gardening, landscaping

A Clean Slate

You haven’t heard from us in a while and it’s because we’ve been busy moving!

Our gardening bins are still on the Windatt Family Farm but they will soon join us here in town (Orillia). They’ve been harvested and the only item left is the horseradish. I am in good understanding that it will withstand a frost and will be usable again in the spring if we choose to leave it in the bin over the winter.

So where will the bins go?

We’re lucky enough to have a large lot in town; it was however quite overgrown with trees, shrubs, grass, wildflowers etc.

This past weekend we had a gathering of family & friends over to do a major overhaul in the backyard cleaning the slate for our future spring gardening plans.

The work was to start Saturday morning, but there was a surprise arrival of equipment in the rain Friday evening. It was a little tricky getting it up the slight slope with the slippery grass, but Stephan managed it like a pro and he performed the upheaval of one tree just before it got dark and we sat down together for dinner.

We’ll let the pictures tell the story of how 4 dump truck loads were gathered up and taken away….

This little machine came into the backyard and dropped our short fat pine tree in no time



To get an idea of what the pine tree looked like, we’ve taken a picture of the listing backyard photo…


On Saturday morning, that little machine worked its way around the yard pulling down grapevines, lilac bushes, another and another dead pine. The rest of the crew cut the trees up, trimmed the other trees and bushwacked through all the overgrown grass & weeds.


We were even in the neighbours yard cleaning up the fence line in order to prep the yard for our new fence being built in 2 weeks

We are very thankful to our new neighbours for being so easy to work with. Tibby next door let us into her yard to remove overgrown shrubs, Cindy let us take down a tree growing onto the property line and Lon let us trim trees over growing into our yard and remove shrubs onlong the property line.

Jerry; the most amazing by far, let us get access to our property via his and park super close to his shed….


4 dump truck loads later the backyard was pretty bare….


On Sunday we moved some rocks around, put a load of stone under where the shed will go and moved a small load of topsoil around…


We did end up busting the concrete pad which was located to the right in the picture when leaving the garage. We will fill with stone for the winter and pour concrete in the spring. Out front we removed some shrubs, trimmed the tree and added a rock to the flower garden.

It is definely a clean slate in comparison to when we started. The space feels like it has doubled, but I’ve been warned that feeling will change when the solid wood fence goes up.

For now, stay posted; we will put up pictures of the fence when it is completed and the container bins arrive.

Happy Thankgsgiving!



We’re Moving!

It has been a while since we’ve posted anything and it’s because we’re moving!

It will be a little bit before we are settled enough to post for you but rest assured those cool containers we’ve been gardening with will be coming along to the new place and we will use them next year.

We hope you all had a great summer!


Food Preservation, gardening

Drying Basil & Parsley

The Basil plants…..


The leaves picked, washed and placed in dehydrator…


After about 35 mins…..


These were placed into a 500 ml Mason jar for use over the winter. We will continue to pick the leaves and do this process until the plants go to seed.

The parsley washed and spun dry in the lettuce spinner….


The leaves picked off the stems….


Placed spread out in the dehydrator…


And approx 1 hr later…


We will continue to do this until we have Mason Jars full of both for the winter. These herbs are great when making homemade pasta sauce, soups, stews, and chili.


Zinnias & Petunias?

The Zinnias continue to grow upwards….


A few of the bulbs are also beginning to open up….


As for the Petunias….this is where we planted the Matthiola seed that did not come up. This bin was used for Petunias last year and the label gave no indication they were a perennial kind….


They are even growing out the side of the container!

Disappointed that another flower seed package was a dud, we are very glad the Petunias took their place – what a pleasant surprise

gardening, Sustainable Living

More Poor Success​: Flowers Update

Among the vegetable container bins, we used a few for flowers this year. Thanks to the following two packages that did not come up, we’ve reseeded that empty bin with more turnip seeds.


On the side of Mom’s house, we also tried to plant the following package of flower seeds, but they did not come up either.


The following pictures are of Benary’s Giant Zinnia’s flowers which are doing really well both in a bin at Mom’s and in a bed in front of Grandma’s house. Because they have not flowered yet, I’ve included a picture of what they should look like from the Seed Savers website where we purchased them.




They are going to be gorgeous when they do flower!



Two types of Clematis blooms ready to blossom as well as multiple buds ready to bloom as well….


