Rainy days

February 13th, 2015

January has come and gone and we are left thinking, is that it for winter? It has been so mild and continues, unfortunately, to be very wet. I am battling grey mold right now.  The plants in the greenhouse aren’t too bad but other stuff-not plants-that has overwintered in my greenhouse for ten years, has mold growing on it this year!

On the few dry days we had in january I started working on the garden. The result is that most of the herbs have been moved out of the main garden and planted in the stone beds on the outside perimeter of the garden.

I give peppermint lots of space and, because this bed is on stone, i am not afraid of the peppermint getting out of control.

Peppermint gets lots of space and, because this bed is on stone, i am not afraid of the peppermint getting out of control.

I want to make my watering easier and, as those beds are on stone, they do not hold water, so I will not plant veggies in them again. Herbs should do well because at least half of them will be cut and dried by the end of june so their watering needs during the driest part of the summer will be lessened.

It is so mild, they have already begun growing.

It is so mild, the newly transplanted oregano has already begun growing.

I knew I was taking a bit of a chance moving the herbs because they do not have the stamina of shrubs and trees but I think they will be ok now as we are into february and there is still no indication of cold coming. I also couldn’t help but plant some cold hardy lettuce and some spinach, but under cloches and I noticed today that they are both sprouting!  We’ll see how they progress.

If you look hard you can see the new green sprouts of spinach.

If you look hard you can see the new green shoots of spinach growing under the shelter of a barn cloche.


Laying Low

December 12th, 2014

After a cold November & early December and then torrential rain & winds, it looks like the sun might shine for a couple of days with tolerable temperatures. This means I will be heading out to the garden. I admit that I am pretty unmotivated in December, but the greenhouse is a mess as i just threw everything in there when the cold hit. I still have stuff like stakes & ties lying around so I will poke around picking up this and that and reorganizing the plants in the greenhouse. I will probably be thinking and mentally making a vague list for the new year’s projects, but mostly right now I am like my garden, just laying low.

However in the studio I am busy and still having fun making things to fire in my new glass kiln.

fused glass suncatchers

Fused glass suncatchers.



Almost every garden is given short shift when it comes to harvesting. Even solely flower gardens offer riches in terms of edibles or raw material for teas & medicinals. (Of course, flower gardens also have some very poisonous plants as well, so knowledge is necessary before using anything.) In September I was looking around my garden and noticed that with the cooler weather and some precipitation, the self-seeding flowers were making up for their absence this summer. Calendula petals in olive oil. In particular the cheery yellow-orange flowers of the calendulas were putting on a nice show. So I filled a jar half full with olive oil and start picking off the petals and putting them in the olive oil. After a few days of harvesting the fresh flowers, i let the jar sit in a sunny spot for a week before straining the petals from the oil. Once done, I had the base for a healing balm or hand cream.

I was also admiring the couple of rouge vif d’estampes pumpkins just cut from the vine and curing in the sun and I wondered if I could use pumpkin in soap making. I know soapers use avocados, so why not pumpkin. I jumped on-line and sure enough, it’s not a new idea. So, with cooked, mashed pumpkin in hand, I made a batch of Pumpkin Pie soap. It looks and smells great! Pumkin Pie soap & Rouge Vif d'estampes pumpkin.

A couple of weeks later my daughter was over and feeling a little under the weather, so we brewed her Peppermint & Pine handmade soapsome tea from peppermint that was harvested and dried earlier in the summer. Later, she & I were making one of her favourite soaps-Peppermint & Pine- and we crumbled up a small handful of dried peppermint to add to the soap. It doesn’t do anything for scent of course, but it’s nice visual touch.

These are just a few of the many ways we can make the most of what we grow. So go into your garden, even if it’s October. If you live on the west coast, there’s probably something still growing that’s good to harvest.

Late Summer Garden

September 14th, 2014

It may have been a hot, dry summer with limited watering, but there is still a lot to appreciate in the garden.

It’s Hot!

