Signs of Spring and Leca Balls

My houseplants are always the first to tell me when spring is near. Nature is so miraculous that way. I can’t understand how indoor plants know it is time to kick the grow cycle into a higher gear, but they do.

They coast their way along through the winter, with me doing my best not to overwater. Weeks go by with scarcely a change. Then suddenly they start sucking back the drinks like crazed pirates who have been at sea for three months with no rum. I can’t seem to water them often enough. New shoots burst out, they are constantly dry and the growth spurt is on.

How does that work? I have most of them under a grow light which still goes on before first light and stays on until well past dark, so it isn’t the lengthening days. I haven’t even increased the amount of nutrients they get. Most are tropical plants who wouldn’t even experience winter and spring in their natural environment, and yet, they still know growing season has arrived in The Peace.

I thanked my houseplants for the heads up, and proceeded to start my onions. I never have a lot of luck growing big storage onions, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. This year I sowed three varieties I haven’t tried before; Hybrid Genesis, Alisa Craig and Exhibition Hybrid. Fingers crossed.

I also directly sow onion bulbs in the spring, which can always be counted on for small onions and greens, but what I want are tennis ball-sized storage ones that last most of the winter. Maybe this will be the year!

Last fall I changed over all my houseplants from potting soil to leca clay balls. You can buy them by the 50 kg sack, though they also come in smaller bags. They remind of moose turds, Fortunately just by look, not feel. Not that I have ever touched a moose turd…but I am seriously digressing.

Here’s what they look like…

The balls are about an inch around or so and very porous. They absorb water, but also allow roots to breathe. You arrange them under and around a plant’s roots just as you would potting soil, then you just put a pot that drains inside of a decorative catch pot and keep the bottom couple inches filled with water, fortified with nutrients. It has made a huge difference as far as aphids and other little critters go. My houseplants have spent a pest free winter, which I am sure they appreciate. They seem happy and healthy enough.

I also love that the balls can be reused indefinitely, so unlike potting soil, they will never need replacing. It makes me feel much better than repeatedly buying bags of potting soil and then having all the plastic to contend with, not to mention shipping emissions, peat, etc. This way it is once and done. If a plant dies you can simply take out the plant and reuse the balls for another.

The only big drawback is the cost. I think I paid about thirty-five dollars for a large bag, but two were enough to change over all my houseplants with a generous amount left over. They have some at Dunvegan here in Fort St John, but it is likely available in lots of other places as well.

This year I am even trying to start my garden seeds using leca. The obvious problem is the balls are large and the seeds are tiny and they will just tumble around and slide to the bottom. This winter I managed to successfully start a couple Holy Basils from seed, by pulverizing some leca balls and using the dust to create a solid layer above the clay balls, and sowing the seed into that. However, smashing the balls up wasn’t easy. I eventually put the balls in a bag, placed the bag on the garage floor and took a hammer to it, but those little suckers are determined to stay in one piece.

For my spring seeding, I decided to compromise by buying a bag of vermiculite and spreading an inch or so on top of the leca balls and sowing my onion seeds into that. I am not sure how it will go come transplanting time, but we will see.

Nothing is up yet, but then again, it has only been about three hours. Ha.

I am holding off on starting my tomatoes for a couple more weeks, as I always seem to do it too soon and then they are way too desperate for the outdoors long before its time to go out, sort of like me. It would be different if you were seeding heirlooms with long maturity dates or had a greenhouse, but since I have to plant mine outdoors I need varieties that mature quickly in northern climates. All that said, I will likely cave and seed them soon. And by soon, probably by the end of the day!

Change

I follow several blogs and vlogs. It can be a bit disconcerting when one just stops posting new stuff without any explanation.

Did they die? Were they kidnapped? Inhaled by an alien? Did they fall on the sidewalk, hit their head and lose their way back to their keyboard? Are they out there even now, just wandering the streets, with no idea who they are or what they used to do with their free time? When content stops coming, you are simply left to wonder your wonders. But I get it. Life happens.

