Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Walk Around the Garden

It's far from perfect, but it makes me happy and I gaze at it often from the viewpoint at our bedroom window...

I'm almost done laying bricks along all of the pathways.  I'll save some extra bricks for stacked tables on the patio.  I may need them because my paths never seem very permanent. 

This was one of five bouquets that the kids picked for their teachers on their last day of school yesterday.

My herb circle is growing nicely and we've been eating from our spinach for about a week or so.  Besides the herbs and radishes, that's really all we've got so far.  I did test the celery and it was fairly large, but I'm not sure if it's okay to pull off stalks here and there. 

I haven't gotten any garlic scapes yet.  Does anyone know when we should be expecting those?  I don't see anything forming on the stalks at all. 

I love this combination of floppy peonies and snow-in-summer. And it smells beautiful.  I've been picking them for in the house ever since they started blooming and the lilacs stopped.

These are mostly beans and radishes, with carrots hiding under and between the radishes. 

This looks like it might be a banner year for roses. 

I've always loved Lady's Mantle in other people's gardens.  Now that I have some, I'm not so sure how the yellow fits in with the rest of the pink tones.   The dark Sweet Williams and the rogue perennial foxglove in this spot look okay with them, but it's not my favourite vignette. 

This makes me very happy.  Fresh strawberries! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A blur of end-of-year field trips

I wish they'd just let the kids off of school sometime in mid-June. There doesn't seem to be much curriculum that needs covering and they just spend their days having fun. Maybe that's so they'll remember school as being fun and want to return in September?  In order to have fun with them, I find myself volunteering for field trips.

I spent a wet, rainy day getting close and personal with the Grade 2 class.

And with a rat.

And with a snake (obviously not together!).

This class was not at all put off by the weather.  Some of them wore garbage bags and just got on with their day.  
Others were totally worn out. 

I ended the day with a nap as well.  I admire the energy that teachers have.  I could absolutely not be with this number of kids and their varying degrees of energy every day.  Once in a while is fun though.

They've also gone to the waterslide, to a party at Fort Edmonton, Field Day was all day on Monday.  I am useless as a chaperone at a waterslide because I'm totally blind without my glasses, and I wasn't invited to Fort Edmonton (that was hosted by AMA, I think, for the patrollers), but I spent all day in the hot sun on Monday for Field Day.  It was actually fun too, watching kids run relays with rubber pigs between their legs.  I'm sure I'll miss all of this when the girls are out of elementary school, so I'm making the most of it all now. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toilet Humour 2

Hi, this is Beth. Did you read the post called: Toilet humour? If not not, you should before you read this. It's one of mom's most popular posts.
Read it? OK.
Read on.
The poem "Sam, Sam the Lavatory Man" is actually a song that you learn at camps. It's just one of those songs that camp councillors teach you. Laura and I went to a camp with our Girl Guide troop, and our camp councillor taught us the song. Of course, we already had memorized the words, but now it's put to a tune that I can annoy my friends with (especially if I sing it really loud over and over again).
I like to suck on lemons and drink rhubarb juice.
Sorry about that. I just wanted to confuse people who are reading this. What I said was:
I like to suck on lemons and drink rhubarb juice. :)
Actually I didn't have the smiley face on the first time. I just added it right now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

5 years of Easter Seals (so far)

When Yvon first started working at his first non-paint-related job (and may I say - Yay!), he started a role within an administrative group. I don't know why it is, but admin people tend to have to organize all the events, and because of that, they also tend to be key participants in the events. I've been there too. When people don't sign up as volunteers, you tend to sign yourself up.
The Easter Seals event was organized by another member of his admin group for years. When Yvon joined them, of course he chose to add his name to the list of walkers. Walking to raise funds for persons with disabilities.

The second year, I joined him. I think we walked around with Alice in a stroller and left the other girls in the big company tent snacking and playing with other employees' kids. It was fun, but we left when the girls started getting grumpy in the heat.

On the the third year four of us managed to walk around the route.  Alice was at a birthday party.  I know it's supposed to be about the raising of money.  Yvon's company generally raises among the most as a group in the Edmonton event, with their senior partner right near the top for individual donations raised.  For me, I just like hanging out in the big tent, eating or BBQing all day, playing games and visiting.  It's a good day at the park.  In the year shown below, it was REALLY hot and
Laura wasn't the happiest camper by the time we thought of taking a picture.

