Tuesday, November 19, 2013


     The shed build has begun! I wonder why we didn't start this when the weather was better - we have spend a few days out there in the rain and fog so far - but it is coming along fine. I have made a few calculation errors so far, but (I hope) have learned from them.
     We have made progress from this picture, as we have the end wall (to the east) built and almost all sided. Then we will raise it and start on the south wall... the tall one, as this shed will have a shed roof. The idea is to add a greenhouse to the south side, taking advantage of the shelter the shed will provide to the north.
     We have to add some more supports under the long wall (it is 8 feet by 16 feet) before we add any more weight to the floor ;-) and then I have to think about where the floor of the greenhouse will be - I have been planning for it to be on ground level, and right now the space under the shed floor (necessary for ventilation) will deliver some chilly north wind right into the greenhouse! I am hoping some interlocking styrofoam sheets will take care of the problem - and I suppose they could be removed when it gets hot, to provide additional ventilation.
     This has of course been taking up all our free time - in fact, between that and work I barely have time to cook. Must try to get some bread baked today, as we have been buying bread!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


     I have harvested all my carrots from the garden now, and am trying the Pedersen method of keeping them...they are in a big pickle bucket, still dirty, and covered with dampish peat moss. The ones that didn't fit are washed and are going into another "Veseys" box - it is a plastic box this time, and I have yet to sew the liner so they're just in the garage for the moment. But all of this is so time-sensitive!
      It was almost 30 degrees in the polytunnel today, the sunshine makes a terrific difference. But it has frozen at night, there are a couple of plants there which have been 'touched' by frost. I may try to save them - they are actually house plants, so they might make a cheery addition indoors - if I can find them a spot somewhere. 
     This is the cold-frame, about half-full of perennials, trees and such to overwinter, we hope successfully. I am going to do more insulating around the sides and front. It still doesn't have hinges, but that it a small detail. Last year I just had a window and bags of wood pellets!
     This weekend we hope to get started on building our shed - we cut down a big double spruce on the site last weekend and it is amazing how much space there is now! Fred thinks we could make it BIGGER than 8 x 16. I'm not sure. Anyway it would be great to have a spot for all the summer furniture and stuff, and then I could concentrate on the food storage in the garage.
     Oh! and of course it's the Guy Fawkes party on Saturday. Remember, remember!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thyme for Bulbs

      We have been collecting bulbs for the past weeks and I had nearly all of them in the ground... and then Veseys had their half-price sale, and now I have more! A great big bag of different ones I have to site somewhere. I bought a couple of huge plastic pots when Kent was moving to their new store (and selling off the stuff they didn't want to move) and I think I could put a lot of little ones in there - I am thinking the Hollandica Iris (I have 50!) on the bottom and the crocus on the top (Blue Pearl and Jeanne d'Arc). But the fritillaria Persica and Fox's Grape will have to go into the ground. (I seem to have a habit of planting bulbs on or near Hallowe'en!) But first I need some styrofoam peanuts for the bottom of the pots or I won't be able to move them around. They are that big.
     The ones which are already planted are Alliums - 4 Gladiator and 15 Aflatuenense, and pink assorted narcissus (I always fall for these) as well as fritillaria Meleagris. And a whole lot of tulips, pink and white doubles and some purple ones from Vanco. Spring will be glorious.
          I found a great mitten pattern on Ravelry in the free patterns. It is in DK with a lace pattern on the back of the hand, and I have made one pair and have another under way. They are very quick and quite cute, I think! And could be a great use for all the DK I have gathered and have in storage.
      I have been home, of course, and making time for domestic tasks as well as planting. Processed a pumpkin yesterday and made puree for the freezer ( and a pie) and I am thinking I will do the other pumpkin as well, today (instead of wasting it as a jack o'lantern). I may boil this one rather than roasting it. Roasting may be more flavorful but it takes more cooking time.
       Yesterday I finished off planting a big patch of thyme - we killed the grass with carpet and I have spot-planted thyme plants in the space.

