Transplanting

This week it was becoming more and more obvious that some of my seedlings were going to need transplanting before my greenhouse was ready. Of course I didn’t have enough pots to actually transplant them to, so off to the store we went. The first store only had plastic pots that were big enough for what I needed, but it found them to be expensive, and not exactly what I was after. Yesterday we stopped into Canadian Tire and I found the perfect containers! They were clay, and cheaper than the plastic ones! They had a nice big 10″ diameter and a drainage hole in the bottom. I bought four.

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When we got home on Sunday night I filled my pots and transplanted the tallest beans, and Donovan’s corn. While I was organizing I came across an old tin, and decided to plant some basil and spinach.

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I couldn’t resist some purple seed potatoes while I was there, and came home to do some research. Jamie laughed at me of course, because growing up on PEI, the idea of wasting garden space with potatoes when every other driveway in the country has a little “on your honour” potato (and strawberry, and honey) stand at the end of the driveway, seams silly. After reminding him that we live in Alberta now, he agreed that it might be worth a shot.

I did some research when we got home about building a potato box, but quickly realized I could use an old Rubbermaid container, with a few slight modifications to grow potatoes, onions, carrots and such.

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Last June my sisters basement flooded and she had a bunch of her things stored in Rubbermaid containers, so we made a deal, I’ll share some fresh produce with her, and she’ll supply the containers.

I know container gardening is usually done by those in the city, but I’m hoping it will also help those in the country with a gopher problem!

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Love Bomb Weekend

For the past year or so, I’ve been reading a blog called “Chasing Rainbows” and often Kate will talk about taking her Children (or herself!) on a “love bomb” day. A day (or afternoon, or few hours!) where you spend one-on-one time with your child, and say “yes!” (within reason of course). A day where you let your child make the decisions. A day (or hours, or whatever you can spare) that you go out of your normal routine, and just make them feel loved.

Yesterday after work, I picked Donovan up, and said, “Ok buddy, what do you want for supper?” (Jamie was out-of-town for the weekend, so it was just me and Donovan to think about). He looked at me kinda surprised, “You mean, anything I want?” and I said “Sure!”.

“Ok Mommy! I pick the place with the fancy ice-cream!”, which in Donovan language, translates to Moxies, because the kids meals come with ice-cream in a little “dry ice” boat, so it looks like a volcano. This was actually the perfect restaurant for Donovan to pick, since it’s one we don’t go to often, so it really was a treat for me to say yes. After we ordered, Donovan did a bit of colouring and then asked about getting a special “Lego Chima Speeder”. I suggested we search on my phone so he could show me what they were, and we could see how much they cost, as I wasn’t going to unknowingly agree to a $50 Lego set!
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I smiled as we sat huddled together in the restaurant, looking at the different sets available, it really was an evening of “yes” and an evening of all my attention on Donovan. We had no reason to rush home, and I had no other plans, so I could just spend my time with him, and not worry about “other stuff”. Even though I was love bombing Donovan, I felt a little love bombed myself! Our meal came and we put away my phone, and chatted as we ate. I LOVE hearing about his time at school, and what girls are pretty, and who got in trouble, and what they did. He is a great little conversationalist (when he’s in the mood!).

After supper we got into the car, and Donovan asked, “Can we go get the Lego Chima Speeder now?” and I said “yes!”. He asked that we go to Walmart, as they have a “whole isle of Lego Mommy!” and although I generally try my best not to shop there, off to Walmart we went. Our first stop was to look through the garden centre, which ok fine, was more of a “Mommy thing” than a Donovan thing, but he enjoyed being able to push the cart around all on his own. Then he lead us to the Lego isle.

One thing about Donovan, is when it comes to buying something, he is not quick. He often gets buyers remorse, so he spends a great deal of time looking at each item, and deciding which thing to get, so he can make sure when he gets home, he is happy with his decision. Of course, most of the time when we are shopping, I am just wanting to get what we need and get home, so I rush him. Last night, we took our time, and I sat back in the isle and let him study each Lego set. I gave him a bit of guidance and suggestions, but mostly just let him look at each option on his own. I smiled to myself, when he got down onto his knees to get a closer look at some of the sets. It won’t be much longer that he will be able to do something like that without being too self-conscience.

After a time he said, “Mommy, they really don’t have the one that I want here.” So I said, “Ok, why don’t we try another store?” and the smile on his face lit up the room.

Donovan and I got in the car, and drove to Target to try their toy isle. This time when we got to the store he said, “I’ll meet you in the Lego isle!” and because it was a quiet Friday evening, and I am trying to enforce his independence, I said “ok!” and I slowly made my way to the toy isle, making sure he had enough time to get there on his own. I found him once again studying all his options. This time there was less choice, and he wasn’t really impressed. I offered an alternative, still a Lego Chima, but not one of the Speeders he was looking for. He agreed to hold it while he “thought about it” but asked if we could look at the movies and Wii games for a bit. I said yes!

We spent another length of time in that section, when he decided he really wanted a Wii game, but didn’t like any of the Wii games they had to offer, and wanted to “talk to the worker at Target and tell them they need to get better stuff.” I suggested instead we could just go to the video game store in the mall. He agreed.

