BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All settled in Co-op now. The move was touch-and-go... having furniture really makes a huge difference, as I am used to the ol' student move (throw your single rooms contents in a few liquor boxes and off ya go). That, plus I haven't lived in a single place for more than 1 year in the past 10 years. Collections happen. Anyways, we managed to dodge the Dec. 1 dump (of snow), which was nice. In our neighbourhood, we had about 10cm during the day, and in Vancouver, that means packed sleet on the roads with 100,000 pairs of summer tires. That night, there were a few folks who appeared to be having their first Canadian winter (as much as that can be said in Vancouver); the hill outside our window had an especially nasty patch of black ice, and as soon as they started skidding half way up their climb up the hill, they halted and proceeded to set-up an impromptu 'barricade' at the top and bottom of the block, warning all potential 'victims'. Apologies to anyone who doesn't find this funny, it's just that this type of event is a right-of-passage for most teenagers in BC (as far as my childhood in the Kootenays leads me to believe). I had an incident at a roadblock which was set-up at the bottom of a hill, after a snowfall, and after enough cars have passed to make it slick. In short, I ended up 'bobsledding' past the RCMP officers with my window down, running a stop sign and the roadblock, with them waving me through like I was part of a presidential parade.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ahem... yes, I don't update often, but at least I update! It's been a wicked Oct, that's certain. We just found out we're getting into a co-op! We'll be moving in Dec 1st, into a newly renovated co-op; a bonus since most of the places we've been looking at are either just entering into the renovation phase, or on a waiting list. The renovations, of course, are for the ubiquitous 'leaky condos' that were built during the 70's and 80's in Vancouver, which cover basically all co-ops in the Grandview-Woodlands area we live in. Anyways, we have a nice South facing unit, and are very exciting in getting involved with all the new community events that will be available to us. If you don't know what this 'co-op' thing I'm talking about is, think of it as a low-investment condo unit. You buy a share into the co-operative housing company that owns and runs the building (which is made up of other co-op share holders, all of which are also residents). Then the residents collectively decide upon a monthly payment (depending on unit size, etc.), where the collected money goes to pay off the building mortgage. The question of what happens to the monthly rent once the mortgage is paid off is a good one, which I hope to figure out in the coming months.

Other news? I have received news that my latest journal paper was accepted. Woohoo! That's a major step to finishing my degree (getting a peer-reviewed paper in on your thesis work), so I'm quite happy about that.

And the garden: campus is going strong. The cabbages we planted in the summer are all eager to get eaten, and most are a good hefty size now. We even still have lettuce under the cloche at campus!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Glad we had the last few weeks of good weather, but I'm uncertain of whether our squash will ripen or not. Our sources say to harvest after the stem has dried out fully, so we'll be watching it for the next month or so. For our winter garden, we have our cabbages and kale as mentioned before, and some lettuce that we're going to cover up for the winter on campus. We're also trying cauliflower on campus after last years success at home. Down at Strathcona, we put in some chard and collards, along with some overwintering onions. And of course, we threw around a few garlics at Strathcona and on campus. Garlic is the best!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So, why have there not been many posts in the height of summer gardening? The weather bites, pure and simple. It's cold and wet, so everything is late and things are eaten by slugs that are encouraged by the wet weather. A 'La Nina' summer it seems. We managed to cultivate a few small Jack pumpkins (the size of 5-pin bowling balls) and a few tomatoes, but some sort of blight seems to have ripped through them both over the past few days. Our solace is that our cabbage and kale are going great, and should last us most of the winter.

Friday, July 20, 2007

'Homemade Pickles' Cucumber

What a wet week. I appreciate not having to water, but it's starting to take the zing out of summer. At least my efforts of transplanting around my fall cabbage are made very easy given the weather. Hopefully, we'll be eating our own cabbage until next summer!

The cucumbers are a bit stunted due to our wet spring, but I figure another week or 2 and I'll be picking some for sandwiches. Pickling will have to wait though: I only have 1 plant flowering, with 4 others still growing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

'Siletz' Tomato

Here is our booming tomato patch. The indoor sprouted early Siletz are performing wonderfully, but no ripe ones yet... probably because the plants are overloaded. I can wait though...

Another funny thing this year: we tried to start cucumbers indoors, in some grass mesh seed cups. The story is that the roots should be able to grow through the cups, and the cukes can be transplanted without hurting the plant. We've had some trouble with this though, and about half of our cukes were greatly stunted in their early growth. Our direct-seeded cukes are actually outperforming some of the ones that were started indoors! We won't be using the seed cups again.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm late in posting, but it's been busy lately. I submitted a journal paper just before taking off for a week to NY state (a visit with Emillie's family). Plus, I heard back from the Washington Conference... it's a no-go, unfortunately. But I'm non-plussed about it, since SFU had too many submissions collectively. I get to resubmit, and make it a stronger submission.

In the garden, things are hitting high gear. I'll post some pictures of the happy peppers and eggplants soon... although something is eating some pepper leaves, and even one of the fruits has been 'opened' up. Must be tasty! But generally the cloche is a success. We already have 10cm long peppers, and we should be able to harvest in a week or two. Tomatoes and setting like crazy, with the early spring variety the size of small apples. And all the cucurbits (cukes and squashes)and starting to grow in the hot weather.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

'Dusky' Eggplant seedling

Our first attempt at eggplants is going well. We're trying the big, black/purple variety that is so popular in stores right now, since it's supposed to be able to ripen within our summer-time. We'll be planting out seedlings under our cloche next week.