I am mulching with newspaper and sawdust to keep the grass from coming back until the thyme has gotten a head start. I know we will probably still have to mow to keep the grass at bay, but I think having big patches of thyme will be a vast improvement over just grass alone. I gathered some of the plants at the beach, (wooly thyme) and some of them had white blooms, as well as the more common purple. My fingers are thoroughly crossed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harvest and storage time

I am already missing my wonderful tomatoes. I had plans to bring in a couple of plants and try to keep them producing for a bit longer, but - alas! - they were stricken with blight at the last and so came to quite an abrupt end. There are quite a few tomatoes in the freezer - the plants were quite productive when they were healthy - but it's not the same as going out and picking a few - or a lot - whenever you wanted to. I must try again with the blight-resistant varieties, and perhaps getting some growing in the greenhouse, next year.
I have closed in the ends of the greenhouse, and am moving annuals (that I think are worth saving) into pots and stashing them in there. And yesterday Anne and I constructed a cold frame, a veritable Rolls Royce of cold frames, with a cover made from poly-carbonate Tuftex. I have to stain it with Water Seal today, and then site it where the sun does shine, and fill it up. It's 5 feet by 3 (150 cm x 90 cm) and looks like it will house quite a bit.
I also made a vegetable storage bin - from jute and an old deep-freeze wire basket. It's full of carrots and damp sawdust, and is in the 'root cellar' - ie., the insulated garage.
Wire basket with jute bag, sewn to fit, inside. I got the jute as a remnant for $1. 
Carrots from a market, washed - and huge.

I used wood pellets for the sawdust - they were free as well.  I think I should look for more wire baskets!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old Home Week

        This event is the big provincial exhibition, with animal judging, handcrafts, etc. We went to have a look on Wednesday, and were impressed with the rugs and quilts in particular. There are a couple of evenweave embroiderers who are making impressive things as well. The standards are quite high in those categories - but the older crafts are plugging along as they always have, and the same people are producing the same things... not *quite* crocheted acrylic ponchos but very, very close.
         One of my work-mates entered an apron - very elaborate, with black-and-white coordinated cottons, and jumbo ric-rac. She had made a prototype and wasn't happy with it so refined the pattern and made another. She won 3rd prize! ($2). The first-prize ($7!) winner was a typical "granny" apron with ruffles up the sides and along the straps, made of poly-cotton broadcloth, and fitting, at a guess, a 12-year-old. I am sure the same apron pattern wins every year. Most of the sewing and knitting was along the same lines. I am sure the same judges are looking for the same things, and so no progress is made. It's tempting to enter something! Maybe an elaborate lace shawl in silk - I must finish my "Print 'o the Wave" one!
           The animals were cute - ducks and chickens and sheep - many of the cattle were being shown while we were there, and frankly, watching that takes more expertise than I have. It was HOT for the animals on display, however. I am sure they will be happy to get home again. A highlight was going on a free horse-and-wagon ride around the racetrack - that's a view I've never seen before.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

It's not the heat, it's the humidity

       July has been hot! As a result the garden is burgeoning, especially the vegetable one. If I don't have tomatoes within a week I shall be very surprised.
    Unfortunately I have been *working* far too much - full-time this week! - and am so exhausted that I have no energy to work in the garden when I finally do get home. Anne and I went to the Honey Tree nursery and I bought a gingko tree and a Chinese wisteria, and then at the sell-off sale at the Sobeys garden centre (75% off!) I got another Chinese wisteria. Now I need a pergola. I also got some more thyme - I am determined to replace more of the grass with thyme. We saw some gorgeous thyme lawns in a recent visit to North Cape. I am spotting wooly thyme everywhere I go, hoping to dig up and transplant from the roadsides, etc. Now to gather some energy and plant them - except the wisteria and the gingko - I want to baby them on a bit (and plan for a pergola).
     I picked the first raspberries last night, just at dusk, so I may have missed some ripe ones.  There's enough to enliven the breakfast fodder, at least.
     Above is my clematis 'Niobe' - I also bought an 'Elsa Spath' but it didn't bloom yet. I got these at WalMart in the early spring and babied them along in the greenhouse for quite a while. In other clematis news, the mystery one in the flower bed by the lilacs turns out to be another 'Nelly Moser', like the ones I have in the bed by the door. I suppose this means that they are extremely hardy. The two new ones are in the lilac bed, one on either side of the opening between the lawn and the veg. There should be a pergola there too, but I don't think clematis can compete with wisteria.
      And speaking of lilacs, I have cut down the older part of the lilac hedge to half its size. It was getting too big to cut off the spent blooms, and shading the flower bed quite a lot. It looks terrible at the moment, but I am sure it will fill out again, and quite quickly.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm making jam, strawberry jam...