She did look beautiful at one point in the day because a hairdressing group was freely styling hair. Then we jumped in the pool and ruined her lovely ringlets. Ah well.   That was the year I accidentally fed Beth some lethal peanut granola bar too.  It maybe wasn't our best year.
On the fourth year all of us did the walk twice.  And came out smiling!   Yvon was co-captain of the team last year, so he spent a lot of time at Rundle Park.

I think it's a 2.5km route, but the heat can make that feel really long.  We did great and I've noticed that we have more fun each year as the kids get older and less...tantrummy.  That's a word, right? 
This year we're upping the ante again.  Yvon took on the role of captain this year and we are going to camp on the site.  I'm hoping the activities and behaviour in the middle of the night is truly family-friendly.  There is a bonfire and sing-along planned, the pool is open again to participants, of course there's food all day, and a murder mystery dinner. 
There is always a theme to the whole event.  This year it is the Silver Screen and we've been working on a little decoration for our tent.  I'll show you when it's done because it's been a fun creative project but it won't be totally done until tomorrow.
And we are scheduled to walk three times this year.  Once at midnight because the girls wanted to do it in the dark.  We'll be totally wiped by the time Beth has her piano recital on Sunday night, but it should be fun! 
Pray for good weather on our first campout of the summer. It's not been good this week  If you want to make an online donation, you can do so here.  Thanks to everyone who has already!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

60 Years Together

It's not everyday that couples make it to their 60th Anniversary. Many marriages don't make it to their 3rd anniversary. But my in-laws are celebrating their 60th Anniversary today and still seem pretty happy about being together. :-)
Yvon spent many hours cross-stitching this hanging for their present. It lists all 14 grandchildren in order of birth and it turned out great.
My contribution took about one hour, attaching the backing and the hardware.
And I helped produce three of the grandchildren.
They won't be reading blogs, but I'll wish them a happy anniversary here anyway!

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's all in (again)

This is my new borrowed garden bed. I've now got it fully planted up with peas, carrots, leeks, potatoes and corn, with a few flowers, a tomato and some peppers. The renter has a few perennials in the triangle at the top and a large empty plot along the house to fill.
I decided to measure all of my beds and add up my veggie gardening space this year, out of curiousity, but also because someone asked about the size of this new plot. I never know the answer to questions like that, so I wandered around with my tape measure and did some basic math. This is maybe for my own record-keeping but maybe it's interesting to a few people.
Back plot = 190 sq. ft
Back (along house) = 20 sq. ft.
Front (under bay window) = 40 sq. ft.
Front (new lasagna bed) = 42 sq. ft.
Front (LHS - with perennials too) = 138 sq. ft
Front (RHS) = 388 sq. ft.
Borrowed ground = 336 sq. ft.
Total = 1154 sq. ft.
That's just a bit bigger than the square footage of our house. Unless I plan to become a CSA (and I don't) I'm going to stop expanding now. I do want to contribute to my borrowee's (?) groceries though. I should have enough to share.
I didn't include the bit of my alley that I use, or the strawberries that are struggling and the raspberry patch in the alley.
There's a lot of bits and pieces and wandering around the lot when I have to water or weed, but it also breaks things up into interesting chunks. Efficient? No, but apparently that's not my gardening style.
I'm not sure if it's ever all planted because I'm constantly tucking things into gaps.
I've got a few cutworm problems I think. I was blaming the birds initially for attacking my tiny cabbage and brocolli starts, but I think it's worms. When a cabbage dies, it leaves a pretty hefty gap, but I can always seed circular patches of lettuce or other greens. And I realize that my garden tends towards full rather than empty anyway because I forget how truly large some things become.
Because that was all a bit boring, I'll show off some of Laura's photography.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's not all in

Well, it would have been all in. It was all in, but I did a crazy thing tonight and expanded my available land.

I hate to see bare soil. It sucks up rainwater and does nothing but produce weeds. It's ugly. It screams for plants and it will grow whatever seeds are thrown in its direction. Dandelions, camomile and other weeds are the most readily available and the space gets filled.

But I could be trying new things there instead. Things I don't have space for.

