Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Planting Garlic

Before we had our first frost at the beginning of the month I managed to get all my garlic planted. After separating the cloves and sorting the intact ones from the ones with broken skins, I got outside in between rain showers. This year some is grown by me, some by the Sharing Farm, and some by Westcoast Seeds.

Last year I grew enough in one raised bed to hopefully last until late spring. This year I increased the amount I planted, hoping it will take me through until the next backyard harvest.

For a full description of how I plant garlic, click here.

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.