Thursday, April 30, 2009

first warbler of 2009!

First backyard (well, front yard) warbler this morning! And it was my favourite, the black-throated green. I didn't see him, but I heard him singing. His zee zee zee zoo zee! was the very first warbler song I recognized, one of the first birdsongs I recognized, in fact, and is my favourite birdsong despite the fact that it's not particularly melodic. It's just so emphatic and happy. I almost couldn't believe my ears... but there he was, and there was no mistaking him. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I still don't understand squirrels

The lettuce is up in the enclosed bed. Or at least, the green lettuce is. I haven't seen sign of the red lettuce. Nor the peas, which is very disappointing. I wanted peas! But I'm not ruling them out yet. The shallots seem to be coming up, surprising me. And there are lettuce, spinach and radishes showing themselves outside the safe zone, so we'll see how long those last with the bunny around.

Something I've noticed this year: the squirrels are leaving my tulips alone.

What is with that? I saw one tulip with its top trimmed. Just one. Last year the squirrels did a number on at least half of the tulips. I am not complaining about this, I'm just surprised. And curious. Is it that they got fat on my birdseed? Is it that there are less squirrels? (Not that I've noticed). Is it that there's a big tomcat prowling around, presumably making life a little more exciting for the squirrels? I have noticed that the squirrels are doing a number on the protected bed, because they get in there and dig. It doesn't seem to be malicious, just bored. As soon as I've planted a few more things in there I'm going to have to cover the top with chicken wire, too, so that the squirrels don't destroy everything. But they're ignoring my tulips.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Save the Frogs Day

Guys! Save the frogs! Frogs are disappearing. Often considered the "canaries in the coal mine" of the wet places of our planet, frog species everywhere are in serious trouble. Tuesday is the first annual Save the Frogs Day. Check out the website for lots of cool contests (frog art! frog poetry! frog songs!) and interesting frog facts.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Photo

The forsythia is in bloom, and the sky is ominous. It must be spring!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

smitten kitchen's smashed chickpea salad = win

I was in the mood for something a little different as far as dinner tonight, so I wandered through all my Google Reader stars and found the smitten kitchen recipe for smashed chickpea salad. I wasn't really in the mood for meat, although it occurs to me now that I have managed to eat chickpeas two meals in a row -- chenna masala for lunch and this excellent chickpea salad on toast for dinner.

It's a breeze to make, and I don't think one would have to change a thing. However, if I was doing it again, here are a few things I would do differently: better bread (than freezer-to-toaster Dempsters), slightly more roasted red pepper (done on BBQ, these added much to the sandwich) and finally, significantly less lemon juice in the tahini dressing. The tahini dressing was nice, but I kind of feel like I've been kicked in the face by a lemon and that's not quite what I was going for. fishy suggested adding... something... to the chickpeas; maybe more salt? Maybe garlic? I might try arugula on the sandwich next time, or cress -- I can see the peppery greens being a lovely addition.

I've got enough that I can do lunch tomorrow, too. It would be really lovely on pita with sprouts, I bet, but since I have neither I'll probably go with the freezer Dempsters and mesclun mix instead.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Photo

Here's what's happening out in the garden this week:

I love the early irises. Many of the later irises I could do without, but this little patch requires nothing of me and offers these beautiful, early season (we don't even have daffodils yet) blooms. I love how they bring colour to the otherwise brown and grey landscape of the back gardens.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Webb, Margaret. Apples to oysters. Penguin: 2008.

Any Canadian who eats should read this book. You likely aren't going to like all of it (I certainly didn't) but it's mostly very well-researched, engaging, and illuminating. I had issues with some parts, which I discuss in the review; but I'm really glad I read it, and even when I was annoyed at the author I kept on reading. If you need a push in the right direction, how about this: who knew that oysters were such sexy animals?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

it's productive city over here

This morning I finished off the square-foot garden by adding a bit of peat moss, sectioned it, and surrounded it with chicken wire in the hopes of keeping marauding bunnies out. Then I planted snap peas and shallots. Then, because I was feeling like it, I planted spinach, Boston lettuce, and radishes in the bed that will eventually go over to squash and pumpkins. It was a pretty half-assed planting, but we'll see. None of those seeds were purchased this year, so I'm not even sure what their viability is.

Inside I planted my ground cherries (weeks late, but better than never) and artichokes. The tomatoes are starting to get their first true leaves, as are the asters. The tomatillos are just sort of puttering along, but they look healthy, as do the rudbeckias. Grandma gave me a pineapple sage plant again and this time I'm going to keep it alive. The one she gave me looks pretty good -- I'm going to have to re-pot it eventually because it's going to outgrow the pot before the summer is over.

Next, I have to decide whether to sharpen my secateurs before I do a bunch of the spring cleanup, or after. I will definitely have to sharpen them before I do any spring pruning, but for cutting away dead perennial stalks they should be fine. I also want to get those hostas moved. I've identified a good spot for one section of them, but I'm not sure where to put the rest. And we've got Easter dinner coming up, so I'm not sure what else I'm going to get done this afternoon, if anything. I feel good about what I've accomplished today, though.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Photo

I think I maybe don't post enough of photos of my garden on here. So today, I thought I'd show off my little rhubarb:

Cute, huh?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April snow is on the way

Mother Nature has just kicked me in the solar plexus, with the news that our area is expecting 15 cm of snow tomorrow. I didn't plant any seeds today because I knew it was supposed to get unseasonably cold. But damn. Blizzard. In April. Not impressed.

I have, once again, moved all the baby plants out of the sunroom and downstairs, where they'll at least get some bright indirect light, if there's any light to be had. They will at least stay warm. I wasn't going to move the mint or the rosemary, figuring they could tough it out, but now I don't know. The mint can handle it but I might shift the rosemary. The thing is, it's not really supposed to be that cold, and the sunroom shouldn't freeze. But still. Psychologically I will probably fret a lot less if the rosemary is in out of the cold.

The weather is supposed to clear up by Thursday and warm up and be sunny again. It makes me want a grow light, but I'm not even sure where I would set that up right now.

Thurston, Harry. A place between the tides. Greystone: 2004.

I love my backyard, but there's no getting around the fact that it's not a salt marsh. However, I think Harry Thurston's fascinating and well-thought-out memoir and observational journal on the salt marsh in his backyard is a relatively reasonable substitute. Recommended, despite the very occasional ambush with depressing environmental fact.

Friday, April 3, 2009

reaching for the sun

It has been raining all day today, and too cold to put the plants in the sunroom. At this time of year, if the sun isn't shining, the temperature in the sunroom is only a degree or two above the outside temperature. So in the interests of giving my plants some light but not freezing them, I took them downstairs this afternoon out of the dark hall.

It's maybe been an hour and a half, two hours since I did that, and all of the seedlings are bent at nearly 90 degree angles trying to climb out the windows. Even without the sun actually shining. It's quite impressive. I'll leave them down there until next week, because unfortunately it looks to be both cloudy and cold for the foreseeable meteorological future.