Johnny Jump Ups:






These were planted from seed too and we’re unsure as to how big they will get or what they will look like. We have lost the seed package and a google search shows them looking like this….


I can’t say that our plants coming up look like this, but we will see.

Grandma’s Lavender:


We’re calling the flower gardens a poorer success because only 50% of the flower seeds we planted are coming up.  The rest of the flowers that are doing so well, have been established for 2+ years now and belong either to Mom or Grandma and can’t really be counted as part of our successes.

Bring on the Bees!


gardening, Sustainable Living

A Poor Success; The Vegetable Garden Update

What a poor year for the garden! With too much rain and below seasonal temperatures it is a wonder the gardens have even survived this year at all. In fact, we know friends whose gardens have flooded out completely.

In the beginning, it felt like failure for us too; the chives from seed did not come up, the parsley from seed has been VERY slow, something keeps digging into the winter onions, some type of bug has eaten most of the turnip tops, and the pepper seeds which were planted twice have not come up at all (and maybe not the tomato ones either….jury still out).

However, after all of these failures, disappointments, and complaints, once we walk around and see how well all the other plants are doing – we see success.  There is a plus to container gardening when there is too much rain; they drain better than the ground. I’m thinking that maybe in smaller amounts the soil in the container will be warmer than the soil in the ground as well which may help.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate the success we are having despite a poor start and poor weather co-operation….

The Multiplier Green Onions:


The bin is only 1/2 full at the moment because we’ve been harvesting and eating! So fresh and full of water it feels like eating celery at first. They are sweet and mild enough to enjoy from end to end, eating them raw (dipped in a little salt of course).

Green Onion from Seed:


From seed, these will be a little slower, but we will be able to enjoy them later in the season after the multipliers are done.

The Chives:


They’ve grown a lot since last year. We haven’t touched them yet and plan to wait for ‘onion gap’ between the multiplier green onions and the from seed green onions before we do. We will use the chives in place of green onions in recipes for a similar flavour.

The Cucumbers & Zucchini:


The Tomato and Basil:


I realize that this does not at all look like a Tomato Plant hahaha. We planted four Mortgage Lifter tomato seeds and something came up in the exact location that we planted them. More than anything, it looks like a cucumber plant and we did try growing cucumber in this bin last year. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.

Here is a picture of the Tomato Seed package showing the fruit, but not the plant….


The Basil plants were just picked over yesterday for first harvest this year and they smell great!

The Okra Plants:


A little smaller than what they should be due to the cooler temperatures, they still look well and hopefully will continue to grow in the July heat that we’re expecting (and hoping to see).

The Horseradish:


So impatient for these to get started, we can see there’s no worry going forward about the kind of harvest we’ll have for this plant. I’ve even had a dream about grinding it up; it was so hot and spicy my eyes were burning & I woke up sweating!

The two kinds of Lettuce:


We’ve harvested from both a week ago and had such an abundance that we did not get back to the ‘patch’ before the first plant got bitter. While it was cool in the morning yesterday, we cut it down and gave it a really good watering to encourage new growth. The second one, because of the speckles, was easy to pull off the longer, older, tougher, bitter pieces and again after a really good watering, will be ready for another harvest in a few days.

The Garlic:


A little crowded on one side; probably because the bin is not 100% level and some of the garlic seeds got so wet, they rotted. We will leave them alone until next spring.

The Parsley:


Slow to start, it looks like we won’t have a ‘dud’ crop after all and there will be lots of parsley to dry and enjoy for another whole year. We are almost finished last year’s crop that we dehydrated.

The Radishes:


Harvested and replanted three times already and with lots of seed still left, we will be able to enjoy these crunchy snacks for the next month.

An Empty Bin:


This is where we planted the pepper seed twice, both times unsuccessfully. Some things maybe really should be started indoors. Here is the picture of the pepper seed package….


We’ve replanted the bin with Turnip seeds. The turnips at the side of Mom’s house have been eaten up by bugs. We have had to pull out all but a few that look ok to continue on. They have been sprayed with a sunlight soap and water solution to make them sticky and unenjoyable for the bugs.



Hopefully, the ones in the bins fare better.

The Winter Onions:


The winter onions are doing well on the side of Mom’s house despite being dug up a few times from some sort of animal. We heard a little tip: put a couple of moth balls around the bed. This is supposed to deter the animals and we’ve put two in to see if they work.

