My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!


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Monday, September 16, 2013

Such a lovely quiet weekend .. spent time in my garden.  Decadent hours with some of my gardening book collection scattered around me.  A few mugs of Yorkshire Tea.   Inspirational and melodic music playing from my iPod.   Birds twittering.  Sun trying to break through the clouds.  I hadn’t spent such a peaceful relaxing and decadent time in the back yard for a long time.  And it was just wonderful, thank you very much.

And I finally started a long-awaited project of naming the plants that surround me  …. this is truly a formidable task and one I’d started a number of times and just given up.

But Saturday was the day that I once again began this Herculean task.   Armed with my (new) aluminum writing case (I’ll just have to take a photo today to show this and my notes)  …. I started at one side of the yard and began the initial rough drawings, along with a legend of names.

Discovered quite a few name tags were not attached to the plants, so began taking photos and will do some research.  If I have trouble identifying them, then one day soon I will post photos and ask for help from the gardening community!

Oh, wow .. I know that I am a plantaholic but even the list that I made overwhelms me.  I’m currently on page 11 and have only covered maybe less than 3/4 of the yard.  Gulp

Then I took time out to move some of the recently acquired bales of hay .. the dance of moving the bales from the car, through to the back yard and then to the compost area has begun:

01While moving the hay, I heard the soft trill of the European Starling

15aDainty little sunflower peeking out of the tomato planted basket .. how sweet ..

02Volunteer tomatoes have sprung up among the squash plants …

14It seems as if these jewels have popped up overnight …. they are pretty

10The magic of plants .. ever-growing in the sun (and the rain)

12Tiny little squash .. still lots of growing time left as the first frost in Victoria isn’t predicted till early November.

11Another little patch of sunflowers .. growing near one of the bird feeders

13This squash is growing quite well .. wondering how big it will be when it is time to harvest!  I plan to save this one for decoration until it’s finally time to cook it ..

09Lots of surprises every day in the garden … as I find little treasures tucked away …

07I truly was surprised to see the one luffa plant that survived!  I’d started out with maybe 6 that had sprouted.  This jewel keeps opening up flowers daily …..I love the shape and texture, they are very delicate ..almost humble

06Every luffa fruit that had grown lasted only for a few days before dropping off, so this really was a treat to find an actual luffa growing around the aluminum tubes that are stored here.  And imagine my surprise when I found another one growing nearby yesterday!  These really are gifts from my garden.  Thank you.

05And I just liked the look of the sage plant growing nearby …. I have zillions of sage seeds, so perhaps next year I’ll plant a hedge .. that would be very striking in the summer!

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Grow on .. squash … whether or not I actually am able to harvest squash from this plant matters not   The beauty fills my heart with the joy of the magic of plants.   Plus this will be nice to look at in the cool winter months when I dream again of planting my veggie garden!  Although I think that I might make a structure for them to grow on.  This is my first experience of growing them and is a bit of a learning curve that happens to all.

03There are a few of this type of squash growing .. looks like a spaghetti squash, but not really sure what it is.

08It just never gets tired .. the joy and magic I find in my garden.   And I’ve so enjoyed the wonderful time just being outside, looking through books.   Getting to know what is growing where and listing the names.  I’m reconnecting with the beauties that I’ve been gathering for a few years.

Some will be moved to another area of the yard.   Some will be propagated quite easily.  Lots to do yet in my back yard adventures.  And more delightful discoveries to be made as I venture out there.

sigh.

Time to start my day!

🙂


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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Today is starting off in a fog.  Not for me, mind you, I’m as sharp as I can be on a Saturday morning.  Sipping away at my second mug of Yorkshire Tea.  Kitties (they are all grown up, but, to me they will always remain kitties) are fed, treats given … their day is well started.

The world outside my windows is in a foggy state.  Two days in a row now.  Soon the sun will shine through and I will be outside playing in the yard.

Rains are destined to start tomorrow.   Guess that means summer is over?  However, I seem to recall from previous years that there will still be days of sun .. and for that I am thankful, or rather, my tomatoes, squash etc. will be grateful.  Oh, and the beans, mustn’t forget about them.