The last post I wrote was in July 2019 when I promised to show pictures of the potatoes in our front yard the very next week. And then I never posted again. Until now. While I highly doubt anyone has been missing me or giving a second thought to not getting to see those promised pictures of the potager potato patch, I apologize nonetheless.

Darcy retired at the end of July and we spent the rest of the summer doing a raft of home renos and regrouping. We are currently in a stage of “what now” and “what next.” While the exit from the business that had consumed our lives for the better part of three decades was very intentional, there was not a lot of thought given as to what would happen afterwards. We still aren’t sure.

Will we move yet again? Stay put? Start a new venture? There’s a lot to consider as we head into the latter stage of our lives. All I can say for certain is wherever life takes us (or doesn’t) there will be a garden. I hope.

But enough of all that. Here, six months late, is a picture of those potatoes!

The potatoes are in the middle bed. There ended up being a decent harvest. Decent enough we are still eating potatoes from the garden in January. Well, we are actually eating potatoes from storage in the garage, not from the garden, but you know what I mean. It’s January in the Peace Country after all.

As for the community garden, I only got two hills worth of new potatoes before someone made off with every single spud. All 34 hills. At once. I couldn’t believe it.

I’ve participated in several community gardens over the years, though this was my first in this particular location. When you grow vegetables in an open and easily accessible communal space, you expect to lose some of your produce. It’s simply par for the course. However, I wasn’t expecting to lose it all. It was so shocking it was kind of funny.

Our summer walks often take us past the school and its community gardens and that’s what we were doing when we discovered the loss.

As we strolled by, we both automatically looked over at my four garden beds and were stopped in our tracks at the sight-or lack thereof-of potato tops. On closer inspection the tops had all been neatly piled in a heap at one end of the four freshly dug up beds.

At least I got two massive garbage bags worth of compost ingredients for my bins. Ha.

They even made off with the cabbages and chard. The only thing left was one lonely cabbage plant and that was just because it had a wee half-formed head. When I cleaned up the potato tops I considered pulling up the tiny cabbage out of spite, but I just couldn’t do it.

A week later the cabbage-still small but apparently deemed big enough for the soup pot-was gone as well. All I could do was laugh and hope whoever took everything needed it more than us. And who knows, maybe the taste of home grown vegetables will inspire them to grow their own garden this year and in turn change their lives. It could happen.

The new garden season has officially begun with the arrival of seed catalogues. Despite not being sure where life will take us next, I will still be planting a few seeds. Though probably not in the community garden.

And so it begins

After months of planning, sowing, watering and weeding the harvest has started to trickle in. Right now our house has a smell going on that you will never be able to buy in an air freshener aisle. Or want to.

The food dehydrator has been humming all week with a wild mixture of plants inside. The lemon balm and mint were wonderful. Today there is plantain, lavender and dill on the trays and the aroma wafting about the house is…interesting.

I use dill weed like some people use salt. I like it on pretty much every vegetable I cook. I start harvesting the leaves off the dill when they are about a foot high. You don’t need a lot of plants to fill enough jars to see even a dill fiend like myself through a winter. A half dozen plants will more than do it. Plant more if you want dill seed for pickling.

Plantain is a common weed that is on par with dandelions for both being prolific and for having amazing medicinal uses.

As you can tell by the similarities, the common weed known as plantain belongs to the same family as hostas.

Herbalists refer to plantain as ‘The Mother of all Plants’ for its wide range of healing properties. The leaves can be used fresh in salads or fresh or dried for teas to help with colds or bronchial problems.

Many people have had success using plantain tea to quit smoking. Drinking a cup before having a cigarette is said to give the feeling of having “over smoked” shortly after you light up.

Perhaps its most famous and important use is a poultice for insect bites, bee stings, cuts, scrapes, stinging nettles and other skin irritations. Some claim it even helps with venomous snake bites or for healing broken bones.

Simply have the person chew a leaf thoroughly and then place the chewed up leaf onto the afflicted area to draw out venom or poison. and speed healing. Compresses soaked in plantain tea are also said to be beneficial.

