Monday, May 31, 2010

Making Seed Tape

making seed tape

I don't know about you but it seems that every year when little hands help plant the vegetable garden there is an inevitable spillage of seeds. Most of the time it's the carrots... those teeny tiny seeds you can barely see once they hit the dirt. There's not much you can do once it happens but wait for a rogue patch of Nantes to poke up in the middle of a pathway somewhere *grin*.

This year we're going to experiment and make our own seed tape :) I ran across a blog post somewhere out there in bloggy land (sorry can't remember which one) where they made a paste of flour and water to *glue* the seeds to newsprint on little dots of paste.
So we got out some newspaper and using my Fiskars cutter K sliced one inch strips of paper that we spread out all over the kitchen table.

making seed tape

For the glue we mixed 1/2 a cup of flour and water together. I don't have an exact measurement for the water but I just dribbled in water and mixed until it was a nice sloppy consistency similar to pancake batter. How's that for mental imagery! *grin*.

To spread the paste we used a large paintbrush and rubbed the paste down the lengths of newspaper making a thick layer of it down the center and then placed the seeds on top of the paste. So far we've just done some of the beet seeds as a trial run. I didn't want to do to many just in case something horrible happens like the newsprint glues itself to the table or all of the seeds end up falling off *grin*.

They're still wet so I'll have to update you again tomorrow on how they turn out and if all goes well we're going to have these great strips of seeds to just lay on our rows for planting in the vegetable garden! Can't wait to update you on how it works out :)

~ Rosina

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Triple Protection Weed Barrier

bean pathway

After spending days ripping knee high grass, thistles and salmon berry bushes out that had taken over my pathway behind my bean netting I decided that I would never do it again! It was time to take action and bar those weeds from ever returning *grin*.

bean pathway

I knew my obsession with reading tons of newspapers would come in handy one day! LOL. Armed with a wheelbarrow full of them we headed out to the garden to get started. Newsprint makes an excellent weed barrier as it smothers anything that is trying to grow up from underneath and over the years it biodegrades and turns to mulch for the soil.

bean pathway

Just make sure that you use only the newsprint and not any of the glossy and shiny flyers. They're an entirely different breed of paper and aren't good for this sort of project :) We layered the papers over top of each other multiple times all the way down the path creating a thick cushion of newsprint over the soil.

bean pathway

I'm not taking any chances though with rogue weeds popping up through any cracks in the paper so I'm upping my efforts in weed control and putting down a layer of landscaping felt on top of the papers to *grin*. We have scads of left over fencing wire from the last time we fenced so I got hubby to snip off short lengths of it that I could fashion it into staples for holding down the landscaping felt :)

bean pathway

You can see above how I bent the wire into a U shape and then we poked it through the landscaping felt and into the soil so that it securely holds the felt in place and now it won't slip around on the newspaper. It's also great for getting the felt nice and taut for a smooth surface :)

Hauling bark mulch

Now I know you probably thought I was done after laying down 2 layers of newspaper and felt, but heck no I'm going for more protection yet! LOL. We hitched on the horse trailer and headed off to grab some bark mulch. Off we go with the trailer in tow *grin*.

Hauling bark mulch

You've just got to love this stuff! It's a by product from the peeler that works nearby so there's always tons of it and it is fabulous for pathways, mulching your garden to help it retain moisture during the dry season of summer and it's a great weed deterrent as well :)

Just make sure you don't use Cedar!! It is poisonous to many plants and you don't want to kill your pretty blooms or vegetables.

bean pathway

Ahh, finished. Triple protection from the weeds that should last for a couple of years before I need to top dress it again with more mulch :) Now let's get planting!

~ Rosina

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Blooms

chive blooms

Some of the pretty blooms that are out around the yard.

You've got to love chives! Deliciously edible green stalks and if left to bloom gorgeous lilac blooms will appear that are not only pretty to look at but add a nice spicy kick to salads :)

Lupin bloom

Volunteer Lupins that have self seeded themselves all along the gravel driveway. These beauties just love to reproduce themselves and love poor soil. Don't try to dig up a mature plant though for transplanting. They have a tap root like a dandelion and don't take kindly to being moved. Start them by seed and they will double and triple in numbers all by themselves the following years :)

columbine bloom

A wild Columbine or Aquilegia that we found growing in the hay field. Aquilegia is derived from the latin word aquilinum which means 'eagle like' because the spurs on the ends of the flowers are compared to the talons of an eagle. I just love the native species but you've got to see the hybridized doubles. They have the prettiest petals that look just like layers of petticoats :)

rhubarb bloom

I can't believe it but our rhubarb is already starting to go to seed! They have these very tall spikes covered with little white flowers and if you let it finish blooming it will actually produce seeds. Yes, you can grow rhubarb from seed!!! My mom has quite a few pots of them growing right now from last years seed and I must say they are growing at a very vigorous rate to. I'm going to pinch off the bloom though as I want to keep producing yummy stalks of rhubarb to eat *grin*.