My marvellous crop of Kentucky Wonder Beans are doing so well this year.  Last year, I’d left the package outside and it rained .. and they sprouted .. and then I planted them in the shade.  So much to learn about veggie gardening.  I’m making progress.  Decided to grow the easy veggies:  squash, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes (well, still learning about them).  And my absolute favourites – garlic and shallots.   And although my experiment with growing potatoes in bags didn’t work out for me this year ..I will try again next year with another system.   Despite a very late start to the growing season … I’m happy with what my garden has given me.

Anyway, my KWB’s grow like crazy … spiraling ever higher!  I had grown some in pots and trained them up trellis up high onto my sundeck.  And learned yet another lesson.  How easy is it to gather the beans from this high?   First of all, I need a ladder set securely on the ground to reach halfway.  Then when I go up to the decking, I am only able to reach down and gather a few.   So think next year I might just grow decorative vines in this area and will leave the beans to flourish on a much better type of structure.

Speaking of garden structure!   I wasn’t really prepared for the extravagant growth of my beans so have been making makeshift forms for them to grow on, adding bamboo stakes, garden trellis, a real mish mash.  I’ve taken photos, just for me to chuckle over during the winter months.

So, one day in August I went for a walk … lovely skies …

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And I met this most lovely dog.  Isn’t he handsome?  I also had a nice chat with his doggy-mom about making blackberry jelly, using apples for the pectin source.  You see, I was picking blackberries on that morning.  And my first reward was meeting this great dog!

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Another reward for my walk was seeing random wild flowers, growing and blooming, despite the dry weather conditions.  The bees love them.

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And these cornflowers brighten up the area also …. random beauty, free growing plants, uncontrolled by any gardener, except for good ole Mother Nature!

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Here are some jars of blackberry juice from my first blackberry pickings.    Now in the freezer.  Yum.

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Blue beans from Renee’s GMO free, organic seeds.  🙂

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As always, loving the diversity of sunflower shapes in my back yard.   Always spreading cheer and beauty.  Thank you .. my lovelies.

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Enjoying this day and ready to change into my gardening outfit … lovely worn Carhartt bibs and long-sleeved tee-shirt, gumboots, gloves (which I rarely wear) and sun cap.   OH .. wait .. I need to brew more tea so I can start my gardening day with a walkabout and admiration of all that is growing in our little paradise.

More on that later.  Time to watch the birdies also.  The lovely Chestnut-backed Chickadees, the Red-chested Nuthatches, the Anna’s, the Fox Sparrows, some house sparrows.  Wrens also.   The Robins seem to have disappeared right now … wonder where they have gone?  Bet I’ll find them when I start moving the compost around, though!  They love those big earthworms.

🙂


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer time is a fun time, right?  Too much to do and schedules and timelines are just not a high priority with me right now!  Yippee.   I’ve wanted to write and have kept putting off this decadent pleasure.    Time to start-up again so here I go!

Recently I’ve been reminded (yet again) of the amazing power of positivity.     How simply marvellous this energy is and how strengthening.to focus on the positive, especially in the garden.

My garden needed some “oomph” which it didn’t seem to be getting, so I went searching online –  looking for sites with information on the effects of negativity in the garden (for example, heavy construction noise, dynamite blasting, etc) … and I rediscovered the power of music on gardens.

A number of times I’d heard about the amazing effect of music on plant growth.  As a matter of fact, I always have music playing when I garden.   Lovely  violin, fiddle, instrumental, classical, world music.

Here is a great site on the positive effects of music on plant growth and development, showing the results of scientific testing to prove this:  http://www.musicforyourplants.com/

Some of the sites listed details of how the tonalization of the music impacts the growth of plants and you’ll find the Italian video quite interesting.

And from this site, I am learning more and more and Joel Sternheimer thoughts make sense to me, here is his site on energy and the power of music:  http://tama-do.com/roothtmls/cell-research.html

So much to learn, so much to discover!

I’ve copied some of the music onto my gardening iPod and have also included my new purchase of sitar music (ranked to be among the best for the garden) by Ravi Shankar “the Living room Sessions Part 1.

