I am a big fan of spring - everything is new and fresh. There is the excitement of a (very) full (and colourful) greenhouse, sprouting little seedlings in the garden. The hope of cooler wet weather turning into glorious hot summer days (a girl can dream right?) There is a tonne of work to get to this stage (of course), but maybe we are driven by the possibility of the harvest, the satisfaction of turning a few tiny seedling into a riotous basket of flowers, and most importantly - the END of another very long Alberta winter. A fresh green start to our short growing season. There is no time for reading and dreaming with a cup of tea (or coffee) on what we are going to do...it is a time of doing.
Summer officially starts (at least for me) with the boys report cards coming home from school. The garden has sprouted, strawberries are blooming, sun-warmed cherry tomatoes are picked right from the plants and popped in your mouth (in the greenhouse), the first summer salads are being made from the garden - still dreaming of picking peas, and fresh baby spuds - but are watching them grow and waiting with anticipation. As the weather warms up, we enjoy family bbqs after a long day working - there is always something to do/fix/pull/water/repot at the farm.
Strawberry picking begins, peas start to fill out their pods, beans need picking, raspberries turn red, birds are in the Saskatoons, cabbage moths appear, tomatoes are 15 feet tall in the greenhouse and need a pruning, poinsettias (finally) show up (that's a story in itself - but not for today), the greenhouse needs to be cleaned out for fall crops, strawberries finish, still picking raspberries, peas, and beans, and (big breath....)the kids are starting to fight because they "are bored". I know I shouldn't wish them back to school - but this is usually my breaking point (somewhere about mid-August this year.) POOF! Summer is just about over - but we still continue to go because there is still work to be done and there are a new batch of activities starting to look forward to. Hockey camp starts, conditioning starts, school starts, tryouts start, cuts happen, conditioning for league starts, league tryouts starts...and that brings us to Fall.
side note***Hockey has NOTHING to do with the farm but is a big part of my family life with 2 *little* boys and one *big* one playing :) Hubby (assistant) coaches (both kids), is on the SMH board (in the capacity of VP, Atom co-director, equipment manager and guy who updates the SMH webpage) - it is a MAJOR part of our lives. Yes I know I was the girl who said she'd never be a hockey Mom - but I've embraced it...and 7 years into it I think I eat, sleep and breathe hockey too - or at least Mid-Aug to April :)***
Back to fall....One would think that things *should* slow down at the farm with the cooler weather that is fall - I wish this were the case. Right now, we are battling cabbage moth worms. Normally the little green guys don't bother me too much - until you are trying to prepare said brassicas for dinner/blanching/processing of some sort. This week the little green guys have been exploring my kitchen as I work my way through the bags of "crauliflowers" that have been picked. My family's lizard has been a happy camper - his favorite foods now comes with a tasty bonus. There has been pickling, freezing, and really great eating! Fall used to depress me - but I have learned to like it (okay like may be a strong word - as I grumble about putting on socks and shoes), but I *like* it a whole lot better than what comes next. (But) I am thankful that I can - on my way out the door to hockey - run to the garden and pick a salad, grab some spuds (that have already been dug thanks to my Dad), grab a serving of broccoli and cauliflower for a vegetable, maybe a cucumber and a handful of tomatoes for the boys lunches the next day and know that we are eating well (healthy, pesticide free, local etc). By blanching and freezing/pickling and processing we will continue to have home-grown food for a good part of the winter. My first seed and plant catalogs have shown up. I haven't had too much of a chance to sit and dream - but I know that time is coming (way too quickly).
Things I've (we've) Done this summer: (in no order)
~Eaten our weight in berries - yum yum!
~Learned that Fed-Ex doesn't care to deliver right to the farm - and will pay Canada Post to deliver it for them - despite the fact that Canada Post only delivers twice a week to the farm and the package they are supposed to deliver is highly perishable. Needless to say our next shipment will be picked up in Calgary so the poinsettia babies' roots still actually have soil attatched to them when we plant them. :P
~Said "goodbye" to the old strawberry patch. Will be planting a new one in the spring.
