Garden Gnome Ecosystems

Creating a sustainable system for gnomes to play in.


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Planting Day #1

Today I planted sugar snap peas that I saved a couple years ago, along with some spinach from 2010.  Both sets of seeds passed the germination test – now they have to pass the “we-skipped-spring-and-went-directly-to-summer” test, as cold season crops. It’s supposed to get to 24°C today.


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Saturday Inspiration: Eating for a dollar a day and naked gardening

These aren’t quite as inspiring as last week’s links – but worthy reading none the less.

A terrific post on how impossible it is to eat a varied and healthy diet for less than £1 per day (so, about $1.60 here) http://aethelreadtheunread.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/from-the-bbc-how-not-to-eat-healthily-for-1-a-day/

Today is World Naked Gardening Day! If Regina wasn’t still cold and snowy, I might consider partaking. (NSFW) http://www.wngd.org/


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Signs of Life on the Outside

I should have ventured further than the snowbank blocking my path yesterday. If I had, I’d have found all of this:

A tiny asparagus shoot.

Chives, coming up much more quickly than the ones in my windowsill.

Onions of some perennial variety, transplanted last summer from an Aunt’s overwhelmed garden.

A few tiny iris leaves.

Of course, tulips. It must be spring.

Hello spring. You’re a month late, but I’ll take it.


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Scenes from the First of May

We turned a page in the SCIC Global Action Calendar.

How ’bout a meat free Mother’s Day feast?

Spring arrived better than a month ago, right?

 

It snowed again yesterday.

At least there are signs of life inside:

The first seedlings for the windowsills. It’s a thicket of lettuce sprouts! Surely I’m not the only one who can’t be bothered to place every little lettuce seed into a perfectly spaced formation…

The first seedling for the garden! It’s a baby Roma!

Also, new critters arrived today.

Here is the worm house, awaiting their arrival:

I shredded the first 5 newspapers by hand.  And then my husband bought me a shredder.

The latest addition to our family of critters has arrived. They were wiggling away from the sun, sorry about the terrible photo.

Hopefully they survive…


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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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Tomatoes and Peppers

So, I started seeds yesterday. Two and a half weeks late. And then it snowed. Who wants to start seeds when there’s at least four feet of snow left in the garden and it’s still snowing?

tomato and pepper seeds

Seeds (cheap grocery store varieties, and one lovely locally grown heirloom variety), along with my compostable pots – a few peat pots and pellets (*cringe*) from a couple years ago, and my lazily peeled toilet paper rolls.

 

planted seeds, tucked in with my oddball recycling, and leveled with the latest issue of the Prairie Dog

Planted seeds, tucked in with my oddball recycling, and leveled with the latest issue of the Prairie Dog.  The last of my unsustainable peat pellets and pots.  From now on, it’s newspaper pots and toilet paper rolls.

They’re all fairly quick to mature, so given that they sprout, my cat doesn’t eat the seedlings, and they survive the transplanting and sub-par soil in my garden, I should be able to get a decent crop this year.  We’ll be overrun with tomatoes from family anyways, so I guess I shouldn’t worry too much. We’ll make salsa. Om nom nom salsa in the fall: the garden blog will come full circle.

basking in the warmth of a sunny window

Seeds basking in the warmth of a sunny window.

Did I mention that the sun finally came out in full force today, and I’m starting to find my sidewalk under the “we gave-up shoveling in Februaruy” snow?


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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.

Image

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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Roasted Corn Quinoa

My mom is a great, if not slow, cook. She was also vegan for a couple years of her life, so it figured that many of the recipes we ate often growing up were vegan ones. Every once in a while dad made burgers or chili…and I’m still not a fan of meat.

When I first started trying to live grain-free, I was also keeping legumes out of my diet; none of my favourite recipes fit the bill. I made roasted corn quinoa to serve with pan fried fish and veggies a couple nights per week, since fish was the only meat I could successfully cook and eat in less than 30 minutes. I make a mean roast chicken too, but that takes planning and time. I’m a university student. Other than crockpot meals, I don’t do much meal planning. At that time I was a sickly university student who didn’t enjoy food, because it didn’t like me. I didn’t do meal planning

Sometimes I’d get lazy, and just make quinoa and corn. And then I’d eat the entire batch with the help of my husband. If there were, by chance, leftovers, usually they’d be gone by the time I woke up, because my husband ate them cold for breakfast.

It’s a step up from instant noodles, peanut butter sandwiches, and Kraft Dinner, but almost as easy.

Grab your trusty cast-iron pan, and set it to medium heat.

Wonder why you still keep the corn in the downstairs deep-freeze when quinoa and corn are staples. Fetch corn. Call it a work-out for the day.

Measure corn, and allow to thaw (I sometimes run it under hot water to speed up the process.

Measure quinoa, and rinse. Rinse again.

Add some coconut oil to the pan, and then the corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir occasionally.

roasting corn

Add quinoa after the corn starts to brown.

toasting quinoa

Stir occasionally. Once the quinoa is toasting and popping (about a minute) add the broth.

adding the broth

roasted corn quinoa

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let it be for about 15 minutes. Wash the dishes from last night, when you were writing an essay, snacking and leaving your mess everywhere. That’s just me? Oh.

simmering roasted corn quinoa

At this point, you could start pan frying some fish, or put the veggies on to steam. They fit into this space quite perfectly.

Or you could just eat the quinoa, and reminisce about being a university student, and eating all of whatever one dish you made. Om nom nom.

roasted corn quinoa

Roasted Corn Quinoa (slightly adapted from Mark Bittman’s Quinoa and Corn, found in How to Cook Everything)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil*
  • 1 1/2 cups corn; if frozen, thawed
  • 3/4 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add oil.
  2. When oil is hot, add corn and salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until corn begins to brown.
  3. Add quinoa and let cook until you can hear some popping, about one minute.
  4. Stir in broth, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and cover. Cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft.

 

*the coconut oil makes this dish seem a little sweeter, and there is a hint of coconut flavour – something my family loves – but the olive oil might be a better choice if you want a truly savoury dish, or if you don’t like coconut.