Monday, April 28, 2008

Going Green: The Lawnmower Dilemna

We need a lawn mower. We don't have one, and we have grass to mow this year. I have learned a few things about lawn mowers recently. The main thing being that mowing your lawn for 1 hour produces the same carbon emissions as driving your car 500km. Actually, I can hardly believe this. But, my husband, who has much more knowledge in this area says that it makes sense to him - so sure - Lawn mowers are HUGELY inefficient. The other problem is that we have no money - so buying a new fancy solar-powered green lawnmower is kind of out of the question.

So, what is a girl to do?

1 - don't mow the lawn - (not sure this is an option...)
2 - buy a used gas mower and pretend I don' t know the facts (don't like this option)
3 - buy a "reel" mower - (they still cost at least $100 - not sure if we can do that right now)
4 - don't do anything and pretend there is no dilemna (currently what I am doing, and will only work for another couple weeks...)

What would you do?

Supposedly the sales of "Reel Mowers" are on the rise...

Going Green...

So, I've decided to start a series of posts called "Going Green." These posts will record my attempts to minimize our carbon footprint and make better choices for the environment. Hopefully, as time goes on, I can make some good changes and make my home and garden more sustainable.

If you want to find out the size of your carbon footprint check this out:

PS - My carbon footprint was about 13 tonnes of CO2 per year. The average in Canada is 20.

Also - anyone know why there was a question about what types of financial services I use? How does this connect to sustainability?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bought more seeds today...

A quick trip to the newly opened walmart garden centre, and I came home with more seeds. I guess now I am growing broccoli, and cucumbers. I started them this evening along with the romaine lettuce I had previously purchased. I think I was slightly more conscious of "numbers" today than I was with the tomatoes and peppers, and only planted 12 broccoli, 18 cucumbers and 18 Romaines - which is still too many - but not anything excessive like 32 Jalepeno pepper plants I have started already... (I have the same problem at Walmart as Babs at Rambles and Brambles... I think I will be giving away plants to whoever will take them - and maybe even to people who wont...

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday, my husband and I drove down to a local park to get some river rocks to use in our garden. This park is part of the local trail system and has paths that follow the banks of the Nechako River. We can actually walk there from our house - put walking home with 3 5-gallon pails of rocks would have been awkward (impossible for me - I could barely carry one from the riverbank to the car). Anyways, this winter the river was struck with a major icejam for about 3 months - houses were flooded, and roads/businesses were closed for a significant amount of time. This park was in the middle of the ice jam. Yesterday, we saw the devastaion that the ice had actually caused. There are still ice blocks there that are 10-12 feet high. The trail has been washed away in places - and bridges have been reduced to splinters, and there is trees, branches and debris everywhere. It's funny how you can live so close to a disaster like this, and not really know its full effects. We are only several blocks from the river - but up a hill, so there was no chance of it affecting us -and yet, we had never seen the extent of the damage. The park is still beautiful, but since parts of it have been washed away (several times in the last few years), it will never quite be the same, and will take a lot of money and time to fix back up.
view of one of the ponds in the park
view from under the ice at the river's edge
large tree a beaver tried to knock down

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ready to Burst...

I had a very busy work week, so I have had very little time to post on my blog, or comment on some of the fabulous things that happened in everyone else's gardens this week. And, when the weekend hit, and I was ready to spend some quality time in my yard, we were hit with the same coldsnap that has hit much of Western Canada, with nighttime lows of -10 degrees Celcius, and daytime highs of -2 degrees (which is very abnormal for this time of year). Yesterday it was so cold that I had to pull out my heavy winter coat just to go shopping. Today, it is a beautiful sunny day - but still quite cold and windy. I am hoping we can get a bit of yard work done - finish edging the gardens we changed, and finish putting the new composter together. I am about ready to burst waiting for spring to actually arrive. Just like these leaves...they are ready to burst as soon as it warms up.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tulip Close-up

I think the pattern inside this tulip is incredibly beautiful - I am always awed by the complexity and intricate patterns in nature. They are usually much better than anything we can come up with ourselves.

Maybe we should trust more things to the expert...

Shepherd's Scabiosa...

So one of the few perennials I am growing from seeds this year is Shepherd's Scabiosa. I bought the seeds from Wal-mart or Canadian Tire or somewhere like that one day on a whim because I thought they looked pretty. So far they have been a bit of a pain, because just after they germinated a whitish-yellow powdery mould covered the surface of the soil in the entire tray of plants. That seems to have dissipated since I transplanted them, and they finally seem to be taking off. I planted them 5 weeks ago - and this is what they look like now.