July 13th, 2014

shaded garden

And I have enlisted any object that can shade. Here I have a patio umbrella, a good swathe of burlap and a scrap of shadecloth. My garden is tucked into a warm corner of my property and gets intense west sun so when it heats up like this, my thin, loose soil just doesn’t do it. I constantly amend the soil with organic matter, but it seems I cannot make it more moisture retentive. For the most part, the soil works for what I like to grow, but right now, after a very dry spring and now this heat wave, it’s a struggle keeping some plants alive. I’ve abandoned the peas and lettuce but I am not giving up on the potatoes, beans and potted tomatoes.

chicken coopThe 2nd annual Gabriola tour d’coop will take place on Sunday, June 15, 2014 between 10 am & 4 pm. This is a self-guided, free tour of about a dozen coop locations. So, if you already have chicken or are seriously thinking of getting chickens, maybe even fantasizing about someday having your own small flock or just want to look, then this is the tour for you. To view or print a pdf of the coops on tour, click on this link Gabriola tour d’coop.

Strawberry Bed

May 17th, 2014

Looks like we’ll be eating strawberries the 3rd week of June.

strawberries in bloom

The Garden Path

April 15th, 2014

I am so happy to have finished the path.  It’s not what I set out to do 3 or 4 years ago-it is far less ambitious-but nonetheless, it is finished.  Originally I intended to brick a centre walk in all of the paths but it took me so long to get around to finishing this path that the bricks got assigned to other projects.  I guess I will stick with fine mulch on the minor paths.  At least for now.

The path is a combination of reclaimed bricks &, of course, stones.

The path is a combination of reclaimed bricks &, of course, stones.

I thought laying stones in this section would be easier than laying bricks.

I thought laying stones in this section would be easier than laying bricks.

I made this mosaic to pay homage to the little lizards that live in our stone walls.

I made this mosaic to pay homage to the little lizards that live in our stone walls.



Recently I was taking with a friend who is looking for a new place to rent.  She needs a place that will accept her four cats and, hopefully, her chickens and that maybe will even have a small garden available for her use.  Or, at least allow her space to put in a couple of vegetable beds. ‘But, of course,’ she said, ‘if the property is not fenced against deer, I won’t be able to have a garden.’  I brightened up and told her she could put in a little garden with temporary fencing.  ‘Even just 8 x 8 will give you lots of growing space,’ I said.  She looked doubtful.

When I moved into my current property, I brought a lot of potted plants with me. They were all pushed together and loosely wrapped with wire fencing, but the deer were slowly nibbling their way through.  I then remembered that we had the 8 x 6 foot wire panels that we use for temporary chicken runs.  We currently had no chickens so I assembled four of the panels (one with a door) and thought I would then stuff it full of my plants.  It was June.  It was the first time in a decade that I did not have space for growing vegetables.  I stood at the entrance of this little fenced-in square and immediately imagined it with beds on three sides.  And a chipped path.  I set to work.

8x8 kitchen garden1 gabriola

Even though it was a bit late to be putting in a garden, I got tremendous pleasure over the next several months from this 8 x 8 space.  Five tomato plants went into the back bed with a couple of peppers tucked in front of them.  Cucumbers, lettuce, parsley, nasturiums filled the two side beds and small pots of marjoram, thyme and chives on a shelf.  Also I put up some cross pieces at the back corners which provided support for plastic over the tomatoes and allowed for some hanging baskets.  I placed a large pot in the corner and planted up the strawberries I had in small pots.  All I had to do was step through the wire door into this ‘garden’ and I was in a lush, green environment so unlike the barren, stoniness on the other side of the enclosure.  I was happy.

8x8 kitchen garden2 gabriola

And what about those other plants the deer were chomping their way through?  We properly wired off an area for them where they endured for a couple of years while we fenced in part of the property  and built the current kitchen garden.


February 26th, 2014

Looks like I will restrict my garden work to the greenhouse this week.  I’ve got lots to do in there anyway.

snowfall4 on gabriola