Category Archives: Gardening

In Summary: She, Me and Him in October


Gabrielle started ballet this September. It is as cute as watching kittens run around aimlessly and bonk into each other and the wall and the furniture. We saw “Awww,” then cringe a little and send our condolences to the teacher.

IMG_2869 IMG_2870 IMG_2884

The photo below is not in focus, but it is a meal where we provided completely for ourselves. A chicken that Marc butchered, carrots and potatoes we grew ourselves. I spend barely any time in the produce section, unless I’m buying bananas, so I hope the cashier doesn’t judge me and think we don’t eat any veggies at home. We are overrun and blessed with scads of veggies. And we are giving them away like hot cakes, because the fruit flies are multiplying. Oh the dreaded fruit flies!IMG_2890 IMG_2937 IMG_2946 IMG_2965 IMG_2989 IMG_2992

I taught a beekeeping class in September and it was received well. I am looking at writing more curriculum for different classes I’m thinking of teaching so that will keep me busy.IMG_3002 IMG_3007 IMG_3084 IMG_20140826_181857

IMG_20140901_112643 IMG_20140901_120908 IMG_20140901_121547 IMG_20140902_151743 IMG_20140902_222102 IMG_20140904_172953 IMG_20140909_125225 IMG_20140910_104926 IMG_20140910_133516 IMG_20140910_143325 IMG_20140911_171216 IMG_20140912_070826 IMG_20140918_075218

Gabrielle has begun informal preschool at home with me. We are having a good time as we inconsistently learn letters and numbers a few times a week. She is already recognizing words. She amazes me!IMG_20140918_124058 IMG_20140919_151042

I’ve been trying to bake a lot of our own bread. It just tastes So Much Better!IMG_20140921_093557


We went blueberry picking in September. Most of the berries were done but we still got a whole bucket. I’ve become quite a lot more adventurous in my processing techniques compared to last year.IMG_20140922_172304 IMG_20140924_164213 IMG_20140925_102615

Gabrielle has been farming with every toy we have.IMG_20140925_135519 IMG_20140925_165434 IMG_20140926_095048

Life has been busy, bursting at the seams, but nourishing all the same. We are intentionally moving into Autumn as we begin planting our garlic and putting the garden beds to sleep. Then the sun comes out again and we dash outside for some hoola hooping, bean picking madness. My morning runs have become like dreams. It is dark and the shadowy leaves blow across the road as I pad along with my headlamp bouncing. I find myself accepting the changing of seasons, even embracing it, but also looking forward to next year’s new beginnings. But I suppose I could use a little bit of hibernation.

Now, to stack some wood. Soon daily fires will be our reality.

Happy October!

Living with the Seasons: A Nip of Autumn

I really love how our life revolves around the seasons. In August, we extract honey and process tomatoes. In September, we bring in the squash. We stack firewood. I watch my bees bringing in pollen in the spring, and capping their honey for the winter. Living with the seasons could be one of my favourite parts about living on Pender Island. The seasons feel “close” here. Maybe it’s because the windows are thin. Maybe it is living more rurally. But whatever it is, I feel the seasons here.

I’ve often wondered if I were blind-folded, and placed in a season, if I could recognize it from the smells. Right now, the sun is rising later. When I wake up early in the morning to run, I beat the sunrise. There is a nip to the air and now I’m reaching for my down vest. And there is a dry crumbling smell as the leaves start to die on the branches and the eager ones are already under-foot and crackling.

IMG_2555 IMG_2552 IMG_2545 IMG_2540 IMG_2536

And there is something satisfying in all this. Something wholesome and natural. And then it warms my heart even more when Gabrielle sniffs the air, and sees the leaves, and stacks the wood and plucks the apples off the tree and she says thoughtfully, “Autumn must be coming soon. I’m falling over more often.”

Logic of a three year old. It cannot be beat.

August: part 1

August was shamelessly busy. I had not one birth in the whole month but we were gallivanting, having grand adventures, and processing huge amounts of produce.

Let me begin, slowly, easing into August, with the smoothness of Tracy Chapman.

IMG_2235 IMG_2246 IMG_2238 IMG_2242 IMG_2232 IMG_2228 IMG_2215 IMG_2213 IMG_2200 IMG_2196 IMG_2195 IMG_2190 IMG_2189 IMG_2162 IMG_2161 IMG_2146 IMG_2136 IMG_2131 IMG_2129 IMG_2128 IMG_2127 The first bit of August involved some visiting, and a whole lot of veggie growing. And veggie processing. It involved some cousin-visiting, some hoola-hooping (we are still learning) and again, a whole lot of vegetables.

Then we headed off camping….

Bringing home the Bacon…among other things

We pulled our onions and hung them to dry. So now when we venture out to the deck, it smells like onions. All.the.time. This is not a problem if you are eating pizza or just hanging laundry. But when you’re eating blueberries, it’s a bit strange. Not complaining. Just saying.

IMG_1982 IMG_1989 IMG_1996

Gabrielle helped me sort the seed cupboard the other day. We had a bunch of loose seeds at the bottom. She took the handful and chucked it into the garden box on the deck. Now we have marigolds, radishes, beans, kale, peas all conglomerating together. There is no segregation here. We accept seeds of all varieties.

IMG_1998 IMG_2002 IMG_2010

You’ll have to indulge me for including the photo above. I always try to get a picture of new baby toes when I’m attending a birth, but I never take pictures of my own child’s growing toes. This is that.


Gabrielle and I took a day trip over to Galiano island. We met my mom there and one of her friends, but because of the way the ferries worked out, Gabrielle and I were there much earlier than them. So we found ourselves a little forest to go for a hike. There were big signs that warned us of the trail. It was steep! You had to be an experienced mountain climber to attempt the trail, the signs warned.

IMG_2026 IMG_2034 IMG_2036 IMG_2038 IMG_2039

My three and a half year old made it up to the top without being carried. So is this me bragging or perhaps the trail wasn’t as treacherous as advertised?

IMG_2042 IMG_2044 IMG_2052 IMG_2054

We explored a couple beaches too and ate lots of ice cream on Galiano. Beautiful island but whenever I go to the other populated Gulf Islands, it reminds me of a parallel universe. Here are people all kinda doing what we are doing. They live funky organic hippy lifestyles. So I recognize it. But I don’t recognize it at the same time. None of the streets are familiar. The locals think I’m a tourist. They are all the same “kinds” of people but they aren’t my people. An alternate universe. That’s what Galiano felt like. Somewhere else that could have been home. But it wasn’t.

My friend Wade, the pig farmer, got another batch of pigs. This time he got piglets with curly tails. Often the tails have been lopped off. Armed with my zoomy lens, I got to capture the piglets in all their muddy, snouty glory. Man they are cute! And soon they will be big and taste like bacon!

IMG_2066 IMG_2085 IMG_2094

These pigs have so much room to run. They have camaraderie with their litter mates, they are not terrorized all day. They lead happy little lives. I wish farming was always this way.

As Summer is already half way over and we have started planting our Winter garden, I’m going to squeeze as much as I can out of August and then be able to settle comfortably into our knitted sweaters and hot cups of tea when Autumn descends.

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.

IMG_1377 IMG_1378 IMG_1384 IMG_1386

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