What is flowering in your yard right now?
~ Rosina

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bean Netting

Bean netting

The sun was out today finally and with Hubby home I thought that I better grab him quick and get some of the manly jobs done around the yard *grin*.

The old bean fence in the garden is starting to fall apart and tip but I'm going to squeeze one more season out of it! So hubby braced it up and it's nice and sturdy again so I can hang some netting on it for the beans to climb on :)

Red wagon

We have loads of old gill net from Hubby's grandpa packed in giant sacks and when I loaded it into the kids' little red wagon he decided that he needed a lift to *grin*. The kids were up to the challenge and towed daddy around and around the yard, even up the hill in the front yard so they could run him back down at break neck speed. A couple times I thought for sure they were going to tip him right out of the seat!

Bean netting

I love using the gill net to grow the beans up. It's nice and light weight and anywhere there are fishermen there is bound to be some old net that is to damaged that they no longer want to repair it and will give it away :)

Bean netting

As we stretched it over the stand hubby staple gunned it to the posts.

Bean netting

I don't have a photo of it completely finished but you get the idea *grin*. Tomorrow I'm going to lay down landscaping felt on the ground behind the stand and cover it with bark mulch to keep the weeds from taking over again. I just spent the last two days ripping out the last of the salmon berry bushes, thistles and knee high grass that had taken over along the perimeter of the fence. What a nightmare! That's what happens when you neglect your weeding duties LOL.

Each day take us a little bit closer to finishing all of the weeding, prepping and planting and then it'll be on to easier tasks like just watering. For now I can only dream :)

~ Rosina

Work in Progress

Granny Squares

How is it that I can have a million different projects on the go and life seems to sweep me from one to the next at lightning speed depending on the season *grin*.

My poor granny squares have become lost in the piles of fabric, dresses half finished and quilts waiting to be stitched :) Thank goodness the Granny A Day project is a year long one because the garden is calling me these days and all craft projects have been temporarily left in the dust! By the looks of the above picture you can tell that I have quite the menagerie of blocks in different sizes and it may be a feat in itself just to put it together in blanket form! LOL.

I came across my little stash of them as I was tidying up my yarn and thought I'd post a quick photo for those participating in the project if you stop by to see what I've been up to *grin*. Shamefully I must admit I'm going rather slow!

How about you. What WIP's (works in progress) do you have waiting for your return right now?

~ Rosina

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trout Fishing

trout fishing

The boys decided that they needed a fishing break today so Opa and K headed of to a nearby lake for a little trout fishing :) They were only gone a little over an hour and they were back with 8 nice cut throat trout. The above photo is K showing off one of his :)

trout fishing

It was like watching myself as a little girl. Dad used to take my sister and I fishing all the time and we learned to be masters at baiting our hooks with worms and cleaning fish *grin*. So now to watch my dad take K and to hear all of their funny stories of the big one that got away, bobbers & hooks that got caught up on the snags, or how K's leg shakes uncontrollably every time he catches a fish is just priceless :)

trout fishing

One very nice perk to all of the fishing is the heads left after cleaning. They make FANTASTIC fertilizer for plants!!! You can throw them underneath any flowers that you are planting and they will be bigger and have more blooms than ever before :)

Works great for the vegetable garden to! If you have a spot in your garden that you can spare, dig a hole, drop in the fish guts and then cover it up well. Next spring you will have some very good fish compost just like the sea soil you can buy for fertilizing your vegetables with :)

Trout fishing

Now that they're all finished being cleaned we're going to have them fried for lunch tomorrow. So delicious and great brain food to *grin*.

Bon appetit!
~ Rosina

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gardening in the Rain

Poppy bloom

The rain continues to fall here but it wasn't able to deter us from heading out into the garden again to get more of the much needed work done so that we can finish planting.