After another 20mins of browsing all the games, he decided what he really wanted was a Lego Star Wars Wii game, but of course we couldn’t find one. I suggested he ask one of the workers. So all on his own, he walked over, asked for what he was looking for (a game that I didn’t even know existed!) and the worked took him back to the games, and brought out a used one. Finally! he had found what he was looking for! and it was only $15.

On our way back to the car he said he was thirsty, and after 2 hours looking for toys, I was thirsty too! I asked if he wanted a Starbucks on our way out, and he agreed. We stopped in and ordered. Donovan settled at a table and I said, “oh no Buddy, it’s late, we are taking our drinks home.” He asked, “Can we please sit here?” and I thought, what the heck! It’s already 7pm (his usual bed time), what’s another 15mins on a weekend night going to hurt? And we sat and drank our lemonade. Before we left, I thanked him, “this was a good idea Donovan, sitting here and enjoying our drinks.” We both left happy.

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Window Sill Garden

Shortly after I started my seeds, I was cleaning up around the house and came across two little “seeds to go” containers. When we bought our Christmas tree this year it came with a “Tree in a Can”, so that got planted first.

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And then yesterday, while looking for an old jar to store my egg shells in, (what can I say, I’ve been pinteresting lately!) and I came across a “basil egg” that I was given way back in 2010 at Blogher NYC. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I cracked the top and added water. With any luck I’ll have some fresh basil soon.

Of course I have “back up basil” seeds that I plan on starting as well, just in case the 4 year old egg doesn’t prove fruitful.

(Most of) The rest of my seeds are doing great! There are a handful of slow starters, mostly the tomatoes and peppers, but I’m hopeful they will break through the surface of their little peat pellet homes soon. This weekend Donovan and I will transplant some of the bean plants to bigger spaces. It’s still too cold to take them outdoors, even if my greenhouse was set up (it’s still living at our neighbours). Next year I’ll stagger my planting a bit more, rather than planting all of the seeds at the same time.

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Have any of you started your seeds yet? What have you had luck with so far?

Canning

I’ve previously mentioned that a big part of the “what am I going to grow?” decisions revolved around “what do I want to can?”. Two years ago I bought the canning pot, but didn’t end up having much time to do any canning, so last summer I decided that was going to change! Donovan and I went strawberry picking at a local strawberry patch (less than ten minutes down the road). Of course we ate our far share of strawberries, but I also started making Jam.

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My first batch of jam turned out great! I wanted to make it as true to a fresh strawberry as possible, so I made my jam with strawberries, a dash of lemon juice, and sugar, and of course time. Making jam this way, rather than adding pectin takes longer, but I believe, makes it more delicious! I used regular white sugar in my first batch, and the jam turned out great. Donovan and I loved strawberry picking so much, that we went out again the following weekend, only this time we took Daddy along, and I had enough strawberries for two more batches of jam. This time I used Organic Cane Sugar, which I think made the jam more delicious, but also made it more of a preserve and less of a jam. It was runny, and didn’t ever set up fully. At first I was really disappointed, but the deliciousness of the fresh jam/preserves won me over. I think this summer I will use a combination of white sugar and cane sugar, so I still get the good taste, but my jam will set up a little better.

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Making the jam was just what I needed to help push me into the direction of canning. And shortly after I made the jam, I found myself searching amazon for some cookbooks. I ended up with these three: Food in Jars , Canning for  New Generation, and Put ‘em Up! I loved them all, and not sure that I could pick a favourite yet, but after this gardening/canning season, I will post the recipes that I used, and let you all know which book I ended up using the most.

Last year not only did I make strawberry jam, but blueberry as well. I also canned tomatoes, and beets. Finally, I tacked cucumbers, making relish and mustard pickles.

I absolutely love to can tomatoes, and make sauces with them throughout the year, so when I read on the back of my Tomato seeds that one plant would provide a family with enough tomatoes,

I went ahead and planted 6.

 

Do you have any ”tried and true” canning tips or recipes? I’d love to hear them!

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It All Starts With A Seed…

What good is a greenhouse without veggies? Not good at all!

Last weekend in preparation for our greenhouse, I did what any sane person does in March, when all they want is to see some GREEN, I went to Canadian Tire and checked out the garden department! I had Donovan with me, and Jamie too, but he was off in the automotive department while Donovan and I were seed hunting.

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Last year, in the garden of tears (what? too dramatic??), I started a lot of my pants from seedlings, rather than seeds, mostly because I didn’t plan ahead! Buying seeds is a lot less expensive, and a lot more fun! Donovan and I each got a little “starter bed” (I wasn’t on the ball enough to make my own starter pots, so the purchased kind had to do this year). I took Donovan to the seed area and told him he could pick any two seed packs out he liked. Then while he was making his decision, I got to work. I know that I planted a handful of seeds that technically don’t NEED to be started indoors before the growing season, but I figured if I started my beans now, I’d have some early in the summer, and then I will plant some more when I actually get the greenhouse up and running and will spread the harvest out some.

