Monday, October 24, 2011

growing shoots!

A shipment of pea and sunflower seed for shoot growing arrived last week.  So I've filled up my seed bins once again and we're all ready for the winter-time growing season. 

A couple of the sunflower seed bins.

I love the feeling of abundance and well-being I get when I look at all the full bins.  No matter what happens, we'll be sure to have fresh salad greens all winter long!

These are some sunflower and pea seed soaking in their soaking bowls, almost ready to plant in their grow trays.  I soak the correct  amount of seed for one production tray in each bowl.

It really feels so good to grow our own nutritious greens in the winter-time. 

Did you know that 50g of pea shoots contains about 40% of our recommended daily amount of Vitamin C?!!  That's very easily gobbled up in one lunch time salad. The bags I package up for Farm Gate Store and Happy Tides here on Mayne Island are 100g.  So a salad for 2 made with the shoots in those bags gives 2 people a great Vit C boost! They also contain loads of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and Folate.  Lots of fiber, calcium and protein too as well as Chlorophyl, Iron,  Amino Acids....the list goes on.  

Sunflower shoots are also valuable morsels of concentrated nutrition.  Vitamins A, B, C and E, Amino Acids, Protein, Calcium, Chlorophyll, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorous, Potassium, Zinc.....

So after a few years of growing these for us and after a couple years of growing for the stores and  farmer's market in our community, I'm feeling happy about the idea of getting together with some interested folks to share some ideas about how I do it.  So many people have been asking.  So many people want to grow their own.

My friend Kit created this sweet ad and flyer for me and it'll be in the November MayneLiner community magazine to help me get the word out.  I'll print some flyers for island bulletin boards too.  I'm so excited to see how this goes.  I wonder if anyone'll want to come!  

A bowl full of pea shoots topped with sunflower shoots...a light dressing is all you need, but sometimes I like to add some crumbled feta, gomashio.....dried cranberries are good with it too.  The simple ideas are endless.
Yummmmmy.  This is what it's all about : )

Friday, October 21, 2011


My cosmos post this morning made me think of this video from The Feynman Series by Victoria's Reid Gower.   So thought I'd post it here too......I happened upon it a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  I hope you do too : )


No better time to look at my bright summery photos of cosmos flowers than a grey-rainy-chilly morning like this one.  The center of a cosmos flower is remarkable, really.....look at that detail!  Nature's design.  Cosmos are native to Mexico and South America.  I read somewhere that missionary Spanish priests named this plant that grew in their gardens in Mexico.  "Cosmos", the greek word for harmony and order...which has come to be used as a synonym for "universe".  These flowers do seem like they could contain a whole other microscopic universe in their centers.

This year I noticed that every evening, the bumble bees would bury themselves in the centers as if they were going to bed for the night.  Could that bee?

Yesterday I ripped out all the summer cosmos plants and took them to the compost heap.  So long beautiful cosmos, see you next year.

Saving seeds for next year.  "All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today." 

Summer wouldn't be summer in my garden without a good healthy patch of cosmos and dill growing together.  They make a beautiful combination.  And both will enthusiastically reseed themselves in the garden next year.  I'd probably treat them like invasive weeds at my place if they weren't so darned pretty.

  They make fabulous wild and organic, natural looking decorative arrangements.  Here, in a metal urn with millets and other grasses.  This one decorated a gift table at a wedding reception this summer at the Community Center.

From another wedding a couple years ago, a bride's bouquet of cosmos and grasses.  So down-to-earth happy and pretty.

So handy to have some cosmos growing in the garden....just go pick a few stems for a quicky informal little flower bouquet, done in no time for big impact.  Even just one flower in a small glass jar makes a pretty centerpiece.

"Double Click Rose Bon Bon" .  A new favourite of mine.  Last year, I decided it would be much more fun to try some of the less common ones....steered clear of the Sensation and Sonata mixes and will do so every year now.  Thompson and Morgan have a fabulous selection of many versions of cosmos.  (if you're in Canada, make sure you go to the Canadian version of the site)  I can't wait to grow lots of orange and yellows next year!

This past spring I started lots of cosmos seeds and sold quite a few seedling plants at the Farmer's Market.  Will do next year too!

"Versailles Tetra" was another favourite this year.  I love it's bright pink petals that become a darker carmine at the gold center.

Cosmos are drought tolerant and do well in poor soil too.  Here they are in an arrangement of other drought tolerants.  None of these were watered once this summer in my garden...a nice combo on water-conscious Mayne Island.  Versailles Tetra Cosmos with Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, Fennel flowers and Cardoon leaves and heads...really lovely!

It seems that this year, I couldn't get enough of Cosmos.  So many snapshots!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A sweet discovery

So last week Chris and I went to Vancouver for a day.  There were some chores I needed to do but we made sure we had some time in the afternoon to just enjoy.  We found ourselves in the old neighbourhood near Main Street and happened upon this charming place at the corner of 28th and St. George.  If you're nearby, you have to go drop in and get a cappuccino!...but if you're not near, you've got to go visit their beautiful blog:  Marche St. George. Gorgeous photos on the blog, much nicer than these snapshots I took,  go take a look!  I've just got to tell everyone about this place.

