Wow, where did March go? Have you seen it?
Seedlings taking over our kitchen.
I realized that I had started writing my March blog post and then it seemed to drop off the face of the earth. I apologize for not getting one out for last month. I also got very busy and sick at the same time. It was a cold but lasted about 3 weeks! Unfortunately I didn’t have any elderberry syrup to help but I made it through any way! So I guess this will be a combo blog of both March and April! How fun!
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Hardening off seedlings and getting them used to the outdoor life.
Other than being sick for the majority of March but really out of service for about a week and a half I did manage to do a lot of seed starting as well as ship some seeds to my brother! He’s planning on growing some food as well, and every little bit you can grow makes a big difference in your health and for the planet. That being said our kitchen has turned into and absolute jungle. I need to pot up my tomatoes like a week ago and I’m honestly not too sure where we are going to eat for the next month! My peppers also need to be potted up and I should probably invest in an actual greenhouse but this works…right? With the thawing of our earth I have been working on a few things outside. I am moving my compost to a sunnier location. I need it to warm up to break down quicker. While I move it I am also going to create a 3 section compost system… well actual 4. The first section will hold my browns (leaves, would chips/shavings, twigs, cardboard, paper, paper bags etc. Section 2 will have My freshly added food waste, animals waste, and layers of browns in between. Section 3 will have The compost that has been flipped from section 2 and is halfway through its composting cycle. This will empty section 2 so I can start over and allow the half broken down material to finish breaking down fully. Once it has broken down fully it will be flipped again into section 4. This will be the good stuff ready for use. This creates a composting cycle at 3 different stages. You don’t need a bin section for the browns but I think it will make the composting situation easier in the long run. Will keep things tidy and will be a great place to store leaves and other brown material. I am using pallets that I find laying around as well as a chicken wire on the back. You can use either or or whatever you have laying around. You technically don’t even need to have sections and can just do mounds or piles. I find this keeps it looking neater though if they have semi wall type structures.
Compost bin slowly being remade. I know it's a mess right now.
Top: Front annual bed for a small amount of kitchen garden veg.
Bottom: large view of our perennial flower and herb beds, walkways and grape trellis.
In the front yard I have been adding wood chips to create designated walkways through out front garden. The wood chips were dropped off from a tree cutting company that was driving around. Nice and local and no added dyes like the “red” wood chips from Canadian tire or Reno. So why am I using wood chips anyway and not just stepping stones or grass? I don’t like grass. I don’t think its the grass itself I don’t like. It’s soft, has a great root system and makes great food for herbivores. I think it’s the way we treat and “maintain” grass that I don’t like. It definitely has it’s uses don’t get me wrong but think about this. Your grass starts to grow, then it starts getting too long, so you cut it. This cycle continues weekly or bi-weekly, then it doesn’t rain for a while and it starts to turn brown so you water it, just so you can cut it again. You decide its looking a little dull or taking to long to grow, so you fertilize it, so you can cut it again. You then see beautiful little dandelions popping up, but think they are ugly and spray weed killer, then you water your grass so you can cut it again. But then you complain when it’s time to cut your grass again. (I am using the word you as a general term for a large population of people, as not all of you do this). As I type this I’m also thinking of all the times we hear on the news, radio and read on the web that we need to conserve our water, but it’s being used on grass. How water is being polluted, but we are adding chemicals to commercial farms and to our lawns that run off into the streets, and into our water sources. So why not grass and why the wood chips? A few years ago we switched to a reel lawn mower. You know the old school ones where you push it and you are the one turning the blade? Yah that kind. No gas, no electrical chord and plastic parts. We cut half an acre like that. Over the years I have been slowly trying to transform that grass into gardens, and food forests. The goal is NO GRASS, JUST GARDENS. The wood chips aren’t just going to be used as a mulch to keep the grass down, but also to keep more water and moisture on our property. That means when it doesn’t rain for a while we won’t have to water the garden every other day. This means there will be nutrients breaking down into the soil and building it up to a healthier Eco-system full of trillions of beneficial bacteria per square inch, including beautiful earth worms, It will create habitats for toads and geckos. So if you can get your hand on wood chips. I suggest you do so and create your own small habitat friendly garden/oasis.
Top: Raised beds for perennial herbs and beds for large crop growing. Slowly building that sand into healthy soil!
Bottom: Raised bed with bee balm and tarragon. Look for these lovelies in dry form this year!
Close up of Tarragon!
We have very sandy soil here so things dry out quickly. As we have been adding natural layers of mulches and compost there has been quite a change in nutrient value in those areas, the worm population is soaring and the ground stays moist and cool most of the summer. I had designated a 50x100 ft. Section last year but the sand was just too much and our crops did not flourish, they still grew but were just growing and some didn’t make it. I was able to get some manure but it wasn’t enough. I also realized that I’d like to do a few raised beds for my perennial herbs. Which I have been working on this year. They have a layer of cardboard, a thick layer of wood chips, compost/manure and a layer of straw on top. This will allow the weeds and grass to die off and the organic materials to break down further over the next few years and will continue to feed the garden and hold moisture.
