Incase you aren't subscribed to your newsletter, lets cover the basic types of seeds you will come across first!
Conventional- These seeds are typically what you would find at your big box garden centre. You can tell that they are conventional if they have no other descriptors from the list below on the package. These seeds can be very harmful to the environment, specifically pollinators as the seeds are coated and produce chemicals through their flowers the whole plant life.
Non-GMO- This means the seeds have not had their genetics changed
Heirloom- Have typically been around for over 50 years, and as such tend to have interesting histories. They are gauranteed GMO free, and they can be organic
Organic- These seeds have no herbicides or pesticides coating them, which is very important if your plants are going to have any flowers, as this makes them safer for pollinators
Now that we have that out of the way, it's time to choose your varieties! First, choose your space. What size is it? What kind of sun does it get? Is the soil there old, has it had things growing in it for a long time or has it been empty? All of these factor into what types of plants will do well in your chosen growing space. One squash plant can take up the same amount of space as an entire patch of herbs.
Second, be honest about the time you're wanting to commit to gardening this season. Maybe you have lots on the go, or maybe it's your year to really spend some time in the soil- regardless, take a minute to honestly reflect on how you expect to spend your time this spring and summer. From there, choose plants that are labeled accordingly to your plans. Plants will typically be labeled easy to very difficult. This will give you an idea of how much effort growing the plant may take.
Next, look at your growing season. How long is it? Do you have the space to start plants as seedlings, or do you really need something that can be directly sown into the ground? Be realistic of what your commitments can be, as sometimes our sense of failure with gardens is we didn't have the full energy to dedicate for the entire plant life.
I hope that this helps you choose the right seeds and get your garden growing right this season! For more information I am currently offering garden consults, and am only an email away.
As we awaited the change in weather, we did a major spring cleaning on the farm. I'm talking 30 yard dumpster bin rental big! Tired doesn't even begin to describe the aches in our muscles by the end of it. That said, the sense of accomplishment is huge. A lot of the garbage was left from the previous owner, so plants had literally grown over garbage. We dug out glass, plastic, wood, and metal that had lichen growing on them! It was quite miraculous seeing how nature had just done it's thing despite it being used as a landfill. Removing all of that trash has allowed us to extend our growing area, while also extending Charlie's run! This spring he will have a little backyard to enjoy, as well as a run along the greenhouse to help shred the grass and clay, and lastly a little hang out spot where we plan to have a little fire pit. It's going to be a great season!
*Picture is our attempt at a family portrait in front of our bedroom wall that is a forest wallpaper background, more photos to come!*
Our tiny home dreams finally came true, and we are living on the farm in Langley in a motorhome! All the stars really had to align to make this dream happen, and amazingly they did. First, Irene (who I have been leasing farmland from in Langley) agreed to let us live on the farm. Then we had to find a motorhome that didn’t have water damage (shockingly hard) and had to do renos before moving in and finish on time. We ended up needing extra time to move out, and despite Charlie’s barking getting worse in our last few weeks, our previous landlords and now friends- allowed us to stay past our move out date!
The move itself was stressful (are they ever not?), but now that we are here, we are all grateful. Our motorhome is 24’ long, and although we took out one of the benches to allow for room to do yoga, it is of course, still small. Luckily, we had been living in a 500 square foot apartment, so we were used to a cozier space. The benefit of being on the farm is really the access to outdoors. Right outside our window is our yard that consists of the ¼ acre I have been leasing for two years. We have made a temporary fence for Charlie to run around in and walking him by horses on our daily walks will hopefully never get old.
While we currently spend most of our time in Langley, we spend a few days in Richmond closer to my partner Matt’s work… and by closer to his work I mean we park in his parking lot during the day and then on the street throughout the night. It’s been a nice balance for him to have days without a commute when the other days the commute is long. It’s on those days that I will be managing my farm in Burnaby at the Hare Krishna temple. I am really excited to farm there this upcoming season as I took over part way through the season last year and didn’t get to do a full season. The soil is mostly peat and is therefore a lot easier to work with in most cases than the clay in Langley. It’ll be really interesting to see which plants do better in which farm as the season progresses.
As for the plants themselves, I am sorting my seeds now. It’s that super fun time of year when everything holds promise, you buy more seeds than you need of varieties that you’re amazed exist, and you try your hardest to make a plan that you’ll stick to. Last year I started using bags of seeds broken down into two-week intervals, and that’s as far as my planning went, and I found more success with it than previous years with meticulous planning. Every year the weather is different, and a two-week window allows for that and the unexpectedness that is life. I thrive with more flexibility and choice and realizing this has been a big success in my farm. So, for now, this is where I leave you, sitting in front of my fireplace, surrounded by bags full of seeds.
