Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunch and Flowers and Worms! Oh My!

It's amazing to me how much work it takes just to make a small area look decent.  But since Spring has indeed sprung and I want to like what I see when I look out the front window, somebody had to do it!  But first, lunch with an out of town friend....:-).

We made plans to have lunch with our friend Bob who we had not seen in almost two years because of traveling.  We decided to try a restaurant in our town that Chris and I had not been to before.

Somebody is very happy about the idea...haha

Bob came in right behind us.  We had spent a few minutes outside looking for one of his motorcycles, but learned that he had driven instead.

Bob ordered some tacos.  They looked good, but I'm not sure that they were.

Chris ordered a "slider trio" and a very strange salad which happen to be my favorite part of his lunch...:-).

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and mac and cheese.  I shouldn't have....really.  I was NOT good at all.....:-(. I have never heard of a pulled pork sandwich which did not have barbeque sauce on it.  And I don't like cheese sauce that is gritty and graining as though it was not cooked long enough.  Yuck.  I only had a couple of bites and was done with all of it.

It didn't take long before we decided to leave and get some coffee.  We went to this other cafe that we had never been too.  I know, daring aren't we..ha

It's nicely done on the outside and I love to have coffee at a bistro.

 Here is Bob and Chris, chillin...

I snapped this picture of the inside of the cafe.  We later found out that it doubles as a church on Sundays.  Cool......:-)

We had to make another trip to Vancouver after searching high and low for more of the Hibiscus that we had purchased a couple of days earlier.  So, we had to beat feet after lunch and head out again.  We made a short stop and then hit the highway.  We managed to find two more plants and headed straight back to our little town.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get everything we wanted from the one store, so we had to stop at another to pick up two more winter heather.

these are they.....

We got the last two trees in and the heather and was very glad that the rest will be done once the bulbs die back in the flower pots.

The landscapers are supposed to come some time this month and lay some sod.  I think things will be beautiful once everything is done.  We knew from seeing them along the highway to plant them on a slope.

 Afterward, we decided that we needed to harvest some vermicompost for our plants and make more bedding for our worms....:-).  You might remember when we set up the first system in Lawton last year.  We now have one here in Canada too that we have been maintaining for the past 5 months.

It works perfectly for smaller spaces.....

The temperature was perfect for the little guys.....:-)

I could almost hear the little guys cheering because they were about to have a bit more space and fresh bedding.  whoo hoo...ha

The system is called the Worm Factory 360 because the tray constantly rotate and get emptied when it is time for harvest.  Once you are ready to take your compost out for "curing" it needs to be separated from the little guys that are living in it.  We do it by putting the material in small piles and waiting a few minutes for the worms to work their way down to the bottom.  They do not like the light.

You gently pull the compost off of the top of the piles until you reach the bottom of them combining them into less piles as you go.  We then sift out any thing that had not yet been processed and put it back into the system with the worms.

After the separation took place, we were left with 1 1/2 gallons of pure castings for our plants and garden....
It should be rich, range in color from dark brown to almost black, smell like fresh soil and be very slightly moist....:-). By the way, the little tiny white specks are pulverized egg shell that I added early in the process for the purpose of ph level control.

Composting worms like it neutral or the composting food scraps will will burn their delicate skin.  Egg shells is a great way to do that...:-).  It also helps to feed tomato plants, roses and other plants that like calcium.  Not recommended if you want to use it on acid loving plants as the calcium neutralizes the acid.

ahhhhhh, perfect!  Thanks, guys!  Back to work now....:-).

see ya soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Has Sprung -A Dung- Dung!

After a long snowy winter, things are finally starting to turn around a bit.  If you remember from a previous blog post, the Strata (typically called the Home Owners Association in the US), was working on drainage remediation around our complex.  Scootard and I had to make a dash outside to rescue what we could from our little garden area before we lost everything to earth movers and gravel!

Well, the plants; such as they are survived.  Some thrived and some didn't do that well.  I suspect it was due to over crowding in the pots.  But we ran out of pots!  So, oh well.......

Here is a picture of the Hyacinths and Tulips that we salvaged before they were ready to pop open...

And here is after......:-) these are some Hyacinths

These are some Tulips.  This picture was taken through a window that is why it looks a bit cloudy. the tulips don't seem to be doing that well as far as blooms go.

These are the Grape Hyacinths.  When fall comes, I will trim the leaves back and maybe separate the bulbs some.....

More Hyacinths......:-).  These are starting to fade now.  Ass you can see in the background, the landscapers have not come to lay down sod or seed yet.  So, we figured we had better put in the ground whatever we were going to plant this year in a hurry.  Otherwise, we would have to cut through the sod to do it.  I don't think the Strata management company would have been happy with that.

We headed for a nursery out of town that I had never been to before.....yay...!

     They had all manner of "stuff" in this store!  I loved it...

Although, I have no idea what happened at this point...haha

Night lights....very cool....:-)

A fire place/ waterfall combo....now, that is really cool!

ok, ok...back to business...  We had loaded up a cart with 4 beautiful Rhododendron and then decided to google the species and see what diseases it was susceptible to.  Well, we had that part under control and then discovered we are living on the WRONG side of the building for proper lighting.....:-(.  We really had our hearts set on those or Hydrangeas.  But both seemed to be quite delicate and we get a LOT of sun for a LONG time in the summer....:-(.  So, we finally settled on some Hibiscus plants.    

