18 August 2008
I partook in a an amazing fundraiser/yoga event last saturday that was part of the Global Mala project. The focus is on raising money and awareness for local groups by doing 108 sun salutations, the charity for our event being the local Humane Society which is a total bonus considering I donate to them anyway. I had no idea if I could do all 108 but the great thing about yoga is that you can always do a slightly less vigorous version of the poses involved in the salutation if you're getting tired. To specify, it was Sun Salutation A which was fortunate as there are less poses in that sequence than B. I made it through, which I was very happy about, although 5 days later, my legs are still a little sore. There were quite a few people from the yoga studio I go to there which was awesome, and I think in total about 25-30 people showed up.
There was a band there who was amazing amazing amazing. I got to see a sitar up close which also was quite the experience. I felt the music really helped guide us through the toughness of doing 108 salutations. Afterward, there was a vegan potluck and i brought a vegan chickpea chana masala. Everybody brought such amazing food, and overall i just had such a great time. Unfortunately I ended up on the front page of the Niagara Weekly in a not so nice picture, but oh well it was worth going! Outdoor yoga is amazing!
9 August 2008
I absolutely love radishes. The hotter the better! The crisper the better! The fresher the better!
This year I'm growing a bunch of different kinds, white icicle, french breakfast and plum purple. I've been REALLY really good at succession planting. Every 2 weeks I plant some more radishes, usually along side carrots and lettuce. This has resulted in a continual supply! I'm proud of my succession planting this year as it was one of my goals to focus on this season. Since I'm harvesting so many, I need to have a good way to keep them crisp.
I learned this trick(pictured above) from my mom who uses it for lettuce. I fill a bowl full of water in the sink, then swish each radish around until it's clean. The leaves are left on the radish. Spread out line of paper towels still attached to eachother and place the radishes side by side. Then, roll up the radishes, place in a plastic bag left open at the top, then put the whole thing in the crisper. They'll stay fresh like this for over a week. I use the same technique for lettuce, green onions, herbs and some other things. :) Then, because the water was only used for rinsing, I take it outside and either put it in the rain barrel, or use it to water a plant!
One odd thing though...we had a weird cold week a while back, and I think the radishes got tricked into bolting to seed. Since they're a biennial plant grown as an annual, I've never had one seed as we usually pick and eat it in the first season. I was curious as to how it would seed as saving seed is one of our priorities around here, so i let it keep going. The flowers were so cute! 4 petaled little flowers with veining on the petals that is reminiscent of dragonfly wings. Anyway, I pulled it out without saving the seed as you don't want the seed from a plant that bolted prematurely anyway. Cool experience though! :) Happy accidents always turn into some form of garden learning.
8 July 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my raspberries had some wilty leaves at the top of a bunch of non-fruited canes. I admit I was a bit lazy and it wasn't until last week I researched a bit and found the culprit! Raspberry Cane Borers. I've been cutting off the canes well below the bottom mark in hopes that none of them hatched and bore all the way to the base. I look at the cane cross section after cutting, and I don't think any got too far. I hope just cutting off the cane tops when I see them wilt is enough, there is no other prevention listed.
I should have fresh raspberries this week though, a few are already red!
I should have fresh raspberries this week though, a few are already red!
19 June 2008
Come June-ish, hardneck garlic shoots up a pencil thick 'stem' with a kind of upside down teardrop shaped pod that goes to a long point. The stem, as it grows, curls around in a couple of loops. If left, this pod at the end gets bigger and little cloves form inside which then drop to the ground and start new garlics. You can propagate garlic this way, but from what I've read, you get a better garlic bulb if you cut the scape off when it curls once or twice since then, the plant's attempt at making seed is thwarted and it'll put all of it's energy into forming a bigger, juicier bulb. Since I use cloves from a bulb to plant garlic the following year I don't need the seed cloves from the top scape and I just cut them off.
Apparently you can steam or stir fry the scapes and eat them too! They're supposed to have a milder garlic flavour. Softnecks do not grow these scapes, and for both types of garlic you can tell when they're ready to pull by looking at how much of the leaves have browned and dried back.
