Autumn To-do List

Autumn has made an appearance, however brief it may be. Although the weather the last few weeks has been ideal, I know it isn’t going to stick around for long. To avoid falling into the depression and negativity trap that often comes with this time of year, I am doing something that gives me a ridiculous amount of joy: making lists. It probably shouldn’t be something that I love as much as I do, but whatever, I am who I am. So with that said, here are some of the things on my to-do list that I feel like I need to accomplish in the next few weeks:

– The wheelbarrow. I’ve been talking about the damn wheelbarrow all summer. It is finally painted! Now I need to put it back together. But somewhere along the line I lost one of the bolts. Luckily this had happened prior to me taking it apart to paint it so I didn’t just lose it because I was being careless with the pieces when I disassembled it. This also explains why it wasn’t working so well when I was using it to haul 5 million yards of mulch around my garden. It does mean that I need to make a trip to Home Depot to attempt to find a match for the missing bolt. Sigh.
– Clean the shed. Again. Things just get thrown in there and eventually everything small falls on the floor but you can’t reach to pick anything up because there are pointy metal rakes and other dangerous gardening tools all over the place (we recently acquired 2 antique saws that could dismember someone if they were to trip and fall onto them that are also being housed in the shed for now). We thought that by building a gigantic shed we would actually solve all of our storage issues. WRONG. Dad if you’re reading this, I think we need another shed. Just kidding. Half kidding.
– Clean the greenhouse. I’ve already half done this. And then I started storing things in it because like I mentioned above, apparently my shed is not big enough to store all my crap.
– Paint the front door. It just needs a fresh coat. It could survive without it because it still looks fine, but I’m borderline OCD and notice all the little imperfections everywhere.
– Empty the rain barrels and put away the hoses for the winter. One of my least favorite jobs – it’s right up there with cleaning the litter box or filing my taxes.
– Finish cleaning up the raised beds and add a layer of compost.
– Cover the big pieces of outdoor furniture. Normally these would go in the shed but read above. So instead I am going to buy some neutral colored tarps and cover them – so much easier!
– Empty and wash all of the ceramic pots and then store them for the winter. I’m almost finished this and I’ve started to store them in the greenhouse but it takes awhile when you have as many pots as I do.
– Make garden maps. I have this on my to-do list every year and it never happens. The point is, I always forget what I have growing in the perennial beds and I’d also like to make note of things that should be moved or divided in the spring. The intention is there but we’ll see if this one happens.


Snapshot of the current garden – not much going on. The chicken wire fence was supposed to be temporary back at the beginning of the growing season to keep the nieghborhood cats and squirrels away but it has stayed up all year – maybe next year we’ll construct something a bit more attractive.

The outdoor list is pretty manageable and I’m confident I will be able to accomplish most, if not all, of it. But when it comes to indoor projects, well… that list is a bit longer but I’m focusing on two major projects. I’ve got months and months of being trapped indoors ahead of me and I want to get started with a plan so I don’t just fall into the couch/Netflix trap (it is so tempting).
– Finish the powder room we started renovating back in May. If in January I haven’t shared the powder room, it means I’m being lazy and you need hassle me in the comments section.
– Major knitting project (a cardigan). I only started knitting for real about a year ago – I knew the very very basics before but it was pretty pathetic. Then last year I started some group lessons and I’ve learned an unbelievable amount and I’m ready for a real challenge. I’ll share the progress on here but if you’re a knitter, I would love to hear some wisdom. Or general cheering me on is also welcome because I’ll probably be very frustrated and/or perfecting my colorful language skills. I’m not sure if the actual project will be that difficult, just time consuming – but actually focusing on one project will be the most difficult thing. Mental note: do not look at Ravelry or knitting magazines, you will become distracted.

And of course, I will begin planning for the next gardening season! My wish-list is already like 50 new varieties long so I’m going to have to make some decisions (or else find more gardening space somewhere)!


The Garden October 2014

I keep hearing myself and others say that they can’t believe it’s October already. September was a really long month, but it flew by in a flash. Work was extremely busy so I was putting in long days and I’ve been trying to keep up with the garden, writing blog posts, ensuring the house is in a livable condition and all of the other life things. I love to cook but I found myself just throwing together easy and quick stand-bys all month. Oh and I also decided somewhere along the line that I could knit a sweater as well as a few holiday gifts. Idiot.

I don’t want the season to end, but I will say that sometimes caring for the garden when the season is coming to a close after a long and stressful day at work can be a bit of a burden. Do I really want to water my garden after working an 11 hour day? Not really. But on the other hand, after I’m outside for even a minute, I can see myself becoming calm and relaxed. I once read an interview with Scott Weiland (former Stone Temple Pilots singer – I just totally dated myself) who talked about how gardening and knitting helped him overcome drug addiction. So needless to say, gardening and knitting are unbelievably therapeutic and both myself and Scott Weiland are living proof.