We were able to get a few cold hardy seeds in the ground like spinach, kale, carrots, beets and a few others. They may take a bit longer to germinate in the cold but they don’t mind a bit of frost. We are always experimenting with when we can get stuff in the ground and how we can extend our food and medicine harvests!
We didn’t get up to too many adventures over the last few months, because it has been cold and rainy but we did do an early spring camp-out in the backyard. It was definitely chilly, then the rain started and around 4am we headed indoors. Good thing we were in the backyard and not in the middle of the bushes. Jade did say that she felt warm in her new sleeping bag, so that’s good! I ended up pressed against the cold wet tent and the dampness was seeping through. We had sparklers and a small fire going and even though we got cold it was still a blast!
Early Spring Backyard camping.
We decided to bike to “Boreal farm store” on the Easter weekend. It was a good 19 km bike ride (round trip). We took it slow and easy. Shawn had Jade on the tag-along and I had my panniers. When we got there we bought some eggs, spinach, honey and some freshly milked goats milk. FROM THAT MORNING!! I haven’t drunk milk from an animal in over 4 years I think. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nothing like cows milk but it has its own beautiful taste. I have been using it in my coffee with no added sweetening and its perfect! Part of shopping local for me is adjusting my diet slightly. I realized as well that I will reduce my waste quite a bit using local goats milk in a glass bottle instead of vegan coffee creamer in those plasticized cardboard cartons. They say they are recyclable but I have my doubts. I’m making it a personal goal to try my best at shopping second hand and within 25 km of where I live. That also includes being produced within 25 km of where I live. It’s definitely harder to change my habits than I thought it would be. Not that shopping local is hard, it’s getting in the habit of changing where I go and what I buy. Baby steps this year and maybe fully local next year! This also includes ramping up our garden to not only stay even more local, but to ensure we are eating the cleanest, freshest versions of food. That leads me to the next topic I wanted to discuss. Herbs and Holistic nutrition and the direction my business is going.
Sleeping beauty (Lavender)
I am currently enrolled in a beginner herbal course. I’m hoping to continue into advanced and into the business course in the future. So what does that and growing our own food have to do with each other? Well we are dedicating a large patch to herbs, perennials, annuals and biennials. We are going to grow, dry and sell our herbs. Both for culinary and medicinal purposes. I’d also like to have some sun dried tomatoes and dried chili peppers for you this year. I took a nutrition course a few years ago which I thought would lead to an “over all healthy lifestyle course” The entire program wasn’t what I was looking for even though I aced my nutrition course. I plan to further my nutrition studies as well. I would love to be able to bring a holistic nutrition and herbal medicine approach to healing and living a healthy lifestyle to those around me, or to those looking to just live better, healthier, happier and more aligned with the earth and all she has to offer. You will have to keep an eye open for dried herbs for sale on our shop page and maybe at some local stores.
If there are any herbal things you’d like to see for sale, It would help me out greatly to hear from you. Think things like what are your favorite culinary herbs (basil, oregano, garlic), are you looking for a natural deodorant or lip balm? I have an amazing hand salve recipe for gardeners. Would you be interested in buying some? If so let me know.
Lemon Balm tincture being made and some amazing lip balms with a mild cocoa flavor <3.
Check out some other things we have for sale and help support my growing business.
My goals for May are to get a few cold hardy crops in the ground like potatoes. I’m definitely making our potato patch much bigger this year! I’d like to find 4 more pallets to finish my compost bins. If anyone in my area has any let me know in the comments below! I need to get the rest of my brassicas started and a few more herb seeds started as well. My tomatoes must be potted up as soon as possible as well. I think I might also order some of that clear plastic stuff people use for a covered porch, to finish off the greenhouse. I do have some current bushes and hawthorn bushes in there growing roots right now! But it’s still too cold at night to put anything else in there. I need to finish making a few more raised beds for my herbs and create raspberry supports. Did I mention that our rhubarb is starting to sprout in our forest garden? It’s so tiny and cute. Our basket willow cutting are also doing good and I look forward to a whimsical willow patch my our pic-nic table.
I hope to have our sharing library our by the end of May. I just finished getting the door together and will need to make the roof. Once that’s done we just need to figure out a post or an up-cycled base.
Sharing Library almost done!
What have you been up to? Do you plan on starting a garden this year? Or even a few vegetables in pots or an indoor herb garden in your windowsill? I’d love to hear your plant plans. Have you used a sharing library before? What herbal products would you like to see available for you? What’s your favorite place to shop local? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to like, comment and share. It really helps me out.