Obviously plantain is not a replacement for proper medical care, and whether it can save you from a venomous snake bite or help with healing a broken bone is debatable, but if you are out in the wilderness with nothing to lose, it might at least help until you can get to a hospital.

For smaller issues like mosquito bites, small cuts or a run-in with a nettle patch, chewing up a leaf and applying it to the irritation is just the thing.

And here’s a bit of serendipity; plantain almost always grows near stinging nettles. Coincidence? Perhaps. But if it is mere coincidence, it’s a welcome one.

Since it is such a dependable “weed” I don’t plant plantain. I simply let a couple of them grow in my garden until they send up seed spikes and then I harvest and dry the leaves to use in the winter for teas, salves and soaps.

As much as I love both dill and plantain, it is the addition of lavender to the drying trays that is helping to make our home smell tolerable. Weird, but tolerable.

I planted Munstead lavender last year and, as always, was thrilled to see it rise and shine this spring. It is a cold hardy lavender that does great in our harsh climate. I’ve grown it in gardens before, so I don’t know why I am beyond excited to see it survive the winter, but I always am. I guess it is because I associate it with the sight and scent of the more fragile French lavender, so it feels decadent to have it as a perennial in the north. And it is rated as Zone 4a while we are more 2b or 3a, so it is always a bit on the iffy side. However, if you mulch it well before going into winter it will usually survive.

I dry lavender for soaps, adding to bath salts and for teas.

Plantain, lavender and dill midway through drying. I pulled the trays out a little too hard causing the plantain leaves to jump on each other just before I took this picture. Obviously the leaves need to be spread out on the rack evenly, not clustered up in a corner like that!

For the next couple weeks herbs will continue to rotate their way through the dryer, but soon it will be the most anticipated drying season of all…tomatoes!

Growing tomatoes can seem less than cost effective. As the joke goes, growing your own tomatoes is a great way to spend three months of your life to save $2.17.

Making your own dried tomatoes is another story. A smallish jar of sun dried tomatoes can sell for six or seven bucks.

Suddenly those three months of selecting, seeding, watering, pruning, staking and feeding your homegrown tomatoes are completely justified when you line a pantry shelf with a few dozen jars of your own dried tomatoes. Or semi justified anyway.

Tomatoes in my dehydrator…French tarragon waiting its turn on top! This picture was taken back in 2013 on the farm.

If you haven’t dried tomatoes before and would like to give it a try, basically you just slice the tomatoes thin, put them in the dehydrator and check every couple hours and remove the ones that have dried. They should still feel leathery, but with no moisture whatsoever.

If you haven’t finished drying them by the time you want to go to bed at night, you can simply turn the dryer off and resume in the morning.

You can store the dried tomatoes in jars as is. They make great chewy snacks right out of the jar or you can cover them with a bit of hot water to rehydrate them before using in your favourite recipe.

For a softer version right out of the jar, you can also preserve them in olive oil. If the tomatoes are completely submerged beneath the oil (this is crucial) they will keep for upwards of a year if not more.

While I just used regular tomatoes in the photo above, the best variety for drying are the plum type tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes work great as well. Simply cut them in half and put them on the trays. Removing the seed pulp will quicken the drying the process but you don’t have to be too fussy about it.

If you like them salted you can do that before putting them in the dryer.

Lots of people salt some and forgo it on others for both health and future cooking purposes. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this. Since they are going to have to be spread out on the sheet cut side up in order to best hold the salt, you can spread the non salted ones cut side down and dry both at the same time. That way it is easy to tell which is which when you take them out.

But as I said, I am still weeks away from tomato drying time. In the meantime herbs will keep the dryer humming along.

How about you? Do you like to dry things for winter? What’s in your dryer? Or do you prefer a different method? Feel free to share in the comments below.

One Big Greenhouse

When we decided to upsize at an age where most are downsizing, because I wanted more yard work at an age where most want less, the wish list was clear. It was all about the garden.