The Beets:


The beets have done well here too with the winter onions. We thinned them yesterday, kept the ones we took out and washed them up ready to eat in a salad.

The Carrots:


The carrots are doing poorly here, but we suspect a lot of their seed has washed away along with the parsnip seed that we can’t seem to find coming up.

Grandma’s Garden:



From left to right; corn, spinach, carrots, with the last row a 1/4 row radish (that was harvested 2 days ago and reseeded) and a 3/4 row snow pea plants.  The carrots will need to be thinned out soon.  We’ve been waiting for a good weather day for Grandma – no rain and not too hot – we want to help, but not take over so she can remain active in the garden. Hoeing is therapeutic at any age! Despite all the rain, her garden has managed to drain well and she’s only lost a small section of the spinach row to flood.

Despite a few failures, some frustration and replanning, we do see success at every turn in the garden this year and hope to see more as the season continues.


FOOD, My Story

Caper Crusader

Yes, you read that right ‘Caper’, not ‘Caped’

It was approx a year ago that I tried capers for the first time.

I like salmon, but I am not a big fan of eating it smoked so have never ordered it with it’s often paired garnish of capers.

If I’d seen them at the grocery store or on a buffet some time, I don’t remember. If it was mentioned I remember thinking that I didn’t really know what they were but they were probably some sort of sea creature (haha – I’ve since learned my Mom thought this too & where I had most likely picked the idea up from when I was a kid).

My sister-in-law Jen was eating them and going on & on about how yummy they were and how they are a powerful anti-inflammatory.

I asked her where they came from (to her amusement I did admit I thought they came from the sea) she told me they are a pickled rose bud of some sort.

I tasted them, they were good! But I didn’t really ‘get into them’ until approx 4 months ago. I don’t know why, but I just started eating them….all the time. A few with breakfast, a few at lunch, maybe a couple with a snack and a few alongside dinner.

The first jar I bought was quite large and it said to consume within 8 weeks of opening. I thought for sure they were going to go bad as I couldn’t possibly eat the whole jar in 2 months. To my utter amazement, I consumed that jar in 2 weeks!  And I’ve been going strong every since. I even bought 2 jars while visiting Jen last weekend and made it through 1/2 of 1 of them (the 2nd jar was purchased for her enjoyment as they are one of the better brands I’ve encountered).

And here is why I believe these Little Capers (pickled plant buds) are actually Big Crusaders on inflammation….

You may not remember that I started this blog and focusing on whole foods cooking, not only because I enjoy it, but because I have Multiple Sclerosis. It is my goal to do as much as I can to live better with a chronic condition.

And so, how have I been feeling? Less Tired!!

Now I go through phases of extreme exhaustion, but no matter what I am always tired; more tired than the average person my age (who is usually doing more than me; working or aspiring to a new career and often not, also raising a family). So when I notice an increase in mental clarity, less napping, an increase in the ability and want to do things (I’ve been able to do some volunteer work again!), I take notice.

So what have I been doing lately?

Yup eating Capers. I know things usually don’t end up being just one small thing, but I can’t think of anything else. I’ve been drinking too much coffee, eating out, eating on the fly, feeling stressed, and trying to keep adding in more things to do. I am always conscious of pacing my energy to avoid running into trouble (relapses) as this has been my experience in the past, and hopefully delay possible physical disabilities. Fatigue & Stress have been the two biggest factors impacting how I feel and how often & severe relapses occur.

So yeah, maybe it’s the Capers…but what the heck is in them to even warrant this type of thought?

Capers are a great source of two powerful anti-oxidants: Rutin and Quercetin. I am not going to go on about their properties or why they work on inflammation; you can google search or library browse with the best of them, but they are real and they really do work.

Jen had said they are pickled rosebuds which is really close to the truth. A caper bush is also known as a Flinders Rose. Before the flower bud can actually bloom, the buds are collected and either pickled in brine or stored in oil (I haven’t been able to find them in oil just yet).

As these plants are grown in hot climates, there is currently not one in the garden this year (haha) and thus I am unable to share a picture of my own plant, nor a picture of a jar of them at the moment because I finished my last jar at breakfast this morning!

I encourage everyone to try them and if you already have, please share some of your recipes with us as I have just been eating them on the side for now 🙂