Friday, 21 November 2014

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by Amanda Soule at SouleMama
"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments."

Extending the Harvest with Covered Hoops

Last year I began experimenting with extending the growing season and harvesting fresh food through autumn. In fact, I was able to harvest backyard veggies for the last time on December 1st! After that we had an unseasonal cold snap and early snow (I live in the moderate pacific northwest where we are increasingly finishing winter with little to no snow). Luckily some of my cold resistant veggies bounced back enough by late winter that I could start harvesting them again in February and March.

But one of my faults as a backyard gardener is that I often forget to harvest the veggies before they bolt (go to seed) in the summer or freeze in the winter. I'm always disappointed that I didn't pick something when I thought of it instead of waiting just that one more day or week. Hardy plants like kale did well with limited frosts and bounced back quickly, but my turnips, carrots, and cabbage were turned to mush in the freezing temps and never rebounded.

Through the summer, after doing more reading about fall and winter gardening, and weighing the pros and cons of cold frames versus covered hoops (an excellent discussion here), I decided to try covered hoops this year. Sometimes plastic covered hoops made with flexible tubing are called low tunnels, and the taller variety are called poly tunnels. I guess mine are a hybrid (not low but not tall enough to walk in).

My wonderful neighbour (really, he's amazing) and built my covered hoops once I'd cleaned up the fall garden and mulched everything for warmth and moisture retention. Unfortunately we'd already had a frost, so there has been some damage to the lettuce and Asian greens, which I'd hoped to avoid.

With the sides down for full protection.

With the sides up for moisture in warmer temperatures.

So how well do the covered hoops work to protect my plants?

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth>>>

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Lest We Forget

My homemade felt poppies that I
proudly reuse year after year.
Each year for Remembrance Day I wear my homemade white peace poppy along side my red poppy, so that not only am I remembering all the soldiers who died for a cause, but also all the civilians, animals and nature, who had no choice in being involved in a political conflict. In the past I have been criticized for my choice to wear a peace poppy, but this year I feel more confident thanks to my administrator who shares my views. She wore her own crocheted peace poppy, brought peace poppies for staff to wear and shared on line resources to use with our classes.

My thoughts in previous years can be read here and here.

I am always trepidatious discussing the peace poppies and the impact of war beyond soldiers because I have been told it is disrespectful to soldiers. I am still unclear how advocating for peace and safety for all in any way diminishes the sacrifices of soldiers. I believe that it only serves humanity to discuss the impact of war upon everyone, including the environment. If we do not truly see war for what it is, for the true impact that it has, we are not doing everything we can to ensure that it will not happen again. But this year I felt emboldened by the actions of my administrator, and teacher librarian who read picture books with my class focussing on the impact of war upon animals. I also had a great conversation with another colleague who discussed the origins of the peace poppy movement with her class and how it started with mothers in the UK who were tired of seeing their husbands and sons die in wars.

As with previous years, I used the peace poppy web site to discuss these issues with my class, as well as looking at images of the aftermath of battles and the destruction of the environment. Then we made our own paper peace poppies to wear alongside the red poppies.

The list of countries represented in my
school's parade of nations. 

I am especially proud of my school and colleagues for the wonderful job they do with the Remembrance Day ceremony and its focus on peace. Each year my colleague organizes a parade of nations to highlight the countries of origin for our multicultural community. I always have goosebumps watching the children proudly walk down the gym holding the name of their home country, some wearing clothing symbolizing their culture. We are from all over this world, but we are all of THIS world, living together, and it is for the good of all that we see beyond national boundaries and geopolitical battles and connect with one another. I always look forward to it.

I borrowed a student's hat from Kyrgyzstan
after the parade of nations for a quick selfie.
My peace poppy is hidden underneath my hair.

So today I will not forget the deep psychological sacrifices my grandfather made in World War II as an RAF navigator, nor will I forget all the women and children around the world who are raped as way to create terror in war-torn communities, the innocent families who are torn apart, and the fertile land that is destroyed by toxic warfare, land mines and drone attacks.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Overcoming Nature Anxieties

I am passionate about gardening as a way to connect us to our food, and I enjoy spending time in the outdoors, connecting with the plants and animals that live amongst us. I believe that this may be the only way to have people truly care about protecting the environment and see that our well being is tied to a healthy planet. I also believe in the power of modelling and education to shape children's perceptions and behaviours. The best way to desensitize children to the "ick" factor and sensitize them to the diversity of life around us is to spend time in nature.

My daughter mistakes any flying insect for the stinging
variety, even harmless flies. 

However, I am also aware that children often come out with their own fully developed personalities and temperaments, and this has been one of the most challenging aspects of parenting for me.

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth>>>

Friday, 3 October 2014

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by Amanda Soule at SouleMama
"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments."

Kitchen Scraps Garden Part Two: Carrot Seeds

Most kitchen gardeners grow carrots, and I am no exception. My daughters love eating them, and generally I find them easy to grow. While seeds are not overly expensive, I find I go through a great deal of them each year because of having to sow so many then thinning the seedlings to allow for adequate growth.

I have been experimenting with growing food from kitchen scraps, and I saw a post somewhere about planting the tops of carrots to produce seeds. As a novice gardener I am beginning to delve into seed saving, which has so many benefits. This seemed like a perfect fit.

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth>>>

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunflower Feast

I love sunflowers "just because."

They are bright and they make me happy. They have faces that smile as they look down on me.

But I also love sunflowers for all the critters they attract to my garden. I have had much joy taking photos of ladybugs, flies, bees, ants, sunflowers and beetles climbing over my sunflowers.

Lately my backyard garden has been looking all kinds of shaggy because we are in transition to the cooler months of the year. The sunflowers are drooping. The once bright yellow petals are turning brown and falling off.

But this brings a different kind of happiness. For one, the plants coming to the end of their cycle and producing seeds is it's own kind of gorgeousness. One of my favourite hashtags on Instagram is #lovelydeadcrap. The feed is filled with amazing photographs of decaying plants, which is often overlooked as a source of beauty.

For another, the seeds the plants produce are a source of food for critters like squirrels and birds.

This morning the sunflower stalks moved and swayed but not from the breeze. There are a dozen little birds feasting on the sunflower seeds that are exposed. We don't see as many little birds as we used to, so this is a welcome sight.

We have seen chickadees, finches and sparrows swooping in and dashing away. We don't need a bird feeder because we have nature's bird feeder. It makes me happy that I decided against pulling up most of the sunflowers to make room for my fall garden.

Image source

Gardening brings such joy year round.

If you are on Instagram, I'm crustyroll35. Let's connect!