10 June 2008
First off, the Onion Disaster. I have been starting onions every 2 weeks since march, so I have quite alot of onions right now in the garden. They are currently at the 'green onion' stage, so thicker than a pencil and not quite starting to bulb yet. I've been really happy with my onions since it was one of my goals to grow better onions this year. I started them from seed and i didn't thin them out, so they are growing in bunches, on average about 5 onions per bunch.
Now, one of the other new vegetables I chose to grow this year was bush beans. Since I've never grown either before too in depth, I planted the bush beans right beside the big row of transplanted onion starts and went away satisfied at my garden planning. Fast forward two weeks and OOPS! I didn't realize that beans and onions are enemies. From garden experience I know the basics of companion planting such as tomatos/basil/nasturtiums, garlic/roses, borage/strawberry, the three sisters, mint/cabbage and various other successful pairings. I was reading up the other night in one of my big garden books and what a surprise it was when I read that beans and onions don't grow well together. I couldn't really figure out why, nobody had an explanation, just that they wouldn't grow to full yield. I was upset that I had not researched beans enough to know this, but what can you do? At least the onions were green onion sized, it's just that there was so many i had to pull that now I have a huge excess of green onions so I've been forced to give away alot. So even though my planning of a successive harvest of onions is kinda out the window, at least I learned something I'll never forget. Beans hate Onions. :)
Now on to the onion miracle. Last year I bought some organic onion sets from a guy at a Seedy Saturday. I planted them that year, grew a bunch of bunches of onions, cured them, hung them in braids to dry in the basement. They've been there ever since last july/august and I've been eating them steadily. For fun last week I planted a couple in a grand experiment.
small onions from last year:
I was SO excited this week when I saw little green sprouts poking up through the soil. I was also very encouraged by the successful impromptu experiment and planted some more! Go onions! Go onion miracles!
9 June 2008
3 June 2008
Well! It's been REALLY busy this past month. Despite being a pretty cold May, I've been planting like crazy. This year I'm trying some new things. Leeks, raddichio, new types of lettuce, and storage onions are some examples. I've planted about 4 different kinds of lettuce so far including 'great lakes lettuce'(above), 'red coral lettuce', romaine lettuce, good ol' brun d'hiver lettuce and of course we'll be planting some bronze arrowhead later on. The romaine lettuce is my 3rd generation of this type. For two years in a row, I've grown it and saved the seed, then replanted the seed. It's best when picked young. New herbs include Betony, Swiss Mint and Orange mint. Of course I'm growing all the regular tea herbs, chamomille, peppermint, Bergamot, Lemon Mint, Marshmallow, Cilantro, thyme, lemon thyme, Borage, Strawberries, Basil, Dill, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, soapwort etc etc. I love herbs, I think every year I will add many new types of herbs to the garden. Onions are going very well. I hope to store a whole bunch of them and eat them throughout the winter. The garlic just keeps getting BIGGER. I can't wait to pull it up. The hardneck varieties are just starting to get the scape thing that curls.The only issues we've had so far is a late blight problem on the tomatos I started and some of the other plants I had hardening off out in the front of our house. There's been construction on the street for a couple of months now, and it's pretty dusty in the air around our neighbourhood. I'm pretty sure, since late blight is contracted by stuff from the air, that the construction was the cause. They are digging pretty deep and stirring up all sorts of stuff that ends up in the air. To support this, is the plants hardened off out the back of the house, that didn't have any problems. With every problem though, you learn something, and I recovered by growing different tomatos and starting some new beans and stuff.
3rd generation romaine:
white icicle radish:
wala wala onions:
The spinach I'm growing is a slow growing vining spinach. It's awesome and has red stems.
15 May 2008
Well, it's been quite a while since I've had any news on the garden. Not that I haven't been doing anything, I've just been so busy!