       As it says in the song. Just 4 or 5 batches today -
it started to rain while I was in the berry field so I quit, like a wuss. Plan to make strawberry cake as well, for dessert. Gotta get going on that!
         My western garden is doing splendidly this year, it has come along a lot since its initiation, last spring! The F.J. Grootendoorst rose has come along a treat since last June, and the mountain laurel from my birthday before that has grown quite a lot and is looking good too. The variegated wiegelia bloomed as soon as it was planted, not in season, but it has put on a lot of growth since and is looking quite well. There are hydrangeas there, too - and some of them will bloom this summer for the first time.
        The little white rose is Morden "Snowmound" - moved from the rose mound this spring  - and not far away is one of the two "Daydream" roses - I managed to split the one rose plant up, planted one here (just to the left of the "Snowmound") and potted up the other for a bit of babying in the greenhouse for a while before planting it in the bed in front of the door. They are both blooming.
      China Doll has been doing well since her move last year, and this year is blooming very prolifically in the bed by the driveway. She does this lovely thing of coming out a really clear pink, and then developing pink freckles as the blooms age. They stay on the plant for a really long time as well.
    And best news of all, the "Ring-around-the-Rosey" bed is doing just what I hoped it would do, when I put it in. Well, perhaps I hadn't expected that the Rosa multiflora would do quite so well, but she's a great big mound of blooms with the other rugosas and hardy roses peeking out around her skirts.

She's a once-bloomer, so when she's done I'll prune her back a bit to give the others some grow room.
    I love rose season! And my very favourite rose, Celestial, is out right now, too.  Must go have a look - and take some photos.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Flaming June!

                 Well, it's been flaming for the past few days at least. We have been travelling, and gardening furiously since our return, so there hasn't been much blogging time. Thanks to wonderful neighbours the plants in the greenhouse were still alive when we returned (June is a BAD time to travel if you are a gardener). There are actual strawberries on the plants inside, ones that should ripen in the next day or so. Don't they look a lot more lush than when they came out of the vegetable plot? The outdoor ones are just a bit behind.
             We dug a new bed for the tomatoes this year, to see if the blight problem will lessen. I was pulling off diseased leaves as I was planting some of the bought ones (Hybrid Sweet 100, my favourite cherry tomato) so I am not - as they say - sanguine. But I buried them all d-e-e-ply, so I hope they grow great stem roots and do better than I expect them to do.
            What's new in floral? Great bloom on the two surviving tree peonies, especially the dark red one, which has 8-10 blooms. The pink one has definitely died, but the rootstock is sprouting again, and I have decided to leave it, as any peony is better than none. The big blue-edged iris is blooming well -
many more blooms came out subsequent to this photo, and they have hidden "back up" blooms when the first ones fade. Spectacular! I notice that the dark burgundy iris I got 2 years ago at the Flower Patch is still not blooming - it has great big leaves but nary a sign of a flower bud - yet. I suppose it is quite a late one. The white Siberica ones are blooming away, though - from the same source. I must find time for a photo shoot tomorrow.  Things are getting ahead of me.

