Enough Already!

February 24th, 2017

On feb 1st I started writing a blog about how excited I get when the calendar turns to february; the month I think of as the return to two digit temperatures and noticeably longer days. But it was cold. A couple of days later it snowed, and it snowed the next day and a couple of days after that still more snow. Then it just was plain freezing for another week.

My garden lay buried for a good two weeks. In feb!

My garden lay buried for a good two weeks. In feb!

We got a reprieve for a few days when the rains moved in and finally washed away the snow but not until the snow absorbed tons of moisture and and broke limbs on trees and splayed shrubs. Then I think ok, that’s it, and it was nice for a couple of days, but it got cold again. Today it snowed. And it’s cold tonight and will continue cold. It’s been cold for three months and I am not used to this much cold in a winter. The nights, yes, but the days, especially at this time of year, usually get pleasant, but it’s painful trying to work outside most days. (What a whiny west coaster, eh?).

I want to clean up the garden and to get planting but instead spend my spare time in the studio-not so bad-and wait. On workable days  I get out for a couple of hours and tackle something.  Here is a list of a few things that got done:
– planted some onion seeds and put them on a heat mat in the greenhouse.
– cleaned up the strawberries on dry days (because I didn’t do a final clean up of them in the fall)
– washed pots for use in transplanting
– start transplanting my small potted lavenders into bigger pots (still keeping them in the greenhouse)
– pruned some shrubs and the espaliered apple tree
– manured the rhubarb and raspberries
– picked up a load of manure and many trugs of seaweed

That’s it. Not very impressive compared to my usual feb but at least some chores got scratched off the list.

In a few days it is march, and in a few weeks, the equinox. I am so looking forward to some warmth and some colour.

Bulbs underneath the Pansy tree.

Bulbs underneath the Pansy tree.

I don’t know where summer went except I know I was terribly busy. The hot summer brought all of September’s harvesting activities into August and then the showers and cooler September weather slowed everything down, although the self seeders burst into life and bloom.

Huge borage plants sprang up almost overnight.

Huge borage plants sprang up almost overnight.

Finally, I just had to admit that was it, and take everything down so maybe 20 pounds of mostly green tomatoes were on our kitchen counter and slowly being eaten as they ripened. Today, so many were ripe, that they were cut and then roasted with a bit of onion and garlic for tomorrow’s pasta sauce (and some for the freezer). Otherwise all the carrots and potatoes have been cleaned up for storage, basil blended with a bit of oil and frozen, peppers reluctantly cut and frozen as well. They were the best peppers ever this year and I hated not being able to keep them fresh, but I will enjoy them in soups and stews.

So many delicious peppers this year.

So many delicious peppers this year.

One thing I am focusing on right now is putting every bit of organic matter I can into the raised beds because there was not enough water retention in most of the soil this year. Even though mulched and well watered, the veggies wilted. So I am composting directly into the beds – green stuff, seaweed, manure with a layer of straw on top. And, of course, my compost bins are full of the fall cleanup stuff. Recently I have been reading a book – Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore – and she describes a chicken composter. The compost is right in the chicken run but in a 5 x 5 shallow wood bin so that the chickens can do their stuff with it and then it can be cleaned out and put in the conventional compost to complete. Great idea as we frequently throw grass, hay, big greens, etc into the pen and it gets picked over, then scattered everywhere. We made a bin today and hauled it up to the run and the chickens came running over to investigate but were a little underwhelmed. Wait till I start filling it. Tomorrow I’m going down the road for a truck load of leaves and instead of putting it in a wire composter for a year, it’s going straight into the chicken composter.

And, to finish, a picture of the last of my lavenders to bloom. Fred Boutin is a late bloomer and flowers often have to be cut off if one does a fall pruning of lavender – which i do. So it was the last of the lavenders to get cleaned up this year.

A late blooming lavender.  Check out the grass in the background, such a sad backdrop at the time, but it is bright green again.

A late blooming lavender. Check out the grass in the background, such a sad backdrop at the time, but it is bright green again.