First off, pretty much every perennial I had is coming up with crazy enthusiasm this year. Even the stuff in the planters that I thought would be too exposed in the winter survived and are starting to grow and green. The peppermint, lemon balm, feverfew and soapwort specifically I assumed wouldn't survive, however, they are now all growing back and the peppermint already smells amazing!Feverfew, rhubarb, echinacea, lovage, thyme and chives are making their presence known again, back from the winter with pretty green leaves. I love how they look when they are JUST peeking out of the soil from the slumber. The lovage and echinacea had such pretty purple veining to them!
The garlic I planted last fall was SO big by the end of april, and now is even bigger! I have a hard time remembering specifics from year to year, but I swear that the size the garlic is now, equals the size it was last year around july. I planted two beds of garlic, one bed was garlic I grew the year before, dried, hung and saved. The second bed was garlic I bought from West Coast Seeds in case the stuff we dried didn't sprout properly. Our garlic breached the soil a couple days after the store bought stuff, and is now way bigger than the garlic I ordered! Although, since I'm pretty bad at keeping record, it will be a surprise which is softneck and which is hardneck.
This year, one of my goals is to grow better onions. I've been starting onions from seed in soil blocks every week for just over a month now. The first batch I transplanted last weekend, and they are doing amazing! I've also been starting leeks the same way from seed in soil blocks. Transplanting those will be a little wdird as we've never grown them before, and I'm not sure about some of the specifics for them. For example, should I thin the leek seedlings to 1 per block? Should I mound the soil, or let nature just do that over the course of the leek's life? Either way, it'll be a learning experience i guess. I'd like to become more proficiant at winter hardy gardening, and carrying those hardy plants into november, december and even january with the help of low tunnels and cold frames.
The tomatos I'm growing this year are a cherry sized type that are shaped like little pears! I'm excited to see them start fruiting! I started them the first week of april, and they are getting quite big already.
I dug in the ground cover and some compost about 5 weeks ago so that I could start some early outside stuff. The carrots are 'atomic red' carrots and the radishes are 'white icicle' radishes, both bought from the seedy saturday event from cottage gardener seed company. There are tons of other starts currently, chamomille, basil, ground cherry, cabbage, pac choi, arugula, radicchio, peas, lettuce, cucumber, squash, zucchini, sunflowers, morning glory, borage, wild bergamot, lemon mint, catnip, cumin, lemon catnip, and tons of other cool stuff.
24 February 2008
I got these cute little mini combs from The Black lamb in Port Hope. Combing fibre is such a nice way to prepare for a worsted spinning technique. I just used a button with a nice sized hole for a diz and some cheap mill ends I also bought from laurie and I got such nice results.
7 February 2008
Well, my knitting needles and constant use destroyed the tote bag my mom had given me, so I decided to try and sew a more heavy duty and nicer looking one. I just made up a basic tote bag pattern, and decided to spruce the lining up a bit. I added a lined pocket on one side, a divider slot to slide my patterns into and the some slip pockets for scissors and knitting needles. I am not very skilled in the art of applique, but I wanted a cute detail for the front, so I cut out a baby deer shape and clumsily appliqued the shape on. I also wanted to add a zipper, but since I was just la-dee-daa-ing the pattern, it didn't work out. Now I need to make a matching needle roll and wallet.
inner key pocket and pattern slip:
inner slip pockets:
6 February 2008
Well, I decided to break out my new wheel this past weekend and so far, it's going really well! I've just about filled one bobbin with singles, and as soon as I get another bobbin spun I'll ply them up and see how I did. I've been stopping and starting alot during the spinning, to check the twist against itself, but I've been trying to stop less and less and just trust that I've twisted enough. It's hard to guage, but definitely something that'll come with time. I'm spining up this giant bag of corriedale that I got in Vancouver. It's got a bit of vegetable matter here and there, but I don't really mind since this is wool I'm practicing with anyway. I've been predrafting the sliver and I think this helps a lot. The big birds nest of pre-draft I place in a mixing bowl by my feet and this seems to keep it from running away from me. I'm using a sort of short draw method I think. I probably won't be able to get an actual technique down for quite a while, as I'm just focusing on getting a more balanced single with every draft. I'm spinning on an Ashford Traveller, double treadle, scotch tension and a ratio, I think, of 5.5 to 1. The wheel seems very smooth, and everything seems to be working properly. The only problem I've encountered was that the bobbin sometimes doesn't seem to pull the yarn in, and it's only occasional. I fix it by slightly jiggling the bobbin a couple milimetres over, and that seems to fix it. I tightened the tension on the drive band which also seemed to help a little. After I've plied my first skein, I think I'll go to a faster ratio and see what that's all about!