Much scientific wording and examples of music are given.  Me, I’m a believer.  And am shortly going outside to play again my lovely music and admire the growth of my plants.    I just love my garden and each and every plant that grows in it!

These geraniums had not bloomed at all this year .. but look at this ..many little buds will be opening soon!!

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I was watering some plants last evening after a very hot day.  Look at what I found in a sedum planting!   I think my friend D was being creative with this surprise!  Little kitty kat!  🙂

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Peek-a-boo .. I see you!  Little cannelloni beans growing away behind the leaves.  I’ll leave these on for dry beans later on for winter soups.   With a few set aside to plant next year, of course!

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Here is a little squash I just noticed last night, growing away so quietly.

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Yet another squash that appeared overnight, it seemed!    I was puzzled that spaghetti squash were growing and then I remembered the time last fall when I had diligently cleaned the seeds from an organic spaghetti squash, dried and put them away in a Ziploc bag.  No labeling (sigh) so I had assumed that these seeds were for another type of squash.  Note to myself, label seeds this year.

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Grow on .. little squash ….

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more surprises …

 

 

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Our area in Victoria, BC has been hit with a number of days of really hot weather!!   so everything seems to be growing great!

I’ve been sorting out my garlic, saving the largest for planting in October.  And I’ll also be planting those little yellow thingies that grow at the base of hard-neck garlic … they look a little like dried bean, but have a pointed end.   Not sure if they are  called “bulbets”   Should get a few small garlic bulbs from them.

Here is the most amazing, informative site on growing garlic!  https://www.garlicfarm.ca/

Now .. mug of tea, camera, music and I’m all set to go out and play in my yard ….

🙂

 


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Monday, August 27, 2013

Finally .. some light rains are happening which is good for the garden, although I really wish for a good downpour, just to soak the soil very well.

My squash crop is growing well .. yesterday I spent some time cutting away the mildew laden leaves … I’ve found a number of good blogs for squash growing, such as:  http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/powdery-mildew and this link was quite helpful, with regards to flowers (the first flowers are always male) and not to worry about flowers dropping off, quite reassuring:  http://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-squash/#jump-2

I love finding reading about other gardeners‘s experiences, how they overcome their gardening “issues” .. as in “powdery mildew“.  I’ve learned that it’s alright to remove the mildewed leaves, leaving 4 to 5 leaves is fine.   Was hoping to have bushels of squash to share with friends this year .. but will still have enough to share so that is good.

When it is time for harvesting, you can bet that I’ll be posting pictures.

Anyway .. .just want to share my most wonderful latest adventure!  On Sunday I had the opportunity to fly for two solid hours (more than two, actually) in the PW 6 at Port Alberni and here you can see a great video explaining what a flight is like:  http://visc.wqs.ca/

However, as wonderful as my garden is and as much as I truly love each and every living thing that grows there, there is absolutely nothing in this world that equals going flying .. especially when it is flying in a sailplane … and on Sunday .. I had the most wonderful opportunity to fly for hours!!  Sheer heaven.

The weather was splendid … a full day of the most amazing cloud formations ..

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Isn’t this crazy wonderful ???

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Little did I know at that time ..  when I was busy clicking photos of the skies above .. that I would soon be up there myself!

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So it was a hot, sunny afternoon.   I was sitting in my insect screened little tent, avoiding the hornets buzzing around .. reading the final pages of “the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” … when Andrzej called out … Anne-Marie .. do you want to go for a flight???  Well, no sooner did I hear the beginning of his sentence when I’d thrown down my book, chair toppled to the ground, unzipped the insect tent and was running across the tarmac.  Where I settled myself into the front seat of the PW-6.  And we took off minutes later!!  As you can see, this wasn’t my first flight!   I love .. love .. love .. flying!

We were soaring .. the tow line was dispatched and there was just the beautiful song of the wind coming in through the side port .. I taped a bit of this, wanting to remember this melodious yet powerful sound for later .. when I’m on the ground … wanting to remember and savour over and over and over again ..

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From the ground .. early afternoon …..

