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Posts tagged ‘Gardening’


August 11, 2010

zora naki

the state of the garden

July 9, 2010

zora naki

what do you want first – the good news or the bad news? I’m usually a bad news kind of person – get it out of the way, and then you know you have something good to look forward to.

So here it is.

The garden this year? Not up to snuff. Between the cold wet spring and poor plant selection/soil issues, some of my plants are positively runty. I have a tomato plant that (bless its little heart) is only about 6 inches tall and is still manfully putting out two cherry tomatoes. Five pepper plants (home depot – boo!) are still the same size as when i planted them about three months ago.

Tried some new veggies out this year – the fava beans grew like stink and then got infested with little black bugs, and the cabbages grew big and also got infested (for some reason i keep writing invested) with green worms and greyish crap. My solution is to repeatedly blast them with water, but i’m thinking there’s room for improvement.

My strawberry bed was decimated by the reno – only 5 strawberries have made it to fruition 😦  Also, the plum tree that put out forty-odd plums last year has one single solitary fruit growing. Is it on sabbatical? Am i doing something wrong?

Now for the good news. The potatoes in the front yard are coming along nicely.

the newly planted apple trees are putting out fruit.

bumper crops of raspberries.

Finally, (and unrelated to gardening), we headed off to granville island last saturday to gorge on seafood and admire the houseboats. very chic, no?

stupendous flower baskets.

happy 11th anniversary!

how many plants does it take to fill a front yard?

April 25, 2010

zora naki

Now that the giant pile of dirt is leveled, I have started to plant. Or at least, obsess about planting. I did have a landscape plan drawn up (hard to believe that was more than two years ago), but now I think that it isn’t what I want.

I want edible landscaping, along with some evergreen permanent plantings to help things along during the winter. I want it to look modern, but not rigid. I like chartreuse and lime green leaves, and red and white flowers and grasses. I also love palm trees and banana plants, but I have given up on them, because they require more babying to get through a winter than i am willing to dole out (I have kids – my TLC is being used up already).

The big question is how many plants and how (where) do you plant them? In straight lines? In groups? In patterns? I have no freaking idea, so I’m buying things and trying to figure it out as I go (lots of polls of passers-by, google searches, landscaping books from the library).

The basic rules:

  • buy multiples (odd numbers are best)
  • buy edibles where possible
  • arrange from lowest to highest
  • plan for the future (allow for growth)
  • buy plants that will survive with minimal care and attention

I hit up a liquidation sale at a grower and made some spur-of-the-moment decisions (60% off was a highly motivating factor, although plants were mostly unlabeled). I also bought some specific things I knew I wanted.

Here’s my plant list (with my guesses at final size in brackets):

5 euonymous – unlabeled but gold and green variegation, shrubby (size? but I’ve seen them grown into hedges)
4 rhododendron -vulcan red (5′ x 5′)
5 azalea -white (unlabeled – guessing 4′ x 4′)
1 magnolia grandiflora (unlabeled, but can grow quite large over time)
1 dwarf braeburn apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf jonagold apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf spartan apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height) – the three apples can cross-pollinate each other.
8 euphorbia (various types)
12 carex (no idea, but they’re variegated and about 12″ high, i’ve seen them growing in sun and shade around here)
3 skimmia (existing – 4′ x 4′)
3 peony – white
6 choisya – 3 Sundance, 3 standard (can be as big as 8’x8′ but more like 3′ – 5′ height in our climate)
some miscellaneous grasses
a flat of creeping thyme to plant between the front path pavers

Still looking for a bunch of pachysandra to plant by the skimmia on the shady side garden (picture above) and some lavender to plant along the sides of the path.

i grew apples

September 14, 2009

zora naki

i grew apples

i’m pretty excited about the first apple harvest (of my whole entire life) – i picked three today off of my espalier apple – a braeburn, a golden delicious and a red delicious. two of them were consumed on the spot, hence the lonely apple in the photo above.

also – peppers!

i grew apples (and peppers too)

much better than last year’s failed crop. of course, without anything in the photo to give them scale, the pictures are deceiving – these are decidedly smaller than what you would get at the store. there were a few spiders lurking in the crevices. but i grew everything without sprays or chemicals or anything other than the fresh compost added to the soil back in the spring. i think the raised beds are helping with the pest containment. or maybe it’s the vigorous undergrowth of clover and dandelions around the plants…

relocating from our house to a rental during the reno saga has been seriously detrimental to my urban homesteading efforts. the freezer is unplugged, the canning jars are packed away in storage, and the garden went without water during one of the hotter summers I’ve experienced out here. in our absence, the blackberry canes invaded. it’s a jungle back there. the cauliflower and broccoli heads came in small and very quickly (overnight it seemed) and had already gone to seed by the time i fought my way to the backyard garden (past the old furnace, around the tarp covering the tool cabinet, through the knee-high dandelions).  the strawberries performed admirably in the early summer but have taken a real beating from the work done – stucco raining down, roofing tile dropped, building paper left in a pile in the middle of the bed (obviously these people are NOT gardeners).