1 February 2008
My most recent, and just finished, skein of handspun reminds me of peppermint leaves. yum! It's a skein of 2 ply hand carded green and brown Blue Faced Leicester fleece, spun with no method in particular on my cascade spindle. I guess kind of a woolen short draw if that even exists, or aka, beginner's "i don't really know what I'm doing" method. Either way, I got about 117 yards of yarn that's about sock yarn weight and now I'll have to figure out what to make with my new product! I think the goal for next skein is a thicker even yarn. I don't usually knit with yarn so lightweight. So maybe a thicker single or a thicker 2 ply but balanced instead of thick and thin like the first two.
30 January 2008
I started some really cool fingerless mitts (yes, another pair!) that appealed to me as they use stranded colour patterning, and a tubular cast on (above). Two things I haven't done yet. The pattern calls for a pretty lightweight yarn, similar to sock yarn, however, since most sock yarns come self striping, I had trouble finding solids. I ended up ordering some really nice superwash merino sportweight solid colour yarn from Louet North America. It comes in SOOO many colours. I ended up getting a bunch of skeins with the excuse being that I was ordering and had to pay shipping, so why not get a few more??!! Anyway, the mitts are going well, and for the colour work part, I'm adopting the method of holding one colour in the left hand and the other in the right using either the continental or english style knit/purl for the appropriate yarn. Since they're knitted in the round there's few purl stitches and thus they are going along at a fair pace. I still have to stop and look at the chart repeatedly in a row, and that slows me down a bit. The tubular cast on I had to do twice. The first time I cast on with 2mm needles, and those were clearly too small, so I ended up casting on with the 2.75's and continuing right into the colour work with them. Let's see if I can keep the stray yarn untangled long enough to finish the mitt
28 January 2008
I was looking for a pattern to knit in order to use some of the orange handspun yarn I had previously made and found a GREAT one for a neck cowl on Hello Yarn's list of free patterns. I love her store and her yarn. I really want to make a pair of her norweigan style mitts. Anyway, since it's been really cold lately I thought the neck cowl would be perfect. It turned out very well and because it was knit on some pretty large needles (8mm), it was pretty forgiving of my thick and thin handspun. Very fast and easy, I would reccomend this pattern for anyone. The cables seem to pop out nicely and it's a good size.
14 January 2008
Currently I'm working on some Blue Faced Leicester. I bought some green that when it came was WAY more flourescent than I would prefer, so I'm hand carding it with some dark brown BFL fiber in order to darken it.
progress from fibre to rolag to spindle:
It worked nicely, and I'm almost done one bobbin's worth of singles. It's ALOT thinner and ALOT more even than the orange from the previous entry. I'm excited to ply it as I'm spinning it with alot more twist. Above is the process I went through to darken the green. You can see the rolag, then the pre-drafted rolag, and then the spun single. Pre-drafting is the key! Below is a tomato baby hat I made on the weekend, I like how it turned out.
4 January 2008
I spent the last while hand carding some rolags of orange and grey bfl fibre in an effort to tone down the orange a bit. I think it was pretty successful. I then spun 4 bobbins of singles and then plied two skeins of yarn. It's a bit more balanced than my first skein, so I'm pretty pleased in that respect. However, I would prefer a slightly tighter plied yarn so for next time I know to spin my singles with more twist. I also advanced beyond the park and draft method for these skeins, standing up while spindling and drafting a bit faster. I stained and finished the Ashford Traveller wheel I got for my birthday, and it's sitting in parts waiting to be assembled. I can't wait!