October is a weird month for me – most of the vegetables have been harvested and preserved and many of the perennials are expiring. This time of year always puts me into a state of mourning – mourning the loss of this year’s garden that I worked so hard on and preparing for the dark and cold season ahead. It sounds so depressing – and it is, to an extent. But I also feel relief because I can just let go, but also feel excitement towards planning for the next season – I believe this is what keeps us gardeners going during those dreadful months.

So how about enough of the depressing talk and instead you look at some photos of the garden right now.


Most of the raised beds and pots are cleared but a few things remain – I’ve left the carrots in for now because they don’t mind frost, same with the kale and other brassicas (better picture of those below). You may or may not notice that my neighbor’s tree has bent over into my yard quite a bit – this is a result of the heavy snowfall we had a few weeks ago (heavy snow + full leaves + my hops using the tree as a trellis = very heavy branches). It may or may not straighten itself out over time but I don’t mind too much because it isn’t a safety hazard and I tend to refrain from complaining about my neighbors when it comes to property lines because I know that a few of my plants cross the lines quite frequently (I’m looking at you hops!). I try my best to prevent this and not be a terrible neighbor – I would never intentionally plant something that I knew would spread to my neighbor’s yard and I always make a point to talk to my neighbors about my trespassing plants. Luckily my gardening neighbor always has the same response “Oh, I don’t care!”, but I guess I have a fear of angering people.


The garlic was planted last weekend! I went with old faithful Russian Red again. I planted it in the ground between two raised beds where I planted lettuces this year. When I did some re-arranging of raised beds a couple of years ago, I intentionally left a wider walking path between the beds so that I could have some room to plant in ground – this has turned out to be the perfect solution for perennial herbs and garlic.


I’m so glad I got too lazy to rip out the brassica bed after the cabbage looper mass murder. I haven’t seen another caterpillar since and the plants have come back fairly strong, growing new healthy leaves with two of the plants producing heads. I know I said that I hadn’t had any success with broccoli and cauliflower in the past and that this was a failed experiment and I wouldn’t try again, but I’m happy to say that I was completely wrong. Sometimes there is light at the end of the tunnel full of caterpillar carcasses.

I have a feeling that the next time you see the full garden, it will be covered in a blanket of white. Sigh. What does your garden look like right now? Are you still harvesting?

One more thing: I know a lot of people follow blogs on Facebook, so I recently created a page for my blog where I will post status updates, links to new blog posts, as well as anything else I feel like subjecting my followers to, so please like Carrots & Raspberries on Facebook!

The Garden is Dying

After last week’s summer winter storm, the garden took a bit of a hit. The damage wasn’t totally apparent until this last weekend when the snow had melted away and the sun had come out. There was a leftover patch of snow in front of my greenhouse this morning, reminding me that it’ll be back soon “Don’t get too comfortable!”.

The nights are supposed to be warmer which means I brought the poor potted tomatoes out from the greenhouse again – they’d been shoved on the floor where they were getting no direct sunlight, but at least they weren’t frozen. Maybe they’ll have a chance of ripening outdoors unlike all the other tomatoes that were harvested green a little over a week ago (some are very slowly ripening in the house).

But as for the rest of the garden, it is a mixed bag. We cleaned out three beds completely on the weekend – the raised bed that had corn, squash, beans and a couple of tomato plants, the galvanized steel livestock tank that had the indeterminate tomatoes, and the little in-ground bed that I had planted lettuces and marigolds. A few pots were cleaned out that contained the dead corpses of squash and some annual flowers like dahlia, morning glory, coreopsis, and nasturtium. I could have just left the dead plants in place, but frankly it was depressing.


The good news is that there were a lot of troopers that did survive and will continue on until real winter hits, such as kale, beets, carrots, some herbs and the broccoli and cauliflower I was supposed to pull out but got too lazy. That’s right – the caterpillar damaged crop is still in place and actually doing pretty well. I haven’t seen another caterpillar since I destroyed the population back in August. And wouldn’t you know it, there are actually heads growing! I guess laziness pays off sometimes.


The rest of the damage was a result of the weight of the snow. Quite a few of my perennials are nearly flat on the ground and won’t bounce back this year. My columnar aspen trees were not looking so columnar, so we used Velcro ties to try to get the branches back in place.


Sadly the season is coming to an end and much earlier than I would like. The rest of September will be spent slowly harvesting the remaining crops, tending the greenhouse, and cleaning up the yard as plants expire. Since we are living out of a mini-fridge for now, I will probably spend a day in the near future canning beets.

I’ve already noticed that I’m spending a lot more time indoors and my trips to the garden are a lot more brief – the weeds have slowed down and I haven’t had to do much watering besides a can here and there to the greenhouse. As for outdoor projects, those are pretty much done for the year – I do still have the bottom side of my wheelbarrow to paint, but that is pretty much it. And the indoor projects are beginning again – knitting (time to start holiday gifts), updating my Etsy shop, doing a few minor updates around the house, cleaning the basement (thank you community association for hosting the annual free garbage day!), and pumping myself up to finish the powder room we renovated back in May. Let’s hope I have a few more weeks to enjoy the garden before I really settle myself in for the winter.

