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Archive for February, 2012


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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So the week started out full of promise.  Some frost in the early morning .. noticed some flakes of snow on the mulch in the back yard.  Brrr.

Monday was a day totally spent in the yard.  Sheer bliss.   I’d been spending a fair bit of time at the kitchen table, little old Toshiba connected, going through the study materials of the gardening course I’m taking.  I’ve stayed there through some sunny days and thought to myself, well, it’s good to spend the time now so I’ll have the knowledge later.

But, my goodness, how much can a gardener take .. staying indoors all this time, anyway!  So, Monday was my decadent day .. to spend completely outside.   Except for some quick trips inside to make more Yorkshire Tea and a quick-lunch, Monday was devoted to outside things.

I had a mission .. to tidy up the yard so that my gardening class could freely move around the yard.  Thus I moved hundreds of cuttings & potted plants to one area, so nice and tidy, I impressed myself.  Then, time to address the mountain of leaf mulch.  I filled tarp after tarp load with the leafy stuff and dragged them over to the perimeter of the yard, nicely topping up the side gardens, being careful not to cover the emerging bulbs.

This time of the year is such a delight .. so many surprise flowers popping up, awakening from their winter sleep.  Perfuming the air with their scent and delighting the senses with their delicate beauty.

I accomplished quite a lot on Monday .. so on Tuesday, I decided to continue.  Morning was chilly and then the sun fought to come out.  Clouds 1.  Sun 0.   But, a lovely warm mug or two of Yorkshire Tea kept me warmed up.

Our backyard is actually quite large.  Now that I’ve moved the potted cuttings, reduced the size of the leaf mulch pile, removed part of the homemade bamboo/twig fence that encircled it,  bundled the support twigs that comprised the fencing .. the yard is looking quite spacious.

Normally I’m the only person playing out here, so I’ve allowed myself to have some lazy habits.  And now that I’ve been organizing the space, I’ve quite impressed myself with my activity.

Next I moved the loose rocks and boulders to encase some island beds.  Dug in some broken bricks in the back pathway, adding to the rustic charm of a relaxed garden.  Mended some loose boards in the fence.

Stood back, admiring my work from the past few days.  I can feel the lovely fresh energy that now emanates from my garden .. my real living space.

And although the work was for naught, as the location has now been changed for the pruning demonstration and will not take place at our yard .. I feel that all was not done in vain.  For, if not for the push of the upcoming Saturday’s pruning event, I would have dillied and dallied and wouldn’t have been so active.   Much like preparing for an upcoming visit of someone and plans changed at the last-minute.  The result is a tidy space.   And the feeling of pride and joy of discovering that my organizational skills are smoking hot!    Chalk one up for me .. I’ve proved to myself how hard I can work.  Had forgotten that skill .. so this was a good reminder.

Funny .. during the last few days, when I’ve been busy doing something or the other in the yard, suddenly I’d heard some sharp rap-tap-tap noises .. looked up and some (variably) a little Chickadee or Nuthatch.  Nicely settled on an acrylic sided bird feeder.  Noisily tapping away at the clear sides … the bird version of a slot machine.  Expecting the seeds to fall into the trough?  Or, trying to catch my attention?  Either way, I complied to their needs and put some sunflower seeds into the feeder.

The idea that wild birds can communicate to us mere humans was reinforced this winter.   The front Hummingbird feeder had frozen solid, so I took it inside, thawed it out, refilled it .. and placed it by the front door.  Then DH & I would look out the front window and observe the little Anna fly around, checking it out and then settle in for a feed.  After, of course, flying up to the window, flying horizontally and vertically, thoroughly checking us out.  She knew we were there and that I had “fixed” her food source.

One morning, looking out .. I saw that the feeder was again frozen.  This time, little Anna tried to get some nectar.  No joy.  she turned her little head in my direction, looked back at the feeder, then back at me, then back to the feeder.  She acknowledged that I was the “fixer” .. the nectar was frozen .. so  .. “fix it”!  Body language was clear.

So I did fix it … and soon she was happily feeding away.

