Posted by: ceara08 | August 17, 2009

Garden Update

Well thought I would add an update.

We got to harvest a few cabbages, but then earwigs moved in and turned the cabbages into brassica swiss cheese.  So I had to toss the remaining 8 cabbages.  *sigh*  When I got to the last cabbage and started to twist it, something moved and squeaked!  I jumped back in a hurry, went and got a long stick and poked the cabbage with the stick until it flopped over.  Seems like a scene out of “The Blob” but all I saw was a teeny tiny young bat.  Called over the brother in law and he picked up the bat with gloves and moved it to a safer spot away from all the pets.  I was too chicken to go anywhere near it.  But bats are our friends and help keep down insect populations so I did not want to hurt it.  Just didn’t want to get too close to the thing!  It’s funny… I can be outside near sunset and the bats are flying all around and it doesn’t bother me.  Just something about it crawling on the ground and squeaking really freaked me out.

Kale is a trooper!  Still going and going like the energizer bunny. I have several freezer bags full of the stuff in the freezer after it was steamed.  Good winter chow there!  Kale is probably one of, if not THE, most nutritious vegetable out there.   Next year I want to get some purple types that are shaped kinda like a palm leaf.

Broccoli was awesome!  Never had broccoli that tasted like that before.  Indescribable!  About 4 broccoli plants are setting seed now.  I wanted to save a lot of it but it was just too good and I think we ate it all fresh and made soup with the rest.

The Swiss Chard was interesting.  The heirlooms are still producing, whereas the commercial hybrids have already bolted.  We are letting them finish the seed cycle on purpose.  Even though they bolt earlier than the heirlooms, they tend to send up more leaves.  So it’s kind of a toss up.

Carrots did not do well.  I think the seeds were too old.  Yellow beets, same thing.  Kohlrabi also got attacked by slugs and we have only one kohlrabi.

Pole peas are still producing but we are letting the rest go to seed.

The seed production of the Tom Thumb and Little Gem lettuces is going well.  They are about to bloom.  I should have plenty for the seed bank, and enough for keeping to grow next year and for trading.

The Don Collis pole beans are producing, but the weather is NOT cooperating.  The other pole beans were damaged beyond hope by the evil slugs.  I won’t be able to put those back into the seed bank unfortunately.  Which is a shame because they were rare varieties.

The heirloom perennial leeks petered out.  Don’t know why.

Bush peas are still producing.  We are into the third sowing now.  They are tasty but the pods are small with only 3-5 peas per pod and we’re stuck bending over picking which is hard on my back.  (Doctor says I have beginning stages of osteo artritis in my spine.  Joy.)

The heirloom potatoes are amazing!  Just had my first feed from two varieties last night.  Only pulled a few from just underneath the surface.  They are nicely hilled up and no sign of blight.  The flowers have been pollinated and are making the “fruits” at the top, so I will be able to hopefully harvest some true potato seeds (TPS) to sow as an experiment starting next year to make my own hybrid.  Am excited about that.

Cukes aren’t doing well.  Our soil is too poor I think and needs more organic matter incorporated.

Pinto beans are 50/50.  Will they or won’t they make it?  Not sure.  I think our Zone 4 is probably past borderline for good production.  Will see how it goes.

Tomatoes are setting.  Got a good little harvest going.  If only the weather would cooperate.  Hopefully we won’t have to ripen indoors again like last year.  Should have enough for two pots of tomato sauce.

Corn didn’t do well.  The dreaded evil slugs again.  They also destroyed the pole beans that were supposed to climb on the corn.  About a dozen corn plants are lef and they are setting tassles now.

The squashes and pumpkins are so-so.  We are in drought mode now so we have to chug water around every two days until the rains come again.

All the perennial flowers but on an amazing show this year, with more stuff to come.  Oriental Lilies about to open, then the Trumpets.  The Echinacea is taking off and the new pink and purple Monarda are doing well.  Pink has started to bloom but purple is a bit behind.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I pinched out the tops to make it more bushy.

