Thursday, June 14, 2012

Notes for next year – or how to avoid panicking over gardening.

video

(This video has nothing to do with the post! It is the queen bee from one of my hives which we managed to catch on video.)

I saw the first potato plant poking it’s little head out of the soil last night – halleluiah! And the clouds opened up and it rained unicorns – it felt something like that. Because, truth be told, I’m not that great of a gardener. Oh, you wouldn’t know it looking at my place, but I muddle along, faking it the whole time. OH, I love getting dirty (who doesn’t) but I just don’t have that much experience, and gardening is definitely something you get better at with practice. This year I had great success starting my own seeds inside. It was a combination of the right amount of water, heated seed mats and luck. Mostly luck.

So much of gardening is about watching the seasons and working WITH them, not against. Knowing that our growing season here in the Chinook belt at the base of the foothills of the mighty Rocky Mountains is incredibly short (but the days are gloriously long) I bought all short season seed (60 days or less) and started seeding indoors in March. Yes, March. I am hiding under my desk now, as I am sure you are laughing. If you’ve done this before you would be.

There are 21 tomato plants in my sun room. This sounds like a confession. My husband calls it the jungle, my friends call it the grow-op. They were officially evicted over 2 weeks ago but it poured cold rain and threatened to frost. So they have sat, leaves tangled together, reaching for the sun, setting fruit, drying out, crowding around the windows in the sunniest room in our house.

And this brings me to the “what I have learned” part of this post. Here are my gardening dates for my region (west of Calgary, just north of Cochrane, Alberta):

Plant potatoes and peas as soon as it is possible to dig. They like the cold. – beginning to mid-May. (Also onions, I think.)


Plant seeds – carrots, kohlrabi, beets etc. when the dandelions bloom - end of May, beginning of June.


Plant beans, tomatoes and other tender things out when it looks like it will be more or less consistently 15 degrees C (60F) or better during the day. Mid June if you’re lucky. When the lilacs bloom (and thank goodness they bloom for a couple of weeks).

Do not start anything indoors until at least April. Middle of April, even. This is the hardest part. Remember the forest in the sun room, and the eviction notice but forget about the threats of composting them all; he wasn’t really (all that) serious.

Conventional wisdom in these parts (even my grama said this, and she lived on a farm a short drive north of me for over 50 years) is to plant your garden after the May long weekend (very end of May), but I think this sets you up for angst about getting the tomatoes out before it’s truly warm enough, and you miss the boat a bit with the spuds and peas. Plus, spreading the planting out over a couple of weekends is far more doable in terms of time anyway (especially considering May birthdays and spring snowstorms). Next year I know what to expect, and I’ve got a plan, so surely, some other thing will happen! But, Life’s a journey, right? This here’s the fun bit, the learning. One day we will laugh about the year the tomatoes took over the house, and surely they will have reached the ceiling by that telling.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Grandmother


My grandmother is Summer.


She is raspberries and Chicadees

And hardy ‘Explorer’ roses.

She is in the wind and the sun and the smell of dirt,

Sitting on the front porch.



My grandmother is rows of potatoes, and sweet peas,

She is pansies, blueberries, leather moccasins,

Oil paintings.

I see her when I put the camera up to my eye,

When I work with my hands.

When I sit and look out

Over the untamed woolly prairie grass.

My Grandmother is summer.


(Liz got me thinking about this.  Her grandmother is spring.  Thanks, Liz.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I walk on the grass next to the sidewalk.

(This is my house from a different vantage point.
Taken as I was chasing a dog accross a field.)

I walk on the grass next to the sidewalk.

I walk on the grass next to the sidewalk.
I long for the softness of the earth to cradle me.
To wrap around me,
Like a blanket of calm.

I walk on the grass and not the sidewalk.
It reminds me I am human;
I am alive and a puzzle piece of the universe.
I am whole again.

I walk on the grass and not the sidewalk.
It cushions my footsteps,
Reminds me of my humanness
In a way that the hard human-build
Cannot.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Doing.

(love this kind of graffiti.  Thank you, whoever you are in Sunnyside)

So, ya, sometimes blogging about life gets superseded by actually living life.


I have been:

::planning gardens, learning about permaculture

::photographing like mad. I have so much to learn, and a fire in my belly. Even when I don’t have a camera in my hand I’m constantly watching light.

::spending as much time as possible with my kids. Kids are little for such a small time, and I want to soak in every moment with them. I’m really smitten with these two.

::making soup. Seriously, the easiest winter meal possible that satisfies everybody(almost) and is super healthy. I don’t even have to think about cooking anymore.

::learning beekeeping. I know! Crazy, right?

::planning. Planning big things, and waiting for the right time. Does this part ever stop?


(found these canoes while wandering around on a break from beekeeping class)

I have NOT been:


::sewing. Hoping (planning) for more time in the future for the rhythm of the needle.

::posting photos anywhere really. Feeling like a pupa in a cocoon.

::participating online as much. To expand in the doing I am spending less time talking about doing. This will come again in time as I do really appreciate the community here.


This is the reality of right now. So much time spent at work and the rest with my kids, and other things snugged in here and there simply because they make my heart sing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011- The year that changed everything.


2011 will be known around here as the year that everything changed.  It all started with an email.  “A long email.  I’ve been thinking.” It was titled. 

But let me go farther back than that.  My husband and I had been looking for a new home for at least 4 or 5 years.  Yes, years.  Our little house was getting too small now that we had two kids, two dogs and a nanny squished in.  But it was extremely difficult to find something that we both liked.  He wanted space to spread out.  He’s a mechanic so ample outside parking and garage space is a minimum requirement.  He would joke that he was looking for an acereage in town.  In town because I refused to move to a real acereage – you know, the kind where you’re isolated and spend your weekends mowing your gigantic lawn and driving kids places.

And then one day I woke up.  I started thinking about what I wanted in an ideal life.  I had been so busy trying to figure out how to shoe horn my husband’s long term vision into our current life (it didn’t fit) that I’d forgotten to dream for myself.  And just for fun I let my imagination run wild and be as idealistic as possible (I am usually trying to rein in the idealism!).  And this plan started to form that fit exactly into an acereage.  In fact it blossomed into an even bigger plan – a homestead – with chickens and bees and gardens and children running and playing in the woods, and that’s what we’re working on these days.

And so the conversation began with the email titled “A long email.  I’ve been thinking.”, and my poor husband had no idea that my entire perspective had shifted.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Colours of Winter


I snatched a rare moment this morning to run around outside, camera in hand.  The colours this winter seem to be yellow and blue.


Fox footprints dance lightly on top of the snow crust where I saw them playing in the moonlight last night.  I was worrying about how I would get down the driveway in the morning, they were enjoying eachother's company and the night.


Winter season is so intense.  Bright snow and early dark skies, cold wind, cozy by the fire, time spent with loved ones, trying to fit it all in.  The intense yellow and opposite blue of snow and light seem to represent it all.


And yet, there is subtlety and gentleness in the between moments if we make the time to look.


Our new neighbours are a delight to get to know.


There is a new one in their midst and he's having trouble fitting in.   I remember being that kid.  I'm so glad it doesn't matter anymore.