In case anyone is interested - here is my process for germinating/growing shepherd's scabiosa:
1 - I made newspaper pots and filled them with seed starter mix (not potting soil) (also, I think the newspaper pots may be where my mould problem came from.
2 - The seeds were TINY so I just sprinkled them across the surface of the soil and then sprinkled them with a little bit of starter mix.
3 - I put the pots in a tray and filled the tray up with water so they would be watered from the bottom - so I didn't disturb the seeds.
4 - The seeds germinated 1 week later.
5 - About a week later, they looked like this. I was worried that they were going to contaminate my other plants, so I separated them to a different room. But none of the new seedlings died like I was expecting them too. The tray and pots just got really really gross.
6 - I did some reading on mould and damping off. To finally get rid of it - I sprayed them really heavily with no-damp, sprinkled the surface with cinnamon (which I think actually worked), and then I transplanted them into clean pots with clean dirt. Some of them I "pricked out" separately and planted them. After I was tired of this I just transplanted a clump of healthy looking ones into a new pot. This seems to have helped get rid of the mould - as I haven't seen any for several weeks now.
7 - I've been fertilizing the seedlings once a week with a seed-starting fertilizer. I think I need to change pretty quick to a flower fertilizer.
8 - Since transplanting, they seem to have taken off and are growing quite rapidly. They still are quite tiny, and I am not sure how big they will be before I have to plant them outside - but the package says they grow up to 40 cm high, and 16 cm wide - which is pretty big - they still seem very tiny and fragile to me. I am also going to have to give a bunch away, because I have way too many!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting Fancy...

I was playing with my digital camera and my photo-editor today... Let me know what you like - and any suggestions for taking "artsy" nature photos. I am not very experienced, and I do my editing in Picassa usually - it's a free program from google, and it's alright - I'm sure people who actually know what they are doing don't like it...

A Robin using my optical and digital zooms

Crocuses using the macro feature and edited to have a film grain

Tulips on macrofeature with the fill light increased and with the film grain effect:

Above shot of the same Tulips:

Crocus with a soft-focus effect:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Happening...

Things are starting to happen. There are sprouts and buds everywhere!! And, the grass is starting to dry out and turn green. And, I am starting to notice all the work that there is to do.

This week I hope to:
1-Shovel the rest of the snow piles around so they melt.
2-Rake the grass.
3-Clean up the branches, berries, and mess from windy winter weather.
4-Rip out front planters and replace with new ones. (My mother-in-law) bought me huge beautiful planters for my birthday!
5-Start ripping out garden at back to re-build and make room for my peonies and sweet peas.
6-Move and fix the composter.
7- Pull the BBQ out and have a delicious BBQ burger!

Here is some pictures of the fresh new growth in the garden. My crocuses were flowering this morning, but when I went to take a picture, they were closed up. Hopefully I can catch them tomorrow!

I think these are day lilies of some kind.

Rhubarb - 1 of 2 plants in my yard. I do not know what I am going to do with it all.

This is the garden I am going to dig out. I do not like any of the stuff in it anyways. Basically, I am going to turn it into a rectangle. I plan to put a peony where the roundish mound is right now, and grow sweet peas up the rails of the porch. And, maybe some other perennials - but I am not sure yet.

I cannot wait for the leaves to bud!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Giant Microbes

I saw these on the news tonight. Stuffed animals of varios diseases. They are actually shaped similar to how the virus or bacteria looks under the microscope. I'm a teacher - I'd use them in my classroom, but I'm not sure if I would want them as a toy...I know, it's not really about gardening, but I've never seen anything like it...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Droopy Peppers

I transplanted some of my pepper seedlings into bigger pots today - and a few of them aren't quite so happy:

Hopefully they will pop back up in a couple hours...

My new addiction: Blotanical (a little shout-out!)

I'm new to garden blogging and have been having a hard time getting visitors to my site, and getting my blog high up in the google search list. From what I can tell, links are the key - of which I have none - so I was starting to get a little discouraged about my blog - and then I found blotanical. Blotanical is an online garden community that connects garden bloggers from around the world together. Almost immediately after joining, I had increased traffic to my blog - from all sorts of places around the world. I have also met someone from my region, and another young couple also renovating their new house and landscaping their new yard - it encourages me that I have found some people like me. Unfortunately, (or fortunately - I guess it depends on your outlook) I have spent NUMEROUS hours on this website since I found it - and I may have to limit my hours once I go back to work at the end of the week.

Another reason I like blotanical is that it keeps track of the garden blogs I like for me - You get your own little "plot" where you can add favourite blogs and bloggers. I was having a hard time keeping track of what I was reading online and like this new organized way to read other people's blogs. It has a few little quirky navigational things that are somewhat counter-intuitive, and makes finding pages tricky once in awhile, but as far as I can tell - it is a fairly new community and the webmaster is working on ironing out all the little kinks relatively quickly.

I have added the banner on my sidebar to take you to the site (although I expect that's how most people have found lately)
and here's the direct link:

Happy Blogging!

More New Growth...

Alright, so it snowed this morning...again. About an inch...sigh - But the new snow now mostly melted in the sunny areas of my yard, so I took a walk to look at the few things that are growing - and to try and get a picture of the birds that are trying to make their home in my garage. No luck with the birds, but I did find this:

The crocuses that I bought in September and then neglected to plant until November are up. In several places in the yard - I swear that less than a week ago, they were burried in snow, and now they are up! I am excited - I was worried that I waited too long to plant my bulbs and that they weren't going to come up this spring. The tulips that I planted have come up in one of the beds, and have the most pretty pattern on the inside of them:

I hope the others come up as well.