Got some true Tiger lily stem bulbils in the mail.  But to my surprise, what should I find in the bag with the bulbils?  The dreaded nasty red lily beetle.  Yikes!  Such a tiny bug can sure make a lot of noise.  I squashed the adult lily beetle in the bag and put both bags in the fridge until I can figure out if the bulbils can be saved or if I should toss them in the garbage.  I have probably over 300 lily bulbs and cannot afford to set the lily beetle loose into a lily buffet.

Well I think that about covers it.

Posted by: ceara08 | May 21, 2009

Garden Update

Wow so much has happened!  Where to begin?

The new veg bed in the front, south-facing lawn has been completed (for now).  It was never very large from the start, but is now expanded twice last year’s size.   I call it my Brassica bed.  It contains Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Pak choi, Chinese Cabbage and regular cabbage.  It also contains a few Marigolds and some other perennial flower that I cannot remember the Latin or common name.  But it’s supposed to be pretty!  Also I will put my Tom Thumb  lettuce babies in there to mature and then start some more to plant out later.  I’ve never grown Tom Thumb before and must say I’m very impressed.  It’s such an attrative lettuce.

The ground inside the greenhouse area was dug over and I added my bean/pea trench.  I learned that trick from the Brits.  Basically you dig a trench about two spade deep and then line it with water soaked cardboard, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, etc.  Well what I used was half-composted garden compost almost two weeks ago in the ditch, watered it very well with collected rainwater and then covered it back up.  The worms should move in there and finish off the decomposition process.  By the time the second week of June comes, and I transplant my special peas and beans it should be just perfect.  The whole idea of the trench is to help retain water for thirsty, fast growing plants.

We still have seedlings all over the house, literally.  The floor in the living room is covered in seed flats.  The front sun porch is loaded with containers.

We have roots on the Stevia.  Never thought it would happen.  But yes cuttings ARE possible on Stevia, just by cutting and placing in water.  Which reminds me, I better transplant that today.

Plastic containers holding toilet paper cardboard tubes are now temprary homes to some happy old heirloom peas, corn and some Pinto beans!   These seeds were germinated in the wet paper towel in a plastic bag method.  I still have some seeds germinating on top of my computer monitor.  haha

Yes, I’m going to attempt Pinto beans in our northern clime.  Should be OK, since I’m starting them early indoors.  I am hoping that at least one of these varieties of pinto beans is a climber!

And personally, I do NOT understand this obsession with dwarf/bush beans and peas.  People say, “Oh I have a small garden and so small plants are what I should grow.”  Utter nonsense.  Why?  Because the sky’s the limit, that’s why.  If anyone needs to grow vertical, it’s a small garden holder.  Besides who wants bend over all the time picking produce when you can just walk up and easily pick without fancy bending yoga moves involved.  We gardeners spend enough time bending over, thank you, when it comes to double digging, incorporating organic matter, picking stones, sowing seeds and transplanting.  Why in the world should we spend lots of time bending over to pick produce?  Europeans are now really into growing vertical in the form of “living walls.”   Perhaps it won’t be long until North America gets used to the idea.

I received in the mail a package last week.  It contained a bunch of old varieties of potato tubers.  I also received three (supposedly) perennial leeks.  They look just like any other leeks to me.  I am having  a hard time seeing how these things are going to be perennial and wrote to the person who sent and have not received a reply.  There’s also no information on this particular leek online.  I’m stumped!  In addition he sent me some heirloom pumpkins, squashes and those seeds have been planted in pots indoors.  They are rather tender plants and need warmth to germinate.  I’m not really sure what to do with those potatoes yet, or how much to cut them.  They have to go in the ground soon, but there’s a problem.

Around the greenhouse structure, we decided to open up yet more new ground.  But the wonderful man in my life broke the tiller!  The machine hit a giant rock in the dirt and completely shattered a part that holds on the tines.  And we have absolutely no money to be able to afford to replace the part(s).  So, I’m left to dig the rest of that area BY HAND.  And it’s quite a large area.  I got about a third of it dug about 1.5 spade depth so far.

