Monday, 16 May 2011

It's All Coming Together

We've been working hard and it's paying off!  The place is looking tidier and more finished every day which is such a relief.   Still a long road ahead of us, but at least we don't feel like we're being chased anymore.  Whew....

The strawberry bed needed some attention and after a good weeding and clean out, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we didn't lose many plants over winter.  Late last fall, I piled the bed high with leaves and spent sweet pea vines to act as an insulator from the cold.   After I cleaned the bed out, I added some peat moss to the soil (which seemed a bit on the clay side) and worked it in gently.  I planted our 4 new plants to replace the ones that died and top dressed with compost.  Once the berries begin to form (and the plants get a little bigger) I'll put some straw down as a mulch.  It works really well to keep weeds down plus it gives a nice clean place for the berries to rest without rotting like they do when they sit on the bare soil.  It's horrible to pick a big luscious berry and discover that the back side is totally rotten from sitting on the ground!

I pruned back the raspberry canes, removing the old canes that fruited last year and pulled away the winter straw mulch to reveal the new suckers coming up all around the original canes.  I'm half way done weeding the area, but I'm guessing that the chickens will help me finish the job.  The "girls" moved into their new hen run (our orchard) today and their newly appointed positions of Bug Eliminators and Weed Controllers" were taken on most enthusiastically!  I know that we won't have many berries to pick at the lower levels of the canes due to them "eating on the job", but that's ok, we can share a little.   The chickens love anything red - berries, tomatoes, apples, etc.  If you keep chickens, do yours like red foods?

I planted our 3 hanging baskets and the 3 large pots out in front of the garage with some annuals.  I don't plan to plant many more flowers than that this year (other than some good companion flowers in the veggie garden) as my primary focus this year is upping our food production.  In the past, I have purchased pre-planted hanging baskets at Costco for a decent price of $15.00, but I wanted to plant my own this year hoping to save a little money and get the colors I wanted.  I saved the sturdy peat (?) baskets from last year and simply replanted them with fresh potting soil and annuals purchased inexpensively.  Next year, we hope to have our greenhouse up and functioning and I'll have much more space to start flowers as well as the veggies.  We just don't have room in the house for more seedlings!

We received a call late last week from friends asking if we wanted to come and pick up 15 bags of leaves from last fall that they never got around to taking to the city compost facility.  Of course we wanted them!  They also had a garbage can full of compostables ready for pick up (we keep a lidded garbage can at their place to collect compostables).   Kelly picked it all up with our trailer on Saturday and tilled everything into the garden right away as it was all halfway rotted.  When we add things to the garden that aren't fully composted, we usually need to add a bit of blood meal to the garden to replace the nitrogen that gets used up in the decomposition process.  It works wonders and is a time saving (lazy?!) solution that involves no chemicals.  We won't be adding anything more in the way of organic matter to the garden now that we are seeding so all compostables will now go into our system of rotating compost (garbage) cans.  More on that another day :)

Remember when we cut sod a week or so ago to expand the garden?  I used upside down sod last year as paths in my veggie garden and it worked really well so I plan to do the same this year.  The sod gradually composted down all winter and by spring, it had disappeared entirely.  The perfect frugal solution that suppresses weeds like nothing else!

After I put my sod paths down tomorrow, I'm going to lay out my network of soaker hoses.  Last year, I laid out the hoses over the entire garden and I did not ONCE need to turn them on!  We had the perfect amount of rain and combined with effective mulching, not a drop of water was applied to the garden all summer (after the germination period).  I think that if I neglect to lay the hoses this year, I'll regret it, as it gets HOT here in summer and it's generally very dry (humidity wise).  It's a challenge to wrestle with them and lay them down once the seeding is done and even harder still when there's new tender plants to work around.

We have had (literally) gale force winds here for 5 days straight making it impossible to seed the garden.  It's so windy, the dirt and grit from the neighbouring field was actually blowing into my eyes!   The 2 pictures you see above are an interesting contrast - it's hard to believe it's the same property :)

Top -  The current view from the back corner of our property  
Bottom - The same field in July of 2010 awash in the breathtaking colour of canola in full bloom.

Speaking of full bloom, tomorrow we have a forecasted break in the wind (I hope), so Planting Day has finally arrived!  Yippee :)


  1. You see, the choice of words in some of these blogs with UFASY is gonna kill you with the juries and with the flick..KANSAS KINGS.
    " Lofty" ?
    " Tidier"?
    It doesn't come together unless you are YOKO ONO running guns with
    And that's with the help of CONYANDO YAN and HILLARY CLINTON along with
    So, better double back and CTUTOM with your choice of words .
    We understand RYAN SEACREST is doing exactly that along with half of
    MMILAYST being with AMILEGST and all.
    And THE ROCCE being with ROCCAT.

  2. We want to know about DUMSESS .
    We want to know about DDOCU- CCONSUA.
    We want to know about WEBSE - LAREV- NETWER.
    And you had better get your alibis " together".
    GEITNER- GATES are doing double duty for leniency .
    But we all say PTY LTD.
    You ever hear of that ?
    DEPP says you have.
    And ONTARIO mob says it was all about " SS".
    PAREN- RENE COLATO - confirms.