The first rose this year was Fra Dagmar Hartroop (or whichever spelling you fancy). I had noticed many of them in Toronto at the first of the month, blooming away. She seems much happier in her new sunny position in the herbaceous border, though I have to keep an eye on the tanacetum and dicentra around her, as they may try to crowd her out and steal her sun. She is an early one, but repeat blooms very prolifically. There are many more out by now - the David Thompson and of course the rugosas on the mound - where they can get some sun! The "wild" rose is covered with buds - can't wait!
The only other really new thing is this yellow deciduous rhododendron - blooming this year for the first time. I nearly collapsed last fall when the leaves all dropped - I didn't know then that there are deciduous rhodos! My sister gave it to me, and I was sure I had killed it. Phew!
        This is the bloom with our Princess kitty. (This is the last photo I have of her, as she has disappeared, just like Boy kitty did a few years ago. They were both outdoor cats, and we live on a busy road. And there are foxes and even coyotes. I fear she is gone for good.)
The rhododendron I bought last year - a more common mauvish one - didn't bloom but it is putting on good growth, so it seems happy where it is. The mature ones you see around the countryside, blooming their socks off at the moment, are certainly an inspiration.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May is - Popping!

First asparagus!
     Things are growing fast with the warm weather we've had in May. Every morning I go out and find things - that weren't there yesterday - up 20 cm. or so. The classic example of this is the Solomon's seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) which was invisible on Thursday and up fully 25 centimetres on Saturday. It's related to asparagus, and that's been doing very well also - we've eaten it twice so far. This is its third year, so apparently we can go crazy for 6 weeks, and then let the fronds open and grow.  I am planning to try shaved asparagus pizza this week. It comes highly recommended by Emily.
    Vegetable gardening is coming on slowly - I got all of the dandelions dug out of the raised beds and sent off to the government compost facility (ha! take that, dandelions) and put out the onion sets I had started in pots - I had just sprouted the red ones and a few of the whites, so now that the pots are empty I'll start the rest of the whites. It gives them such a great jumpstart. But that is all I have planted so far. My potatoes are chitting, though.
Sarian in pots in the greenhouse
    I bought 25 Kent strawberries at Veseys and plan to rip out the everbearing ones I got there and planted outdoors two years ago - they *do* produce fruit all summer, but only one or two at a time - and I want more productivity.  I still have the Sarian everbearing ones I got at Thompson and Morgan in big pots. Having hoiked them out of the raised bed where they spent the winter, they are now set up on the old deck steps at the back of the greenhouse and are starting to grow, and even bloom. I would like to to try the Beechgrove method of having indoor (June-bearing) strawberries, then an outdoor crop, and then indoors again, to stretch the strawberry season to the whole summer. But first I will have to see how Kent do in my fruit bed. And maybe collect some seedlings from them.
    Speaking of fruit, the hardy cherry bushes, babied along in the greenhouse last summer and planted out last September, are leafing out. And Veseys came through! and we have two Honeycrisp whips, being babied in the greenhouse in their turn. I have to get the posts set up so I can espalier mine. The other one is Anne's. And then, b*gger if there weren't Honeycrisps on sale at somebody's greenhouse opening - Kent I think. They were bigger than ours, and less expensive too. Ah well. We do have other apples for pollination on the property, but I want to get a couple more trees for the espalier - different varieties, but good new ones.  Anne had gotten three "Anne" raspberries from her friend Lise, sent from Veseys, and I potted them up for her to decide where to put them, when she gets back home. We are planning to stay over at hers and do some cleaning up tomorrow, so I must get myself organized. Much to do!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chilly April