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Last summer I got really excited about canning my own produce, so when I was picking “what to grow”, I mostly stuck to “what do I want to can?” We only bought veggies this time (with the exception of cantaloupe seeds, because who can resist trying to grown their own cantaloupe? Not me!!). Donovan found some corn and carrot seeds, which was no surprise to Jamie and I, as those are by far his favourite veggies to eat! Again, I know that carrots aren’t a plant that is traditionally started in doors, and rather just planted directly into the ground after first frost, but I was not going to stifle Donovan’s enthusiasm for learning to grown his own food!  I’m not exactly sure how the corn will go, I’ve never successfully grown corn, but there’s only one way to learn! After Donovan settled on his seeds he saw some kid orientated starter seed packs (the little “cups in the left of the picture below), and he picked pumpkin and sunflower to grown in those. Last year our pumpkins had a lot of really beautiful flowers, but no pumpkins, so I will try to be more diligent in pinching off some of the flowers, and hope for the best this year!

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I was mostly traditional in my seed selection, sticking to things that I knew I could grow with a reasonable amount of success, and also things I knew we would want to eat fresh, and can. I have three different varieties of string beans (yellow wax beans, green beans, and snake beans), two varieties of peas (traditional garden peas, and sugar snap peas), two varieties of peppers (red/green, and yellow), two varieties of tomatoes (Roma/table tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes), and two “fun” plants (watermelon, and cantaloupe). I’m probably most excited about growing the tomatoes, mostly because I want to can enough to last us through a good part of the winter. Last year I was given some “overflow” tomatoes that a local greenhouse couldn’t sell before they went bad and I really enjoyed canning those.

photo 5We don’t have much fruit to speak of, and that is largely because there were no fruit seeds in the garden centre yet. I want to have a couple strawberry bushes for sure, but not sure what else if anything we will try to grow this year. I also have some herb seeds left over from last summer, and will plant those when I get the greenhouse up and running officially.

 

Whew, so that’s the rambling, “what are you growing” post. If you’ve started seeds this year, I’d love to know what you are growing, and if you haven’t started yet, but know you will be gardening, let me know what you plant! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks on how you keep everything alive and producing.

 

Getting Educated About Gardening

Excuse me a minute while I dust off the blog… it’s been over a year since I last filled this space with words and phrases (high-five to whomever knows where that reference is from). Not because of any one thing really, just, well because. There have been many times over the past year where I thought, “I should get back into blogging”, and then the thought would pass and so would time.

That was until, I bought a greenhouse.

Ok, so technically I haven’t “bought” it yet, but I did make an agreement to buy it. Right now I just look out my kitchen window, down and across the pound to my neighbour’s yard, and stare at said greenhouse. Once the weather warms up a bit more, and the ground is a little less muddy, the greenhouse will be bought officially (and moved from their yard to ours).

Last year, our third summer in this house, the yard was finally in a state that I could start a garden. So last Mothers Day while I napped (what else do you do on Mothers Day but take a nice leisurely afternoon nap??), Jamie and Donovan dug me a garden. Later that day when I came outside, Donovan helped me make rows for my veggies, and we sat back and admired our work.

I doted on that garden, weeding it and watering it regularly. That was until the first sprouts of plants poked through the ground. Because that was precisely the time that the gophers got hungry, and instead of carrots and beans and peppers feeding my family, the gophers got fat.

The more the gophers ate, the more disheartened I got, and the garden became over-run with weeds. Of course it wasn’t a total loss, I did get one cucumber, a lovely leafy pumpkin plant (sans any actual pumpkins), some rosemary and oregano, and a small handful of beans (beans I might add that I planted in a container placed in the front yard away from the gophers teeth!).

The last half of the summer I mostly spent looking at my then pathetic garden and started to think of ways to improve it for the following season. My first thought was I needed a new location. The gardens current location was great for me to keep and eye on (I could see it from windows in both my kitchen and basement), and was sheltered from the wind (we can get a LOT of wind around here), but it turned out, it was also mostly sheltered from sunlight. Now I’m no expert gardener, but I do know that sunlight is a must! My second thought was I needed to come up with some sort of “raised” garden. I’ve seen a lot of nice raised beds on Pintrest, but I doubted they would actually do much to keep the gophers out. And that was when my neighbours inherited a greenhouse.

I looked out my window one afternoon to see our neighbours with a “shed sized” greenhouse in their yard. I was immediately envious! Of course! A greenhouse was the answer!! Jamie and I talked about it, gazed upon it from afar (ok, it was mostly me gazing), and decided “yup, a greenhouse would be a good idea one day.” Of course my version of “one day” and Jamie’s are probably two different things…. The next time we were at our neighbours place, I asked about the greenhouse. Turns out, it’s wasn’t theirs, it was her dad’s, and she was just storing it, since he had got a new one, and was trying to sell this one. I immediately indicated my interest.

All winter I looked at that greenhouse, and I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with my relentless chatting about the greenhouse, when last month Jamie said to me, “Jackie, why don’t you just buy it?” So that’s exactly what I did.