Little hands, Big hopes and a few Mama tears…

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Once again I have had to let go, just a bit. Once again I have had to concede control and watch as my wee girl grew seemingly just a bit bigger in front of my eyes.  Once again, I have to swallow deeply, choke back a (perhaps hormonally driven) tear and lump in my throat as she took another step towards independence.

My rational mind knows that they are only flower planters on a porch. My rational mind knows that we have been planting flowers together for years now, and even at 7, she has more passion for pretty living things than most will develop over a lifetime. I know in my rational mind that getting a bit teary over a kid planting some seedlings she carefully seeded, nurtured, watered and doted over for months is a bit silly.

I really do know, but I can’t help it.

This time, she didn’t need me. This time she didn’t want me to help with any of it. This time, she didn’t even want to plant anything I had brought home! She did it all by herself. And I could only watch, wondering when did she get so big, so capable and so independent?

But I couldn’t be more proud of her; it may have only been planters on the deck, but in the big scheme of things, it was so much more. And so one little tear may have been in part because my baby has disappeared and this amazing, gentle and smart  wee girl with a big heart has taken her place. And one little tear may be because she doesn’t need me as much anymore.  And one little tear may be because she is my last baby and I won’t get to have these firsts again.

But it is only planters on the deck after all.  And I was still the first person she wanted to show and couldn’t stop beaming at as she proudly pointed out her hard work, her plant babies and rambled on about her high hopes for them!

So there may have been one more little happy tear for that too.

Boy am I in trouble over the next few years!

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about” ~ Unknown

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We have germination, OUTDOORS!!

Take that Mother Nature! It has snowed, gone below zero, rained every day this week and been down right, unseasonably, unthinkably yucky. But under the frost blankets and hoop tunnels, we have germination!! Not much, not all, and not quickly, but we have it. The seedlings we planted under the hoops are also happy and thriving, whew!

Score Tally: Us = 2, Mother Nature = 0… The “Spring that Wasn’t” saga continues…

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Lovely little green veggie babies snuggled under their blankie…kind of cute, hey? These were planted 10 days ago.

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And under the hoops the big brother and sister seedlings are going strong!  Not much germination yet, but they were only planted on Sunday.  Can you spot the lone Bok Choi poking up?

Under the hoops are Taunus, Detriot Dark Red Supreme, Chioggia and First Crop beets, Rainbow mix and Napoli carrots, Cherry Belle and Easter Egg radish, Bok Choi, Peppermint and Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Ragged Jack and Dinosaur Kale, red and white onion sets, Giant Musselborough Leek, overwintered hard neck garlic and Butter Crunch lettuce.

I hope they all stay alive and that more join them soon!

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison

Fed up. Hoops Up!

It snowed again today.  No accumulation, but big, wet, yucky flakes came down.  Again.  Mother Nature and I are having a time out.  A pause.  I am trying to be the bigger person and not throw a full on hissy fit – it is pretty tough, but so far I am in for the win.  This past weekend was glorious!  A large amount of snow had melted and by Sunday evening I had 4 raised beds thawed and moist and the main veggie bed almost visible.  There was hope!  I even started hardening off the early veggie babies and the perennial seedlings on the porch.  Apparently Mother Nature put her big old arctic mukluk wearing foot down.  But I am no schmuck – I got prepared. That does’t mean I am happy about it.

I am now a full 3 weeks behind where I was 2 years ago, not a single pea has gone in the ground.  Not cool, Mother Nature. This guy won’t be deterred and neither will I!

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What do maritimers who really like to garden in the early spring do when they get fed up?  We pull out the construction supplies, our rubber boots, the frost blankets and the pitch forks and get the hoops up!  Mini hoop tunnels provide additional protection from frost, sleet, snow, deer, rabbits and wind.  They can allow early cold hardy varieties to be started as soon as the snow has melted enough to find the dirt (usually end of March or early April).  They also allow for tender annuals to go out a bit earlier without worrying about the random late frosts wiping them out ( 2 weeks or so).  Different types of covers can be used depending on the season or level of protection needed.  This time of year, I cover my tunnels with 6mm vapour barrier to create a greenhouse effect and warm the soil up quicker with as much light transmission as possible.  In the summer, I will cover with thin shade cloth to keep cooler veggies happy in the heat and in the late fall or winter I will use heavy frost blankets as insulation to eek out a few extra weeks of growing.