i still can’t seem to keep a male kiwi vine alive. i may need to relocate them – i now have two suspicious deaths on my hands. my thumbs are turning black. i planted potatoes in random patches around the beds and now (of course) with the plants done, i have no idea where most of them are.

don’t mind me. i’m just moping. i’ve been thinking about the amount of garden work in the back yard that i need to do to catch up for next year – ACCKK!

being even partially self-sufficient is so MUCH WORK.

i love being out in my garden and puttering – a little bit here and there. but apparently, for me at least, proximity is key. i don’t know how all of those allotment gardeners do it.

anyhoo, enough of the pity party. i think i’m feeling discouraged because the reno is being held up (again) – we’re on hold for another few days before they can finish papering the building, so we can stucco/insulate/drywall. the gutter/flashing guy made a brief appearance and hasn’t been seen since. i can’t find a window sill that i like. the budget is having issues. everything is great, but i want it to be DONE.

front yard gardens

September 5, 2009

zora naki

we were on our way to the PNE yesterday afternoon and I ended up taking more pictures of the front yard gardens that we passed than i did of the kids on rides. Some gorgeous, mouth-watering displays of gardening ingenuity, in all its forms. First up, a lovely Craftsman with a picket fence. From the street, it looks pretty.

front yard gardens

When you peer over the fence (as i am wont to do), you spy a functional and attractive garden.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

so pretty. in the same neighbourhood, squash and melon vines sprawl vigorously.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

some are combined with raised beds holding other veggies.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

the scariest version was an entirely enclosed chain link cage.

front yard garden

ugly as heck, but effective – check out the crop (i’m guessing bitter melon, but i don’t really know)

front yard garden

when we finally made it to the fair, i did manage to get a shot of the smallest kid on a ride.
front yard garden

the rest was just a blur of lines and rides and animals and junk food galore. i really wanted to eat a deep-fried mars bar (just to say that i had) but we didn’t get to it this time around. maybe next year…

everybody has an opinion

June 23, 2009

zora naki

when it comes to doing a reno, everyone going by the house has an opinion. some people are devastated that we’re changing anything, some are just curious, a few (very few) are keen on the changes. i am trying (very hard) not to second-guess myself and my style choices (not traditional! not craftsman!). skin! grow thicker!

the crew is ripping along – in this case, through the roof. the master bedroom has some lovely new ceiling joists and a blue tarp roof.

master bedroom ceiling

from the outside, we have (temporarily) a flat roof.

roof rippage, day 1

i am told that most of the roof should be gone by the end of today, and walls on the second floor will start going up tomorrow.

still having some trouble with decisions over how the windows should be framed. we have a very clean line around the windows and doors (or rather, we did) – stucco/plaster without mouldings. would love to replicate this, but am told it is a lost art. was hoping to use aluminum windows, but the quote for that was more than double the vinyl windows. back to the drawing board.

for the inside framing, i want a very simple box. architect has suggested mdf window sill/frame and mudding/taping right up to the edge. contractor has expressed concern that drywall will shrink/crack and it will look like crap. also, drywall won’t stand up to wear and tear. he has suggested 2″ window trim on top of this, but i’m a bit meh on the idea. maybe the mockup will change my mind. was also hoping to have box drywalled higher than the top of the window frame, so as to have room to install roller blinds. also told that this is $$$ option, given extra j-beads  and whatnot (not sure on this term – extra corners anyways). must ponder on this.

my garden is struggling a bit with the lack of rain (in vancouver of all places). having trouble staying on top of the watering/weeding. i usually don’t get to this stage 0f garden neglect until later in july, but things seem to be okay so far.

herb garden (the fennel is taking over again). yellow flowers are the lemon chamomile run rampant. basil is my waterloo – has died again.

herb garden june 22

the first of the purple cauliflowers  (graffiti) is emerging in my daughter’s garden. she claims that her singing is the reason for this early success. i am skeptical. perhaps cauliflower is tone deaf?

first graffiti cauli of 2009

the strawberries are finishing up and the raspberries are in full swing.


i’m going to go and do some more unpacking. i should be finished by the time we move out. adios!

Grow Your Own #29

June 17, 2009

zora naki

Wow! Prepare to be awed by the fabulous entries for this edition of GYO.

Cannellini Bean Salad

Cannellini Bean Salad

Andrea Meyers (Virginia, United States) of Andrea’s Recipes came up with her usual yumminess in her recipe for Cannellini Bean Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette.


Artichoke Salad with Sage

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina used sage from her Italian garden to make Artichoke Salad with Sage.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs

I never thought that a chicken recipe would appear on my blog, but this one from Núria of Spanish Recipes (which makes sense since she is from Barcelona) sounds good – Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Rosemary, Honey and Orange.

Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron

Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron

Jessamyn Tuttle from Mount Vernon, WA used up some of her rhubarb harvest in Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron which you can read all about in her blog Food on the Brain.

Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake

Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake

Bee and Jai from Jugalbandi created a Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake using some home-grown rosemary from their garden in the North-Western U.S.