Yesterday the winds were so wild that the backyard hummingbird feeder went crashing to the ground.  Finally, I picked it up, took it inside, cleaned & added some nectar and then hung it from a little branch at a side cedar tree.  I knew the backyard Anna would find it.   She’s smart.

Well, nature and all of the beauty have been inspiring me with a wonderful gardening energy and today I will return again to the garden.

A brand new lovely day ….

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Monday, February 27, 2012

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It is still early morning … Someone posted this blog site, very important information on Monsanto seeds, GM’s … pls have a look and heed the information:  http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/02/forewarned-is-forearmed-veggie-varieties-owned-by-monsanto/

I’m going outside to work on my garden organization  .. so more later .. just wanted to share this important information.

So anyway .. yesterday was Sunday .. and the day started out sunny & bright.  I was on a quest to get a good gardening fork so out I went to pursue this item.  Enroute, the sun disappeared and we started to get snow!  Very light, but here in Victoria, snow  … well, it just isn’t done!.

Bought my gardening fork .. a few other errands and then .. ta da .. back at home, and headed out to the garden.

My new quest is to tidy up the yard as I’ll be hosting the Pruning Session lesson .. and so I need to organize the yard to allow 10 people to freely move around.

Now, visualize this .. I have whole sections of the yard devoted to holding flats upon flats of propagated plants of all sorts.  Plus I have the mountain of mulch.  There isn’t much room left over for a group of people to stand around and watch the instructor teach us about pruning.

So I’ve spent hours moving flats of plants from areas A, B and C .. to area D!  Then shovelling tarpload after tarpload of leaf mulch across the yard and decorate the side gardens.

Then .. well .. tidying began.   I hadn’t spent much time .. let’s make that .. no time in the garden since last fall.  Well, I’ve been out there, but it’s only been to feed the birds during the winter and then spending hour after hour just watching them.  So the yard was in need of some tidying up.

At the end of the day today .. I can say that it’s looking so much better and there now is lots of room for people to dance and play in the yard.

You know that the house only gets thoroughly cleaned if you are having guests to visit.  Same for the garden.   And I’m so looking forward to having like-minded people visit our yard.

And I’m slowly getting back in my gardening form ..  thoroughly enjoyed spending many hours outside working away yesterday & today.

Even toiled away during another slight snowstorm and some minor hail. All for the love of gardening.

🙂

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

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  Saturday was a very mixed day.  In the morning, we had our garden bed class.   Our group went to a fellow “learner’s” home to participate and build a variety of garden beds.

We started out with a layered bed .. our wonderful instructor guided us through the best scenario to prepare for the material installation.   Digging away at a proper angle through the soil .. layering on, starting with a thick cardboard level, followed by manure, seaweed/kelp mixture, then compost, and a light covering of hay.

Next was a double dug bed .. and many people were happily digging away.

It was a chilly morning, but luckily, our classmate had one of those lovely propane heaters in the patio so that was just wonderful, plus there was a heat lamp!  How decadent!

Hot water for a variety of teas and coffee!  There were a variety of garden conversations taking place.  Heaven.

The class lasted from 9 am to 12:30 … such enthusiasm.  Such a positive feeling to be amongst a gardening group.

There were surplus materials, so, luckily, I was able to take home a bale of hay for compost .. thank you, A!

Had to be somewhere, but needed to be by the ocean .. so made my way there .. parked the car ..  stood on the beach for a few minutes.  Saw a gaggle of geese fly low overhead … making their way to the Esquimalt Lagoon.

Back in the car .. drove along the roadway, heeding the speed limit .. birds cross the road and we need to be respectful.

Passed regal swans paddling away .. a variety of duck.  No time to stop and visit today.

Home .. cleared my little car of my gardening items, all tidied up.  DH has the car for errands this afternoon .. so I made sure the car was tidy.

Then .. time for me to transform from the gardener to a regular person .. that means, putting the gumboots, plaid shirt and overalls aside and change into regular clothes.

Time to meet with friends.

