Category Archives: Gardening

Gaaaarden Tour!

For those of you who read the blog for the cute kid, the rowdy bees, and the gulf island mayhem, then this entry will not be for you. This is written because of our inexcusable record keeping. This is to remember the garden but basically they are a bunch of pictures of leafy greens sprouting from the ground.


This is the far left of the garden. Last year we had onions in this bed. This year we think we may still plant bush beans. After lots of hard work turning it over, we may forget about it entirely. To be seen.



This bed is entirely tomatoes with one parsnip plant that we are letting to go seed. (Much to the bees’ delight.)IMG_1349

The second bed is also tomatoes. This year we have Scarlet Heirloom tomatoes, Romas, Manitobas, Purple Calabash and Garden Delight Cherry tomatoes. The first ripe tomato this year was June 17th. Last year it was June 27th. 10 days early this year! But it isn’t until the first or second week of July that they really start pouring in.


Next to the tomatoes are the potatoes. And a sunflower at the end of the row. We didn’t have enough potatoes to plant the whole row, so we have just put in some beans to finish the row. I did that a couple days ago. They haven’t sprouted yet. I find planting seeds such an act of faith. Hoping against practicality that something will shoot forth and grow.IMG_1351 IMG_1354 IMG_1355 IMG_1357

Next to the potatoes are onions. We did half the bed from sets and half from seeds transplanted from the greenhouse. Onions are ‘White Wing’, ‘Red Wing’ and ‘Walla Walla’ from seed. Sets were called ‘Yellow’… ?


Next to the onions are the beans. Now this bed got all funny. We took compost to enrich the soil and out sprouted a bunch of chard, and a lot of tomatoes! We don’t know what kind they are but they are flowering and setting small tomatoes on them so I guess we will see. They were crowding out the beans so we had to move the tomatoes into other beds and give away a lot of plants. The beans are Scarlet Runners and Kentucky Wax Wonder.


Next to the beans are some leeks, some onions, some carrots and our third attempt at planting parsnips. We have never had success growing leeks. Yeah I know everyone says they are easy. But it’s all about what your garden wants to grow. Ours apparently didn’t want to grow leeks. Until this year. Also, we have had very limited success with carrots. This year, our carrots are rock-awesome. Last year we had so many parsnips we could have eaten them throughout the winter. This year, we have 3. 3 plants! I have replanted again so maybe the heat will help sprout these babies.IMG_1361

This bed is Gabrielle and my bed of “organic gardening.” Marc is the computer scientist among us who makes sure we rotate the beds properly, and plant according to a plan chart. This bed was labeled “Greens” on garden chart. So Gabrielle has her nasturtiums in there. (They don’t taste as good as she imagined.) We have kale, chard, beets, mustard, arugula and radishes in there. A mishmash. Which truly is what the whole garden would be if it weren’t for Marc’s organization.IMG_1365Next to the Greens bed are the peas. Which were a bit of a disaster. They are producing peas. But we started planting them in February and we planted probably 4-6 times to fill in gaps and combat slugs. Next year, we will stick to planting peas in April because we get the pods at the same time anyway.


And this (above) is where the garlic was. We just pulled it. It’s a bit early to pull the garlic out but it was looking sad and yellow. And now we get to use the bed for something else. All those seeds sitting in our seed drawers, and the dirt in the ground. It is like potential screaming to be realized. The soil yells at me, “I could be food!” So I try to fill the space so I can sleep at night without this shouting in my ears.

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The plum tree dips it’s fruit into our garden and the beans climb up their poles to meet them. When the wind blows we get to see them dance.

….yes, it’s that enchanting.IMG_1387 IMG_1388 IMG_1397 IMG_1402 IMG_1404 IMG_1408

Raising a Farm Girl

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Oh and I have to share this funny little story with you.

We were at our friends’ place for Canada day. They did a whole pig on a spit. It was incredible. In the evening, as they take the pig off the spit and prepare to butcher it all up into hunks o’ meat for their 70+ guests, Gabrielle walks up to Rob, the man in charge. She says to him with all her manners dressed up,

“Excuse me Rob. May I please have the tail?”

While the adults and children alike are watching in horror as Wilbur is getting carved up, my child is asking for the tail?!

He takes his big knife and hacks off the tail, plunks it on a plate like the grinch serves up the roast beast to wee Cindy-Loo Hoo. And off she waddles with a pig’s tail on her plate, as happy as…. a pig in mud?

I’m raising a farm girl.