These are "double bloom" Hibiscus, so I hope they are as pretty as they sound.  They were all quite a bit cheaper than the Rhodes and the Hydrangeas too.

These didn't have a picture, but the description sounded pretty.  All of them are still in dormancy.  Hopefully in a couple of years they will have filled out and become quite beautiful.....

 After the assistant assured us that the plants we wanted probably would not survive for us, he recommended that we get this stuff for planting our new plants to help them thrive.

 Chris was a trooper getting everything into the car for me.  He's just starting to get his "wind" back after a bout with pneumonia....:-(.  Poor guy....

 After spending almost three hours in the store "ooooowin" and "ahhhhwin", it was time for dinner.  I could not believe it was almost 8:00pm!  We headed for a restaurant that was almost 30 minutes away.  It's called "Fet's" or something like that.  I was starving and so was he.

Chris ordered some Poutine as a starter. For those of you who don't know what Poutine is; it is french fries (or yam fries) smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds.  It was dark in the restaurant.  Sorry about the blurr....

I ordered mushroom stuffed pasta with truffles......(or something like that)..??

Then for a main course he ordered this giant burger thingee.....ha

 I could not believe I ordered more pasta! This was Cajun Cream Chicken....it was SMOKIN HOT...haha

It was a great day and I have a feeling it is going to be a great summer.....:-)

See you soon!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sad Days For Our Garden..:-(

Hello Fellow bloggers,

I know, I know!  Seems like a stranger just poked her head into the world of blogging.  It has been a very long time since I have posted.  Lots going on here along with the crazy weather that most of us have been having.  I usually hibernate when it gets cold.  So, other than writing about food; which I have no problem doing, there isn't much to talk about.

 All of the pictures in this blog were taken through one of my windows.  So, please forgive the shadows or strange reflections that you may see.  The weather here had been quite impressive for a while.  We had snow and a lot of it!  I love the snow as long as I am not driving in it.

The weather cleared up for a little while and I was already thinking of the Spring flowers that were going to start showing...:-). But then,  we received word from the Strata that the condo complex which we live in was due for a drainage remediation around all of the buildings. This meant that whatever we had previously received permission to plant in our little area had to be taken out or destroyed. At least for now.  We do still have permission from the Strata to replant flowers if we want.  But we don't know what kind of area we will be left with.

The contractors were going to be doing extensive work around the buildings to help alleviate the problems that come with aging buildings and poor drainage. We decided to snatch out of the ground whatever seemed worth trying to salvage and let the rest go.  This is what we were able to save:  Two pots with about 8 hyacinth in each,  three pots of tulips with about 8 tulips in each pot of various sizes and colors and one large pot with grape hyacinth in it.

Here are some "before" pictures from previous Spring plantings:

Tulips. These were planted just outside of our living room window....

Hyacinth. Next to the wooden retaining wall at the base of the garden.

Grape Hyacinth. We got these from Chris's Mom and planted them one year outside of our office window.

"Stock"....at least I think that is what it is called.  They smell like ....well, I don't really know, but they were under the window one year too and I loved to sit there and smell them as the fragrance came into the living room.....:-)

Brachycome..These came back two years in a row.  We didn't expect them to be perennials.....

We planted these one year too under the window, but I don't remember what they are called now.

Since when we returned from our last trip the Rhododendron bushes were practically dead from inconsiderate neighbors dogs and cats, we told the contractors that they could dig out the bushes and dispose of them.  They offered to keep them in a ball for us,but since we didn't know what size area we would be left with, we said no.  It didn't take them long to scoop them out.

I couldn't find a "before" picture, but this is after.......

This is the center of the garden one year

Here is another


We did manage to get our decorative grasses out and plant them across the courtyard under a tree before they were forever lost.  Good thing they are still dormant.

Next thing you know, there was another dump of snow.  It did this off and on for several days.  This picture was one that I took before they ripped the bush out of the ground.  In the background you can see a large pile of granite that was part of a larger pile we used to make borders in the garden area.  These are the pots we put the plants in.

They had more than one crew working around the buildings.  The remediation called for some of the older trees to be cut down.  Some people lost a great deal of shade as a result of it.

I was amazed at how tall the tree actually was and how much lumber could come from it although I was sad to see it go....:-(. This was one tree, so you can imagine how tall it really was.  I love shade trees.  Especially coming from a climate where nothing survives the harsh summers except ......me!

The process seemed to drag on forever...it took days to do this stuff.  Now, the wooden retaining wall that was at the base of the garden is gone.....

Things are getting serious now!  They are scooping all of the dirt out.....

Yikes!!  For a moment I thought he was going to break our window.  He came very close to it and dug a trench.  I guess the guy has "mad skills"!

And after it was all said and done...we were left with no planting area under the window....

All the bushes and shade trees outside of the office window were gone as well....

It reminds me of a post war situation.....:-(.  Fortunately, we have also been told that landscapers will be coming to finish up and put down some grass seeds.  We haven't decided if we are going to replant or just leave them in pots.  But for now, here is what we salvaged, starting to wake up for the Spring.

We will probably keep them here until we see what the landscapers are going to do.  But it is likely that they will remain in pots and hopefully endure storage while we are away in the United States this fall.