Crocus, up and blooming under the viburnum!
       I'm having a domestic engineering day, because it's only 5 degrees out and I don't want to have to bundle up in winter gear to get out and garden. And anyway the house needs work. I am planning an all-out assault on our bedroom - Spring cleaning, if you like. The duvet cover is in the laundry and I think the curtains are coming down for a wash. I may even replace them for the summer, I don't know. A freshen-up is in order (and there's a wide variety of curtain fabric on clearance at the shop).
       Spring is progressing, as is gardening - I have re-skinned the greenhouse, and, innovation for the year, I have a thermometer out there, which, yesterday when the sun was out, was reading 40 degrees C. I opened up the ends to cool things down, although the only plants out there at the moment are onion sets, sprouting. I must also get some potatoes chitting right away.
        I finished feeding and mulching half of the raspberries yesterday. I am using for mulch some bags of wood pellets which had spent the winter outdoors and absorbed a lot of water, returning to their original sawdust form. I hope the fertilizer I put underneath will prevent it from leaching all the nitrogen from the berries as it decomposes. I am planning to give them a high nitrogen feed once the leaves start to emerge. I put lots of newspapers under the sawdust, as I am trying to control the cooch grass which is everywhere underneath the raspberry canes. I am trying to just dig it out of the vegetable garden, but it's impossible to get out of the raspberries, short of digging out all the canes. That's Plan B, if the mulch doesn't work! I have also carpeted between the rows, so the cooch should be well-suppressed.
     My "Pot for Winter Colour" is making good progress. There were some lovely dark purple crocus which lasted for weeks, and now the tete-a-tete daffodils are taking over. I haven't moved it indoors for the night in quite some time, even though we had a night-time temperature of  -7 a few nights ago. The flowers seem to have survived, and I hope the pot has too, as it's an unfired one. There are actual tulips coming as the next layer. At Beechgrove, they kept the bulbs in one of their layered pots, dried them off in situ, and got them going again in the fall - just to see what would survive, and it did quite well. I am not sure if I can spare the pot or the space - oh, I suppose it could summer in the greenhouse! Maybe I'll try it.
      My hellebore is blooming, at last! I planted it last spring, and it just sat there with the same 4 leaves all summer. I guess it was building up its strength, because this year it has produced two healthy flower stalks. I am as pleased as Punch.
        Here it is, looking at itself in the mirror so I can see the bloom, as it is a nodding one. There are many more blooms to come, I am pleased to note!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April!

Although the weather is anything but happy. We are burning the last of the wood in the furnace and wearing sweaters indoors, but just can't seem to get warm. It's 3 degrees outside (or was, when we walked earlier) but there is a nasty SE wind and it goes right through you!

So, not much spring to report, although there were buds breaking on the beech trees and I saw pussy willows and catkins on the birches. Perhaps we are just beside a stretch of really nice weather. I hope so! I am finding this pot quite cheerful now that the crocus are out, though I am not sure that the daffs and tulips will actually bloom. TWT.

Yesterday I finished all of the Master Gardener course I had time for - I didn't do the assignments on fertilizing and propagating because I didn't plan ahead. I will be pleased if I can get enough marks to pass.

Another thing I'm awaiting is the start of Beechgrove Garden - should be this week! I think they start April 5th, but it may not be posted right away. I am watching Gardeners' World but it's not the same - the English climate is so much better/earlier than ours. The flower beds are still buried in snow here! There, they are planting, dividing perennials...sick-making. Oh well.

I have been finishing up knitting projects and digging out old hibernating ones. Blaithin is finished except for the i-cord bind off and the buttonhole row. I am a bit bothered about how thick the steek sandwich turned out, although there's no doubt that it makes a nice neat finish.
 This is the side where I'll make buttonholes, later, when I figure out button placement.

I was worried that the green wouldn't show up very well against the grape but it seems to be visible in the photos at least.

I think I might have to do a few more decrease rounds at the neck- it is quite loose - but otherwise the sweater fits well.
This is the button side, with that nice neat steek sandwich. I will not use such a high-contrast yarn for the crochet the next time - I used a bright orange, and sometimes it peeks out!

I also did some home sewing - a quilted runner, table square and 6 placemats, in shades of brown, oranges and golds to go with the kitchen. They're pretty garish, but I like them!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Almost St. Pat's!

