Category Archives: gardening

not your typical sunday

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Usually on a Sunday, I have a leisurely day, only leaving the house to do my health food shopping (because we get a family discount on Sundays). However, today was not a normal Sunday.

I started a new job today. Not very glamorous – it’s cleaning the offices where Tai Chi Man works – and it’s only 4 hours a week, but it’s a start. At least I don’t have to dress up for it, and it’s active so I won’t be sitting on my arse!

For this first day, Tai Chi Man came with me to show me where all the cleaning supplies were and to help me with the cleaning. Their last cleaner left 2 weeks ago so things were pretty messy and it took us 2.5 hours (5 “man” hours). Once I get into a routine, I’ll be quicker. The work includes cleaning 5 bathrooms, for which I am well-trained, having dealt with the mess left behind by three boys for 18 years!

My back was quite sore after I’d finished.

Afterwards we went to The Greenery, a garden centre that only opens for a few months every spring/summer. We bought some lettuce plants (Tai Chi Man is growing some from seed too), and flowers for our hanging baskets and pots – nasturtiums, fuchsias, lobelias, ivy geraniums, a petunia, and an ice plant (mesembryanthemum).

After lunch, we spent a couple of hours outside in the sunshine with the plants. It was hot. We lined our wire hanging baskets with coir liners, then rehydrated blocks of coir and mixed it with potting compost and Ogogrow.

The hanging baskets have the lobelias, fuchsias, geraniums and the sole petunia in them. The light grey pots hold the nasturtiums, and a terracotta pot has the ice plant in it. We’ve left them behind the house where they’ll get plenty of sun so they can get established for now.

We also tested the underground irrigation system. The sprinklers have the water blasted out of them in the fall using compressed air (so that they aren’t damaged by freezing) and it sometimes causes damage to the sprinkler heads, so when we first turn them on in the spring we have to check the heads, and make sure that each sprinkler is watering properly.

While I prepared dinner,  Tai Chi Man started on the taxes. The tax returns are due by the end of April and he’s doing it himself this year. Previously we’ve used an accountant. He left the computer long enough to eat dinner, and then had to go back and work on it for another couple of hours. Finally it was done and we’re due a refund, so that’s nice to know!

Dinner was a success tonight. The boys ate cooked vegetables! I made a tofu pot pie, making it up as I went along, trying to remember a similar pie I made from a recipe years ago. I added grated carrot and broccoli stalks to the gravy/tofu mixture and they liked it, even when I told them what was in it. 🙂

And here I am, writing my blog post (Lego Nut has a new iPod Touch and he has been looking at my blog on it and reminded me today that it’s been a few days since I last posted) and before I go to bed I really need to send in two weeks’ worth of homeschool reports to my contact teacher, because I sort of forgot last week.

Have a good week.

Perfect produce and pesky pests

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Another post without a photo.  Sorry!  I know blogs look so much more interesting with a bit of colour.  I was going to get a photo of my pretty salads at dinner tonight but MacAddict had the camera and we’d started eating by the time he brought it upstairs.

We spent a lovely few hours on the beach this afternoon with friends.  It was so hot that we all went swimming in the lake as soon as we arrived.  Just dumped all the paraphernalia (don’t you just love that word) and cooled off.  Then spread out the quilt and toasted myself for a while and the kids played.

After we returned home, I cut a few lettuces for dinner.  They’re only small (the variety is Little Gem) so we can easily eat four for one meal, especially as we currently have a bottle of Little Creek dressing which the kids love (it’s expensive but if it means they’ll get some green stuff in them then it’s worth buying now and again).

While I was out there, communing with nature, I checked the brussels sprouts.  From my kitchen window, I often see pretty white butterflies fluttering around my vegetables – they might be pretty, but they’re laying eggs on my brussels leaves!  Aha, a photo, thanks to that site I just linked to…

cabbage white butterfly

cabbage white butterfly

I have been brushing tiny eggs off the leaves and picking green caterpillars of varying sizes off as well.  I hate to kill them but I really want to keep my plants healthy.

I picked a few sprigs of parsley and mint and made a tomato/garlic/parsley salad and a cucumber/mint one, both dressed with a little olive oil, lime juice and Himalayan salt.  They were very good.

And I almost forgot….we have both red and gold raspberries, and the red ones in particular are doing well this year.  I picked about a pound of them yesterday.

I really appreciate my garden at this time of year.

Vegans and their emissions

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First, I want to smugly point you towards a neat little video on You Tube. It’s short but points out something important – that eating a vegetarian diet can halve the emissions of “greenhouse gases” compared to a meat diet, but going vegan cuts it further to about one seventh, and an organic vegan diet one sixteenth.  (Of course, this study does not take into account the emissions of methane that result from a high fibre diet!)

Our family falls somewhere on the scale between vegan and organic vegan – we eat partly organic.

Now, I should point out that I’m not convinced that human activity is causing climate change, but I am all for (a) a cleaner planet and (b) compassion for animals.

Now, here are some pretty pictures of some of the flowers I’ve potted up for my garden path – I love them and I feel good when I look at them 🙂 and hopefully you will too.

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How green is my garden

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lots of green

lots of green

I woke early this morning but I didn’t actually get out of bed early.  For a few weeks now I have been stuck into the Sara Donati saga which started with Into the Wilderness.  I just had to finish the fifth book, Queen of Swords, this morning.  It was published in 2006 and I don’t see any newer ones on the library catalogue.   Maybe I can Google her and find out when the next book is coming out.