 

 

 

 

 

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From the air .. we were heading towards Mount Arrowsmith .. wow …………

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I just couldn’t believe that I would ever be so close to this mountain!   Waved to hikers along the top … WOW

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How utterly magnificent … I just reveled in the extreme joy of flying so high, I believe over 6,300 feet .. how close to the mountain we are .. gliding in the smooth air .. ever closer …

 

 

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So close . I could see trees, snow, gullies .. but most of all, I felt the sheer joy of flying with the power of the wind, the thermalling had brought us up here .. no motors .. magical .. empowering ..

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Time just stood still as we sailed past this venerable mountain .. such energies of beauty, power, majesty, nature .. struck me speechless as we travelled on in the air .. this was an excellent flying day ..

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I felt so blessed to be up here … such a great privilege ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We did fly near the Comox Glacier .. I’ll share that photo later .. here are more sky shots ..

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From up above..

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Thanks to my dh’s passion for flying .. I’ve experienced:  tandem hang-glider flights, which includes launching off a mountain, being towed by an ultra-light (flown by my dh!); flying on the back of an ultra-light (again, dh as pilot); sail plane rides in California, Nanaimo; an acrobatic flight for one of my (ahem) birthdays, could have been my 50th.   Flight in the back seat  of a Nanchang; many hours in Cessna 172’s and other aircraft.

However, nothing can even remotely compare with being in the PW 6 up at Port Alberni.   The smooth tow up by the Pawnee … the sweet ascent into the skies, the “thang-thwup” of the tow-line release.  Followed by hours of other-worldly soaring in the skies,   Soaring along the mountain ridges.  Thermalling to climb and the cross-country flying … a journey into another realm.  One that I truly love .. even though there are no gardens up there.

I am one very lucky gal .. and look forward to another flight ….and then another .. and, yes another ….

A 2-seater self-launcher is on our wish list ….

 

🙂


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Friday, July 5, 2013

Life is just a busy fun place to be and sometimes I speed up when I really should slow down.   And that is where friends come in!

I have been busy working on the little garden at the Dakota Cafe for the past 3 mornings.   One day spent weeding and digging through the plants with my pal D to help me out.  The next day was intensive weeding and planting.  And this morning, a frenzied time of cutting back Rex Rosemary which had grown to be too high for the windows of the cafe .. it was getting difficult for customers to spot planes through the windows.. so a massive cutback was done (sob).  I’ve taken most of the cuttings home and will try to propagate them.   No photos really, but once the little flowers start blooming, I’ll be clicking away.

It sure felt good to work intensively for 3 hours or so at a time … and I was spoiled and given tea by lovely Jess .. so I happily drank my tea and gazed upwards at the blue skies.  Lots of planes, eagles, turkey vultures and other birds.  Sheer heaven.

Then time for a visit with D and her son … she gave me some great clay pots and I plan to make a crooked planting, arranging them on a section of rebar in the garden.  Then she showed me a little ladybird dragon that was morphing into a ladybug on the nasturtium leaf… how very magical!  Also, she has a Garry Oak growing in her hop plant ….I forgot to take a photo, but believe me .. it is there and very healthy.  How exciting!!

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Then D wanted me to go to see the amazing boulevards in the Haultain area and here is one that is just spectacular .. I think that the homeowners were advocating boulevard gardens years ago, they were very hardworking.    And from the look of their boulevard gardens and their private gardens they haven’t slowed down a bit!  Very impressive and inspirational.

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And they have provided a  lovely rustic area for passersby to relax …

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Colourful nasturtium flower peeking out from the feverfew ..

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Along another boulevard … labelling helps identify the plants, such as this one:

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and here is the California Tree Poppy (listed above):

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I love this “secret” front door …. well done!

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Then it was time for refreshments … at a lovely little table outside the coffee shop … see the darling dog in the background?  His doggy parents were making sure he was in the shade, had access to water and he was one happy little guy!

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Yea .. coffee grounds for the garden .. happy to see ..

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I’m betting that the coffee grounds/compost material doesn’t stay around for long, there are many gardeners in the area so I counted myself very fortunate to have this bag.  Oh, see the red/white polka dot bag behind this?  It’s my special surprise purchase from today.