I must confess that while I do like the sun I would rather work in the rain any day of the week instead of the scorching heat *grin*. I'm so fair skinned that I burn to a crisp under it's rays. To give you an example of just how touchy more poor skin is, I actually got 1st & 2nd degree burns on my shoulders at my sisters wedding while we paraded around for hours in the afternoon sun for photos. All I can say is OUCH!!

Getting manure

We bundled up in our coats and boots and headed down to the pond to collect a wheel barrow full of manure so that we could pop the last of our broccoli and cabbage plants into the garden.

Getting a push

Big brother must have been feeling a little sluggish today as he requested a push up the hill from little brother *grin*.

L at pond

L was quite content to stare over the field below while we shoveled :) I'm not quite sure what she found so intriguing over there behind the flower bed. Perhaps she was just avoiding us so that we wouldn't rope her into any manual labor *grin*.


On our way back to the garden we saved this giant snail from a squishy death under the wheel barrow tire. He didn't even attempt to pull himself back into his shell which gave the kids a good chance to give him a very thorough once over before we placed him safely in the grass again :)

Tomato Hangers

My tomatoes seem to like their new hanging planter to! They perked right up after the shock of transplanting and are already starting to climb upwards. I can't wait to see how this little experiment turns out :)

Hope all of my Canadian bloggy friends had a lovely Victoria Day today and had a chance to take part in some of the many festivities and parades that took place across our great nation today :)

~ Rosina

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prepping the Garden


I thought that I would share a photo of my pretty pink peonies. They are one of my favorite flowers :)

Getting garden ready

Tomorrow is the first day that we should be clear of any frost danger and I thought it was high time that we get our garden in order! We all set out right after breakfast to beat the heat and K and I tackled shoveling the rows of dirt while the youngest two shot dirt in every direction from atop the hill of soil my dad dropped in last week :) At least it's helping to disperse it! *grin*.

Getting garden ready

The grass and weeds all along the inside of the garden fence have grown quite high and I don't know how many wheel barrows of sod and weeds we dumped into the pit before the rain started pouring down again just before lunch. We didn't get finished but I'm hopeful that we'll be able to venture out again tomorrow if it's not to wet and muddy.

Tomato Hangers

I thought that I would try something new this year with my tomatoes so I picked up some of the above planting hangers that let you grow your tomatoes on their sides or upside down instead of the conventional way of upright in the soil. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

I planted 3 different varieties.

Rocket ~ an early variety, suffers from little disease, produces medium sized tomatoes and is fast maturing which is perfect for coastal regions like where we are.
Super Sweet 100 ~ sugary sweet cherry tomato, resistant to wilt, and produces long clusters of fruit right up to the frost.
Window Box Roma ~ compact plant perfect for containers, disease resistant, excellent for cooking in sauces or homemade tomato paste.

I think I'm most excited about the Roma tomatoes as I plan to can tomato sauce and ketchup this year. Oh boy, these tomatoes better do well as I have 101 plans for them! LOL.

Loading bark mulch

After ducking in and out of the greenhouse for a couple of hours to avoid getting soaked in the rain we finally had a break in the weather long enough to help my mom with some of her garden chores :) She has a gorgeous hillside garden and all of her pathways are covered with bark mulch to keep the weeds away. Some spots were in need of some fresh mulch so L & M helped carry it up the mountain in ice cream pails. The perfect size for little hands :) M was so excited that he got to use the pitch fork all by himself to fill his bucket. You should have seen him beaming from ear to ear as he got to do a 'big boy' job *grin*.

Loading bark mulch

And off he goes with his pail :)
I think everyone was utterly exhausted tonight as there was not one protest at bedtime and nothing but silence within minutes of their heads hitting their pillows. They're going to need the rest as we're going to do it all over again tomorrow weather permitting!