Anyway, by the time I rolled out of bed, Tai Chi Man had been in the garden for hours, weeding, raking and planting out seedlings.  He decided that a lilac bush was encroaching too much on the vegetable patch so starting cutting bits of it out; found a lot of it dead; and ended up with a huge pile of stuff that needed to be cleared out.

I eventually went out to help him load up the van so he could take a run to the landfill site and while I was out there I realised that (a) there was some cloud around making it more bearable than the last couple of weeks, and (b) I couldn’t stand to look at the long grass for one more minute.  I had asked MacAddict to mow it a week ago, but I was still waiting.  So I just did it myself.  It takes an hour and a half if you go at it non-stop.  I only stopped to set up the sprinkler on a couple of dry patches and get a glass of water.

I love looking out of my kitchen window and seeing all this green.  I don’t have much in the way of other colours, but would like to put a couple of pots of annuals around by the front door.

quail's perch

quail's perch

This quail made me smile.  He perched on top of that little tree for a long time, as if surveying his territory.  We often see quail walking through our garden – we have no pets to scare them off – and I’m hoping that I’ll see a line of little babies at some point this summer.

Edited to add:   I just found Sara Donati on Facebook and it seems that The Endless Forest, the sixth book in the “Wilderness” series, will be published later this year.  Diana Gabaldon’s next book in the “Outlander” series is due out in September.  I will be hoping to be first in line for the library copies.  And is anyone else annoyed that they made us wait even longer for the movie, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?  It’s out in July, but it was delayed for about 6 months by the writers’ strike.  Bah!

Nearly done

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The front of my sweater is nearly finished.  I’m just a few rows from the shoulder bind-off now, but I put it down earlier so that I could enjoy a walk around the neighbourhood.  It was getting dark and I had a very peaceful walk, stopping to look across the lake at all the lights and appreciating the fact that I live in such a peaceful place.  (I suppose my recent reading of books set in Afghanistan and South Africa have made me realise how lucky I am to live in Canada.)

Tai Chi Man had a good workout today, hoeing the garden and digging out the compost heap.  He dug out the neighbour’s heap too, which is right next to ours (the wooden frame straddles the property line between our yards).  Our neighbour said she didn’t need it.  We had enough to make a good layer over the vegetable garden (which we measured today and I think Tai Chi Man said it was 32 by 25 feet, not counting the end where we have the strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and currants).

I helped him to spread the compost and rake it and I also helped a couple of mice out of the wooden frame that couldn’t get out by themselves.  I think we saw at least a dozen cute little brown mice hop out – they must have had a cosy home in there – but we’ve piled lots more stuff back in so they’ll probably be able to make new nests quickly.  No wonder we sometimes see the local cats hanging around down there!

Gardening, knitting and thrifting

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No photos to share with you today.   But if I did,  I might show you my tidier garden, in which I spent 2 hours yesterday afternoon clearing out a bunch more dead leaves and flower stalks from last year.  I am not a keen gardener, but I do make myself get out there in the spring and fall to do the basics and it’s worth the effort!  Tai Chi Man is the gardener of the family and he’s in charge of the vegetable patch.

It was a sunny warm afternoon and the kids even dragged themselves outside, so I set up the hammock between the cherry and apricot trees and they did their “schooly” reading out there.  They also had a little science lesson as they observed a caterpillar being attacked by ants!

After 2 hours of raking, wheelbarrowing and so on, I felt I deserved a little R and R, so I changed into my only pair of shorts (NOT flattering and only for wearing within the environs of my own property) and lay on the trampoline in the sunshine for half an hour.  The bleep of the kitchen timer dragged me back in as I had to bake some bread, then make dinner.

Today it rained.  I spent the morning helping a friend with computer matters, we had lunch at the deli in the local health food store (I had a smoothie, she had cashew mushroom soup) and then I hit the thrift stores.  Value Village takes a dedicated, child-free session – it’s as big as a department store and you really need time to browse.  I found tons of stuff, tried it all on, and left with a lot less.  A pair of lightweight pants, a couple of shirts and a green top.  And some flip-flops that are new.  And 6 beer glasses to replace the ones that I’m always breaking at home (not that we drink beer, we just like large glasses of water).

I was really hoping to find some skirts and shorts, but none of the ones that I tried on fitted well, so on the way home I dropped in at the Salvation Army.  Nothing there either, but I did bump into an old friend from the early days of our homeschooling group.

This afternoon, while standing at my kitchen sink, I enjoyed the view of the thunderstorm and accompanying rain.  We can always use more rain here – the Okanagan is only green in the spring – in summer the hills will be brown and parched again.  I think the mountains steal all the rain out of the clouds before they reach the valley.

I forgot to mention that last night, LATE last night, I finally sat on the sofa in my living room and picked up my knitting intending to do half an hour before bed.  Well, I knitted, I made sure the kids got to bed, I knitted some more, and because I was on this interesting section with short rows, and I didn’t want to put it down partly done, I kept on going until it was after midnight.  Next is 4 rows of garter stitch, and then the stockinette part for the upper front.  As I am mostly an acrylic-user, I don’t usually block things, but this is mostly natural fibre yarn (bamboo, cotton, acrylic) so I think I will block the front and the back separately, then check that I’m happy with the fit.  I’m always nervous about sweaters until they’re done…..and I think I will continue to be concerned about this particular sweater until after it’s first wearing and washing as a completed item.  (I will always remember that loosely-knit turquoise cotton sweater that I made 25 years ago that grew unpleasantly after finishing.)