will be used to create a little garden nook, with my bench and the pond liner (next year).

There are 2 large Rubbermaid containers and one wheelbarrow full of lovely surplus soil from the garden area .. so I drag the containers and barrow so they are all together.

The rocks . .. well, I’m hoping inspiration will strike me today … maybe a little round garden bed or something.

Man, I was just physically exhausted form the whole day of thinking, sifting, dragging, moving, organizing!  So I decided to set up my camping stool, iPod, Suduku, and just settle back and relax for a while.

Had fun watching the Sparrows, Junco’s, Woodpecker all trying out the thistle seed in the feeders and the suet block.   Was very glad that I’d put a surplus of grass seed in the one area by the veggie garden.   As this seemed to be a popular place for the Junco’s.    Well, I’m not worried .. there are lots for both of us.

Totally satisfied with the work done .. and looked forward to DH’s arrival at the end of the day .. he was suitably impressed with my progress!.

Today seems to be starting with a promise of good weather .. so shortly I’ll go outside and start playing around with my “new” space in the back yard.  Look forward to new flashes of inspiration!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Up and at em early today .. the weather reports mention that this morning will be sunny and the afternoon will be clouding over.

Much as I don’t want to believe that the weather will be changing .. I do have to accept the possibility.  So, I’m out the door shortly and will focus on creating order out of chaos .. working on the middle section of the back yard.  Planning to create a little propagating space.

Yesterday I finished planting the garlic in the newly shaped garden area.  Although I still have some bulbs that I most likely will plant in pots and along the sides of the yard.

This little propagating space will be my sparkly area.  Here I’ll use my funky garden items.  Some glass blocks (from a window); some stained and coloured glass panes (from our old windows); a lovely old garden gate; a tin washing tub; an old garden plough;

There are short ends of wood (from our newly built steps) and I plan to put these on broken cinder blocks (which I’ll paint with my lavender paint).  These will become little garden benches or ground shelves.

Lots of ideas … looking forward to playing around today.

Then there are the quantity of perennials that need to be in the ground for the winter.  So I’ll dig them in and top them off with my miracle mulch.

After all this activity .. it will be time to go around the yard, thin out the raspberry canes, mulch the ground … think that will take me into tomorrow.

Anyway, mug of Y tea … gardening outfit and outside!  Lots of birds to see today.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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Yesterday and today .. we have been so totally blessed with warm sunny late morning and afternoons.

Yesterday I was just itching to go outside.   Just had to do some household chores and some basic shopping.  All I really wanted to do was go outside and play in the yard.

Lately I’ve been working on the reshaping of the veggie garden.   I tried different ideas, but nothing seemed to be fulfilling.    I like gardens that are free-flowing, no real straight lines.  Was trying to achieve a natural type of veggie garden, without the rectangles or squares.

I dug away, shifted soil, moved rocks, tried sections of boards, held in place with bronze coloured linked fencing.   Whatever I tried just didn’t feel right.  So I kept digging, shifting soil, moving board.  Making pot after pot of Yorkshire Tea.  Trying to use the rocks of the past summer (that I’d used to border the beds) .. but they didn’t feel right either.

Wandered around the yard.  Kept noticing the piles of bricks that I was going to use to create garden beds in another area.  Decided to see what these would look like as garden borders.

Spent untold number of hours yesterday afternoon .. sculpting away soil with my Lee Valley garden tools,  creating spaces for the bricks … attempting to keep a smooth flow of the bricks.  Hey, I’m liking the look of this .. so I scour the yard, gathering all the bricks that I can find .. and soon enough, I have lined the garden beds with these lovely rectangular shapes.  And I’m really liking the effects.

The rustic colours of the bricks fit in well with the texture and colour of the mulched leaves.   I’m really pleased with this new shape for the veggie bed!  And I’ll probably change it next year .. however .. for now, I’m happy.

Yesterday morning and early afternoon (before I started with the brick thing) .. I began preparing an entire bed for planting garlic!   I’d dig out a row, line with mulched leaves.  Place the garlic cloves pointy side up .. then on goes more mulch and some composted soil, topped with more of the beautiful garden soil.

