May 27, 2013

How Does My Garden Grow?

A couple of days ago, I checked the weather and it looked to be just fine, a good time to plant tomatoes.  So I dragged out the tomato spirals, laid them out nicely and proceeded to put each and every tomato plant into the ground.   Please note that normally, I don't plant them all the seedlings, because more germinate than I have time to process the harvest.   I have planted all 16 tomato plants this year.. sheesh.. What was I thinking?  I mean there are even 5 cherry tomato plants.  That is a lot of cherry tomatoes!  They all survived the last few days of unseasonably cold weather, including frost warnings, thanks to lots of straw and some plastic bag cloches.  

I also got the new blueberries in the ground to replace the entire patch that the bunnies ate over the winter.  They came planted with strawberries for some reason, so I dug up an area for them and now we have an unplanned strawberry patch, which will hopefully start to bear next year.   I found another blackberry bush as well, so that should finish filling up the row for those.    I planted a small patch of potatoes.  Not enough to store for the winter, but hopefully enough for over the summer.  The Japanese Indigo is planted as well.   I finally got the greens in, spinach, lettuce, beets and cilantro.  It's way too late for these, but the garden was way to wet and soggy until just recently.

The Lilacs are just starting to fade.  Over the weekend though, the scent was incredible.  I wish we had some dark purple ones, but they are mainly white and pale purple.  I can't think of a space to put new ones in, so the dark purple will have to wait.

Then, I looked up and the Dame's Rocket was blooming!  Yesterday it wasn't there and poof, today, a beautiful pink spray in the flowerbed.  It's the first.  There will be more coming.

The Bleeding Heart is so pretty this year.  This one is an incredible deep pink.  It's such a quick plant, growing, blooming and then dying back before mid summer. 

Yesterday I was able to finish spinning up the second bobbin of the Black North Country Cheviot fibre.   Today, I plied it together.  There is just under 250 yards here of woollen spun yarn.    It's black but the sun is washing out the colour.  It's  outerwear yarn, soft enough but not something I really want to cuddle up with.  There is still about half of the roving left, so a few more skeins to come.    It will have to wait though as I'm wanting to spin something less wintery feeling right now.

I looked up today and saw these chooks doing what chooks will do... sunbathing in the dirt.  Every year they find new places to dig holes in the yard.  They roll around in the sandy soil, relaxing in the sun.  The first time I saw them I thought they were having some sort of seizures.  The second time, they didn't move for ages, and I thought they were dead.  Nope, just enjoying a sunshiney afternoon!

May 23, 2013

Victoria Day Weekend activities

The May long weekend is a busy one.   I spend the months before hand organizing a 3 day medieval educational conference - boy that sounds awfully posh.  Really, we dress up in clothes of various degrees of accuracy, spend the days teaching and learning mainly hands on skills in all sorts of various areas.  We've done brewing, calligraphy, illumination, sewing, print making, paper making, spinning, dyeing, heraldry, embroidery, glass bead making and everything in between.  This weekend, I wanted to do an Indigo vat.   The last time I did it, most people decided that they just wanted to watch and I found it a rather dull class as there was no interaction from the participants.  Indigo is a dye which deserves a hands on approach.   So, I did Shibori techniques in an indigo vat.  Shibori is very hands on as it's essential medieval period, Japanese tie-dyeing.   The class participants were fabulous, the weather was perfect and the dye vat exceeded my expectations.  I am only sorry that I didn't get photos of all the items which came out of the vat.    We had cotton, silk and even tencel yarn which all dyed up beautifully.

I'd been working on spinning up 12 oz of North Country Cheviot roving that I'd picked up last summer at the gift shop in Upper Canada Village.  It's black, except in the sunlight, when it has a distinct mahogany cast to it.  Sooooo very pretty!  Anyway, I was practicing the longdraw as it's fairly short fibre and had to quickly finish up the bobbin before I left for the weekend.  I brought the roving with me in case I had time to spin, but while I did have time to spin, it wasn't enough to get to finishing up the black Cheviot.  I started a new bobbin yesterday while I figure out what sort of distaff I want.

