My Biggest Storybook Ever

Look what  came in the mail today!

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This is the book my brother and I loved and shared growing up. Being 7 years my elder, he would read many of the stories to me and when he was gone, I would look at the pictures and imagine side stories to go with them. Despite being good to our books, we eventually had to tape the spine and the cover picture faded. When we grew out of storybooks, my parents stored it safely with many other of our temporarily forgotten treasures. They are still guarding this one like dragons..I think they are afraid of losing it for good and never being able to read it to their grandchildren.

I went on a hunt for My Biggest Storybook Ever to call my very own and was greeted with very little results. I am told by the lady at the bookstore that this is because it went out of print. How such a wonderful book could be left to forget like that is beyond me, but eventually I found the pot of gold on Amazon. I ordered 3 copies just to be safe hahaha:) And to give one to my brother of course..

The art in this book is beautiful and the stories are still good some 20 years later! Sammy Scarecrow’s birthday tree still makes me dream, Pip the pup still makes me smile and Fancy the pig is still adorable!

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Do you know about this wonderful book I am such a fan girl of?

Now excuse me while I return to my childhood for the evening! 🙂

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Front yard improvements

In October 2012, my husband and I bought our big old house from a bank foreclosure and by November we were moving in. The property was overgrown and under all the grass and weeds are hidden bags and bags of odds and ends such as toys, linens, garbage and so on. Signs of previous owners are everywhere, the dog bowls by the crab apple tree, the ornaments in the overgrown flower gardens, broken wind chimes in the trees. Thankfully the house was empty, but the yard is in need of some serious TLC to make it our own.

Earlier in the spring, we got to work on the big stuff such as clearing away junk, mowing tall grass, trimming back roses and lilacs and I am pretty satisfied with that aspect. Today, I began a new chapter of our yard improvements right beside the main door.Image

I cluttered up the overgrown walkway toward the hose wall-mount with my gardening stuff and pretty much neglected it up until today.

It’s amazing what a little de-cluttering will do, followed by a little rock garden and some weeding!Image

Clearly, there is still some work to do..such as fill the garden( Herbs and flowers!), finish the garden,paint the railing and maybe throw down some white stones under the hose area or something to that effect. I have to say I am pretty satisfied with where this is headed though! The 50 blackfly bite welts were so worth it…Kind of! 🙂

Garden shortcuts!

So as you may or may not know from pictures in previous posts, my garden site currently has quite a bit of grass growing thick and strong. This has been making my life somewhat difficult when it comes to turning the soil and weeding it to make a new bed, thus making it a slow and difficult process to expand my garden.

Today I came up with what I think could be a genius idea inspired by lasagna gardens. I dug out and weeded a small patch large enough for an adult plant to grow and make root, and trimmed away the grass around it. I then layered newspapers and flyers around the cleared space and covered it with a think layer of soil and mulch. I am hoping the grass will not make its way through the paper! I will have to wait and see.

I suppose this technique would not be ideal for all plants, but since I planted zucchini here, I believe it should work out just fine. I had in the past planted zucchini similarly, however without the paper and soil. The plants grew fine, but so did the grass and it made harvesting somewhat unpleasant and it did not look very good either!

Here is the results of today’s efforts:

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I ran out of mulch before I could finish the second circle, but the general idea is there. I will be covering up the rest of the paper as well, but I had to run away from the black flies while I still could! 🙂

Meanwhile, my front ”steps” have become the local hangout for all my plants waiting to be homed! Realistically speaking, I don’t think I will be getting my garden to the full size I want before fall, so I have started to pot several plants such as tomatoes and strawberries as can be seen in this picture. I also have my one lone Red Runner bean survivor in a large pot with a trellis but it’s not in the picture despite how attached to it I have become!

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All in all, I am pretty happy with how things are coming along considering I started from scratch in the spring, have very little time on my hands and am somewhat of a beginner at this! 🙂

Sunday drive in the Maritimes

Lately my husband and I have been trying to explore our new area a little bit by taking drives out to somewhere we can enjoy with our dogs. It is relaxing and enjoyable and the dogs love the outings. Today, we visited the keystone bridge in Tidnish, Nova Scotia. We actually had our engagement photos done there last year because I had insisted on a stone bridge setting. 

We only walked a short way, but the dogs enjoyed the water more than anything!