      And I hear that there's a storm brewing for later in the week. It's March Break for the schools this week, and historically we usually managed to get one final big one sometime in the week. Ah well. I am only working two days this week, and not tutoring (because of March Break) so I can happily stay home and hibernate if necessary.
       I planted some more seeds today - three kinds of tomatoes (Hybrid Sweet Million, Melody mix and a blight-resistant one called Defiant), as well as cauliflower, cucumbers, larkspur and lavatera, pink and white. I did some of the tomatoes and cauliflower for indoors too, for comparison purposes. And I potted on the Osteospermum, just into tiny pots so the next move I can put them into proper-size pots with real soil, not just seed-starter mix. I put in some pelargonium slips as well. Feels like spring!
    We are booked to go to the Pub at noon tomorrow to celebrate St. Pat's with some of our dancing friends. We'll see how long we can hold on. We had our own St. Pat's dance last weekend at the BIS and it was great fun - though we only got six dances done in 3 hours. Amazing. We had developed a list of 12 and didn't even come close!
      We learned a cool new rumba move last night at Ballroom which we hope to perfect before next Saturday, when we are going to see a group called "The Count and the Cuban Cocktail". We are hoping there will be dance room.
    I have finished the pattern yoke on Blaithin and am about to do short rows, and then it's finishing - including the famous steek sandwich. The colours look nice, although the green doesn't show up too well. The camera has disappeared, or I would take photos!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Freckle Wind

March continues mild and breezy, and I remembered this morning that my red-headed cousin used to refer to this phenomenon as "the Freckle Wind" because it brought out the freckles on us red-heads (as I was then!). I suppose that we spent more time outdoors then, too - investigating crystal structures in the rotting snowbanks, and breaking the skins of ice on the puddles on the way to school.

     Now I roost indoors, just going out to fill the bird feeders or check the mailbox, unless it's a work day. I am pleased to report that the Osteospermum "Fire and Ice" has germinated! And will need potting on in a few weeks. Nothing else is showing in the indoors pots, and certainly nothing in the mini-greenhouses outside - though that is to be expected, as they are mostly still frozen. It's perfect weather for maple-sugaring, if only we had a few sugar maples that were big enough!

    I've been knitting a bit, working on my Blaithin, which I'm making out of Briggs and Little wool. I have just started the Fair Isle yoke, and right now am doing three colours in the round - I wanted to make the background blend into the pattern so am carrying it (it's the grape colour of B and L Heritage) up into the yoke, which will be light mauve (Fundy Fog, maybe) with the flowers in white and grape. The sleeves worked up surprisingly fast, given that it took almost 8 months to get the body plain part done. I may be wearing it this spring!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Windy and wettish - welcome March

         Today I did more of the same - planted up some more milk jug mini-greenhouses - this time I put in alyssum, larkspur, Jacob's ladder, lots of candytuft, salvia blue angel, rudbeckia cherry brandy, purple tansy, bachelor's buttons, cosmos, and another kind of actaea.  I got the jugs from my father-in-law - cleaned him out.
A bigger group of mini greenhouses

     For keeping indoors I did another pot of cat grass, onions (bunching and Norstar) and leeks. It may be too early for the onions. The only thing that's come up from Feb. 22 is the cat grass. Ah well, Girly is happy.

      I managed to keep some Dichondra silver falls alive over the winter, so I put a few cuttings into a pot and bagged it, to see if I can manage to propagate them. There aren't many side shoots, as the light levels have been so low, so I only got 4 shoots to my pot.

Dichondra silver falls in a bag on the filing cabinet
      I am beginning to worry that I will soon run out of room for the indoor plants, especially if they will need potting on. And another thing is that the stores only have potting mix on sale at the moment, so when they need something with more nutrients I won't be able to get it.  I will have to re-skin the greenhouse/polytunnel this year, but I do think that March is a bit early for that.