Happy to reconnect with friends from the past.  And to admire the sophisticated leggings!  How beautiful .. I wonder if I could find a pair like these ..oh, I would so love to have some!  Shall I go shopping this week????

Later .. we went to Dallas Road .. to enjoy the magnificent wild beauty of the sunny skies and the power of the breaking waves cascading at the shore.

You know … it was so very enjoyable to reconnect with each other ..  it was as if time had somehow just done a little ripple to the past and we revisited the bygone years.   Really seems like just a few years ago, but to be realistic, it was 30 years ago.  Guess that is what it is like to have friends.  Time just doesn’t matter.  Just the good energy exists.

And .. we discussed plans for future visits, day trips .. oh, how fun will that be!!!  We are all so very creative, positive and happy people, especially when we are all together.   This is very precious energy.

En y va!

🙂  Let’s go!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

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Well … yesterday, Friday .. was a really rainy day!  I’d promised myself the gift of spending the whole day outdoors .. a reward for recent studying .. but the rain put a kibosh on that.

Ok, I’m not a wimp, I love the outdoors .. witness the many hours spent outside during the recent snowy period in January (but, we don’t want to go there, right?)

But, the type of work that I want to do involves shovelling mulch, moving it from A to B and then relocation the flats of cuttings from last fall.

So the heavy rain and the mucky yard spelled out “stay indoors” so I did that.  And was so thankful that I’d already had my long long walks earlier in the week,

Friday was spent at the kitchen table.   Reading chapters from our textbook for the Organic Master Gardening course … researching terminology … writing explanations on lined index cards.,

A few pots of Yorkshire Tea.

In between .. household chores .. dishes ..cleaning kitty litter boxes .. laundry .. sweeping .. all that exciting stuff that takes up time during the day.

And playing with kitties.  Our three cats are not kittens any longer .. but they are playful so I refer to them as kitties.

I watched out the kitchen window .. seeing the big fat globules of raindrops exploding on the top of the sundeck railing.  Bam .. smash .. quite pretty, actually.

And the variety of birds that came to the acrylic feeder that is attached to the window.  Because we have horizontal blinds at the window, they cannot see us .. so they just behave normally.  Sometimes we see some little beak skirmishes as they scramble for the sunflower seeds.   To be in the interior of the transparent container is a prized piece of real estate for these birds!

And DH has fastened a board beneath, to serve as a ledge so often we’ll look at the antics of the birds as they peck away at the seed.

The rain was quite relaxing.  I think that this is my most favourite place to be right now .. .my old Toshiba laptop plugged in, tuned to Firefox and Gaia College.

Books tumbling over the surface of the table.  Lined index cards in various piles as I look up new meanings.

I’m soon drawn into the world of gardening and all the beauty that this entails .. and I feel quite happy and relaxed.

A good place to be!

And so that was my Friday.   Followed later by … ta da .. spaghetti for supper!   With a glass (or 2??) of dry white!

Today was quite a different kind of day and I’ll share that tomorrow!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

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Thursday was a mixed bag of weather .. .sunshine .. clouds.

After morning chores completed, decided to go for a brief walk … which lasted about two hours!  Started out towards Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary .. .it’s been awhile since my feet walked along those trails.

Pure bliss to be there …. seeing the new spring growth of leaves on trees and bushes as all plant life prepares for a new season.  Listening to the breeze rustling the dry marsh grasses .. music to my ears.  Stopped to look at the slim thread of water trickling through the mix of dried and emerging stems of grasses.

Not many birds out when I was there.  Thought back to my lucky encounters a few weeks ago .. when I saw my first Cedar Waxwings and then the Northern Shovellers … such beautiful winged beings.

Saw .. and heard .. some Marsh wrens calling out.  And some Red Winged Blackbirds singing away.  At the smaller observatory I chanced upon some Mallards .. they were very cautious though .. and I understood why later on.

I pulled out a bag of flatted oats and scattered them onto the surface of the lake … one little Mallard swam over.   Followed by a female .. then more and more and finally there were about 10.   Scattered more oats on the surface boards and them some on the side marsh ..