In the lower field is where the tobacco will grow.  Also will attempt a Three Sisters area with about 50 corn.

I am so behind on this blog.  But I have been spending the majority of my time outdoors digging.  By the time evening rolls around, I have to cook supper then watch maybe one or two videos on my computer and then I am so tired that it’s time for sleep and then the next day I get up and do it all over again.

Posted by: ceara08 | May 6, 2009

The Garden Song

Here’s a blast from the past!  Both sets of lyrics below.

Oh, and lots of stuff happening here.  So much to keep me busy.  I’ll post an update real soon with lots of pictures!

The Garden Song
written by David Mallett

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

Pulling weeds and pickin’ stones
Man is made from dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain
To my body and my brain
To the music from the land

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

Plant your rows straight and long
Thicker than with pray’r and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow watchin’ hungrily
From his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless the seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

The Garden Song
sung by Arlo Guthrie

Inch by inch
Row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch
Row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone keep them safe below
Till the rains come a-tumblin’ down

Slug by slug, weed by weed
Boy this garden’s got me t’d
All the insects come to feed
On my tomato plants

Sunburt face, skinned up knees
The kitchen’s chocked with zucchinis
I’m shopping at the A&P’s
Next time I get the chance

Old crow watching from a tree
He’s got his hungry eye on me
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there

Posted by: ceara08 | April 29, 2009

No More Plastic Bags

No more plastic bags.


The newest trend is to no longer offer the plastic sacks at the grocery store.   They still have the bags, but are hidden down below the counter, and charge you 5 cents for every bag you take.  My most recent grocery shopping trip ended up costing me 5 cents.  The store where I did most of my shopping has not yet started charging for bags and I bought the majority of what I needed from there,  only because they had the best prices for last week.  But the other store is the only place in town where I get my dog food, because no one else sells it.  It’s made from lamb and isn’t chock full of corn.  One of my dogs is allergic to corn.  I do not need a plastic bag for the giant bag of dog food, but I bought a couple of small items there also for making fudge.  The cashier and the sacker both asked for my bags and I said I didn’t have any, and they proceeded to put on an air of snobbery that I didn’t have my fancy schmancy corporate logo bags purchased from them to carry home my purchases.

I said, “Yeah I know you are charging for that bags and that’s bad enough.  But I don’t have any bags with me.”  Then the cashier sighed and said, “Well we will have to charge you for the bag.”

Part of me likes this idea, but the other part of me hates it, for I see the snobbery and corporate greed at it yet again.

Why do I hate it?  Well, first of all I use those grocery store sacks to put in my garbage that isn’t recyclable.  Stuff like milk bags.  (Here in Canada, milk comes in plastic sealed bags.)  We burn most paper and cardboard and use it to start fires in our wood burning stove that we use to heat the house in winter.  We have a property of 100 acres and collect our own firewood and manage our forest.   We prefer heating with wood rather than pay corporate assholes for the basement furnace heating oil.  That furnace hasn’t been operated in well over a year now, and we couldn’t be happier.  (Although we do need to dress in layers to help keep warm.)

Anyway, we use those grocery store bags in a little receptacle under the sink to collect unrecyclable garbage.  What can’t be burned, recycled or tossed into the compost bin goes into regular garbage.

So if the stores aren’t going to be giving away free plastic bags what will we use for garbage bags?  We will end up buying plastic garbage bags.  The whole idea is ridiculous!   Either way plastic bags will still end up in the landfill, for our location has no other way to dispose garbage.

On top of that, the local municipality won’t dump the garbage from the curb unless it’s contained in plastic bags.  Try to find the logic in that!

So it’s come down to either paying 5 cents for every bag and continue on as before, or spend approximately the same amount for garbage bags in a box from the store.

I’m not going to buy those corporate logo bags from the store either.  Screw that.  I will not promote the grocery store by displaying the logo to show where I bought my stuff.  Until the grocery stores begin to give away FREE bags, depending on how much you spend (like get one free bag for every $50), I won’t participate in this scheme.