The spinning I did do on the weekend was a fun bit of one on one instruction, on spinning flax.  Once flax is spun, it is renamed linen.  It's a very different beast from wool, which is my comfort zone.  I've spun flax before but I like to get as many different points of view on spinning techniques, especially one so specific as flax.   Wendy showed me a different way to dress a distaff - she loaned me one of hers to try out - which was in some ways, a lot easier than the way that I'd learned before.  There were a few smoothing hints and spinning hints which I can see coming in handy.   The best part of course, was sitting and spinning together.  It was a lovely, relaxing break on a hectic, busy and somewhat stressful weekend.

May 13, 2013

Colours of May

May has been a lovely month so far, if you can ignore the fact that the past couple of days have been cool, to the point of needing to stoke up the woodstove.  Yesterday, Mother's Day, was awfully grey, with cold rain, snow and sleet which came pouring down at various times during the day.  Despite that, the flower beds have been vigourously proclaiming that it's spring.

The Forsythia bloomed this year.  This shrub was planted many years ago by the former owners of this house.  It was planted in a very protected spot, almost overly so.  In January, when we get a few days of reprieve from the cold weather, the buds often swell one or two will often bloom.  Then the cold weather clamps down again and kills off all the flower buds, leaving us with a barren Forsythia in the spring.  This year however, it is dressed in all it's golden glory.

I don't have enough tulips planted!   They make a lovely spring display and seem to be impervious to the chickens scratching about.  They get frost bitten in the spring, but they still grow and bloom when it's miserable out.   This fall, I will have to plant many more as there is a definite break in colour from when the bulbs bloom to the next plants are ready to flower.

Under the very, very old maple tree are a few Periwinkle plants.  Usually, there aren't many flowers but this year, they are blooming away.  They are so pretty and delicate.   For a plant which has been stuck in a mound around a  maple tree which would take 3 of me, hand in hand, to reach around the circumference, and neglected, it's doing very well this year!

Currants!  This year the red currants are full of flowers.   Hopefully I'll get to them before the birds do.   I much prefer black currants to the red ones.   When finally, after scouring every plant centre and nursery around, I found a single black currant bush amongst the soft fruit stock selection, I grabbed it.  I didn't have a place to put it, so I stuck it at the corner of the garden, as a holding spot, thinking I'd move it in a week or so.  However, that didn't happen and it's been growing happily away in it's little corner.   I will definitely put some sort of bird netting over it so that I can hoard it's meager harvest.

May 02, 2013

Signs of Spring

I had just over half a bobbin of singles when I finished spinning up the orange/yellow superwash yarn.  There was only 50 grams to start with, so I knew I'd have to either make a short skein or ply it with something different.  I had both white and black superwash rovings on hand.  White seemed bright and washed out the colours a bit, so I spun up a bunch of black and plied it.  I filled my bobbin just as the black ran out.  I still need to spin up a bit more black to finish off the last of the orange bobbin.   This skein is 390 yards. 
We were doing a bit of cleanup outside the house when I yelled to my hubby to stop pulling down the overgrown vines.  These two little babes were sitting on the folded back awning.  They've not yet fledged, but the one sitting up brave and strong looks almost like it's ready to go.  They're Mourning Doves.   The silly birds seem to always build nests in the awning or sometimes even more inappropriate places.  Last year they were nesting near a leaky eavestrough and the year before on an open, unprotected ledge!
 It's amazing what a couple of mild, sunny days will do to the garden.  These pretty hyacinths literally popped overnight.  Once day they were little stubs in the ground and the next day they were tall buds.  It took 2 more days to be in full bloom.  I love walking by when the sun hits them and the perfume fills the air!   It's a lovely scent.  These purple blooms are forced bloom transplants from previous years.  It took them two years to develop normally, but they're beautiful.  The pink and lavender blooms were planted from a packet of department store bulbs.