~Gained an appreciation for *yummy* Canadian white wines on our vacation to Enderby/Salmon Arm this year. The gang toured 3 wineries and I brought home some of our favorites - a Viognier from Granite Creek (My personal favorite - I wish I could have brought a case of this one alone *hic*, "Mad Ang" from Larch Hills (Hubby's fav - very good as well *hic*, and a really yummy Blush from Recline Ridge - which I haven't gotten into yet but maybe that can be a project for after hockey while I'm building pickles this weekend :) *hic* giggle giggle :)
I've attached links to all of the websites of the wineries we visited...all of them offer online ordering as I haven't seen any of them in my travels in Alberta - yet :)
~Golfing with my boys <3 <3!! I actually am getting proficient at this game!
~Started a small Fall Mum crop - I hope to have them blooming in 6-7 weeks. I'm not sure why I like mum's so much. Maybe it's the last stab at "colour" before we get into Poinsettias and Christmas season.
~Started our crop of fall GH cukes - we're trying our hand at the baby english cukes - I'm excited :)
~Made yummy zucchini raisin muffins (which didn't last) so I'm going to make more :)
~Fought - every step of the way - to get our poinsettia crop to the finish - first with the order itself (which incidentally has to be in by Feb of the year it is to be grown), then delivery, then nursing back to health, then water, then heat...3 more months...3 more months
~Took out my "Wild Mellie" garden in the back yard at home and put in a much more refined "Blair Approved" garden - turns out when you spend most everyday at the farm your garden at home can get out of control ?? who knew ?? My hunny and I spent our 12th Anniversary weekend - digging, dividing, weeding, moving, mulching, rock placing - and now I have a garden again. <3 you hun xo
~share my recipes for pickles, salsa, muffins and any other way I've devised to use up the harvests :)
~start planning next years' bedding plant and baskets - what colours and plants would you like to see? I ran into some interesting combinations for red basket verbena that I'd like to try. I'd also like to try and do some topiaries of fuchsias and maybe some herbs..., oh and living wreaths...here we go again :)
~Finish a WHOLE cup of coffee from a "real" (not travel) mug before it gets cold
~Get through an entire week without a phone call home from the school - "Mom, I forgot my _______, could you please drop everything and bring it to me please?"
~paint my back door to match my front door that I got painted not this summer but 2 summers ago now :(
~finish painting my house (inside) before I change my mind on the colours again
~feed (and watch from a safe distance) the fat little birdies that love my lilac bush in my newly tamed garden :)
~finish pickling/salsa making/jam making/blanching/freezing so I can get on to SOUP and bread making :)
~find and spend some time in my craft room - actually crafting and not ironing :P
~Watch my boys play a tonne of hockey and use that Cowbell!
~Start dreaming about a spring (i.e. after hockey finishes) vacation to somewhere tropical where the sun is shining, a guy named Orlando mixes girly drinks, there is an ocean, a beach and a cabana... <3
~Read from start to finish, several times, all of the seed catalogs that make their way to my reading pile - memorize, make a list, make a longer list, cut the list down, order and get ready to plant!!
A random thought about falling leaves and really nothing to do with this post except it is about Fall --
Leaf Mold Compost -
What you need:
Leaves from deciduous trees
Bin or room for a compost pile
*Optional* Mower or mulcher to chop leaves into smaller pieces
How to do it:
Mow leaves (optional)
put in bin or pile
turn pile with pitchfork (optional)
*Leaf mold compost takes 4 months to a year. It is ready for use when you can no longer recognize leaves - even if there are still pockets of un-decomposed leaves in the pile - you can harvest the finished compost returning the (uncooked) leaves to the pile.
Leaf mold compost is an excellent soil amendment for adding moisture retention to sandy soils (like mine at home), or loosening clay soils. It also makes a great mulching material for beds. Leaf mold compost is low in nutrients however - so it should be used in conjunction with regular additions of regular compost, manure, etc.
x0 until next time (whenever that may be...)