The September 2014 Garden

I have tried to find a way to start this post that wasn’t “Oh for God’s sake, it’s snowing”. But I can’t. It’s September 8th and it’s snowing. What the hell.

Those little white specks – snow. My neighbor’s sunflowers look so lovely! And then an hour later…


Let’s start this story about a week ago. I knew that the nights were starting to cool down a lot so I kept my eye on the weather forecast for frost warnings. And by “kept my eye on”, I mean checked obsessively every five minutes. I’m ashamed to admit that I learned the hard lesson last year on screwing around with frost warnings (yes, I am human, I make mistakes) – actually, not frost warnings because there wasn’t actually a frost warning. I saw the temperature was going to be borderline and I didn’t do anything. I should have gone out and covered things, but I didn’t. Stupid. So this year, not wanting all of my months-long efforts to go to waste, I watched the forecast carefully. On Wednesday night I checked the forecast a million times before bed and saw that it was only supposed to dip down to about 7 degrees celsius. Safe. Thursday morning I woke up, got ready for work, stepped outside my front door and it was COLD. I quickly touched the foliage of the closest plant. Wet (it had rained the night before) and cold, but not frosty. I scanned the rest of the front yard and it appeared alright. I got into my car and the windshield was COVERED IN ICE. Oh god. What about the tomatoes in the back yard?! What if they are covered in frost and ice? Were they dead?!

The tomatoes were fine. Everything else was fine too. Calm down woman.

Later that day, I got an email from the coordinator at our community garden saying the garden had been vandalized the night previous. Oh great, fantastic. As soon as I got home, I ventured across the street to survey the damage. Our plot was fine. I guess no one wants a bunch of crappy kale and beets. Our plot neighbor lost some squash though – I saw the evidence smashed against the nearby building wall. And some other people lost a few things as well, but gardeners have a pretty thick skin and are used to a bit of disappointment. My husband and I went ahead and harvested the last of the beans and beets. The bean harvest was great this summer, producing about 9 litres of beans from about 12 square feet of space, but the beet harvest was pathetic. Most beets were about golf ball sized, so we only really got about 4 litres of beets from that space. Luckily I’d also planted beets at home which turned out much nicer and significantly larger. We left the kale and leeks in place for now – we have more kale than we know what to do with, so if someone wants to help themselves I will not be sad. Go ahead hooligans, steal my kale.


And then our fridge decided to start dying. It hasn’t completely died, but it is happening soon. I’ve been feeling like it has been on its way out for awhile now but it has started randomly spilling out a lot of water ON MY NEW FLOOR. This isn’t the happiest news, especially at harvest time when one requires a fridge to store vegetables. We could get someone in to look at and repair the fridge, but frankly it is old and an energy suck and we’d just prefer to bite the bullet and purchase a new fridge. Now here’s the catch: Megan is extremely picky about everything that she buys, especially when it has a significant price tag attached. She does not want to go out and buy the cheapest replacement fridge and then have to look at it and secretly resent it for the next 20 years. Megan wants a really pretty and good quality fridge. Therefore we have come to the decision to purchase a mini-fridge as a placeholder until we can save up some money over the next couple of months and buy something really nice.  The cost of the mini fridge would be around the same as getting a professional to come in just to look at the dying fridge, plus we have a friend who is in the market for a mini-fridge and has offered to buy the mini-fridge from us when we are done with it. My brother is excited because he basically gets all the food that will not fit into the mini-fridge. Everyone wins. Except the old fridge – you lose. Oh and the microwave died too but we’re not too sad about that – we are going to try going microwave-less. If the oven dies I’m going to absolutely lose it.

Okay back to the tomatoes. After my little scare on Thursday morning and after the drama of the community garden, I went home and covered my tomatoes for the night. I wrapped them up in any spare sheets and fleece blankets that I could round up, then secured the covers with clothespins. It didn’t freeze that night, but at least I had peace of mind. Things started to warm up on Friday so the chance of frost was lifted and the forecast for the weekend was decent. But there was talk of snow early in the week. Seriously?! On Saturday I went out and picked all of the green indeterminate tomatoes. I didn’t really want to so early – I thought I had a few more weeks to allow ripening on the vines. And really, although I live in Alberta and know in the back of my mind that we could get snow any time, I still like to believe that we shouldn’t get snow until at least October. Sigh.


Now on to the rest of September. This afternoon I harvested the corn (we have corn!), one last zucchini, two green pumpkins and a handful of cherry tomatoes. And I brought some of the herb pots indoors just in case. I also had 3 pots of cherry tomatoes growing on my deck so I moved those pots into the greenhouse where it is a bit warmer.


Once the weather warms up again and it stops raining/snowing, we’ll clean up the yard a bit and harvest some of the other things like the remaining beets and carrots. The composts will be turned, rain barrels emptied, and raised beds and pots cleaned out and stored for winter. I can’t believe we’re at this time of year already – it honestly seems like yesterday that I was rushing around in a panic to get everything planted and now everything is covered in a layer of white snow.