Or until I can find a cheap source of decent, strong bags with no logo or fancy design from an online retailer that sells in Canada.  I have yet to find one.

Another complaint is our local municipality stopped taking our garbage because we were not using one of those fancy, large bins with the hinged lid.  We were supposed to have received a letter stating this change, but we never received any notice whatsoever.  So I went to price a new, approved garbage can and they are selling for $100!  WTF?  $100 for PLASTIC.  This was about a month ago.  We’ve been collecting a bit of garbage since then and now really need to get a new garbage can.

I happened to head to Canadian Tire to get some Pro Mix for my seedlings because it was on sale, and almost half price of the other stores for the same size bag and brand.  While there, I noticed a number of large garbage cans of the kind that we needed to buy and they were only priced at $65.  That’s still to expensive for plastic in my opinion, but it is a lot cheaper than the other places.

While I am generally not against being kind to the environment, I am against these corporate assholes who are making a giant profit over “going green.”  They pay mass media to spread fear and promote their agenda.

When I was young, all the grocery stores used paper bags.  Then comes out, “Oh no, our forests are being depleted! What shall we ever do?  Oh I know, let’s make plastic!”

Then everyone remembers what came next.

“Paper or plastic?”

There’s an answer to the paper problem – GROW HEMP.   An acre of hemp takes 6 months to mature and needs almost no chemicals sprayed on it.  Whereas an acre of trees takes 20 years to mature.  Do the math people.

Now we’re in an “oil crisis” and of course all plastic is derived from oil.

Everywhere we turn, some giant corporation is either manipulating or conspiring for these social changes and then profiting from it all.

Well my little protest will consist of re-using the stash of plastic bags I have in my closet at the grocery stores.  I am not a loyal shopper and will go where the prices are the best each week.  And if that means I will provide competing store bags for them to sack my groceries, so be it.

Want to know the best part?  In our area, there is a place for people to go ice fishing in winter.  They set up their little shacks – made out of PLASTIC.  On the way to the store last week, I saw a shack still sitting out there, teetering almost on the edge of melting ice, and about to fall in the bay.

Now if they care about the environment enough to get rid of plastic grocery store bags and insist that everyone use a special garbage can, why in the hell do they allow hillbillies to put out ice fishing shacks on the ice and never remove the plastic?  There are so many types of whales that breed in the bay, along with seals and multitudes of sea birds.

Posted by: ceara08 | April 19, 2009


Yesterday as I woke up, there was one word on my mind – Compost.  This sort of thing actually happens a lot.  I will wake up with an idea and feel I have to act upon it.  Sometimes this is how I get answers for problems or a question that I’ve pondered.

And yesterday I did not act upon this urge.  I kept getting interrupted and never had the time to sit down and type my thoughts.  So today I hope to remedy this.  Maybe it will help someone, and that’s really all I care about.  I am no guru or expert, but I enjoy sharing information with others.

So.. compost.

Like many others the whole process did not make sense at first.  I thought it was complicated and a lot of work.  But I do not think that way any more.   I will share my experience.

Ever since we moved to this property in 2004, I have been saving kitchen scraps.  Never wanted to just toss them into the garbage, because it makes the garbage bin full so fast.  So to reduce waste I decided to keep all scraps and do something with them… but what?

So I talked to the brother-in-law, who’s handy with tools and stuff, to build a compost bin.  I was met with opposition and told that it would attract vermin, was too much work, and in general not a pleasant thing to undertake.

A few months later, low and behold the brother-in-law got the urge and built a homemade compost bin.  At first I thought that was great, but quickly learned it was not the best idea ever.  It filled up too fast because it was rather small and there was no room to turn anything.  But this is fine if all you want is a place to dump kitchen scraps and not worry about it any more.  Yes it will rot down into compost, but will take much, much longer.  Plus it was too difficult to get the finished compost out of the bottom, and it was chunky and really only suited for a mulch.

