Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bread and honey

A winter storm has blown in and brought us some much-needed snow. After shoveling a couple of time this morning and braving the roads to get groceries this afternoon, we decided to make some bread.

Friends of ours in Calgary have two hives in their backyard so we broke open some of their honey. It was delicious--lighter than the local commercial stuff.

In the meantime, the seedlings in the basement are really start to put on some height with kale (pictued below), beets and (I think) carrots emerging.

No sign of the celery or leeks yet, but I think they take awhile to germinate. Soon we'll plant some tomato seeds alongside.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pizza from the garden

We had time to do some cooking the other night. Jenn made bread dough. We added on some pesto (alas from a jar--I will make some next year!) and then some frozen asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Topped with some asiago and mozza.

It tasted as good as it looked! Makes all of the time spent putting veggies away in the summer worthwhile.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seedlings: Try 2!

With our first set of paper pots falling apart, we rolled up some new newspaper pots and added in already moist soil on Thursday. This seems to have solved the splitting that plagued our last batch of home made pots. (I can only imagine what kind of search engine traffic the first paragraph of this post is going to generate...).

We then planted seeds. Below you can see what I believe are kale seeds germinating. These are for the cold frame which I will glass up in a week or two. We also planted some carrots and beets to get some early season root vegetables.

Then Jess planted some celery and leek seeds. I've never grown leeks but I understand they are fairly straight forward (tips welcomed!). We've done celery before but only from bedding plants. I'll be keen to see if we can get a decent crop from seed.

I was a bit unsure how we would water these fellows (they are in the basement) but this turned out to be a good opportunity to cycle my stash of water from the furnace room.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Newspaper pots for seedlings

With the weather warming (+6 on Sunday!) and the seeding calendar suggesting now is the time to plant things like celery and leek seeds, we spent some time this weekend making seed pots from newspaper.

Lots of good arguments for doing so--cheap, biodegradable, no need to strip peat from swamps, a fun craft, etc. We made about 36 pots (enough to fill a plastic tray) and then filled them with left over potting soil (next year I will try to remember to stash some garden soil in the autumn).

We then filled the tray with water to let it wick up and Jess dropped some kale seeds in a few of the pots. The newspaper picked up the water way faster than the bone-dry soil.

Fast forward 12 hours or so and the soil has started to take up the water... and split the sides of the pots. Curiously, this was not mentioned in any of the "how-to" articles on line.

There are a couple of fixes. I could add layers to (future) pots to make them slightly stronger (although how much stronger you can make wet newsprint is unknown). I could start with moist soil (so less expansion, but at the cost of a huge pain in the butt).

Anyhow, we'll see how this works for the rest of the day. So far it is not the disaster of wet newsprint and mud that I expected when this first started last night. Stacking the pots together appears to be keeping things mostly contained.

Up next: Assuming the pots don't disintegrate, we'll be seeding and putting them under lights later this week and drop in the rest of the seeds.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Getting ready to seed

With the weather so lovely, I've been inspired to begin to get ready to start our own plants from seed this spring. We've always done a bit of this in the window sill of my office but this year we're going to do it under grow lights in the basement.

After some negotiation (my employer would be wise to hire my wife to collectively bargain for them...), we agreed that the spare bedroom would be the best place. The position is not perfect but to allowed me to sink some anchors into the framing of the bulkhead (I've no idea where the ceiling joists are in the stippled ceiling).

We then hauled out some old fixtures (one donated by my dad, one salvaged from the old house) and put them up. We needed a quick run to Rona to get some chain for one of them. I always enjoy a trip to Rona with my wife as it shows her how (comparatively) well dressed, groomed and socialized I am. For example, I don't own any "going out" sweatpants.

Next up we'll be making some pots out of newspaper, tape and cusswords and I'm hoping to start some tomato plants and kale (the latter for the cold frame) in about two weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A few months ahead...

Last weekend we took a short trip to see my new niece (who lives new San Jose). We happened upon a lovely bit of winter weather (+26 one day) so we had two lovely days near the ocean.

We also had a chance to be on the water in kayaks. The surf was a bit rough at Monterey the day were were there and Jenn and I managed to dump as we were riding the surf into the beach.

The gardening season (which never really quits there) is rather further along than here.

There were a number of flowers.

And everyone in my brother's neighbourhood appears to have a fruit tree (oranges and lemons being the most common) in the front yard. Time to stop complaining and get my poop in a pile to start growing some seedlings.