Garden Gnome Ecosystems

Creating a sustainable system for gnomes to play in.


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Saturday Inspiration: Apples, land rights, and food forests

A few links for an inspiring, delightful Saturday afternoon.  The sun is out here – so I’ll be posting this, and throwing open the windows to let in a little sunshine while I whittle away at spring cleaning/planting/planning.  Enjoy!

I’m going to go start schemeing about helping urban food production take off right here in Regina.  Maybe I’ll even figure out how to make a living growing food and changing the world.

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Grow Write Guild Post #3: My garden, right now

This prompt cracked me up. First, the title – “Ch-ch-changes” – had me scooting on over to YouTube to put on some mood music.

Describe your garden right now. Well, 3 feet of snow, except just outside the back door where we shoveled a couple times last year. There it’s only about 2 feet deep, and packed down.

The whole garden: white, with boot prints (or boot holes?), because I gave up, and finally took the garbage out yesterday, and while I was doing that, I decided to take an adventure walk over to the fence, to see how deep the snow was. Up to my knees in the shallow spots, it is.

the stick and red spot are little bits of compost escaping from the pile beside my back door…also, bunny tracks!

Depressing, cold, and seemingly never changing. “Ch-ch-changes” in my garden – I’m not so sure.  But at least I’m going to be grooving to David Bowie all afternoon.


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Grow Write Guild Post #2: Dream Garden

Another Grow Write Guild post, as prompted by Gayla over at You Grow Girl.

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This one’s a challenge for me.  A professor recently recommended that I read The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody. Just previous to that, I stumbled on Toby Hemenway’s video, discussing the cultural impacts of agriculture.

Both have left me reeling.  I want, so desperately, to have a piece of land to call my home, my own.  I want control.  

These works have challenged me to look at the world as something that, perhaps, no one can own.  Damn it, I don’t want to share.  I want a room all to myself at home.  I want a garden all to myself in my front yard.  I’ll welcome visitors, but I want to the final say as to which plants go where.

But more than that, I want a society in which people are treated in an equitable manner.  I want respect for all nations, all genders, all ages.  I want to be part of the change.  And that might mean giving up the dream of owning land.  Owning the land means being able to sell it.  Who are we to trade in a resource that will last for all eternity?  What does this belief, that we can own the land, do for our interactions with other human beings?  With our partners, friends, and enemies?  As I pose these questions, I realize that I’ll probably never entirely know the answers.  If this intrigues you, go read Brody.  Watch Hemenway.  Enlighten me. I don’t know where to go from here.  I have so many questions.  More, every day.  I haven’t even started seeds, because I can’t decide if I want to grow on the sort-of-rented-but-not-really land I live on.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. (Disclaimer, I never made it through all of Hemenway’s video – he might have the answers, if I watched ’til the end).

‘Bout this dream garden though.

If, in fact, owning land can be part of an equitable society – even if it can’t, I suppose – I want a place to be, with a lush green canopy above a hammock.  I want a tiny back deck, right outside my kitchen door, with pots of herbs and rain barrels filling the space. I want a garden that pushes the limits of the climate, and welcomes nature in.  I want to grow hardy kiwi.  I want a garden that produces most of the food that my family needs.  I want a garden with an overwhelming harvest that demands I ask neighbours for help in processing it all.  I want a garden full of art.  Most of all, I want a garden that welcomes and strengthens the community, while providing a (very necessary) sanctuary for me.  It’s about nature, the planet, and the environment, yes.  But more than that, it’s about the people.

It should feel something like the picture at the top. Vivid, dense, and exploding with life.

It should be all the pictures and articles and learning I’ve collected here, somehow crafted into something whole.


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Grow Write Guild Post #1: My First Plant

The snow in my backyard is at least four feet tall in some places.  I’m having trouble bringing to mind images of plants that live outside, so I’ll stick with my first very-own plant, one that lived in a cheap green pot, and only flowered once.  Maybe.

I couldn’t remember what the plant was, except that it had tall leaves, and a white flower.