I wanted a south or west facing backyard and that yard had to be huge. A greenhouse, potting shed, established perennials, beautiful well paced trees, brick or stone walkways and raised beds were all on the want list.

The house we chose had none of those things. Life is funny like that.

In the end, after three years of searching, we chose not just a house, or a yard, but a place that felt like home. There were a few trees, but no garden area, no garden infrastructure and no greenhouse.

Darcy has built a greenhouse at pretty much every place we have ever lived. It’s been a journey of buy a place, unpack the boxes, build a greenhouse, repeat. He is willing to build one here as well, the question is where to site it. Our lot is small and there are only so many options, none of which seem workable.

And then I saw this…

A couple in Stockholm, Sweden built a greenhouse that covers their entire home and yard. In the middle of winter they go out on their deck to sunbathe instead of to shovel snow. They grow grapes, figs, tomatoes, cucumbers and all kinds of things in their outside greenhouse/garden/patio/yard.

Can you imagine? Of course you can!

I love how there is always a solution to what we think is an unsolvable problem. No suitable spot for a greenhouse? Put a greenhouse over EVERYTHING. Problem solved.

About the only flaw I can personally see in the plan (besides cost, city bylaws and talking Darcy into constructing the Mother of all greenhouses) would be access for birds, bees, butterflies and other bugs. I am not sure I would want to garden without them and it is possible the glass could even be deadly for birds, though maybe something could be figured out in that regard. If you have the ingenuity to build a greenhouse that drops over your entire house and yard, chances are you can figure out the nature element as well.

But oh, what a treat it would be to go outside on a sunny winter day and just hang out in your yard. Imagine strolling about your deck in shorts (or coatless anyway), sipping a cold drink, checking out your garden, pausing to wave at your neighbours bundled up in their winter gear, snow blowing their driveways.

Well, that might not go over too well.

It would only be a matter of time before one of them accidentally on purpose aimed a piece of gravel towards your glass house, and you could hardly blame them. Maybe you could host enough gatherings to create goodwill.

Oh! I just thought of another tick for the Yes side. We are getting ready to have our shingles and eaves trough replaced. This would negate the need entirely. What a tremendous cost savings. How thrifty am I?

Win, win, I say.

Though I’m pretty sure What? What? is what Darcy will say.

All joking aside it’s still an interesting concept, even if it won’t work for us (as much as I think I’d like it to).

If you’re curious about the couple who have actually made this dream a reality you can find all the details, including a video featuring this unique home, by clicking here.

A Not So Full Movie Experience

I am a bit of an introvert. And by a bit, I mean totally. My favourite activities are writing, reading, art, gardening and taking long walks. All things I do alone, except for the latter. Sometimes (pre ankle injury) I take my long walks with Darcy.

After a day of nonstop interacting with people at work, Darcy and I tend to spend all our shared downtime alone. We enjoy the ease that comes after sharing almost four decades of each other’s companionship.

A few days ago marked 36 years of marriage, so we decided to celebrate by watching a movie. Usually this means firing up Netflix and settling in on the couch but, because it was our anniversary, we decided to go all out and head down to the theatre.

There is nothing like watching a movie with a crowd. Sure, sometimes people talk or check their phones or do other annoying things, but it is all part of the experience. I enjoy sharing the gasps, the laughs and the tears with a group, even a group of strangers.

So off we went for an anniversary afternoon of popcorn, people mingling and the full on movie experience.

And? We went into the theatre and we were the only ones there. We were the only ones as the light dimmed, we were the only ones through fifteen minutes of ads and trailers and we were the only two in the entire theatre as our movie began.

At one point I almost forgot we were in a theatre altogether and was going to tell Darcy to pause the movie while I went to the washroom. Which was pretty much the only difference in the whole experience. No remote control.

The movie was pretty good though. And the last 36 years of marriage? Well, those have been pretty good too.

The Change is Coming

Just an add on to the last post about using white clover seed as a lawn grass alternative.