While I can’t bring myself to pretend to be Charlie, I can bring myself to speak on his behalf. Charlie has been doing incredibly well while we are in Langley. He has completed his first ascent on the mountain of compost we can’t move until spring and loves to dig in it every day. He is also currently being trained to help me dig up trees on the property. Balsam Poplar trees are the trees of my childhood. There is a park called Fish Creek where I grew up, and it is full of them. Their sap is incredibly sticky but smells amazing and is medicinal. Anyone who lives in Calgary and has them in their neighbourhood knows that these trees, while beautiful, have roots that somehow destroy infrastructure but allow the trees to fall over after any windstorm. This makes them really inconvenient to have on the farm, especially beside the greenhouse. It’s now Charlie’s mission to gleefully help dig these trees up and out with me. I am waiting until I can use their sap for salves, sadly removing them from the earth, and then will use them in our backyard fires this spring and summer, with the hopes of planting better suited trees in the future. Charlie is also getting used to horses. At first, he didn’t even notice them, but once they started moving, he was in shock. I don’t know if he had ever seen a horse before this, so my hope is that we keep giving him treats when he sees them and he will love them in no time. He is also learning to do jumps with me. If he gets any better at it, I’ll have to start French braiding my hair to complete the look of pretending he’s a horse. Richmond is less of a love story for him at the moment. It’s a lot busier and he doesn’t have his own yard. We believe though that over time he will understand where we are and will enjoy the beach on days where we can’t have a run in the yard. For now, he associated it with me leaving to go into the city, and big washes in the dog wash station. All in good time.
This Season’s Recipe To (B)Eat!
Right about now you’re probably eating the last of your butternut squash, and if you’re lucky you have access to some fresh arugula! This Butternut Squash Gnocchi is one of our all time favourite meals and go to when we have dinner guests. Enjoy!
If you’ve ever looked at a wall or piece of rock and thought ‘That looks terrifying, I want to climb it’ then you know how rock climbing is a unique sport. You learn simultaneously to communicate with whoever is holding the rope and to put your trust in them, while pursuing your independent goal of mastering a specific technique or completing your route. It is a community sport, while also being competitive with only yourself. It encourages confidence in yourself and determination as only you can increase that hip flexibility to be closer to the wall, and only you can do that extra pull up so that you can stay holding on a little longer. Climbing for me started on the ice, not your usual story. I had only previously climbed at a birthday party where my only proof is not my memory of it, but rather a blurry photo I found around my house (hello 90’s and printing out real photos!). Somewhere along the line I heard of ice climbing and thought that would be the perfect place to start my climbing adventures. It took months afterwards for me to start climbing in a gym. At the time it felt really special, and I didn’t know too many climbers and started with an introduction course I took with a female friend. We often spoke about how strong it made us feel, and it was fun exploring the climbing world as beginners together. Throughout these last few years my climbing has barely improved (as stated earlier- no one’s going to do that extra pull up for you, sorry self) but my life itself has improved because of climbing.
The nature of climbing at the level I do, is that it doesn’t matter the difficulty of what I’m climbing as it doesn’t affect the person belaying me. Once I’m done climbing, we switch so they are free to climb at whatever difficulty they like. This helped me get out of my mind set that I had to do only activities I was already good at, or it wasn’t fun. For years it felt embarrassing to go on harder hikes than I was used to while others cruised up the mountains, or to barely be able to run (thanks late diagnosed asthma!). Climbing gave me the space to explore what felt good to me, and to make personal goals that I knew wouldn’t affect others. Climbing is also rewarding for those of us who lack patience, as you can choose routes that you know you can complete easily and multiple ones in one night, or you can train and think through harder grades. This allows each climbing experience to be different and new, and always keeps you on your toes (see what I did there?). This confidence allowed me to encourage others to try rock climbing, and that’s where the magic really happened for me. It was really special to witness people overcome a fear of heights, physical restrictions, lack of confidence, and have a super fun time. In a world that often tells us we must look, feel, and think a certain way, it is so freeing to watch people explore something new and come out the other side excited about it.
It is because of this that I am donating 10% of my profits for 2021 to the Canadian Adaptive Climbing Society. I can only imagine the beautiful community they are providing and building. A place for people living with disabilities to go and learn these important skills that are transferrable from climbing to everyday life. I hope to volunteer with them once Covid is over- but until then your purchase supports the great work they do!