~ Rosina

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To Market, To Market, We Go

Plant Collector nursery

Today was a day full of farmer's markets, street vendors and plant collectors :)

We left home at 8am and made our way down island to the Comox Valley to soak up all of the goodness that makes up the Farmer's Market. When we arrived just before 1oam the place was buzzing with activity! The food vendors were offering up tantalizing loaves of fresh bread, cookies & rolls. There was an abundance of vegetable plants to be purchased, lovely fresh produce to be turned into a delicious dinner, and more :)

With our organic lettuce and gingerbread men cookies tucked inside our trug we headed off to check out the street vendors at the annual Empire Days. So many wonderful items to tempt the pocketbook *grin*. We found a very skookum horse chestnut tree for $5 and stopped at the Wandering Moose Cafe which is now in the former post office. A beautiful heritage brick building which was built around 1907. I remember going there with my grandmother as a little girl so it was quite nostalgic :)

On our way home we passed by the Highland games that were in full swing and we burst out into school girl giggles as we remembered the photo on the front page of the paper after last years games with I believe 'Dave' in his kilt throwing something and the front of his kilt flying dangerously high. High enough that you nearly found out of they really do wear their knickers underneath those things! LOL. I know we're just so terrible for thinking such thoughts *grin*.

The last stop we made before making it home this evening was at the Plant Collector Nursery which is the photo above. Such a beautiful place to explore with it's Snow White-esque cottage in the center which is actually the office. With the classical music that was playing throughout the garden I think we could have spent the afternoon gazing at the blooms and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. A perfect ending to a lovely day!

~ Rosina

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tug Boat Blessings

Today's blessing block is for my husband :)
He is the captain of a tug boat and tows logs up and down the coast from all of the different logging camps so I thought it would be fitting to make this block a tug boat. He loves to be on the water and actually began as a commercial fisherman.

When we first met he was in between fishing seasons and decided to try his hand at shake blocking. This was back breaking work. He and his partner would go into remote areas in the forest where it had been logged and they would salvage cedar that they would find amongst the clear cut. There they would cut split and stack them into piles that would be strapped together in slings so that a helicopter could fly in, pick them up and eventually they would be loaded on a B train to be taken to the mill.

He did this for a couple of years. It was nice that he had a 9-5 job and was home every evening but the ocean called *grin*. After the birth of our first son he got a job as a deckhand with a local tug company and well the rest is history. He worked his way up through the ranks, went back to school and got a ticket so he could run the tugs himself and now he's the captain. We've gone from him being home every night to seeing him for a couple of days every 1-2 weeks but he LOVES his job and I'm happy that he's happy :)

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband that works so hard for his family :) I am also blessed that this allows me to stay home with my 3 children and to be able to homeschool them. So many blessings can be tied into this one little block *grin*.

Blessing Block ~ Tug

I love felt as many of you know and I find it so easy to work with that I just had to use it for the tug as it was going to take some work to piece it all together :) The black circles along the bow and side represent the rubber that is all around his tug and I used french knots to hold them on and I just love how the water turned out with all of the french knots clustered together like that. If you're wondering why I chose the colors of black and maroon instead of something brighter it was because this is the actual color of my husbands tug. I would have stitched the name on it to but it was just to tiny *grin*.

I'm starting to get a little bit of a vision as to how I'm going to complete my blocks to which is great. I wasn't quite sure what direction I was going in when I started but now I have more plans :)

Happy stitching!
~ Rosina

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away


We've had some pretty wet weather these last few days and today was no exception. Actually as I'm writing this the rain is hammering against the windows as the bird feeders swing wildly and the house groans uncomfortably.

Needless to say we're going a little stir crazy not being able to spend as much time outdoors as we would have liked. So as a fun little outing I packed everyone into the car along with a few school books that we are reading right now and headed down to the wharf.

Salmon Transporter

There we could watch the birds and sea otters play, boats coming and going and get pounded by the rain and wind while still staying dry *grin*. It was a nice change. I read aloud for about an hour while the 3 of them colored and drew pictures to go along with the story in the backseat :)

I hear we're supposed to get the sunshine back by the weekend... boy do I hope so!

~ Rosina

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Umbrella Blessings

Ooh, I'm on a roll! Two blocks in two days *grin*.
Thank you everyone for all of the kind comments you left yesterday on my Clothesline Blessing Block :) You're all so sweet!

Today it has been raining like crazy and it made me think about my umbrella and how blessed we are to have such a thing so that we can venture outdoors and explore nature even while the heavens are pouring down on us.

Bunny & Umbrella Blessing Block

I have been smitten with bunny rabbits ever since creating my white rabbit embroidery and mixed media piece for the Alice in Wonderland swap I participated in so I just had to make my little person a bunny *grin*. A pretty little girl bunny dressed in a ruffled sundress amongst the flowers.

This is exactly where I could have been found today.... stealing moments in the flower beds between rain squalls LOL.

