Tag Archives: Weather

Eggplants extrodinaire

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The eggplants flourished in the greenhouse this year.  We had the pleasure of picking about two dozen of these firm purple gems.  The eggplant is an interesting vegetable to grow as they start as exotic looking purple flowers growing on tropical looking plants.  Then they develop into these extraordinarily beautiful vegetables.  They have such rich purple colour  – something not often seen in nature.  I held this eggplant up for a photograph and the shiny exterior reflected the clouds in the sky.  The true satisfaction of a backyard gardener.

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Year of the Eggplant

 

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And so it begins…fingers crossed we get eggplants.

Last year was our first year of gardening in our greenhouse.  We focused on tomatoes – and boy did we grow tomato plants!  They were the giants of our greenhouse.  We did however, also experiment with peppers, herbs, cantaloupe and eggplant.  The eggplant last year was an interesting success.  Though they never produced a single eggplant, the small little seedlings we had started on April 6 (Westcoast Seeds: Ping Tung Long)  –  were potted in the Greenhouse on June 3.  They bounced back into huge lush plants.  Purple flowers taunted us – but no eggplant.

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End of the Season

This year we have declared the “year of the eggplant.”  With the conservative goal of growing one actual eggplant – we shall see how it goes.  With the experience from last year we made a few changes.  We started the seeds earlier on March 17, on warming pads under a grow light – we also selected an eggplant seed (Westcoast Seeds: Traviata) that is better for a short growing season like Alberta.

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Eggplants and Cantaloupes on heat pad

Two weeks ago the seedlings were potted in larger pots in the Greenhouse on May 28 and now we wait and see if they can do their magic.

Within a week we saw growth and after two weeks there were clear buds developing.

With the irrigation system providing a twice daily drip, and the miracle grow vegetable fertilizer on the soil, here’s hoping that we have a prosperous year of the eggplant.

 

 

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Sometimes the moment is breathtaking

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Stunning Sunset

Wow.  Speechless.  Just take a moment to breathe in the beauty.

We had a visitor today.  A very dear friend who had been absent from our lives for too many years.  Lovely how these sorts of friends you just pick up where you left off.  The connection is real and established and just needs reacquainting. She came out to see us – but also our country weekend home.  On this particular evening the golden hour came with a vengeance and delivered these breathtaking skies.

We wandered out to a neighbour’s field and took photos of the golden and pink light on the landscape.  The air was remarkably still this evening – unusual for here.  No wind. There was an absolute quiet still that added to the magic of the evening.

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Golden hour in the field

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Pink light on the trees

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So pretty it is worth sharing another photo!

So lovely to be with my dear friend – so stunning to have such a beautiful summer night. Sometimes the moment is just breathtaking and you have to let it soak into your memory to draw on when you need to be reminded that life is wonderful.

 

 

 

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The Greenhouse Experiment Report

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Nearing the end of a successful first season

This year we set up a greenhouse at our cabin as we were not having the best luck out in the garden.  It was either too dry or too wet – and our season is short – so we wanted to try the idea of a somewhat controlled atmosphere with some increased warmth.

Except my basil plant which I bought at a local hardware store as a small seedling, everything in the greenhouse was grown from seeds.  I started them back at home in front of a sunny south-facing window.  When it was time to plant them – I planted a lot.  I still had a few extra tomato plants and pepper plants so I popped them into the garden.  I gave them the same luscious compost rich soil but I will admit I didn’t give them much more attention than that.  On weekends I would water them but they were not the benefactors of our irrigation system in the greenhouse.  In essence they became my control subjects.  What is the difference if a plant is grown in the warmth of a greenhouse with a twice daily drip irrigation system?

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The control subject (tomato) in the garden by the porch is relatively healthy and has some tomatoes forming

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Control subjects (peppers) growing above sceptic tank with onions -show minimal signs of growth

In comparison to the control subjects, the plants that were placed in the greenhouse have for the most part flourished.  Some tomato plants are over 8 feet tall and they are heavy with ripening tomatoes.  The pepper plants have all done fairly well with all of the plants generating peppers and more still to come.