I was at one of our local nurseries today and I see they have small bags of white clover seed for sale in their lawn grass section.

The bags aren’t big and they were priced at 19.99 but a little goes a long way. As you can see by reading the packaging, the 700 g bags are equivalent to 1 1/2 pounds which should be enough to more than cover 3,000 square feet.

It is possible that an agricultural seed place would have it in big bags for a lot cheaper so if you are doing a country lawn it might be worth phoning around.

Mostly I was just cheered up to see it readily available in the lawn seed section. If they are selling, someone has to be buying, which means we really are coming full circle and starting to make smart choices for the planet.

A Truly Green Lawn


What if you could have a lawn that rarely needed watering, was naturally weed free, aerated the soil on its own, was soft to walk on, attracted beneficial insects, seldom needed mowing, stayed a luscious green even after Rover peed on it and was self fertilizing?

Well, back in the 1950s those were the precise qualities of a prestigious lawn plant marketed to savvy consumers. What happened to it? It was too easy. It worked so well there was no money to be made.

The solution? To usher in the era of finicky grass seed, lawn fertilizer, weed killers, sprinklers and lawn mowers that we know and use today.

What was the name of the once prestigious lawn plant that proved too easy for its own good?

Clover.


With its deep root system clover tolerates compacted soil better than grass and is able to tap into moisture at lower levels which is why it requires far less watering. These qualities make clover highly competitive and able to choke out weed competition, negating the need for herbicides.

And forget the fertilizer too. Clover has the clever ability to snatch nitrogen right out of the air and pull it down into nodes along its roots, making it self-fertilizing.


Clover’s small sweet honey scented flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects, as well as making them a delight for your own senses. Dutch White is the most commonly used clover for lawns, growing only four to eight inches high and hardy to Zone 4.


We have been taught to view the white clover blossoms as an eyesore, but if you take the time to look closely they are really quite pretty.

Left to its own intelligent devices, nature will always choose the most suitable blend of grasses and herbs for your lawn, which in the Peace Country most likely includes Alsike, the clover that naturally invades our lawns. Alsike grows taller and so requires more frequent mowing than Dutch White, but it is also much hardier, so better suited to our climate.

Alsike Clover

I’ll leave you with the following excerpt harvested from the book “New Way to Kill Weeds” by R. Milton Carleton.

“The thought of White Dutch Clover as a lawn weed will come as a distinct shock to old-time gardeners. I can remember the day when lawn mixtures were judged for quality by the percentage of clover seed they contained. The higher this figure, the better the mixture…I can remember the loving care which old-time gardeners gave their clover lawns. The smug look on the face of the proud homeowner whose stand was the best in the neighbourhood was something to behold.”

R. Milton Carleton from “New Way to Kill Weeds”

I feel like we are coming full circle and enough people are either concerned about the environment or sick of caring for their lawns that we are approaching an era where we will be “clover smug” once again!

A Sweet Surprise

I have tried to grow sweet potatoes several times over my many years of gardening, but with little success. Once I harvested a handful out of a half whiskey barrel in a greenhouse, but that was it.

I tried starting my own slips from organic store bought potatoes that were probably terrible variety choices for our northern climate. That didn’t work out at all. Twice I ordered slips from Nova Scotia to be shipped clear across Canada because the variety was supposed to be cold climate friendly. Or as cold climate friendly as a heat loving sweet potato can get.

Unfortunately the first time the slips arrived they were put into our rural group mailbox located about a mile from our house during a week where the nighttime temperatures were dropping below zero. More unfortunately, I didn’t always pick up the mail on the same day it was delivered. The 12 precious slips camped out in the mailbox for at least one entire night and maybe as many as three.

They may have been suited for a colder climate, but not that kind of a colder climate. I tried to revive them but it was all for naught. The next year I tried again, this time picking up the mail every single mail day morning without fail. That was the year I managed to harvest a handful from the whiskey barrel. And then we moved.

I don’t have a greenhouse (yet) at our new (to us) house so I didn’t bother ordering any slips.