Quinoa Flake Crisp

Quinoa Flake Crisp

Linda Simon (WI, USA) from Kitchen Therapy created a lovely Q-is-for-Quinoa Flake Fruit Crisp using the last of her rhubarb.


Lemon Thyme Shortbread Hearts

Elissa from the blog 17 and Baking lives in Seattle, WA (USA), and made Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts using lemon-thyme grown in her herb garden. Sounds yummy. I wonder if she’ll have to change the name of her blog when she turns 18?

Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers

Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers

Kim Lewandowski (Portsmouth, VA) of Live, Love, Laugh, Eat came up with a delicious Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers, featuring her spring peas.

Raspberry Tiramisu

Raspberry Tiramisu

And finally, this fabulous-looking Raspberry Tiramisu comes from Dhanggit’s Kitchen in Aix en Provence, France and uses home-grown raspberries.

Bon appetit! If I’ve missed anyone, please fire me an angry email. I hope to have the cojones to contribute to the next round of GYO – #30, hosted by Graziana of Erbe in Cucina.

Grow Your Own 2009

this is not what it looks like…

June 4, 2009

zora naki

male hardy kiwi

Now,from this picture, you might think, ‘hey, look at that thriving male kiwi vine!’ and, if you’d been following the blog, you would know of my trials and tribulations with the kiwi vines, and you might jump to the obvious conclusion that my vine was doing great.

sadly no.

it grew some brave leaves earlier in the spring and then withered and died. the picture above is his replacement, a kiwi gigolo named Pavel.

female kiwi

one of my female vines is happy about Pavel’s arrival.

herb garden june 1, 2009

the herb garden continues to put the rest of my plants to shame. i’ve even managed to keep basil alive for a month. It’s the tiny little plant on the left. All the big stuff is perennial (oregano, thyme, lemon balm, fennel, chives, etc.) The snow killed the rosemary, so there is a replacement buried back in there.

baby plums

plums are growing on the grafted plum tree.

baby apples

did you know that baby apples are fuzzy?

green blueberries

they look green, but these are blueberries underway…

grow your own – and eat it too!

June 1, 2009

zora naki

GYO-2GR-200I’m super-excited to be hosting the June 15th edition of Grow Your Own (GYO). Do you grow/raise/forage edibles? Well, I would love to hear you blog about it. Extensive rules below, but basically, send me the link to your blog post before June 15th, and I’ll post a summary post shortly thereafter. And props to andrea’s recipes for metahosting the event – i’ve bookmarked so many of her recipes, they have their own folder .

Grow Your Own is a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. Anyone with a blog can participate! Do you write a food blog? A gardening blog? A farm blog? A hunting or foraging blog? An eco blog? A frugal blog? Anything whatsoever related to home and garden or fun activities to do with children? You can write a post about some of the edibles you have raised, grown, or found and cooked with. Having a food blog is not a requirement for participation.

The rules are simple:

* Make a dish that uses at least one item from your very own garden or farm and post about it. Your garden doesn’t have to be big. Container gardens are welcome! If you hunted or foraged, those items are also eligible. You can also use something that was given to you, but the giver must have personally grown or raised the item. If you paid for it, then it doesn’t count.

* Anything edible that you have grown or raised qualifies, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, sprouts, edible flowers, nuts, grains, legumes, dairy products, eggs, livestock, etc.

* Please make sure your dish is posted during the month of the event because we like to celebrate seasonal items. One post per blog, please.

* As a courtesy, please include a link to this announcement in your blog post, and then update later with a link to the round-up.

* If you want to include one of the Grow Your Own badges in your post, feel free to grab one from here. (Please upload to your own server/image repository.) Logos professionally designed by Jeff Meyers.

To include your post in the round-up, send an email to zoranaki(at)gmail (dot)com by the 15th of June 2009 with the following information:

* Subject line: Grow Your Own #29
* Your name and location (country, state if applicable)
* Your blog URL
* Permalink to your post
* 300×300 pixel photo of your dish (As long as the photo is no larger than 300 pixels in either direction, it will work.)

It’s hard to keep track of entries if we don’t receive an email, so please remember to email your information.

I will post a round-up of all our dishes within a few days after the deadline (of course subject to any other events in life, acts of God, etc). Questions? Please ask in the comments or email.

the hardy kiwi lives!

March 31, 2009

zora naki

male hardy kiwi

the female kiwi vine (michigan state) that i planted last summer died before the snow even hit, and i thought that the male kiwi was a goner for sure. much to my surprise – it’s growing! sprouting optimistic green things on branches i’d written off for kindling. go figure.

didn’t want the vine to be lonely, so purchased two kiwis of the female variety – one rossana and one cordifolia. Hoping they’ll grow to cover an eight-foot stretch of trellis.

plum tree buds

The plum tree branches are sprouting like crazy – each grafted variety has different coloured buds.

blueberry bush buds

Even the little blueberry bushes are getting in on the spring action.

Tomorrow is D-Day – i’m off to present our case for renovating to the Board of Variance (adding a partial second floor). If we get the variance, we’ll be building. If we don’t, we’ll be moving. I just want the decision made and over with already – the not-knowing is driving me crazy! a demain…

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