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In the greenhouse the tomatoes are like a jungle

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The pepper plants are healthy and producing a delicious variety of peppers

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The harvesting begins

Overall the greenhouse experiment has been exceptional and exciting.  A verifiable success.  A controlled environment of good soil, some fertilizer, regular drip irrigation, protection from wind,  and most importantly the lovely warmth (approximately 38c most days).

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Promises to Keep

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Beauty fills the moment

Some times after a week of trying to fit too much into every minute of every day – I am out in the country and a moment will just make me pause.  The beauty in the moment forces me to take it in.  Pause. Focus. Breathe. Exhale.  repeat.

I captured this moment by the back gate.  It was one of those stunning Alberta skies filled with the colours of Easter eggs. The moon was unexpected, bright and lit up the darkening clouds.  I was smitten by the deep rich green tones of the grass.  My eyes were drawn to the rhythmic lines of the brown fence.  As I stood and took this photo I promised myself to remember to grab these moments.  Pause. Breathe. “Keep your promises,” I whispered to myself.

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Celebrating in the Country

 

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Canada Day #150

I am old enough to have been alive when Canada celebrated its 100th birthday so when the 150th came along I wanted to make sure we recognized it with a memory that would stay with my son for the rest of his life.  Everywhere in Canada there were increased efforts underway to celebrate the day.  The large centres were increasing their fireworks budgets and bringing in music acts to thrill and entertain the large crowds that were expected.  We decided to have a low-key country experience.  We spent the afternoon reflecting on Canada in our own way.

In the late evening we drove into a local town for the fireworks.  On our way there we noticed that fog was forming in the valleys we drove through.  We saw two deer along the highway including one that darted across the highway in front of us.  We had to be vigilant – watching for wildlife.  We sure didn’t want our Canada Day memory to include hitting a deer.

The fireworks were held in a high school football field.  There was the usual excitement as people from the town drove and walked toward the field.  We found a spot on the grass and settled in for the show.  There were no crowds at all.  Children gathered in the field and you could see them as silhouettes lit up by the fireworks show.  Their laughter and squeals filled the space between the streaming rocket sounds of the fireworks.  All the sounds were echoing against the high school which added to the magic of the whole moment.  Our Canada Day experience carried us back in time to our childhood.

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Our own magical kingdom

After the fireworks we drove back to the cabin through significant fog banks which again required vigilance.   It was spooky and magical driving down the country roads.  For us,  our choice to celebrate in the country delivered.  Our son will be an older man when Canada turns 200 and we hope he tells his children about his wonderful memories from #150.

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All that is good in the world

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Late Afternoon in the country

Late afternoon when driving back to the cabin after a long emotional day of cleaning out my late father’s house –  we came upon three young male deer in this field.  This one in the photo was the last one to try to get over to the security of the long grass.  They were all so beautiful to watch. They bounced effortlessly across the grass.  The clear blue sky with the light fluffy white clouds above the vibrant green countryside was breathtaking. Everything that is good about life was there in that moment in stark contrast to the earlier part of the day spent sorting out the humble possessions that stay behind after a life is over.

Everything that is good in the world was in the endless blue sky, the pastoral fields, the vibrancy of the young bucks, the classic structure of the fencing, the whisper of the breeze in the grass, the patterns of the crops in the distance and the quiet in the moment.

My brother and I paused for a time by the side of the country road.  I took this photo but we didn’t speak.  We didn’t need to speak.  The wonder was unspoken.  All that is good in the world was present in us in that moment.

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The greenhouse awaits

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Crab apple blossoms signify that Spring is officially here

Last fall we had a fully built greenhouse delivered to our property but then the snow came and so it sat and patiently waited all winter.  Spring is here and we cut out the lawn, and pulled the greenhouse into some trenches that we dug.  Now all nestled into its new home we had to install the floor, shelves and next the drip irrigation system.