Continued on my walk.  Noticed new signage showing the latest improvements to the Sanctuary .. growing specific plants/trees to attract a wider variety of birds and animals.

Looked way up and sure enough .. at the top of the flat-topped tree . .there was one of the resident eagles.  They’ve been favouring this tree since for years now .. I used to spend so much time watching them over the years . .even lucky enough to see part of their mating ritual.  I was in the backyard and just happened to look up to see them, talons intertwined as they tumbled through the sky .. remember to look up .. .there is so much going on.

Well, this year they have attained the mark of maturity, with their white heads and tail feathers .. wonder if they will nest in that tree?

Anyway, their presence explains the absence of bird activity.

Time to visit Orr’s Butchers for more of Farmer Ben’s eggs … and then some grocery shopping.   And then .. the long walk homewards with a heavy Thrifty’s shopping bag.  I decided to ignore the hefty weight .. I’d soon be home!

Returned via the Sanctuary .. one more opportunity to walk in nature … all birds, ducks are well hidden away.

As I made my way home .. enjoying the beauty of the day .. kept looking up to the sky .. but no aerial activity.  And .. soon I was home .. groceries put away.  Kitties fed.  Ole Toshiba turned on … spent a few hours lost in the worlds of gardening and re-trying the online quizzes of Gaia.

Then I allowed myself to enjoy the wonderful world of gardening outside .. sheer bliss.  And a bit sad, also.  My gardening world has turned all topsy-turvy with the new learning.  As I stood and looked at my leaf mulch pile .. I thought of how my focus has changed.

Where once I truly believed that oak leaves were the be-all and end-all of gardening .. now I realize that, although they do serve well as mulch to retain water for landscaping purposes .. they are not the cure-all that I thought they were.  That because the centre of a pile gets to be “smoking hot” .. that feature isn’t conducive to supporting healthy microbes in the soil.

I quickly fill containers with the mulch and sidedress the trees and plants along the fence .. this does dress up the areas.  Just a few months ago I was saddened at the thought of not having enough .. now I just want to disperse it all around the yard.

It’s not that it’s a bad thing .. just not quite the thing for my veggie garden.

Worked away, not conscious of time .. till DH arrives home .. and surprises me with a mug of Yorkshire Tea!  Yea, time for a Sudoku break and a quick look through some stone landscaping books (treasures from the “Friends of the Library” book sale.

Enjoy the brief break and then .. ta da .. back to the garden.  More shovelling, moving, planning, dreaming.

Another lovely day ….

🙂

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

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Where does the time go .. eh?

The days are just flying by … and part of the reason, I know, is that I’m spending many hours in studying new information.

I blush to think of how I used to think that I was so knowledgeable about gardening.  After all, I used to take vacations just to work away in the garden.  I have a passion for gardening, preparing the soil for plantings, working hard to amass materials to assist in the growth of plants.

But my world changed completely on the night of my Introduction to the Organic Master Gardening Class at Royal Roads .. that was a dark and stormy night (the kind that Snoopy used to write about) … I am not a good night driver, yet, I did not let the pouring rain and dark roads stop me from travelling to the OMG introduction session.   Because of the bad weather conditions, there were only a few people there .. and that is understandable.

Our Course Facilitator talked to us about the course and what to expect .. yet .. little did I know then .. that gardening as I knew it .. would take a radical change to enter a world of awareness.

We wouldn’t be focusing on the latin names of plants, that information we could find from books.  Instead, we would be learning about the worlds beneath our feet.   The harmonious co-operation between organisms and plants.   Well . . I sure looked forward to that.

Since that night .. I’ve been part of the class … we’ve been encouraged to question everything and so we do.  We aren’t expected to sit quietly in our seats, calmly taking in the information from the instructors.  So we have lively classes .. everything is questioned .. nothing is taken for granted.  My goodness, this is satisfying .. this quest for knowledge.    Quite a change from my childhood Catholic school years … shut up, and listen.  No questions allowed.  brrrrrrrrr

And so I find myself drawn to the textbook and the online resources .. and wonder, will I ever fully understand the workings of this earth?   Well, I think that I will learn as much as possible .. there is so very much to learn.