What an inspiring-to-me place it is!  You could almost miss it if you're driving by, the way it's tucked in there amongst all the houses.  The folks who run it live upstairs.  The elegant lady behind the counter told me the building was once a corner store a long long time ago and because of this,  the zoning rules that might make this sort of neighbourhood store illegal in other areas of the city don't apply here.  Thank goodness!!  If I still lived in the hood, I'd be very very happy about having this place nearby.
The red tent is for all the CSA produce boxes that are delivered here every week.  The farmers bring the boxes and the neighbourhood folks come to the corner to pick up their locally grown veggies and fruit for the week.  That tent was overflowing with boxes!

Inside, beautiful displays with special products, both local and from away.  All sorts of produce, eggs, locally made cheeses and sausage, bread, bottled things and some very beautiful cutting boards, textiles, toiletries, so many special things in small quantities, too many to list.  No end to the delightful details. (like the front door that was painted in chalkboard paint, the hours of operation happily scribbled in chalk on the door)  This place comes from the heart.

Wouldn't it be a nicer world if every urban neighbourhood had a store like this on the corner?
I'm so glad we veered off the beaten path last Thursday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

planting garlic is on our minds

The seed garlic arrived last week!!  
Every September for the past few years, my parents have sent me a nice big box of their gorgeous homegrown garlic for me to use as seed for my yearly garlic crop.  My Dad always does such a careful job of curing it, neatly trimming and cleaning it all up. 

There's always some extra to offer up to Mayne Islanders who'd like to grow their own too.  In the last couple years so many more people are feeling enthusiastic about growing their own garlic. 

The counting and bagging for all the folks who got on my list has begun.

This is last year's garlic patch at my parent's place.  Very straight rows,  so neat and tidy.  So level!  So few rocks in the soil!  Not like at my place.  This is in southwestern Ontario, near Lake Erie.
If you're getting seed garlic from me, this is where it comes from.  Grown naturally, with no synthetic chemicals.
The crop I grow here in my garden has been long gone.  All sold to folks at Mayne Island's Farmer's Market. (except for what I keep for our kitchen, of course : )

This is my Dad, surveying his crop in April....looking good.... (photo by Mom)
For more about garlic and planting it, here are all my past posts on GARLIC
And if you signed your name on the seed garlic list this summer, you can expect a call or email from me soon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

amaranth and grapevines

Check out these pails of beautiful amaranth that Shanti at Deacon Vale Farm grew in her garden!  She harvested these for me a couple weeks ago so I could use them for some floral decor at a Mayne Island wedding.  Aren't they just the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen?!  I feel so lucky that she's growing this wonderful stuff and is willing to supply me with it!

This amazing red amaranth looked so fabulous in a silvery coloured metal big bundle of it. Too bad that I was so busy I forgot to take a photo of it!

"Hot Biscuits" is a beauty. A close-up look shows all the little seeds. Not only is amaranth stunning in floral arrangements, this plant is a healthy cereal grain food too! It's a lot of work to gather the grain but still doable.
You gotta love a plant that can be used as decor and is a nutritious food too : ) (Not only the seeds, but I've also grown it for the young leaves that are a spinach-like salad green too.)

For more info on amaranth, Saltspring Seeds has some on their website. And they sell the seeds too.  

So anyway, this amaranth was destined for a fun creative project: decoration for a wedding ceremony arbor that the groom built of driftwood found on the beaches of Mayne Island.  Grapevine, hops vine and green tassels amaranth were draped along the top of the arbor and bunches of hot biscuits were in containers on either side.....

The lovely grapevines for the arbor also came from Shanti that day.  With the back of the truck all full of amaranth and dahlias I had to coax (ummm..wrestle?) the vines into the front with me.  A fun ride home.

The flower clusters of the hops (also often called cones or strobiles) are always so pretty with the grapevine.

It was a smokin' hot afternoon and I was so grateful that the vines didn't wilt too much.  I was a bit worried.
They were cut a couple days earlier so that I could condition them for a while by submerging them a few feet in water in a rubbermaid bin.  They soaked it up and it really made a difference.  They wilt quickly if put in the sun for a few hours right after cutting.  
And isn't that heart on the ground where the couple stood so sweet?!

The long view of the ceremony site.  A sheep field overlooking Campbell Bay.  What a beautiful spot for a wedding!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

cafe au lait dahlia

My days are full of flowers right now and I'm loving the stunning ruffly blooms of cafe au lait.  So beautiful. 

I planted just 9 plants in a row this spring and I think I'll have to plant more next year.  They're blooming like crazy these days and I love them grouped together in a big bunch of many blooms.

An arrangement I made for a wedding reception last weekend.  With eucalyptus and grasses.  wow!  Simply and naturally gorgeous!

Here's cafe au lait in some bouquets for a bride and her bridesmaid, bundled together with limelight hydrangea, other dahlias, zinnias, roses, sweet pea and grasses.

I think the unopened buds are beautiful in bouquets too.

Cafe au Lait, I'm going to miss you when the summer's over!