And yet…I have a sweet potato all the same!

When I went out to the compost bin today I spotted this poking out of a tiny slit in the side of the bin…

Here’s a look at the whole bin…you can just make out the leaves poking out two ridges down on the right.

It’s been awhile, but I am ninety percent sure it is a sweet potato. It must have hatched out of a peel that got tossed into the compost.

So now it’s a bit of a dilemma. The bin is full and has been cooking at full throttle for about a week, but in the last few days it has slowly started cooling down.

I know this because I have one of those garden nerd compost thermometers that look exactly like something you would use if you were cooking a turkey for a giant. It has a button thermometer attached to a foot long steel skewer that you insert into the bin. The thermometer shows when the compost is in the cooking zone, when it is hot and when it is cold.

My compost just tickled the underside of getting hot before it started falling back down into the cooking zone. This means it is time to fork the compost about, give it a few turns and put it all back in to heat up and cook some more.

But then out sprouts what I think is a sweet potato leaf.

I love sweet potatoes. Obviously. Which is how so many peels got into the compost in the first place and why I keep trying to grow them.

So now I am thinking if I just leave it alone it might like growing in the compost bin. It’s certainly warm enough, and even as it cools down the black walls should keep the roots nice and cozy without frying them. Since it has popped out fairly high up the bin, that would allow for all kinds of potatoes to grow below.

However, if I want to make a few batches of compost this summer I need to turn the contents often and hurry things along so I have enough compost to amend all my beds in the fall.

So which do I want more…sweet potatoes maybe or compost for certain?

I am not a gambler and my motto has always been a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but I think I will take a chance on this one. I will just have to start another compost bin/pile elsewhere.

Who knows? Maybe by chance my compost bin has discovered a whole new way to grow sweet potatoes in the north without a greenhouse.

Fingers crossed.

A Snip, Snip Here and a Sorry, Sorry There

I can’t believe I am espaliering fruit trees along our backyard fence, but there they are and so it is.

Just as I am bothered by animals in cages, the idea of tying a tree to a wall, whacking off most of its limbs and torturing its branches to bend in directions it would never naturally go on its own used to repulse me. Yet here I am doing it.

It gets worse.

I could say I am doing it because we have less than 7000 square feet which includes the house, garage, sidewalk and driveway, so growing space is at a premium. Espalier allows a gardener intent on growing as much of their own food as possible to pack in a crazy amount of fruit trees in a small area.

I could also say that espalier boosts productivity, fruit size and (this one surprised me) actually extends the life and increases the health of the tree. I have learned there are espalier gardens that are centuries old where the trees continue not only to survive, but thrive, producing crop after abundant crop, while suffering none of the blights experienced by their wilder siblings.

I could say all these things and they would all be true, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth of why I chose to espalier.

Turns out, I love to prune.

Here’s an image of an espalier from Pinterest https://pin.it/dxhiweefauorvh

I am not sure why my newly discovered penchant for pruning makes me feel slightly ashamed. It’s not as if I am confessing to being a serial killer or something. It’s just that for so many years I let things grow wild by choice. I rarely pruned anything. I hated to even thin the carrot beds and not just because it was a tedious job. I liked to think of myself as more of a helpful observer in my garden than a controller. If you asked me what I thought of people who espaliered I probably would have been less than kind in my response.

Then we moved to this urban lot and I felt forced to prune out some trees branches that were either crossing the property lines or causing issues with our house or driveway. First I reluctantly tackled some lilacs, then the mountain ash and finally our apple, birch and maple.

I took out all the branches that were dead, then ones that crossed over and rubbed on other branches and finally ones that took away from the overall shape of the tree. I discovered there is this moment when you are pruning where you can actually feel the tree start to “breathe”. The air circulates through the branches and everything looks and feels so much healthier and you can see the shape it wants to take. You can almost sense the tree thanking you.

After their pruning, the trees looked so much healthier. I liked how that felt but I also loved the process that got them there. If I were 20 years younger and not so afraid of heights, I would go into training to become an arborist. I love it that much.