Today I spent more hours finishing that project . .ending with the elephant garlic (about 40 cloves!) and at least 100 of the hardneck/soft neck variety.   This year, I’m planting the garlic in full sun with much more amended soil.   I’ll add seaweed or some kind of sea material in the spring.  And for sure, I’ll be cutting down the “scapes” in June ..  in order to have larger bulbs.  I’ve learned my lesson this year.    I spent so much time enjoying the beauty of the long green stems and resultant flower heads .. blissfully unaware that the energy that “should” have gone towards creating large bulbs .. was actually being diverted to the stems/flowers!

Yesterday .. I cut my gardening day short .. in order to prepare enough meals for 4 days.   Not only did I prepare the easy chicken main dish (slathered the chicken sections with spiced mayonnaise and then coated with Panko, placed on a parchment paper lined pan & then popped into the oven.

I also prepared a large container of lasagna.  Using freshly made pasta sheets, and a mixture of many veggies, beef, sauce and cheeses.  Figured a few hours spent cooking would save me gardening time during the week!  And so tomorrow and the night after .. we’ll have leftovers .. and, weather permitting, I’ll have more time to garden.

Have been noticing the tension between the wasps and the Anna’s .. the wasps are desperate and angry .. the Anna’s just want to feed at the h/bird feeder.

Saw the lovely little yellow bird .. two of them, actually.  They live in the Hawthorne tree, I swear.   Heard the Spotted Towhee, but missed seeing them.   The Chickadee’s are getting used to me .. as are the Junco’s and the Chickadees.

Went for a lovely walk this morning, over an hour .. a quick trip to beautiful Swan Lake.  Saw wrens, junco’s .. a few Mallards paddling away in some side streams.  Lots of bustling around in the bushes as I walked by.

Feels good to be going back there .. soon I’ll start my daily walks there.

Well .. it’s been a day.  Today, after I finished planting the garlic (I still have more to plant, around the yard, though!)   I started playing around with another area of the yard.  This will be my real play area.  Here is where I will put my fanciful garden items.  Stained glass.  Wood framed windows.  Washtub.  Old tin kettle.   Pond liner.

Started moving things around late this afternoon .. tomorrow (barring rain) .. I plan to continue.  I  can see some semi-circular designs already happening there.

Another lovely day …

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Sunday, October 16

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 Today was certainly a gift .. .a day just like yesterday.   A little chilly in the morning and then lovely warm sun in the afternoon.

Looked out the kitchen window .. saw a Spotted Towhee hopping around the yard .. wow . I love this bird.  Grabbed the camera and headed outside .. knowing all to well that the chances of him even being there when I arrives were slim .. to none.  But I just had to try.

Darn .. he’d scooted off.  Well, he’ll be in the neighbourhood till next spring so I know that I will see him again.

A few days ago I’d put a high energy suet block in the suet holder .. and this was a very popular site for all  the birds who visit our yard.  This morning there was a sliver of suet left and shortly thereafter .. all gone!

I don’t like putting out the suet blocks until winter .. when the weather is frosty ..but I’d had some suet from the butcher’s and they all liked that.  It had been outside for many weeks and was starting to look a bit grungy .. so I replaced it with the block.

Ok .. I decided to fetch the balance of the suet from the butcher’s.  Once I’d scrubbed out the suet holder, I then crammed the balance of the suet in the block and hung it from the tree branch.

It wasn’t readily acknowledged .. but a few hours later, the Juncos’, the sparrows, the Bushtits ..were all happily munching from the container.  I noticed the Chickadee’s would peck away at the suet and then dash away to a tree branch to finish eating their treasures.

Also noted that the Chickadees would fly to the sunflower seed heads, pick a seed and then fly away to a nearby tree to crack the casing and eat the tender part of the seed.

The hornets are getting quite vicious now .. I watch them at the hummingbird feeder, trying in vain to reach the sweet nectar.  They can smell the mixture, but are baffled .. they are unable to reach the mix as the little yellow baskets of the flower stop them.  The Anna’s definitely do not like them.  There are altercations as the Anna’s try to feed and then the hornets fly up … the Anna’s leave .. sometimes they try to wave the hornets away, but they give up and fly away.  To return shortly afterwards .. to feed again.

