Category Archives: Gardening

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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!