Sigh.

So I’ve been rewarding myself with little walks daily .. I really want to spend the whole livelong day sitting at the computer, researching terminology, making copious notes on my lined index cards .. my portable note system (thanks, Kristin, my flying teacher, for that!)  I simply can’t imagine not using this system for notes!

And because I know that physical activity is a must, I’ve made an effort to just get out there and go for a walk for at least an hour a day.

More treats for me include working in the yard .. .yes .. yes .. yes!!

Incentive for this is that the first week of March .. the pruning lesson will be held in our yard!  So .. time to move the mulch .. move the propagating flats .. so that there will be room for everyone to move around the yard.

So, I’ve not been posting everyday … and I really like to post .. but sometimes, between the “learning” and the walks & working outside & preparing supper .. the time just disappears.

One thing I’ve been doing .. is taking pictures .. and sometimes, when I’ve moving things around in the yard, I have a feeling that I “should” take my camera .. in order to record some fantastic gardening event.

Yesterday was such a feeling.  I was approaching the back garden gate and suddenly I noticed a big fat honeybee .. it was sparkly new and firmly attached to the fence panel.  At times it would move one of its legs or antennae .. and I wondered, was this a newly hatched queen??? I know nothing about bees (oh, maybe sometime I’ll do some research) and thought that the queens must first appear, right?   And then the workers?   Then I noticed another honey bee . .. this one was slimmer and on another fence panel.  So I spent some time just watching them, taking photos .. full of appreciation for this delicious moment in time, observing the amazing magic that is nature.

At the end of the day, I looked for the bees and couldn’t see them .. but this morning, there was the big fat one (that doesn’t sound quite right, but I was comparing the two types of bees) and voila .. there it was … and it had disappeared in the early afternoon ..so I wondered what happened.

So …. Wednesday was another lovely day  .. .full to the brim with new knowledge and the joy of nature.

🙂

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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 I’ve been learning a lot about goats lately.  It started with a quest for some organic hay/manure for my compost.  And I ended up finding a place so tucked away that, despite directions, I could only find with the assistance of Gertie, my GPS!

Followed winding roadways .. one after the other .. and finally arrived at my destination, where I found a very graceful doe staring calmly at me as I parked my car and got out.  I discovered later that I was in the presence of Hexenwald Fence Post Pounder .. dare I ask how the name was arrived at?

Soon I met the mom of this lovely goat and the rest of the herd … quite interesting details on the whole world of goats .. I had no idea.

I’ll share some of this information, but at a later date .. as I really a short bit of time today.

My head is reeling with learning today .. looking up terminologies of microorganisms, soil structure, on and on.

Funny, when I started this Organic Master Gardening course, 99% of the language was alien to me.  My head ached with trying to understand.   And so I spent hours, writing, typing, talking, underlining, highlighting .. drawing pictures.   Slowly .. slowly .. the information started entering my consciousness.

I’m becoming a little more familiar now with the information and can laugh at the time when I didn’t know what “mycorrhizal” was … silly me, how could I not have known!

The days fly by now.   I think that learning bug has caught me and I’m so happy to spend the time right now, delving into the layers of details that encompass the gardening lore.

And I’ve been a busy bee …. driving for many miles to collect lovely seaweed and kelp; miles and miles to collect goat manure .. for my garden and compost.  Money, gas, time … all for the rich reward of a very healthy garden.

I find the days disappearing now that the majority of my time is spent, guiltless, researching information.  When the sunny weather arrives .. I’ll be way more than ready to tend to the garden.

Did find the time to wander around the yard yesterday .. found proof positive of  the tenacity of nature.  There, on the top of a potted plant outdoors, I found a bluebell bulb, the bulb not wholly intact (might have been a partial meal for a bird or rodent) but proudly bearing the green growth of leaves!  My hat is off to you, mother nature!

Anyway, gotta run .. for now … on this chilly, overcast Tuesday afternoon!

🙂

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