Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome spring!

Happy Spring Equinox! The days are appreciably longer. The nights a bit warmer. Crocus, forsythia and daffodils are in bloom.

Last week was the beginning of daylight saving time and we "sprang forward". A freak windstorm toppled our small green house prompting the setting out of lettuce starts.

This week scallots, red onions and spinach were planted. The lettuce is so promising. Soon we will have the first baby greens in our salads.

Our urban orchard of mini trees will begin this week when the Carmine Jewel dwarf cherry tree arrives.  As we are renters our orchard of mini-dwarf trees will be planted in large pots located toward the north part of the front yard. Soon the cherry will be joined by two mini-dwarf apple trees, a Beni-Shogun Fuji and Greensleeves. We choose them because of compatible bloom time, height and flavor. We also have four blueberry plants, a stand of raspberries and will have a new strawberry bed.

Another passion of ours is Slow Food. We eat seasonally - mostly from our garden and are great fans of our canning jars and two crock pots (different sizes) which are in use at least once a week and of sourdough bread. We began making all our baked goods with spelt flour and sourdough last September. The results have been good with pancakes, waffles, bread, crackers and chocolate cake. This week we began working with a slow process sourdough. Takes patience and a bit of planning allowing the bread to rise over a period of 36 hours or more. This first try we lasted the 36 hours resulting in a dense, tasty, very sour loaf with very good crumb. The next batch I will try to wait 48 hours but it is so tempting! Spread with cheese, sweet butter or our homemade peach jam the small slices are a treat.

Today, planting chives, nasturtiums and marigold seeds around the blueberries. These flowering herbs take care of bad bugs and invite pollinators into our garden/orchard. The same plants will go into the pots with the fruit trees.

Happy spring! The world is renewed and so are we.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What does organic gardening mean to you? A Vancouver perspective.

What does organic gardening mean to you? A Vancouver perspective.

Webster's Dictionary defines organic gardening as "a system of gardening that uses fertilizers and mulches consisting only of animal or vegetable matter". Wikipedia defines organic gardening as “Organic gardening is a form of gardening that uses substantial diversity in pest control to reduce the use of pesticides and tries to provide as much fertility with local sources of nutrients rather than purchased fertilizers”.

I agree with both but would have to add: the exclusion of any genetically modified organism and commercial pesticides and tending toward the use of heirloom plants and seeds.

I asked residents of Vancouver for their definition of “organic gardening” in 20 words or less and got an interesting variety of answers. “FOOD”, “ Manna”, “Sustainable, healthy, processed-chemical-free, local, fresh & delicious!”, “ good healthy food”, “Aside from the 20 words or less thing - more needs to be done to educate people about organic gardening - I've heard negative comments about it not being any healthier but, organic is not just good for us, it's good for the environment... “, “Work?”, “fresh wholesome food on demand (his garden is less than 10 ft from the door)”.

The idea of an “Organic Manifesto” has circulated for years. The first I read was written by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.d. In 2003.

The latest is by Maria Rodale, chairman and CEO of Rodale Inc. Maria is the granddaughter of J.I. Rodale.

Living in a fast paced world in which our food supply is vulnerable to disruption we, who are willing, should learn to grow, preserve, cook and share our food as close to home as possible. Using natural soil care, beneficial insects, companion planting, intensive gardening and seed saving is economical, good exercise and community building. Even one planter of herbs and tomatoes will enrich your life and prevent one or more gas guzzling trips to a store.

For the sake of your health and good eating now is the time to begin to “Grow” organic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring weather

We had a "mini" tornado leaping through our neighborhood yesterday.You could see where it touched down- pockets of destruction and where nothing happened. Unfortunately one of the touch downs happened in my garden. Our small green house, weighted down with about 70 lbs of pots, plants and a bag of steer manure was yanked around and dumped on its face. Lost the flat of lettuce seedlings but other plants appear to be salvageable. This has given us a heads up on placement of the bigger green house. It's going to be anchored to the back fence!

Two crockpots on the counter this morning. One with homegrown, home canned spaghetti sauce and one with homemade baked beans. It's going to smell really good in here by evening. Have to mix up some sour dough bread, write and article and get busy. Reflexology clients this morning and music (me) and photography students (Eric) this afternoon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our urban homestead.

Spent part of the week building a slide show of our 2010 garden, Fun, frustrating, productive. The garden and the video both.

I am writing for The You can read post, how to's, events, link to our videos at

Thank you!!!!