Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Ok! I'm done. My jobs are finished for now. What a good feeling. I'm going to take a week long break! I had lots of fun today zooming along the island roads delivering winter salad shoots, microgreens and yuletide bouquets to happy folks. It really was so much fun. I became so unexpectedly busy this December when I decided to make festive winter bouquets for Solstice and Christmas celebrations. I had no idea how successful it would be. Thank you to all my island friends and neighbours who trust me and what I do! It means a lot to me to know that my community enjoys what I do. Namaste.

I really enjoyed these bouquets I made.

This year, I discovered I could find a lot of beautiful floral material at the wholesalers on Vancouver Island. This is a photo of what I found on one of my trips to town. Skimmia, waxflower, rococco tulips, red dogwood branches, willow branches, leucodendron, seeded eucalyptus, alpine huck. From my place, I added to my bouquets: cedar boughs, fir branches. salal, rosehips, yerba buena, dried hydrangea, purple beauty berry, grasses, etc, etc. what fun.

Beautiful Rococo Red Parrot tulips. So much fun to work with and very Christmasy festive.

Waxflower. A lovely little floral accent in the wintertime.

Leucadendron. My new favourite. I've never worked with it before. I just love it. Here's some good basic info about it. I thought it interesting to know that it is a member of the same family as Protea the ones I kept photographing when I was on Maui last year....look at these lovely orange ones I saw at a farm there, aren't they beautiful? I can see how they're related. Their stalks and leaves look exactly the same, almost. I think I may have to try making some wreaths like those protea wreaths in the link.....with leucadendron instead of protea....with salal and give it that Mayne Island look. Next year : )

Ah well...enough dreaming of warmer climes.....back to my little house in the forest where the wind is blowing at 80-90 km./ hr. , branches are pummelling our roof, rain is pounding and our Christmas tree is twinkling away while our wood stove glows with warmth.
We're cozy and happy, feeling peaceful this Christmas.....and I just love the tin foil star on top of our tree! Happy Christmas y'all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

snow and cold

The snow cover that's not going away, the cold getting colder and the nasty wind have all convinced me that it's a better idea to stay inside by the warm fire and do some indoor work today. As long as the power stays on I can even do some work on the computer!

A few things to do out in the greenhouse first, though. While it's a blustery 7 below zero wintery day outside, I'm managing to keep the greenhouse grow trays at a balmy low of 2 degrees above zero. So my shoots and microgreens aren't freezing (yet) and I'm still supplying my customers with fresh new shoots and greens. The timing of the tray plantings is a bit off though, since they are growing much slower.

Purple daikon radish shoots, sunflower shoots, pea shoots in trays all lined up and at different stages of growth.

Little sunflower shoots just emerging into the cold cold winter. Here I've uncovered them to let them air out a bit. I cover them with the fleecy row cover at night.

The trays all sit on heat mats and with the row cover on top, it's amazing how much warmer it is under the fleece where the trays sit greening up. This is my first attempt at growing tender salad greens in below zero weather and so far, it's fun! But with the temperature continuing to drop it will get more challenging. We'll's a great experiment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


One of my first microgreens mixes (for production) ever is almost ready to offer at Happy Tides Health Foods this week!
Very limited quantities because I'm still experimenting and developing them. This one in the photo is a trio of baby arugula plants, purple radish shoots and sunflower shoots. Tangy flavours.
It will be ideal mixed with pea shoots!

The arugula for this mix is growing in containers outside but I'll start growing them in trays in the greenhouse soon because the weather is getting cooler. My hope is to be able to grow these colourful, fresh, nutritious and delicious greens all winter long. It's expected to be a cold winter here in our neck of the woods so...fingers crossed!!

The purple radish shoots growing indoors, in their tray. This photo shows them needing just a few more days to be ready for the mix.

A tray of the sunflower shoots, pretty much ready for harvest here.

I'm trying a lot of different varieties these days to see how they work. These are trays of broccoli shoots. They need about another 10 days of growth here before they're ready for a microgreen mix but I've nibbled on them already and they taste so much like broccoli, even at this stage! cool.

A tray of tiny red amaranth plants. I'm really excited about the colour these will add to the mixes!
I poked around the internet for some reads about microgreens. here are a couple links:
A few people have asked me about growing their own, especially for winter salads....I'll be posting some ideas.....eventually.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanks Mayne Island

for being such a nice place to live....

What a lovely Thanksgiving weekend we're having!
Mayne Island's last outdoor Farmer's Market of the year happens on Thanksgiving weekend. So on Saturday, the sun came out and we just had to make sure to go....

Deacon Vale Farm's truck stand is always a pleasure to see at the market, brimming full of all the wonderful veggies, fruit and other things they grow and make (as long as you get there early enough) ...there's always a lineup!

Look at this beautiful celery! Why didn't I get any?!! I was so distracted by taking my photos and chatting that I didn't even think of it....can you imagine the amazingness of those beautiful and nutritious green leaves in a soup?....silly, silly me.

Some beautiful yellow tomatoes on their trusses from Deacon Vale Farm. The farm website is here.

A friend's basket of Mayne Island grown goodies that he was collecting as he walked through the market.....

Islanders chatting at the market.....

Hatake's stand with some of the lovely apples and pears that they grow on display. Helen and John named their farm "hatake" in honour of the Japanese people who farmed the land before WWII. It's how you say "farm" in Japanese.

Some of Helen's beautiful naturally died yarn.....she uses things like blackberry, coreopsis, asparagus....and other wonderful things that I can't think of right create these awesome colours. A link to their website is here.