I starting wandering around the yard with my pruning shears like a hairdresser gone wild, just looking for something, anything, to prune.

This is the perniciousness of the urban garden. It demands attention but then gives you very little to pay attention to.

If you have a busy life and a young family this is a good thing. You can whip around for a couple hours on a Saturday morning mowing, weeding and trimming and get all the yard work for the week finished and still have a weekend to call your own.

If you’re a gardener whose idea of a great weekend IS yard work, then it can be a bit of a let down. The good news is that it is nothing a few dump trucks of soil on your front and back lawn can’t take care of. Throw in a few high maintenance perennials and lots of beds that need constant edging, weeding and deadheading and all is right with the weekend world of the urban gardener once again.

Or you can sprain your ankle and let the garden get ahead of you that way, but I don’t recommend it. But enough about that.

If you are a gardener who has developed a pruning habit and find yourself wandering your lot with a pair of pruners, looking wistfully over the fence at your neighbour’s trees, well, you just might be interested in espalier gardening.

As soon as I read how espalier trees require lots of detailed pruning, I knew I needed to have some. And that is how I came to have a plum, an apple and a pear tree spread-eagling their way along a couple rubber coated wires on our back fence.

You can buy fruit trees specifically for this purpose that have already been prepped for espalier wires, but I did no such thing. Instead I bought trees that were already too tall to allow for any lower branches to weave their way along the fence. This is not ideal.

On the other hand, it allows me to plant smaller fruit trees of a different type and by pruning so they remain short, I can run their branches beneath the others, on a lower wire, further maximizing my space, food production and crop variety.

And so here I am, happily bending, tweaking, pruning and well, generally torturing encouraging things along. I have no idea if any good will come of it. All I can say for certain is I am being as gentle as I possibly can, I haven’t killed any of the trees yet and if an enthusiasm for pruning mixed with whispered apologies count as fertilizer, they should start growing like crazy soon. I hope.

Right now my own espalier shape is nowhere near as fancy as those shown above. It is simply sparse and somewhat horizontal. I also have grapes, clematis and Virginia creeper climbing up the fence, so I am hoping for a kind of a hodgepodge mix of blossoms, fruit, branches and vines that somehow add up to a wild, beautiful but carefully pruned whole.

Time will tell if it is a success or a rousing failure.

On that note, I leave you with one of my favourite garden quotes.

No Walk in the Park

We are finally getting some real rain. We had an inch yesterday and it is coming down steady again today. It’s a good thing. We need it. I am always amazed at how plants thrive after a rain in a way that never happens when you turn on a hose.

Maybe I need to stick my ankle out in the rain.

On Friday evening Darcy and I went for a walk through a park (or rather we attempted to take a walk through a park) when I stepped in a hole, twisted my ankle and dropped like a sack of potatoes.

What made it even worse, was on Monday I accidentally stepped off the side of the wheelbarrow ramp coming out of our garden shed and twisted the same ankle. However, with the first accident I experienced something of a miracle. After a painful day and evening of icing my bruised and swollen foot, I lurched my way to bed only to wake up pretty much fully healed. I have sprained my ankle several times in the past and have never recovered so quickly.

I was giddy with gratitude.

And then Friday evening we go for a walk, I step in the hole and well, this time there was no overnight miraculous healing to be had. My foot hurt so bad it took a few hours before I realized I had also pulled some chest and shoulder muscles.

THEN on Saturday I was slowly making my way back to the couch with a glass of water when I stubbed the toe of my swollen foot on an end table causing me to lurch across the living room in a flailing display of limbs, my eyes as big as dahlia blossoms. All I could think was I am NOT falling down again. To avoid falling I had to hobble way faster than I thought I could, water wildly splashing from my glass, before regaining my balance just in time to throw myself safely onto the couch. Sweet relief!

Things are never so bad they can’t be worse.

At this point I have no idea what the Universe is trying to tell me.

The good news is I don’t have to water the garden.