So last year I got the great idea to just make a pile out behind the homemade greenhouse.  I piled on the kitchen scraps, bit of inedible weeds with soil still attached to the roots, sod, garden plant matter, some leftover hay, raked leaves and lawn clippings.

Twice a week I gave the pile a toss and once in a while emptied a watering can over the pile.  I did not cover it or fuss over it.  The most work was turning it.

In the beginning it was a pretty good sized pile, approximately 4 feet across and about 3 feet tall.  But by the end of the summer and just before the first frost, I gave the pile a final turn.  What I found delighted me!  The pile had reduced to about a wheelbarrow full but it was rich, dark, and lovely compost.

So, you can add just about anything you want to compost pile, other than meat or cooked foods.  You will attract all sorts of insects and worms, but that’s what you want.

The most important things you need to remember are

1.  Put what you want into the pile except meat and cooked foods.  This included shredded newspaper and cardboard bits, as long as they are not shiny.
2.  Stir the pile at least once a week.  If it’s dry, water it a bit.
3.  Don’t put too much grass clippings in there unless you also add saved dry leaves.  Stir it all together in one pile.  Does not have to be neat and tidy, unless you are a neat freak.

Just a little bit of attention and care will reward you with glorious compost.

I think the “magic” ingredient though is a bit of soil from your garden.  No need to dig in shovels full.  All that is needed is the little bits of soil left over on roots when you pull weeds or yank spent plants.

Our first compost “bin” didn’t perform well because it was not stirred regularly and did not contain any soil bacteria.

Here are a couple of videos that will help explain, and give optional methods of containing the compost.

Posted by: ceara08 | April 19, 2009

Dow sues Canadian government over Que.’s pesticide ban

OTTAWA — U.S. Dow AgroSciences has gone ahead with a threatened suit against the federal government under the North American Free Trade Agreement, seeking a repeal of Quebec’s ban on lawn pesticides containing 2,4-D and at least $2 million in damages.

William Amos, a lawyer for environmental organizations intervening in the case, urged the parties Thursday to move forward quickly in choosing the three-member NAFTA arbitration panel that will decide the case. It is urgent, he said, to remove a cloud over other provinces considering pesticide bans.

Dow’s claim asserts the ban is tantamount to “expropriation” of Dow investments, and accuses Canada of breaching “basic due process, transparency, good faith and natural justice.”

Dow says Quebec’s ban is not based on science, and should have been reviewed after the federal Health Canada pest-management regulatory agency declared 2,4-D safe if used as directed.

Read the full article at

Hey Dow – BOO HOO!!  Cry me a river!  Your product got banned because people DO NOT WANT CHEMICALS ALL AROUND THEIR HOME JUST BECAUSE YOU PROMOTE AND ADVERTISE IT.  You’re just angry because your profit margin isn’t as high as you’d like it.

Posted by: ceara08 | April 16, 2009

Photo Update of Veg seedlings

Lots of photos! Let them load.  Everything was updated on Folia as well.  Check the link on the right side panel of this blog page and once there click on “Backyard Patch Garden.”

Germination is happening fast.  Lots of other seeds are putting out tap roots but no foliage to be seen yet.  Things are speeding up.  Still lots of snow outside, still cool temps.  Right now as of the typing of this post, it is -1 Celsius outside.  But when that sun moves around to the front of the house, the unheated sun porch reaches a little over 20 Celsius, and that’s where all the seed trays go.  When the sun goes down and it starts to get cool, everything is moved back into the house.  It’s what I call the “Spring Shuffle.”  Right now it only takes a few minutes but once we get the tomatoes and other veg transplanted into larger growing containers the porch will be full and it will probably take 15 minutes each for the morning and evening shuffle.

I have a shop light with brand new florescent bulbs but need to build something to hang it from so these seedlings can get max light.  There’s not enough daylight hours in the sun porch to meet the light needs of these plants.  But most of what you see here will be planted outside around mid May, or as soon as the snow melts.  Because these plants can take a bit of cold and usually bolt in hot weather.

Oh!  And I finally got some good advice on when to start my peas.  Those will be started probably May 1st indoors in the cardboard tubes.

