garden, life

July Garden Tour – on two feet ! 💃💃💃

I can walk! After doing the June tour on crutches, I finally got an X-ray and found out that what I thought was a sprained ankle was actually a spiral fracture of my fibula. So, I’m madly rehabbing my ankle constantly and being very careful but I’m thrilled to be mobile again. I have even more appreciation and compassion for people with permanent mobility difficulties. I tried not to whine, really.

Can you say ‘atrophy’?

Vegetables and irrigation

Needless to say, the garden isn’t quite where I envisioned it would be pre-wipeout. Although I give my husband, who is more of a landscaper than a gardener, full credit for managing single-handedly as well as he did. Hand watering the vegetable containers alone could take an hour or more to do properly, so in the last few days I finally built a drip irrigation system. Hallelujah!

It’s not pretty (yet, but the tweaking is half the fun) but it only takes four minutes per zone to get everything watered through. It’s mind-boggling to me, I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it but the plants are showing the difference just from two days watering, and plants don’t lie. Why did I wait so long???

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, carrots, leeks, lettuce, dill, etc.
Peppers!
Cucumbers and tomatoes. I was amazed at how quickly these tomatoes ripened after I removed the leaves beneath them, and others, in order to direct all the ‘power’ to the fruit.
Onions were not bad, but I think I can do better next year. Leeks still to come though!

The Garlic Experiment

I grew garlic for the first time last year, not altogether successfully. I didn’t know that the ‘flowers’ that garlic throws up are called ‘scapes’, and beyond being my new favourite raw vegetable to snip over my salad, now I know that you need to clip them so the growing power goes into the bulb, not the flower. One of those duh-in-retrospect moments.

This year has been much more successful, due mostly to better planting, fertilizing and watering – and snipping the scapes. There is just no comparison with grocery store garlic when you slice into it. So satisfying!

But check this out, last fall I planted some of my garlic in the ground (left) and the rest of it in half gallon containers (right). I transplanted the container garlic into the ground in the early spring, and the difference was unreal. It was all absolutely huge, whereas the in-ground garlic developed into several smaller heads. I’ll also wait longer to harvest it next year because I just pulled out this monster (bottom right) the other day! I intend to use the bigger heads as my seed garlic in the fall.

And now for the flowers…

The sunflowers are lovely but I’m rethinking my decision to try to use them as trellises. While kind of amusing to go bushwhacking hunting for peas, beans and cucumbers, it’s not especially efficient – or user-friendly. So the vegetables will stay in the containers close to the house in future, and the back garden will be for perennials, annuals and herbs.

Sunflowers everywhere!
Dahlias on Ilam Road, named for our house in NZ where we first fell in love with them.
Gladiolus, here there and everywhere. They always make me think of my oldest BFF, who has given them to me on many special occasions.
Echinacea
Lilies
I would have enjoyed eating this artichoke, but the flower isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Wild kingdom – not ‘the spider on the fly’ but the ‘fruit fly on the crazy translucent spider on the honey bee on the cosmos’.
I grew these cosmos from seed. Check out the mutant on the left – it’s taller than me! Easy for a person, tougher for a flower!
The calla lilies have finally found a home.
This is an orange calla lily that hasn’t flowered yet but I love the sunshine and the petunias surrounding it.
View from the shady spot.

Alright, we’re off to our favourite spot on the west coast for my 50th 😱 birthday holiday. Be kind, stay calm and stay safe.

❤️ Amanda

garden, life

June Garden Tour – on crutches 🙄

We all have them. Those moments in life, often a split-second, we wish we could go back and do differently. But we can’t, so we have to chalk it up to Lessons Learned.

So yeah, I’ve sprained, possibly broken, my ankle.

Lesson Learned: Pirouettes and garden clogs are a terrible combination. No matter how chuffed I was that our daughter asked for choreography help for one of her videos, it was just plain dumb. And I will never forget the sound. 🤢

Anyway, the garden has been neglected for several days and I’m not loving the crutches so we’ll see how this goes…

The deck – My poor potatoes have been flattened by the almost constant wind.

Peas, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes

Peppers are coming along nicely.

Holy tomatoes! Some peppers and cucumbers too.

The tomato on the right is the one that broke right off when I transplanted it. So it’s much shorter but still growing!
Carrots, onions, beets and a tomato branch that I poked into the middle that’s now a new plant. Tomatoes are amazing!

The raised beds- The kohlrabi will be ready soon, and more peas!

View from the bottom ‘entrance’ – Check out the spaghetti squash, it’s enormous! These sunflowers (left) aren’t growing fast enough to be trellises for the beans, even though I started them early from seed and transplanted them. Uh oh, could get messy.

The everlasting sweet pea on the driftwood tree needs tying again too. This is the first time it’s been able to flower because the deer kept eating it last year. Yay!

View from the bottom sitting area.

Potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, kale and camomile.

These sunflowers are doing better, they’re the same height as those first ones but I direct sowed them much later. I think sunflowers prefer not being disturbed. The alstroemeria finally gets to flower too, another deer favourite when they get in. So far so good!