Here is how we set up our hoop tunnels:

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Using the circular saw, I cut 6 foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe (50 feet of the black stuff was $17.99 at Canadian Tire.  The white stuff was more expensive – I was excited to find it cheaper!)  My beds are 4 feet wide, 6 feet hoops give me roughly 2 feet of clearance once they are placed in the raised beds.

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I then hammered 18 inch and 24 inch rebar stakes into the freshly turned soil so that they are deep enough to be sturdy (look in the top right corner).  I picked the green coated ones up at Home Depot.  I also picked up some cheap 2 foot uncoated pieces at Kent for $1.69 each.

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I always use at least 4 hoops for my tunnels to keep them from collapsing, whether they are 8 feet long or 14 feet long. I slide the ends of the PVC over the rebar (at least 4 inches).

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For the Poly tunnel covering, I picked up a roll of 6mm vapour barrier (I don’t remember where I got it, I have been using the same roll for 3 years…).  I cut left over decking boards to 7 feet (my raised beds are 8 feet). I am not worried about the treatment on the wood because it will be wrapped in the vapour barrier anyways.

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I centre the boards lengthwise (the poly is folded in half here to fit in the picture – it is actually 8 feet wide, which works perfectly to cover the 6 foot hoops…)  I then recruit cute little helpers to staple the plastic to the first board.  To make sure it is secure, I staple, then roll the board once in the plastic and staple it again.  The second board is secured to the other side of the plastic in the same manner making sure the rolled edges are the same side up.

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Little hands help me carry the boards and poly cover to the garden where we unroll it over the hoops.  You can just roll or unroll the boards to tighten up the cover.  We tuck the boards down in between the hoops and the edge of the bed.  The ends are tucked in like a birthday present and held down with a rock.  On warm days, we can simply open the ends and tuck the plastic back to ventilate or unroll one side to open the tunnels completely.

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Finally, we use clips we found at the dollar store to give a little extra support, et voila!  Mini greenhouse is complete!

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For less finicky greens, and because I was completely out of patience, I hauled out a frost blanket and planted Tyee spinach, Spicy mesclun, Cos Romaine and arugula between rows of Munchkin and Packman broccoli.  I will not be defeated!!

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I have since shovelled in some compost, the soil is warming up wonderfully!  I hope to plant some of these little beauties this weekend – in my rubber boots or in my snow pants.  Either way – I win!!!

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“Even if you are on the right track, you will still get run over if you just sit there!” ~Will Rogers

Finally Filthy Fingernails

The sun is out, the glaciers are receding and I have proof of life after all of that snow!  The gardens are slowly melting and and revealing their treasures (no sign of the veggie garden yet….).  What else would I do but dig?!

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Slowly receding snow banks force me to pace myself…which is good because I hate weeding…

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The problem with not really knowing how to garden is that I don’t really know what I planted and what I should pull out…Oooops!

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Hair cuts for the Goji berries , lavender and oregano!

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Even my wee girl’s flowers came out for a coffee and some sunshine – the snow in the background makes me giggle as I sit in my short sleeves and rubber boots…

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Big hands with happy, filthy fingernails, finally!!

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Can’t wait for more life to pop!

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.  I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. 

I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

~ Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Little hands can…pot up flower babies!

Little Hands Can…

Little hands can fill pots and wet them down…

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Little hands can gently dig out her flower babies…

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Little hands can snuggle her flower babies into their new little homes…

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Little hands can turn on her very own lights…

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Little Lessons Learned

Little hands can plant a lot more seeds than I realized…Oops…

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Little seeds collected fresh last fall germinate far better than seed packets! Last year we planted 100 Coleus seeds and got 9 plants. Somehow this year we ended up with 136 little seedlings.  Oops…

Little hands get upset if not every last seedling gets potted up…Oops…

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Less than a little patience was needed!  We thought Coleus were supposed to be slow plants, they aren’t. They can’t go outside until May.  And where did those Calendulas and Coneflowers come from?! Oops…

Little hands may need to learn how to set up more lights!

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Maybe Daddy will help…Mama needs a nap.

The flower baby stork arrived!

Instead of a rambling…ahem…memoir, this is a quick, excited “garden gush”!

My wee girl was checking up on her seed babies last night and found many had germinated all ready (they are quite tiny and hard to see in photos, but about 80% are up)!  A little happy dance ensued…

Tenny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night

Teeny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night.

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The first of my little girl’s pink and white petunias have poked up from their nest! Only 4 days since they were seeded in the incubation station.

Mama’s sweet basil and opal basil germinated in 3 days on the heat mats. My happy dance was not nearly as cute…

” Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” ~ Robert Lewis Stevenson