Green Magic Spinach

Green Magic Spinach



Malva Perennial Flowers Mixed Colors

Malva Perennial Flowers Mixed Colors

Parel Cabbage

Parel Cabbage

Nigella and Blue Flax starting to emerge

Nigella and Blue Flax starting to emerge

Rainbow Mix Swiss Chard - Red stem

Rainbow Mix Swiss Chard - Red stem



Chinese Cabbage

Chinese Cabbage

Spinach second sowing

Spinach second sowing

Tom Thumb Lettuce germinating!

Tom Thumb Lettuce germinating!

Posted by: ceara08 | April 15, 2009

Germany bans Monsanto’s GM maize

Germany is to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize – the only GM crop widely grown in Europe.

The decision, announced on Tuesday by German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, is a blow to the US biotech firm Monsanto, which markets the maize.

Monsanto’s variety, called MON 810, is resistant to the corn borer, a moth larva which eats the stem.

MON 810 is controversial in the EU. Several countries have banned it, defying the European Commission.

Full article available at the link above.

Go Germany, Go! Great job!

Posted by: ceara08 | April 10, 2009

Tobacco, Hot Peppers and Shallots!

Well today I got another bag of seed starting mix and got busy! Also bought two new seed plug trays because the other ones were getting old, cracked and falling apart.

Here’s what I sowed today

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper
Explosive Ember Pepper
Beauty Zest Pepper
Torreon Pepper

All those are hot peppers! Also planted some miniature sweet bell peppers from seeds that I collected from grocery store peppers. I grew them last year too and saved seeds, which is what got planted today.

Then today the tobacco seeds finally arrived! Yay!

“Keller” tobacco from New Hope Seed company in Tennessee, USA.

Also got some “Ambition” shallots started. Never ate a shallot before but they should be yummy! I love anything from the onion family.

What’s left to sow? Well, I’m not really sure yet. I am supposed to be receiving a parcel from a guy who said he’s gonna make me think it’s Christmas in Spring. hehe So we shall see!

I am thinking about sowing those heirloom peas though today, but not real sure. I did some asking around if it’s too soon or what to start those indoors in the toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes. Haven’t gotten an answer yet though. My gut says I should go ahead and get those germinated. Maybe I will just put them in a plastic bag with a paper towel and start the germination and go from there. Perhaps I will just wait until tomorrow because I haven’t eaten dinner yet.

The other seeds I sowed last week are popping left and right. I will be taking pictures as soon as it stops being cloudy and I can get some decent shots with the camera.

Posted by: ceara08 | April 9, 2009

Evening lettuce sowing

Well I finally got around to sowing some lettuces and greens for salads! Just finished actually, and decided to sit down here to type it all in for the record, both on here and Folia. Check the link to Folia on the right side of this blog and click on the picture to go to my garden journal over there. And I got a nice cup of hot tea as well. *smile*

Some of these lettuce types are heirloom and I have to allow a few plants to make new seeds so I will not get to eat them all. But this first batch will get eaten for the most part until they start to bolt when it gets hot.

Here’s what was planted. I put them all into a long plastic window box type container, each type of seed got a 6 inch by 6 inch area to start growing. Some will live in that window box their whole lives and others will be pricked out and transplanted elsewhere.

Parris Island Cos Romaine lettuce – probably my all time favorite. Had some for lunch!
Corn Salad – a gourmet green
Mignonette bronze – heirloom
Tom Thumb – heirloom and seeds needed
Little Gem – heirloom and seeds needed

I think tomorrow will be a final sowing of seeds for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow I will sow mostly hot peppers but throw in a few miniature sweet bell peppers just to have something to toss on homemade pizzas once in a while.

Hot peppers will hopefully be made into some homemade salsa. I have been meaning to make a whole case of hot salsa the past few years but never got around to it. I’m determined to this year!!

Cool and cloudy weather all week. I really need to buy a new bulb for the shop light or else all these seedlings will get leggy without proper light.

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