Happy stitching,
~ Rosina

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clothesline Blessings

Hooray! I finally have another block or in this case 4 more blocks to share for my Count Your Blessings stitch along :)

I am crazy about my clothesline and can often be found actually searching for things to wash during the summer months just so I can bring in the scent of sunshine *grin*.

Clothesline Blessing Block

I wanted to keep with the three dimensional theme that I started with when I made my garden block so I sewed some miniature clothing to hang on the clothesline :) An apron and a little pair of pants blowing in the breeze. I stitched the little pink socks and then added little french knot flowers just to give it a little more pizzaz. Can't you just feel the breeze blowing as the apron flaps in the wind? Heehee, I love it *grin*.

Happy stitching,
~ Rosina

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Whole Wheat Pie Crust ~ Recipe

Whole wheat & oatmeal pastry

A couple of days ago I had mentioned that I had a new recipe that I wanted to try for a whole wheat and oatmeal pie crust and I don't know why I hadn't tried it sooner!! It's fantastic.

I was worried how we would like it being so used to the traditional flaky pie crusts that we're all so accustomed to eating but this has a deliciously crunchy crust and sort of reminds me of the crumb topping on an apple crumble. YUM!

Whole wheat & oatmeal pastry

You will need:
  • 2 cups of soft wheat berries ground as fine as possible or 1 3/4 cups of store bought whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water
Set your grain mill to the finest setting and grind your soft wheat berries. You are going to want to use 1 3/4 cups of the freshly milled flour or if you don't have a mill you can use 1 3/4 cups of regular whole wheat flour :)

Mix your flour, oats, and sugar together and add in your oil mixing well. Next you just want to add enough water to make the dough stick together so that you can form a nice ball with it. I used approximately 1/4 cup of water but you may need a little more. To be on the safe side just add your water in very small increments so you don't make it to wet.

With your hands knead your dough two or three times to stick it all together and then divide it into two equal pieces for the top and bottom crust on your pie. Using your whole wheat flour give your counter a liberal dusting and pat one ball into a circular disk and then roll out with a floured rolling pin checking as you go to make sure it isn't sticking to your counter. If it starts to stick add a little more flour underneath or on top if needed. The first disk will be your pie bottom and then repeat with the other half of your dough to make your pie top :)

Whole wheat & oatmeal pastry

Because of the oats in the dough it tends to want to crumble a bit when you lift it into your pie plate so a good trick to help move it in one piece is to roll it up on your rolling pin so that it is wrapped around your pin and then lift it over your pie plate and unroll it again over your pie plate so that it falls into place :)

Let me know how you like it if you try it out! I'm a total convert now and I don't think that I will ever make a white flour pastry dough again *grin*.

~ Rosina

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Rather Dirty Surprise

garden dirt

Haha, got you with that title *grin*.

My garden is on a hill and over the past 8 years the dirt has slowly migrated to the bottom of the garden leaving the soil at the top rather shallow. My dad has been mentioning for a while now that he might run his backhoe over with a few loads of topsoil and today was the day :)

I now have a giant pile of new dirt to contend with and I think it's going to take quite a bit of muscle power on my part to get it spread out! Thankfully after being dropped from the bucket most of the grass turf and weeds were knocked loose from the soil so it shouldn't be to hard to pull them all out.

Maybe I should just turn the boys loose in there. They could probably play, build roads, throw it around for a bit and move most of it by the end of summer LOL.

Wish me luck!
~ Rosina

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rhubarb Spritzer

rhubarb juice

Rhubarb has done it again! Today I made a big batch of delicious rhubarb syrup which is just perfect for a tasty summertime drink :)

rhubarb juice

This is so super easy to make. Chunk up 6 cups of fresh rhubarb stalks and place in a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Add 5 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 2 nice thick slices of lemon and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes when the rhubarb has completely gone mushy.

Let the syrup cool and then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a jar. You will have a gorgeous pink liquid and you can eat the boiled rhubarb to! I had quite the chuckle this afternoon as I told my mom about making the syrup and that there wasn't one stitch of rhubarb left. The kids had eaten it all up *grin*.

rhubarb juice

To finish off your yummy rhubarb spritzer you will need a bottle of sparkling water. I love to use Pellegrino. We don't like to have ours to sweet so we use 1 part syrup and 2 parts Pellegrino for a light and refreshing drink. It's like having a soda but without the ingredients you can't pronounce *grin*.

Can't wait to take this on our next picnic!
~ Rosina