The floor is dirt covered with garden fabric and then patio stones and pea gravel.  It has the quaint country greenhouse feel that I wanted.  I feel like I have travelled across the pond to a small town in the United Kingdom when I go into my little greenhouse oasis.

Inside we have installed some initial shelves that still need to be secured in to hold all the weight from the garden pots that will sit upon them.  We will also add some lower storage shelves and hooks to provide for winding twine or hanging small pots.  There is room for pots to sit on the floor or for us to even add a potting bench at a later date.

We still need to add the drip irrigation system…and of course all the plants!  I hope to grow primarily tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs.  I will try some eggplants and melons as well.  I would love to try a cold box inside the greenhouse in the fall and see if I can grow some winter kale and other greens throughout our freezing cold winter.  The possibilities are endless!

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The door is open – awaiting the opportunity to host some plants!

As we continue to work away at setting up the greenhouse my seedlings await in small pots by a warm south window in my house – waiting to be transplanted into large growing pots and to make the journey to this warm and welcoming greenhouse.  The greenhouse awaits their visit.

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Travel back in time

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Imagine the cow, horse and chickens

On the way home from a difficult trip to visit my 89 year old father in the hospital, my son and I stopped on the side of the highway to appreciate these old buildings.  The wind was blowing and my hair swept across my face.  I imagined a couple living in this little house with their young children.  Mom would have stood where I stood – wind blowing her hair across her face.  She would have been out to collect the eggs from the chickens and to the milk the cow.  Had a coyote taken another chicken?

She couldn’t look for the chicken right now as the cow needed to be milked.  Two times a day she milked the cow.  It made it hard for her to ever go into town with her husband. The children weren’t old enough yet.

In the barn she maternally strokes the cow and then sits on her small stool and methodically collects the milk into a metal bucket.   Innately she appreciated the gift that the cow provided her and her family, but the drudgery of the milking and the cleaning of the straw was wearing her down.

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Home

The house is charming and small.  Today it is instagram worthy and quaint but it must have been “home” back in its day.  The fire would have warmed the house on those very cold bitter winter nights.  Smoke billowing up the small brick chimney.  Beds, a table and chairs and shelves covered with jars full of canned preserves to help get the family through the winter would have filled the space.

My son and I shared a few moments enjoying the history of this site.  We have driven by so many times but it is a different experience to get up close and personal with it.  We quietly took it all in.  I cleared the hair from my face and we headed back up to our car.  It was nice to travel back in time but I am happy to return home to my present time.

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Winter overstays welcome

Winter is like a relative who visits and stays too long.  At first there is the excitement of getting reacquainted.  All those great memories you shared over the years.  Cozy evenings by the fire, building snow forts, walking in the snow on a crisp sunny afternoon, and the glistening frost decorating the trees branches.  But winter just stays and stays for months at a time.  You wake up in the morning and look outside – and winter is still there.

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While spring is arriving south of the border or out on the West Coast, here in Alberta winter keeps hanging around.  Day in and day out winter continues to deliver snow covered fields, slippery sidewalks and cold that bites at your flesh when you dare to not cover up completely.

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Winter, Winter Go Away – come back another day…

Spring will come, followed by a short but wonderful summer and then a colourful quick fall – and then winter will be back again.  There are four seasons and yet winter monopolizes the year by staying for about six months.  November, December, January, February, March, April…and even into May.  Last year after following the rule of waiting until after the long weekend in May to plant seedlings – winter squashed my dreams of fresh cucumbers by killing my seedlings with frost. Over the winter months the garden is blanketed with snow but surely by May the growing season can begin?

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We Canadians love our four seasons, our winter sports, our white Christmases, our fashionable parkas and knitted sweaters –  but we also love to complain about how winter overstays its welcome.  Winter – take the subtle hint and pack up and leave.

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