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I love seeing their excitement when we take them to new places like this, despite their pulling on the leash. 

For anybody visiting Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and having a thing for huge stone bridges, this is a nice place for a quiet stroll and a doggy swim!

 

   

 

First Rhubarb harvest!

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I love Rhubarb..not so much for it’s taste, but for how it makes me feel. It makes me feel like I am a superstar gardener! I weeded them, mulched them, watered them once and already I have giant Rhubarb plants that I can proudly show off…not that I have ever seen scraggly rhubarb! Haha! 

Now that I have harvested a small quantity, I need to find things to do with it. I used a few stalks to make a delicious rhubarb sauce which delicious when poured warm over ice cream. I plan to tackle freezing some, making some cake and maybe even venturing into the whole pie thing which is a bit taboo to me. I’m not really sure why, but the thought of making a pie is a bit overwhelming to me. I have boxed numerous pies when I worked at a bakery but never actually MADE one myself!

Any rhubarb recipes or tips would be hugely appreciated! Some outside the box suggestions especially! 🙂 

My garden in progress

”Perhaps the simplest explanation for self-sufficiency is the personal satisfaction one gains from the lifestyle. Many people enjoy the practice of growing their own food and the accomplishment of learning something new. They may enjoy raising animals or building their home. And they likely take pride in providing for their family independently. For them it’s about living a satisfying life, working hard and going to bed tired and fulfilled.”                   – sustainablebabysteps.com

When the snow melted this spring, we got our first true glimpse of the piece of land we now call home. The tall grass that was here in the fall when we bought it was all down and we could actually see the layout we would be working with. Along with crazy amounts of old trash and uneven terrain, we discovered plants and trees, stepping stones, and fertile soil.

I had originally planned to make my garden in our front field, out of the way but as we explored and worked, I fell in love with our little orchard. A beautiful area with apple trees, pear trees, and possibly cherry or plum trees. Rhubard is already growing strong, the sun shines brightly but there is also a bit of shade and some wind block, but best of all, the soil is dark and easy to turn. This last bit is a huge bonus seeing how we are turning the soil by hand with a shovel and a fork!

After many hours and lots of sweat, I had the first section of my little garden ready for planting!

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I used an old window frame and some spare boards to support my raised beds and started a little stone pathway between the beds. Although I am very proud of this section of the garden, it was not near large enough for everything that will be planted this year.

And so we kept working! While trying to turn the soil, I found an old door(?) under several inches of dirt that I had to dig out and rip out. Only the metal was still solid, the wood had already started to decompose. My theory is that an old shed of some sort may have collapsed or been dumped here because as I turned the soil, I kept finding odds and ends such as large bolts, hinges and other pieces of old metal. By the time I had finished digging most of it all up, I had a new piece of garden ready to be worked:

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I know it does not look like much, but it has actually gotten bigger still since this picture and I am particularly proud of it since I turned that whole patch myself without anybodies help and only some cheering from my onlooking dogs!:)

Although there is still much work to do, I am excited about the slow and steady progress in my garden!

Finally a cloudy day

Finally a cloudy day! 🙂 Who even says something like that? A gardener does! At least I do! My mother taught me that you should not plant anything in your garden on a sunny day, wait for a cooler cloudy day, or do it in the evening, or even in a light rain. This will prevent stress, wilting and shock caused by the hot sun, strong winds, and very dry days. If you are like me and you just spent over a month babying your seeds into strong little plants, you do not want to lose them by putting them out in the ground at a bad time!

Today was cloudy with a cool breeze, some droplets of rain and a healthy amount of black flies*sigh*. I got my lettuce plants in the ground as well as some French Marigolds(Tagetes) for companion planting . I love the smell of marigolds!

I am going for a natural garden with no chemicals to repel bugs or boost my harvest, and hope to achieve a large part of that through companion planting and hand picking harmful insects. This is where the Tagetes will hopefuly come in handy!

Check out this amazing chart for companion planting! 🙂

 

Note: Not to confuse Tagete Marigolds with Calendula Marigolds because, according to wikipedia, Calendula may have healing properties but it also ATTRACTS the harmful bugs we want to eliminate from vegetable gardens..

Tagetes good for vegetable gardens.

Calendula, not so good for vegetable gardens.

 I know! Let’s give 2 similar flowers with opposite properties the same name! Good idea right? Not so much! 🙂