I asked Google what the plant was.  Then I texted to ask my mom what the plant was.  She’s my plant dictionary.

“Hey Mom, do you remember that plant with tall skinny leaves that only maybe flowered once?  The one where you suggested that I part with it a few months after it flowered, since it wasn’t likely to ever flower again, but I insisted on carting around the three tall leaves for a few years?  I might have just made that part up in my head.  It might not have ever flowered.”

“Indoors? Amaryllis? It’s hard to get them to flower more than once.”

“That’s it. Thanks Mom. And thanks for quelling my fears that I really am a terrible gardener, when it comes to indoor plants, even if I was 5 when I started trying to force a second flowering.”

Sorry Google, mom won this round.  You just showed me spider plants, and tiny white flowers.

I think the bulb was a birthday gift.  Perhaps it was a Christmas gift.  Maybe it was Easter.  I can’t remember.

I wasn’t unfamiliar with the wonder of a tiny green shoot poking up through the soil, but this one was mine, and I’m sure I checked it every day.  When it finally flowered, I’m sure I showed everyone.  Those flowers are stunning.

The flower eventually died, and then I started to stare at the leaves, talk really nicely to them, and otherwise attempt to will my pretty plant into flowering again. I might have even petted the leaves.

This is starting to move towards fiction; I can’t remember that much from my childhood.

It’s been four moves and three cats since I planted that bulb, and I’m not sure where it went missing. Most likely it didn’t survive long enough to even attempt the first move, but I haven’t a clue. Maybe one of the first two cats ate it. It definitely wasn’t around long enough for number 3 to eat it. He would have.

Sometimes I miss it.

My first plant was a white amaryllis; thank-you to Gayla at You Grow Girl for the push back into a wonderful memory.

I’ve since moved on to a jade plant, aloe vera (x2), dracena and a boston fern.  They’re all beautiful even if they don’t ever flower for me.  I’ll save the flowering plants for the outside garden.


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Rain in Late November

That sounds like a heartsick song to me, but the weather today was certainly melancholy enough to warrant such miserable writing.

The rain though, was a strange thing to see; by now, it’s generally snow or nothing here.  Today it rained all afternoon, leaving tiny icicles on the tree in my front yard and a slippery sheen on the roads, then switched to snow, and covered the glossy streets with a deceiving, pretty layer.

Almost two weeks ago, it was ten inches of snow keeping us inside and off the roads.  Instead of gardening we made bread.

And took pictures of the evidence that some animals don’t seem to mind the snow.

Discussions of workshops on gardens in the spring persist through winter, but that much snow has me thinking about finals, finishing up a semester, and Christmas break.  Jack, ever the helpful animal, thought he could pitch in with the last few essays.


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Tiny Homes and Local Bylaw

For the past few years, and past few weeks especially, I’ve been obsessing over the Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.  I’d been wavering between the Loring and the Whidbey; dreamed up a few modifications for both, in order to create two bedrooms; and almost convinced the husband that a stair ladder wouldn’t be so bad.

I finally sat down to do the not so fun research today. As it turns out, my dreams of living in a tiny home will require some modification, since the city bylaws require all new development to have a minimum square footage of 74 square meters – which is actually larger than the not-so-tiny house we’re living in now.  As for the tiny homes built on flat-decks: it looks like we could get away with it, since the city just requires that the homes conform to C.S.A. Z.240MH series-M86, and as far as I could tell there aren’t minimum sizes noted in these guidelines.  But we were only considering the trailer home as a temporary home while we find a place to settle.

My newest plan includes modifying the design – darn, now I need an engineer or an architect – and adding a “sun room” to make up the remaining square footage.  More than half the house would be devoted to glass walls and growing plants.  Perhaps I could create a removable wall to allow the space to breath better in summer?  Add a cob oven and or rocket-stove?  Maybe I should just pester city council until they change the laws.  For now, I’ll work on a tiny home design with an oven that fits on a flat deck and includes a stair ladder.  That and contemplate living in a trailer park.