My Wild Child and Her Garden

Yeah so this happened…


And instead of stopping her, I began to take pictures. I truly thought that the paint (since it was children’s paint for Pete’s sake!) would be washable.

Her belly button is still a bit green.

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Oh yeah, and then I let her run around our yard on the grass, nekkid, with paint all over her body like a wild child. I have fantastic pictures but alas! They are all nudies. Not for public consumption.


I post about the garden on here so I can comfort myself next year when the garden doesn’t seem to be growing fast enough. I post to keep a record of what we grew and how we grow things. Even though we randomly put notes in a notebook, we can’t ever find it from year to year. So the blog serves as our garden journal. Anything more organized just wouldn’t be “Pender” enough.

We have scapes now from the garlic. Those curly Doctor Seuss scapes!IMG_1113


We have nasturtiums, compliments entirely of Gabrielle who wanted eating flowers. We have chard and cilantro and kale. There have been a couple barely ripe tomatoes that Gabrielle gobbled up before we could even check their ripeness. Basically, they weren’t green!


Our friend, Wade, has pigs again so that necessitated a farm visit.

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The picture of the onions on the floor are actually from last year’s garden. So last year, we planted 300 onions. We lost a bunch of the white onions to rot. These yellow onions are still doing well, aside from a little sprouting, and as tasty as ever. ! I think the onions and the beans are the only thing we really did not have to buy for the whole year because of our garden. Our passive unorganized hippy goal is to be self-sufficient in as many vegetables as possible. Our potatoes lasted until Christmas. We still have tomato sauce and dried tomatoes but we did buy fresh tomatoes throughout the year. We had enough parsnips to last us the year but really, how many parsnips can you eat?

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We’ve had family visiting the last couple days and we have more exciting Canada Day parties planned!

And soon I will give full report on Gabrielle’s doctor’s visit last week.

Happy Summering!

As we sink into June


As we sink into the summer, our garden begins to really take shape. Our house extends to include the deck and the yard. We spend more time with less clothes. We shake out our muscles and let the tension go. And we sink into the sun!


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Rhubarb syrup in carbonated water. It is amazing. And fresh granola bars made with the rhubarb pulp from making the syrup. It was a perfect combination.

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There has been some baby knitting for summer babies that are coming and have begun to come and that we are immediately waiting for. Please pause a minute with me and send these ladies such wonderful warm thoughts as they begin this adventure of motherhood, or they multiply their blessings with more babies! Watching these women and their courage and strength, it expands me somehow. And yet, it moves me closer to my centre.

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I mowed the lawn. And I left a patch for the bees, bumbles and honeybees alike. I just couldn’t bear to mow down such yummy food for them. So now I still have a long patch in my yard…. Silly bees. Or just silly me.


Oh this little one right here. She has my heart so completely. As we sink into summer, she sinks into being firmly three and a half. And I consider myself blessed beyond belief.

Meddling with the Bees and other Summer Pursuits

So I tried to meddle. But I can explain.

I tried to split my hive into two hives to prevent swarming. Sounds clever right? Even straightforward?

Maybe I’m just out of practise. I haven’t split a hive in a while. So I had 4 boxes in the beehive. And I checked them and made sure the boxes had eggs in it so that they could raise their own queen. Then I literally took the top two boxes and moved them over to their own bottom board. And left the bottom two boxes where they sat. I covered the top boxes’ entrance with grass so the bees would re-orientate themselves and voila! Two hives!

But it was not so. No. The top boxes actually housed the queen. The bottom boxes, queenless, didn’t raise a new queen. Thus after waiting the 28 days to see eggs from a new Queen, I piled all the boxes back together, with newspaper in between. The newspaper in between the separated hives allows the bees time to chew through the newspaper and become reacquainted with each other’s smells again so there is not a big bee war.

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All that to say, now I have one massive hive. Which is doing really well, by the way. And it is sure to produce lots of honey. But again, I am outsmarted by the bees!


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After keeping bees now for 7 years, my confidence levels has grown in some aspects, but still, I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps farming of any kind is a humbling experience, because we can’t control the weather, the conditions or the creatures we are trying to manage. And what a blessing that is! If I had to find flowers for 70,000 bees, we would be in great peril!

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Marc took this fantastic picture of Ramona. We joked and said the next time she goes missing again, this can be on her “lost” poster. Oh Ramona.

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We’ve also been outside, gardening, bubbling, doning hippy wear, and doing what people do when living on the gulf islands. Ya know, the usual…

Happy June Everyone!