            I saw my "pot for winter colour" in the garage/root cellar today, and decided that I could put it outdoors safely - the next couple of days will be above freezing, even at night. It was looking a bit dry and peaky, to be honest,  but the crocus shoots are up and I see a couple of daffodils poking through. Not exactly *winter* colour, but welcome all the same. There are even four pansies still alive.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Winter Sowing

         As previously mentioned, I have just learned about winter sowing and am giving it a try. Today I started some perennials and fruit in milk jug mini-greenhouses, and put them out on the deck. I am going to wait a month or so before starting tomatoes in this way (as advised by Kevin Lee Jacobs) as they can't take the cold and don't need the stratification that the perennials require.
        I ran out of milk jugs so I had to stop. Also, I need more potting soil/seed starter mix. And maybe more perennial seeds. If this works, I can't wait to do more of it. It's so therapeutic to be able to do something garden - related so early in the year. Now we must drink more milk and choose more seeds! 
        I've been listening to Scotland's Garden podcasts while working (on my great new dock machine Anne gave me!) so feel I'm going right through the garden year as I work. And learning as well.
Today I planted delphinium, actaea, shasta daisy ("crazy daisy"), lupins, alpine strawberry ("Temptation"), candytuft, cranesbill, and others I can't remember. But I must write them down, in case the marker washes off outdoors.
      I also started basil and cat grass in pots for the house, and a tray of osteospermum (seeds bought at Veseys this week!).  I am so tempted to try starting some plants both indoors and out, to see which does better. Perhaps I'll do that with the tomatoes later.
     Winter has continued to be a "real, old-fashioned" one, so we have had massive storms every weekend for the whole month of February. This week the 18th was "Islander Day", and it stormed all day - I cooked and sewed and photographed birds at the feeders - altogether an ideal day!

     We have had a lot of American Tree Sparrows at the feeders all winter - they are so cute with their little reddish top-knots. We bought a thistle-seed feeder and the goldfinches *do* use it, but not very often while I'm watching. But the thistle seeds are decreasing in the tube, and there are the tell-tale husks on the ground, so they are enjoying it - just not when I'm around with my camera.  However, I did get this one shot!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trying to hurry Spring along

I have been out buying seeds, and pots, and today we stopped at Phillips Feeds and bought some chicken grit to put on the top of the pots to keep the seedlings from damping off and to improve drainage. Carol always does it so I'm giving it a try!
I am also going to try starting seeds in mini greenhouses made of milk cartons with drainage holes drilled in them, like Garden Designs here: http://www.gardendesign.com//seed-sowing-snow?pnid=122085. It is a *bit* late but I'm going to give it a go. The author's in zone 5 as well, so I have high hopes of success.
Veseys had some nice UK-made seed starter trays so I bought some of those, now I'm all set. As soon as I have a day at home I'll get started.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Cold Weather Continues...

       We have been in the deep, deep freeze for over a week. The temperature hasn't been *so* bad (-12 day, -15 night), but the wind has been from the North-west and has been bitter. As a result the wind chills have been in the -25 to -30 range. Brrr. It is hard to be enthusiastic about - anything! We haven't had a proper frozen January for a number of years, so we are spoilt.

Kitty likes birdwatching too!

        However, I'm making progress on making a few new things to wear - most recently a red top to wear to work, but I have a lot of other things to work on. I have a pattern and the fabric for a knit jacket and skirt in a golden brown cotton, and a print knit material for the top and another skirt, and a slinky sort of snakeskin which I really should make into a dress, rather than another top for the suit. I think, at least. I like the McCall's 5974  (although *why* the designers all seem to feel that everyone needs a few yards of fabric wrapped around their middles to make them look good is beyond me). Anyhow, I do have fabric for that, and will make the round-neck one with long sleeves, and then see how it fits, before I try the snakeskin. Time will tell. And all I need is time to get to it!
         The Vesey's bulb catalogue arrived the other day, and it was as welcome as flowers in spring! It's so nice to have something colourful to see this time of year.  Spring will come, I know it. It is almost time to think about starting seeds, at least the really early ones like peppers.
     The garage is serving well as a really large walk-in refrigerator, though on the coldest days and nights we have had to leave the door open to keep the temperature out there above freezing. As a  result our woodpile has been shrinking visibly! We are half-way through the wood earmarked for February, and it's still January!
    We have been keeping busy with dancing, having started with the ballroom again, as well as Irish. Ballroom is fun, though expensive! I've been getting great shifts at work, usually 2 -1/2 days, mostly during the week. Knock hard on wood.