After the market on Saturday, the Home Hardware Garden Centre hosted a workshop on composting led by Atsuo Sumi who grows vegetables on Mayne Island for a restaurant in Vancouver. I found a nice little read about him and the chef here. I really enjoyed the's so nice to learn about how other growers do things.

On Sunday, a few ambitious and enthusiastic Mayne Islanders held a community apple pressing on the grounds of the Ag Hall. This is the sign announcing the event at the Saturday Market. They're going to do it again on the 24th!!....So if you missed it, you have another chance.

Mayne Island seems to have a lot of apple trees. Look at all the apples everyone brought!
....and look at everyone getting down to the business of juicing the apples. Check out that nice big jug of cider there :-)

This press is wonderful to watch....the juice comes gently flowing through the mesh cylinder and down to the bottom tray where it pours out the spout.....

.....and is funnelled into a bottle....

The bottles are filling nice it'll be to have for the is good! Thanks to all the folks who made this wonderful thing happen. If you're on Mayne Island on Sunday October 24th between 10am-2pm, go check it out! At Ag Hall. Bring some of your apples or ask your neighbour if you can collect from their abandoned tree....and go press some cider! Fun and good for you in so many ways.

So on Sunday after I went to see the community apple pressing, it was so nice and sunny and even though I shoulda-woulda-coulda been working in my own overgrown garden, I just had to stop in at the Community Gardens on my way home. The garden is looking beautiful and very productive....and so nice to see and feel the love and care that folks are contributing to make it such a lovely environment to grow food and flowers....

Well, gotta get going...I'm off to get ready for our Thanksgiving feast! Happy Thanksgiving!!

yesterday's delivery

The things I was gathering together yesterday for the weekly Sunday delivery to the door of one of my best-garden-customers-ever looked so nice and gave me so much joy I just had to take a picture of it and post it here. The delivery included a small autumn bouquet.....a big messy, lovely bunch of grasses, fennel, hydrangea, rudbeckia seed pods with tithonia (mexican sunflower). A basket with 10lbs of Spartan apples and a Homegrown Basket with seiglinde potatoes, a bunch of carrots, sungold tomatoes, a little basket with a few mouse melons and some of the last basil tips and some nasturtium flowers, 1/2 lb.pea shoots for salads and a microgreens salad mix of micro arugula, purple radish shoots and sunflower shoots.....yum.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

mouse melons

A couple of years ago, I was looking through a seed catalogue and saw this interesting little cucumber. The Mexican Sour Gherkin. Or "Mouse Melon" because it looks like a tiny little mouse-sized watermelon. They sounded interesting so I tried it and turns out, I love growing them.

The vines are very decorative, delicate yet strong and the plants are beautiful in containers. They seem to grow happily in their containers probably partly because they like heat....they're tough and drought tolerant and don't seem to mind when I miss a watering....

Next year I'll have to give them some prettier trellises to climb so I can take advantage of the beautiful vines....this is a stellar ornamental edible and ideal for urban gardens...or small rural ones....

Abundant harvests every other day from just a few plants....they're still going strong in October....these all got cut in half and tossed into our salad.

Hey! There's a tree frog in my mouse melons!! He doesn't look very happy to see me.

I start the seeds in my greenhouse in early May...they don't like to go out too early here, they need the heat. Three to a pot.
I'll be starting many more of these next spring for sale to Mayne Island gardeners so if you're interested in trying this plant, let me know.

Here they are waiting to get planted into their big pots where they'll grow all summer long. See that little plant growing in the container already? That's a self-sown mouse melon plant. I was growing them in this pot last year and looks like one of the fruit that fell off the vine last fall seeded a new plant for me this spring. Usually I change the soil in the container from year to year but I decided to keep this one so this self-determined little plant could grow on...this is an heirloom plant so seeds are good to save because plants will reproduce true to their origins.

Here's a baby cuke with it's flower just beginning to open.

All grown up and ready to harvest!...almost...the fruit is at it's best to eat when it falls off the vine, but I often can't wait....I've now got a feel for when they're almost ready to fall so most of them that I pick are very loose on the vine....

I found this article on Mouse Melons....some good info.

On the left, a bin full of Mouse Melons that I saw for sale at the Windfall Farms stand at Union Square Greenmarket last fall. First time I've seen these at a market! Here's a quick link little read from their blog regarding "the curious case of the tiny cucumber".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Bother?

I enjoyed reading this article "Why Bother?" so I'm posting it Michael Pollan from The New York Times magazine, April 20, 2008:

Have you looked into the eyes of a climate scientist recently? They look really scared.

Whatever we can do as individuals to change the way we live at this suddenly very late date does seem utterly inadequate to the challenge.

But the act I want to talk about is growing some–even just a little–of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don’t–if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade–look into getting a plot in a community garden. Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do–to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.

the entire article: Why Bother?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

busy as a bee

In early September the "Autumn Joy" sedum blooms are beginning to turn pink and the bees all go crazy for it. If you want to make sure you have food for the bees in your garden in early fall plant some Autumn Joy....they love it!! Both honey bees and bumble bees, butterflies and other little pollinators tooo...they all love it. On the day I took these pics I counted 36 bees...but then I stopped...there were more! Everything was a buzz.

Busy busy busy busy buuuuzzzzzybuzzzbuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzbuzz!

This happy little bee's fuzz is all covered in yellow pollen..see it? Pollination in action.

Here's some more info about Autumn Joy.

Later in September the blooms get a darker more vibrant pink and are beautiful arranged in vases and vessels. I made this one for me after I made three others that were to be used as table centerpieces for a garden client's dinner party. There was still lots left for the bees....
And thinking about bees....this is a film I'd really like to see: Queen of the Sun....maybe you would too.
And since I've just discovered the video on my's a little bit of buzz...turn your volume up.