The 3:1 mix is quite a hit with the Anna’s… I’d filled the containers last week and they are both halfway finished.  That’s ok .. I have prepared more and it’s waiting in the fridge!

In the morning I went to my leaf source  (from last year) and stuffed my little car with 8 bags of this wonderful material.  Several of the bags felt quite heavy .. be still my heart .. for these are aged leaves, perfect for using in the garden right now.

A bit of running around, mail letters, pick up a few groceries.   Back home … out to the garden!

I’m working on the veggie garden.  This garden has quite a history .. and perhaps on some rainy day when I feel like playing around .. I’ll prepare a slide show.  Showing the yard as it used to look .. with the raised beds and gravel pathways.   A long time ago!

And I’ve been working for a few years on this area, sifting the gravel, moving the old boards, digging out the comfrey,  blackberries, Sweet Cicely ..   all of these wonderful plants have the most amazing benefits. .. and they share the same drawbacks!  They reproduce like crazy.  So now I’ve reached the stage where I can quickly spot new plants emerging and simply dig them out.

The soil now is just rich and beautiful.   Full of composted oak leaves/hay/manure.     This year I have two sources of oak leaves and I’m gathering all that I can.  Not sure if I’ll search for hay and manure this year.  Might take a break. But .. you just never know!

Spent hours playing around with design of the veggie garden.  Straight paths … tried that ..doesn’t work for me.  Tried bracing up wood to use for edging .. but I decided that gently curving paths suit this garden best.   Funny .. I’d worked hard for a few days, setting up frameworks for raised beds and pathways behind one area .. but it just did not feel right.

So today I just took all the framework away and, using my rake, gently brushed the ground with the rake, tracing out slight curving paths ..and all of a sudden everything felt right.

Then I decided to add a selection of raspberries and blueberries to the back section (raised soil) … once this was done .. the veggie garden felt even better.    In the summer there is sun and partial shade and I know from experience that the berries do well in both.

Next .. it was time to look at the layout of the future garlic bed.  I shovelled a little path (gentle curve) from the first path (which leads from the entrance to the garden … all along the berry section)  .. to the garlic area.  Good.  And continued this path to the beginning of the garden.   A loop.  Now I had created a little island between the berry section and the garlic section.   Yes, this feels different and suits the garden.  I can enter the garden, follow the path, stop midway, and follow the path back to the entrance.

Finally .. drum roll .. time to plant some garlic.  I scooped out a small trench (one of many to be dug!) … placed some aged composted on the bottom .. carefully placed garlic cloves 6 inches apart.   Topped with lovely, lovely … aged oak leaves and then a light sprinkle of compost.

This year I’m planting the garlic in a sunny area, with lots of composted leaves, and the garlic bed is actually quite high .. to catch all the rays that the sun can send.

I look forward to harvesting large healthy cloves next summer.   Hardnecks, softnecks and some elephant garlic.   And .. next summer, I’ll be cutting down the greens (yum yum) so that the energy will go into the creation of larger cloves!   How exciting is this.

I just love this .. creating new garden spaces, changing the flow.   Moving plants.  Trying things out.

The broad leaf bamboo seems to like the rich soil.  At the front of the house, the soil is heavy clay.  I’d planted a clump of this bamboo over 20 years ago, and it behaved quite nicely, it did not spread.  however, different story in the new soil.   It is very eager to grow.   Well, grow away .. I can quite easily clip any new roots that grow out.  Elsewhere in the garden, I had planted a different bamboo .. and because they are surface rooters, I’d simply encircled the plants with very heavy landscaping plastic, so the roots would be contained.

I could have done that in the berry garden ..  well, it’s never too late.

Spent some time birdwatching .. always so relaxing .. they are so sweet.

It’s been a great day .. and I look forward to going outside tomorrow … to play in the garden again.


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Ya just can’t keep a gardening gal from mulching leaves ...

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