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There is so much to see and do here in Victoria .. here are some posters showing some of the activities, music, dance, drumming ….
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Ok .. this is where my special unexpected purchase took place.   As D and I walked down the street, past little shops, I noticed some clothing on a rack outside of a high-end hair dressing establishment.  Couldn’t see anything in particular .. and as I know that normally clothes that are displayed outside these types of shops tend to be expensive, I wasn’t expecting to be interested in anything.  However, something compelled me to move closer.  This shopping bag is quite interesting, thousands of cut pieces of fabric knotted onto soft burlap.  Nope, I wasn’t interested …

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But then I fell in love with this very funky dress .. it is from Italy!  The owners of the shop had taken a trip there and brought back some clothes to sell.  Not sure if this photo does the dress justice, but this dress is me!  It’s raggedy,  swirling, colourful and I love the uneven hem.     See the round circles on the front, showing the colourful fabric beneath . .these aren’t pockets, just design circles.  This is my new sunshine dress and I plan to wear it a lot this summer!  I’ve been looking for a nifty dress and so happy now I found it!  This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone for this walk with D!!!  I can’t imagine not having this lovely fun item of clothing!  See the pea flowers along the right of the dress … they match!

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And here is my sparkly hat (gold threads woven through that just shine in the sun!):   So now I am all set for the summer!

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Then it was time to check out a lovely new little grocery shop and they have a machine that will grind up grains …. well done.

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Back at home, there was just a little more garlic to harvest.  Time passes so quickly, it just seems like yesterday when I was planting the cloves in October.  Now we have gone full circle.

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The garlic is now outside, curing in the sunshine .. and I plan to try to braid the soft necked garlic.

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Well, it’s been a busy day.   D and I parted ways .. I went shopping for groceries and beer .. promised myself a wee glass of wine when I got home!

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And now I must go outside to see if the sage cuttings (from Dakota) are doing well and to put them in a bucket of water .. tomorrow I will taking cuttings of them, the Rex Rosemary and some Wormwood cuttings also.

Also, lately I’ve been buying more plants.  I know, I promised months ago that I wouldn’t and I have not yet kept that promise.  However, a few days ago, when D and I were returning from gardening at the Dakota Cafe .. the traffic was quite heavy on the highway.  So she suggested that it might be a good time to turn left and go visit the Art Knapp garden centre at Mattick’s Farm.

What the hey, I thought, so my car dutifully turned left and .. drum roll … once again I did not keep my plant promise.   Due to the heat .. there were a lot of plants for sale.  I should mention that we’ve been undergoing a heat wave and plants are just going crazy.

Anyway, there were a lot of deals and I bought all sorts of veggies, 3 different squash plants, a tomato, and many others.  Besides some interesting berries, a purple raspberry and I just can’t remember the others.  Oh, red onion sets, white onions, a dill .. countless others.  They have been soaking in EM and water since yesterday and tomorrow I can plant them in the areas now vacated by the garlic.

Speaking of which, I harvested the last of the garlic .. kind of a nostalgic moment .. and it was a very satisfying feeling to think back to last fall, culling the largest cloves for planting.  Then the process of preparing the beds, planting them.  Covering with the seaweed that D helped me collect last summer.   And then I watered with EM at various times.

Well .. it’s been a day .. just really wanted to share my fantastic dress, really, I just love it!

🙂


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Another day at the beach … gathering seaweed .. breathing in the fresh ocean air .. and there were seals out there!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lovely lazy Sunday … slightly overcast and then the sun broke out of the clouds, yea!!!

Friday my pal D and I ventured out to Sooke to gather some seaweed for gardening.  It was a most beautiful day.

First thing, though,  had to check on my shallots .. hadn’t grown them before and had purchased some Dutch shallots from Richters Herbs… here is one of them .. shedding the papery husk of the original bulb .. I thought this was worthy of the “magic” of gardening so thus the photo.   They are tenacious growers and I would like to plant more of them.  Maybe I’ll get into a shallot growing  frenzy as I have done with garlic!

Everything is always magical in the garden .. it just never gets old and always I am humbled at the miracle of a seed growing into a plant .. the inherent knowledge of the plant (non-GMO, of course) .. nature happening in it’s own way …

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Here are some Valerian plants .. growing so tall .. I need to plant them soon …

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Ok, so D and I arrive at one of the many beaches in Sooke .. what a magnificent day.  And both of us are experiencing issues near our homes, where vast building projects are ongoing and we really need some natural beauty to offset the construction issues.  This s a good start.