Cucumbers, peas, kale, dill, beans and quinoa.

This bean has the right idea! I’m hoping the sunflowers will be big and strong enough to support the cucumbers growing in front too, but I’m thinking that’s probably too much to ask. We’ll see…

Check out this onion! 😁

Middle garden.

The zucchini and cucumbers are doing pretty well but I’m a bit surprised that the cucumbers are flowering already even though they haven’t grown very tall. 🤷‍♀️ The carrots and leeks will still be a while.

The oldest part of the garden – I plan to make lavender oil with some of this lavender. My first batch didn’t work too well, it smells like pesto for some weird reason. I think I needed more flowers. It’s all a big experiment.

These steps are also the most established part of the garden. The daphne (right) is in full bloom for the second time this season and smells heavenly. I love the tiny light pink flowers.

The other side of the oldest part, and the lily and hollyhock bed.

Calla lilies coming up and bachelor buttons from seed are starting to flower.

View from the other entrance.

The apple tree bed, with the oh-so-attractive, temporary deer fencing. At least it seems to be doing the trick. And the buggers are around, our daughter had to step over a tiny fawn sleeping on our doorstep one night, and got charged by mama another night!

More potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, kohlrabi and beets. And some self-seeding lettuce that I hope will naturalize in the garden.

Top garden – I’ve waited too long to harvest this artichoke now. Boo. Lemon tree is doing well even though we’ll have an ongoing battle with the crabgrass up here for the foreseeable future.

Blueberries! We’ve had these bushes for almost ten years but they’ve been moved around so much they’ve never really produced. This is the most we’ve ever seen. I’m so glad I got them protected with bird netting before The Incident.

There are more blueberries hiding all over this bush. Yum!

View from top deck.

Buddleais (butterfly bush, right top) are starting to bloom.
The hummingbirds love them!
Cosmos from seed in the planter. Hopefully some flowers soon!
The ‘Ring of Fire’ pepper plant in the tub has tons of blossoms on it already. I’m hoping to make my own chili flakes.

This deck area was the original, overgrown garden when we moved in and we’ve never done too much with it. My husband is finally tackling that project and has cleared out a ton.

This was a full garden bed a few days ago.

Sadly, our previously stunning, well- established, huge orange rose picked up some weird infection and basically rotted away. The stump is still there so maybe there’s hope. 🤞🏻

So there we go, a gimp tour of our backyard. I’m almost afraid of what things will look like by the end of July if my ankle doesn’t start healing faster. X-rays on Tuesday will hopefully give me a better idea of how long I’ll be hobbled. I really feel for people with chronic mobility issues, it’s a royal pain in the arse to not be able to do for yourself. I’m so fortunate, I won’t whine. Much. 😏

Good times.

Thanks for joining me. Wishing you peace and calm.

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, Health, life, mental health, MS

May Garden Tour

Aloha! Since my backyard urban farm in-development has taken up all my focus and energy and I haven’t been writing at all, I thought I’d share photos of how I’ve been staying busy.

Honestly, it has become a full-time job. There are days when the MonSter awakes and I drag myself out of bed hardly able to face the thought of all the tasks calling for attention. But I make myself get out there every day at least for 20 minutes. Usually that ends up with me outside all day.

Besides the obvious advantages of all that vitamin D and fresh air, I know that digging in the dirt is helping rebuild my immune system and my gut microbiota. So even on the toughest days, I rest a lot but I make myself do the lighter tasks. The trick is to not focus on everything that needs to be done but to put the blinders and just do one, small, task.

Anyway, enough of that. Have a wander through our garden.

Food garden, Lavender , buddleias, wallflower, chives, irises, onions, beets,
10 years ago this was a grassy hill.
Chives,   Snapdragons , lilies ,  succulents , irises,lavender , lilac, buddleia
All the boulders, dirt and driftwood were hauled in and set by hand (and occasionally a rickety dolly with flat tires) by my very determined and creative husband. Those are the boots he wore out during the first few years.
Lilac, iris, lupin,  cosmos, daisies, Corsican mint
We obviously don’t play much bocce ball. 😏
Angelica,  alpine blue,  garden steps
One of my favourite statues because I bought it with a gift certificate from one of my grade one classes.
Rockcress, alyssum, lavatera, wallflower, buddleia, lavender ,garlic, kale, lithadora, ornamental  oregano , snapdragons, iris, strawberries, peonies
The oldest part of the garden. We found the sign buried when we moved in. The alyssum(bottom) reseeded itself from last year.
Petunias, onions, rose, garlic
Pallet deck at the top of the garden.
Hopefully one day a greenhouse.
Lemon, blueberry , kiwi,  artichoke, cucumbers, beans, onions, garlic, carrots, dill, nasturtium , leeks, petunias
Top garden – the Mediterranean garden
Lemon tree, artichoke, kiwi vine, blueberries and apple trees in the distance.
Oh, and that pepper in the tub is called a “ring of fire”. 🤣🤣🤣
Artichoke bud, food garden
Here comes an artichoke!
Daphne, Angelica, garlic, peonies, buddleia, Rosemary, lupin
Mid-garden
New vegetable bed growing zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, leeks, kale, dill, kohlrabi and buckwheat. Little bird was a Mother’s Day gift from my girls.
New vegetable bed beside the rhubarb and
the Nelly Moser clematis(far left) and anemones (right) finally flowering!
Instead of being chowed down by the deer. 🤞🏻👩🏻‍🌾🤞🏻
Apple tree bed growing onions, beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes and carrots.
View from the apple tree bed
Barbie skinny dipping with a 20 year old bath toy.
Hmmm…that sounds strange… 😳
View from the bottom, the newest part just finished this year. This is where we mostly sit because it’s cool and shady beside the cedar hedge.