I'll show you pictures later, but I now have access to a large garden with beautiful soil just down the block. It's got a compost bin and a massive rain barrel about four times the size of my own at home. And a hose and running water if that runs out.

We still call the house "our farmer neighbour's". Sadly, the farmer himself died about two years ago, followed shortly after by his wife. It's now a rental and the renter can't afford the seeds and plants to plant it up. I would think that she couldn't afford not to plant it if that's truly the case.
However, I'm not going to teach her home economics. I'm going to grow veggies! And I'll share with her as a thank-you (using the plant-a-row, share-a-row concept).

The farmer took great care of the soil. It's lovely and loose, rich and dark. You can pull the weeds up and get their full carrot-like roots without much effort. I'v been warned that it's too rich to grow good potatoes, but I will try. It can't be too rich for corn though. And beans for drying. And maybe enough peas to successfully have a few meals. And I'll throw in a few flowers because I have trouble with straight rows of veggies.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully do some serious weeding and then I'll plant neat rows, mulch heavily and see what happens.

Tonight I will dream of the possibilities.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's all in!

I managed to get it all in by Saturday night so that I could offer to bring my leftovers to church on Sunday. Although the great giveaway didn't happen on Sunday, it was still nice to have a firm deadline for myself.

The lovely fencing around my back areas have been successful so far for keeping both the ladies and soccer balls out of the baby plants. Rosa kindly donated her wickets for the project (because her pet is significantly bigger and didn't acknowledge the fencing). Within minutes of release though, my ladies walked right through the little spaces without slowing their stride. Hmmm, that didn't work so well and I got them outta there right quick with a better food bribe before damage was done.

Although the fencing doesn't look great covered with hardware cloth, it works and the wickets provide the support I needed. Success! I hope to remove it all when the plants are bigger. Bug control will be welcome then.

You can't see it, but little things are starting to emerge from the soil. Turnips (which I thought no one here liked, but it turns out everyone does except me), carrots, peas, beans, cucumbers, swiss chard and quinoa (an experiement this year).

These poor strawberries have been ravaged once this week, but almost look better for the beating. The vine, however, is full of white flies already and fell from the stucco wall in a messy heap. If I can't beat the flies this year, I'm ripping it out. Blech. I hate them and the passage is narrow there, forcing you to brush against the plant once in a while, bringing up clouds of flies.

This shape has to change next year to a semi-circle so we can more easily mow. It's a bit of a problem. Live and learn, I guess. It's an excuse to make the bed a bit bigger too!

I'm trying a few artichoke plants this year as an experiment too. I saw them growing successful in some city planters last year and they looked cool and are very edible. Hopefully we'll get a few artichokes from them.

This is the only other area I've expanded into this year. This is a hole in the boulevard grass that the city created two years ago when they cut down our tree and mulched the stump. They never did sod or seed it, or even provide more soil to fill it so it's been nothing but dirt and weeds. I thought a squash might fill the spot and look a bit better too (and a geranium and dahlia, although they'll get choked out when the squash takes over - I don't mind a bit of sacrificial annuals).

I started the celery really early this year indoors and it's looking so much better this year. Maybe I'll have more than just enough for one pot of soup. This variety is supposed to be self-blanching so I shouldn't have to collar it.

Now that the seeding and planting is all done, maybe I'll have time to pick up those bricks and make my paths. Even though the bricks get weedy, I find I walk on them so much more than on the mulched paths, and so do the girls on our daily walk-abouts.

The garlic is looking great. I though this would just get us through part of the winter, but Rosa reminded me that 100 bulbs (if successful, and they look like they are) will be almost 2 heads of garlic every week for a year. That should be almost enough for us. That is true of my onions this year as well. I circled every cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower with onions or shallots in an attempt to ward off cabbage moths, and that totalled to about 100 allium-family bulbs there too. And then there are the leeks as well. Although they are cheap to buy, I'd love to add onions and garlic to my "never buy" list.

Tomatoes and brassicas too, but they seem more susceptible to blight and bugs. I approached a neighbour about her unused garden as a place to plant rows of corn, potatoes and pole beans for drying, but if I don't hear from her by the weekend I'll have to shelve that plan. Although I don't need the work, it kills me to see empty dirt just getting weedy.

And now on to some paying work for the rest of the morning. Have a great day!