Three gardens are tough to organize, especially when they are each more than 6 km apart. I think we've settled into a plan and rhythm though, with the new SCG being our winter garden. We've started some cabbage seedlings indoors for the SCG; my plan is to be cabbage self-sufficient, at least. Onions are to be determined, but our overwintered ones from last year are starting to head. The Lower Mainland has a good local food 'machine' for the summer and fall months, with the farmer markets all around the city. It still lacks production for the mid to late winter, perhaps when they are either preparing for the summer crop or shipping it elsewhere to get a higher price, so this is what we will plan for.

For the summer food, everything is surviving and starting to thrive, except for the pole beans in the swampy portion of SFU. The slugs had their way. However, I was taught an important lesson this week. I was on slug tossing duty, and noticed one slug near our decimated, but not completely dead, zucchini sprout (I have trust it will rebound, on account of the zucchini's hardiness). This slug though, was intently munching on a weed. A simple theory, and one which I'm sure I've read in books before, but it's much more poignant to see it first-hand. So I plan to leave more weeds around the beans than previous in an attempt to waylay the slugs.

Friday, May 11, 2007

'Aalsmeer' Cauliflower

Our gardens are just starting to take shape now. We've actually had the cauliflower that we overwintered head; it was amazing to see how quickly they flower. Come February, there was new growth in the centre of each plant, and at the beginning of April, you couldn't see the centre leaves anymore. Three weeks later, a small curd was visible. Very satisfying!

On campus, we've put the early tomatoes (a variety called Siletz, from Oregon) out under a cloche. We may have stressed them a bit too much and will probably not see the tomatoes as early as we'd have hoped, but they've been planted, and have started putting out some new growth. We've also tidied up our new plot, and have the oddest looking lettuce. If anyone out there has ever heard or seen of a dark, large leafed lettuce, with a Romaine shaped leaf, that has thorns down the spine of each leaf, send me a shout. I talked to the previous owner, who was only a caretaker for the plot for someone else last year. He said a Russian family had it, and that the lettuce was used... somehow.

And finally, Strathcona! The onions have been planted, and a few beets. Compared to the other sets of onions I see, ours seem pitiful; but I'm confident from last years wicked harvest that they'll come through and be the beautiful, sweet Walla Wallas that I dig so much! (I'm telling you, you could eat one like an apple!!).

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Overwintered lettuce

Now that we tend to have more days of sun than rain, we've started opening up our cloche full of overwintered lettuce, with a spattering of carrots. The lettuce fared very well, and we should be able to harvest a few heads end of April. The carrots aren't as advanced, but the tops are very well developed. Hopefully the roots suit.

Up at the SFU gardens, I managed to grab another 'sunny' plot. We'll be keeping our 'shady' plot for the year for transition, since our garlics are down there. A few dozen garlic survived the winter, mostly the Russian Softneck. Unfortunately, my experiment with a few varieties of hardneck went bad... I put them in what I assume is too shallow a spot (I thought they would do ok since I succesfully grew Walla Walla onions in the same spot last summer). It didn't work, with half a dozen of them sprouting and proceeding to a very sickly state.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Our new Strathcona Community Garden plot

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we had our camera stolen, but we've just splurged for a new one and have immediately taken to it. The above pic is of our newly and completely double-dug plot at the Strathcona Community gardens. We've started putting some early spring bits in (carrots, spring onions), and can't wait to put out the sweet onions. In the picture, you can also see the nifty toolbox I made with some spare plywood for Passepartout (our tandem). I custom made it for our rack, so it's super easy to put on the back of the bike. So far, it's been solid as a rock as we ride to and from the garden.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Strathcona Community Gardens

It's been a while since the last post because I've been waiting for a decent picture of the Strathcona Gardens to post! Unfortunately, I still don't have one (it was a bit dark when I took them last Tuesday), but I've posted the above picture which is looking in the exact opposite direction as our plot.

We've replanned the plots, and have started sprouting. Spring is everywhere! Including in our amazingly active onion seeds, which were actually supposed to be almost dead. Turns out we managed to get perfect conditions for them to germinate, and we have more onions then we know what to do with! We'll grow them to transplant size, then see how many extra we have to go around. More to come!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Yesterday, Emillie and I went to the monthly work party for the Strathcona Community Gardens (SCG). Of course, our secret plan was to capture more urban land for our devious plan(t)s... we will grow food everywhere! Muhahaha. We now have another 8 square meters of land. The SCG also allows us access to an orchard, a herb garden, and bees, so we have lots to learn about. I'll put up a few pictures once we've planned out our plot.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The holidays were good to us. A good visit with family in Vancouver and in Kelowna, and a nice five day retreat up at Big White. I now know why Big White is called a 'family resort', but I must admit it still has some really nice terrain... I'm still a Red Mountain boy at heart though.

Our winter gardening is starting to ebb. The kale almost drowned in the deluge last month (the garden paths turned into canals), but I managed to keep a few alive by lightening their load. The cabbage kept decent, even after a few snows and frosts. And the lettuce that we have kept alive under the cloche will hopefully be nothing but happy once the days start getting longer. We're looking forward to seeing the progress of pre-sprouting lettuce in the sun once it is warm enough to throw off the cloche.

And, I am now a Ph.D. candidate, having cast off the moniker of Ph.D. student. My proposal was accepted by my supervisory committee, and I'm free to run free in the academic wilderness. :> Basically, they think that my proposal won't be a publication pariah. Now, I just need to deliver!