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a yard to garden. But even a small pot on a windowsill can grow parsley, basil and cilantro. Food security is a serious issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of people’s minds because of the Covid-19 situation. Start small and grow your own!

Alright, thanks for joining me. I didn’t even get to the vegetable beds by the house, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Take care, stay calm and stay safe. And garden!

❤️ Amanda

life

Moment of truth: Opinions?

Okay, here are two versions of our fully decorated Christmas tree, using the handmade decorations I presented in my last post. It only took six trips to the store for lights, some creative sawing and duct-taping to get the star on, and four days of decorating, undecorating then redecorating. Who says MS has screwed up my decision-making skills?! 🤣

I can’t decide whether I prefer the first, more minimal tree using just the handmade ornaments, silver wire stars and silver balls; or the second that adds a bit more sparkle and fills in the gaps. But maybe it detracts focus from the handmade – what do you think?

Exhibit A – minimalist tree

Exhibit B – more colour and sparkle

Like a true Canadian, duct tape is an integral part of our Christmas.

Next year I’ll plan things better so I can wrap the lights around the star more unobtrusively. At a certain point, you have to let things go, say good enough, and move on. That’s where I’m at.

But for next year – what do you think? A or B?

❤️ Amanda

life

Crafts and chronic illness: A Handmade Christmas

As I said in my last post, crafts keep me sane and help me feel productive in my spoonie lifestyle. So, together with my desire to rid our household of plastic as much as possible, I decided to make the decorations for our tree this year. Oh, an important detail: Our youngest requested that I decorate the living room tree myself this year. She’s all about matchy-matchy at the moment.

Usually we have the schmozzle of family heirlooms on the tree, which is wonderful, and they love to tease me about being Monica from Friends when I encourage them to space out the ornaments. The little twerps have been known to clump all the ornaments as close together as possible, just to get a reaction. Too bad for them, I bite my tongue and stealth redecorate later. 😏

This year, the family tree will be in the basement where we spend a lot of time together, and will wait until our son is home from university to decorate. Upstairs, we’ll have a live tree and I will fully embrace my inner Monica when I decorate. Some of the ideas here may flop, or or I’ll choose to go another way, but here’s what I have so far.

Finger-knit and finger-crocheted Garlands

I only started using garlands on our tree the last few years. When I decided to finger knit the garland, I looked up how much I would need for a 7 foot tree. Ready? 63-70 feet!!! 🤗 1-3 feet per foot of tree, so there you go.

Off I went, finger knitting and crocheting approximately 80 feet of garland. Here’s hoping it doesn’t look ridiculous, but if it does I’ll turn them into something else.

Finger knit and finger crocheted garlands

Clothes peg stars

The clothes peg stars are all over the internet and I just loved the look of them. I made five of each colour; translucent, brushed silver, and rose gold. Then I added the herpes of the craft world: glitter!

Pompoms

My youngest and I had fun making pompoms with super soft, chunky yarn and the same white fluffy yarn I used to finger crochet the thinner garlands. We started off wrapping them around our hands and that worked fine. Then I found a rectangular piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle and it was even easier, and the pompoms became slightly more uniform. Fun to use for indoor snowball fights too!

Diy pompoms

Borax Snowflakes

This is a craft/science experiment I used to do with my first graders. The correct formula is 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of hot water. I was doing these in a big bucket though, and could only do two of the twelve 6-inch silver snowflakes or three of the fifteen white 4-inch snowflakes at a time. This took some commitment as the water has to be reheated each time, and the crystals take overnight to form. You can tell I was free-handing the Borax because of the different degrees of crystallization. Measuring might be an idea.

Wire hanger Star

No wire hangers! Sorry, Mommie Dearest.

I got the inspiration for the star from here but did my own take by adding the yarn around the star macrame-like, a craft I learned from my Great Aunt Ede. Then I added cylindrical glass beads as well as regular round ones. I also kept the pompoms small, more because that’s what I had and I was determined not to spend more money.

How to attach? Not sure. I’ll have to Handy Mandy it. 🤓

So, my version of Santa’s workshop has kept me busy for the past few weeks. Getting crafty allows me to indulge in my Christmas obsession early, without buying into the commercialism.

We have the tree, the lights are on (that’s a whole other story), so I’m off to decorate. After a cup of tea – with a healthy shot of rum. Cheers!

❤️ Amanda

Have you gotten crafty for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new things to try!