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What amazing skies ..
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The stones are placed so artistically along the shoreline … now this is real art .. the natural kind.

 

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It was a lovely outing, escaping to nature.   No cranes.  No trucks.  No hammering.  Just the soothing sounds of the waves off in the distance .. a warm breeze swirling around us as we gathered seaweed.  Now that was a lot of work and we quickly filled some bags which I loaded into my trusty little car.   Then it was time to relax and go for a walk along the shoreline.

Such clear water on the firmly packed sand .. like a mini-pool

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The tide was way out there …. 
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I could see tiny crabs and lightning fast little fishes darting in all directions below.

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And D noticed this large piece of heavy industrial  plastic .. it looked like a hatch cover.  Would have liked to have removed it from the beach but it was very heavy, so we had to leave it there.

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Such a relaxing sight to see the myriad of stones beneath the clear saltwater.

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D noticed the seals … out sunning themselves on the rocks … their barking noises echoed over the water and sounded quite close to us

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And I learned from D that this is sea-asparagus.  Served in fine restaurants, imagine that.  Most likely not cheap, either.

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This ancient log resembles a whale, don’t you think?

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More seals …enjoying their natural habitat ..

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It was a fun relaxing day trip and finally it was time to leave .  However, we did stop along the way and went for another walk in a small forested area along the highway … where the fronds of the ferns were now unfurled and the well-worn pathways were edged with fields of them.

Photos tomorrow ..  now it is time to work outside .. to enjoy the one day of the week when the construction noises cease and I can pretend that today is like the normal days of years ago .. when quiet was normal.  sigh.

🙂

 

 

 

 

 


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My garlic crop is growing very well, and so are my potatoes .. happy days


Thursday, May 30, 2013

My garlic crop is growing so very nicely, thanks to the chopped oak leaf mulch, the seaweed (that D & I gathered through the seasons!) and the EM (magic stuff, really).

The hardnecks are just gigantic and I’ve been harvesting the scapes .. some of which I’ve chopped up and put in the freezer for later stir-fries and some I’ve made into pesto .. oh, my goodness .. very garlic-y!   And really, the scapes have grown so early on this crop .. I’m sure that last year that they didn’t arrive till much later.

IMGP2016Stepping back . .here is a view of my garlic crop .. I’ve planted them in  rectangles this year, and should have made the paths between them wider than I did .. guess I got a little greedy in wanting to plant more garlic!

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A little Golden Crowned Sparrow was walking through the garlic forest ..

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I am so looking forward to harvesting this crop …

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Finding tiny objects from the seaweed .. so I decided to decorate the garlic leaves .. pretty, hey?

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The great, ah, scape .. ha ha

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A little Robin goes hunting in the garlic forest …

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I mixed up a batch of garlic scape pesto .. no recipe .. just roughly chopped up the scapes, tossed into the trusty Braun food processor, added lots of olive oil, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds .. finely grated Parmesan cheese … yummmmmmm… very delicious.  Using an ice-cream scoop, soon filled a parchment covered cookie sheet .. into the freezer for a while .. and then ..

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Filled up a ziplock bag and in the freezer .. ready to toss into soups, stews, spaghetti, sandwiches .. sheer heaven ..

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Young Anna’s … so very sweet ..

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Welcome visitors .. I just know these babies have hatched somewhere in our little forested yard ..

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My deluxe greenhouse .. an airplane windshield .. so very perfect …

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I’ve planted these coffee sacks with potatoes … interesting to see how many potatoes I will get.  There are also some volunteer potatoes that I missed digging out .. so happily I will have many potatoes this year.  I heard about growing potatoes in burlap bags, so this is my version of that idea.  I put the bags inside sturdy garbage bags, with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.  And as the plants grow, I’ll unroll the tops and add more soil.

IMGP2017As a matter of fact .. that is what I am going to do right now .. change into my gardening clothes and run .. well. … .first I”ll brew some more tea and then I’ll rush outside!!

🙂