Sunday, May 24, 2020


plural noun: comments
  1. a verbal or written remark expressing an opinion or reaction.
    "you asked for comments on the new proposals"

I think I have figured out how to fix the comment section so if anyone is actually commenting, the comments should come through now.  Of course, if no one is commenting....never mind.  lol

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Crazy Garden Work

The amount of work going on in the garden here has been insane the last couple weeks.  I worked away from home managing a campground for ten years, from the last snow in the spring to the first snow in the fall basically, and in that time my garden went back to sod.  What a job it is trying to reclaim it!  That is my excuse/reason for not posting anything for a couple weeks.

The first job I accomplished is represented in these feed bags - completely useless work that should never have been there to do.  Someone (God bless his little heart) thought he was being helpful by taking all the bags I had filled when I cleaned the chicken house the last two times and dumping them in my garden in a pile.  Noooooo!!  Chicken poop is way too "hot" to just go into the garden like that, not to mention all the weed seeds it contains.  So, I spent a whole day digging it all up, scraping it together and then refilling the bags so I can drag it off to a compost pile to age for a couple years.

These photos are the "before pictures".  See what I mean about it reverting to sod?  Not just grass either but very stubborn wild prairie grass.  So, all this long grass was laying dead all over the garden and I got my whipper-snipper out and cut it all down.  I threw it over the fence to the horse and she seemed to appreciate it - looked like hay to me.  After that, much as I hate doing it, I sprayed all the grass to kill it.  There is just no way I could win a summer long fight against the grass unless I had some sort of edge. 

Today I started roto-tilling the beds but we had a massive downpour this week and the earth is too wet and just kept balling up in the tiller.  Hopefully tomorrow it will have dried a bit and I can try again.  This is another view of the garden "before".  Sadly, there are no "after" photos yet because the work isn't done but I have high hopes that I will have the garden back in shape and can show that soon.  
Our growing season here is very short, usually less than 100 days from last frost to first frost and the May long weekend is traditionally when people put their gardens in here.  The May long weekend was early this year so I am comforting myself with the thought that if I get it in this weekend then I am still on track.  Wish me luck!
So, wondering about that weird structure in the garden?  My husband is building a greenhouse for me from two of the frames from tarp garages.  He has a huge roll of reinforced plastic to go on as soon as he has the raised beds built in there.  Hopefully that gets accomplished this weekend too but everything seems to be working against us.  He had to run down to my daughter's house for the day today to help her fix her roof.  The massive downpour I mentioned earlier had her setting pails all over to catch the water dripping inside her house.  Daddy to the rescue!
Here it is... one last sad look at how dismal the state of my garden is.  Fingers crossed that it doesn't look like this much longer.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Establishing a Raspberry Patch - Frugally!

Once you have a successful and established raspberry bed, it tends to double in size every year so it isn't hard to find someone with raspberries who is willing to share some canes with you.  You really don't want to be buying them if you don't need to.  A quick google search revealed prices between $4 and $24 per plant in my area and even at $4 each, my 50 canes would have cost $200.  
 What do these two buckets look like to you? You likely see about 50 raspberry canes... I see a ton of work ahead in getting them planted.  My local garden guru, Ken, generously agreed to dig up some canes for me from his abundant patch of raspberries.  So, home they came the other evening gently nestled in these pails of enough water to keep the roots covered.  The buckets were placed in the shade until the next day when I got to work on planting them.  You want to get your canes planted within a day or two - no dilly-dallying!
Just a word that there is a best time to dig up your canes to share.  You want the frost to be out of the ground or you are likely to damage the roots.  You want to catch the canes before the shoots start coming out too because they will be very easily broken off during the process.
I had an area in mind along the back fence of my garden for planting.  Raspberries like to be planted in a single row about a foot apart.  I had to break sod to plant mine but hopefully you will have an area already dug up and ready before you bring your canes home. 
This is where I was at the end of the first day.  I dug up the grass and removed as much of the weed roots as I could and then buried the roots of the canes with soil.  I tamped the soil down a bit with my foot.  Next came a layer of well rotted horse manure which I have on hand since my daughter's horse has lived with us for 15 years now. Horse manure is not my favourite for the garden since it tends to have a lot of weed seeds but it is what I had.  After the manure, a layer of compost was added.  Tamped it all down again. 
This is only half the canes planted.  The old body gave out halfway through the job so I had to go out again on the next day to finish.  Not ideal, but it is what it is.  It was a cool, cloudy day so hopefully the plants didn't get too stressed.
Once you have your raspberries planted you will need to have some patience.  They will likely sulk for a year, two or even three before you get much fruit from them.  Be patient - remember the old saying:  "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now."  Same deal with the raspberries!
More on raspberries later - mulching, pruning and all that other good stuff.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

My Best Spaghetti Sauce

Mmmmm.... Look at all that goodness that is going into the spaghetti sauce!  Lots of veggies and meat get added into this great basic sauce before the tomato and spices go in and it simmers away!  For our family of two hearty eaters, we get one meal from it the day I make it and five or so for the freezer to enjoy later - a bonus as the busy summer season it coming.

Here is the recipe for you to try and enjoy!

  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped (or whatever colour you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 - 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 - 5-1/2 cans tomato paste
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp basil
  • 1-1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
Saute the vegetables in olive oil until onion is translucent and veggies are tender. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink. Drain the meat, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for several hours. If you are freezing some, allow it to cool before putting it in the freezer. You will need to get out a large pot for this recipe - I use my dutch oven.

This is a tasty, hearty sauce to serve on spaghetti or use in any recipes like lasagna that call for spaghetti sauce. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

So, how did your day start?

This is how mine started - with a perfect little mess.  I am in Victory Garden mode because of all that is going on and the Covid-time grocery prices.  So, growing as much of our own food as possible during these times seems like a good idea - save money and keep myself busy.  Since I refuse to go to a store unless I absolutely have to, I am planting seeds in every little container I can find around the house.  These little cucumbers were in a piece of heavy packing material that my instant pot was nestled in.  My husband pointed out it was just like a big peat pot and I agreed but obviously we were both wrong...  As I moved it to a different position to catch more sun, I found out that when the plants were watered this very firm cardboard like material has the strength and consistency of a wet tissue.

So, what is a Victory Garden?  The term goes back to World War II when citizens were encouraged to grow a garden to ease the effects of food rationing. After my first grocery shop during the current crisis, the phrase popped into my mind and I thought it would be a very good thing to do.  I see on the internet that I am not alone.  Hopefully others have more expertise than I do! LOL  We can all learn together though, right?  Even if only a quarter of it is a success, that is a lot more than if we did nothing!
What are you growing in your Victory Garden and do you usually garden?  We have a challenging growing season here in southern Alberta - less than 100 days between the last spring frost and the first one in the fall - so you have to give a lot of thought to what will grow here.  We can't really plant anything outside until after the May 24th long weekend so right now I am planting seeds in little containers and trying to catch every ray of sunshine that comes through a window.  More on that later.
I hope everyone is finding things at home to occupy their minds and time during this pandemic.  Maybe try gardening and plant some veggies? 
I will be 65 this summer and am staring into a financial abyss since our retirement funds seem to have disappeared with the crisis and the financial impact of it.  Most folks should have time to let the economy come back and their investments will come with it.  Not enough time for us though so I feel like I should rename my blog "Cheap old Retired Lady" - what do you think?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Spring is Here! (?)

It felt like spring today!  Winter has seemed so long this year and even though I know I am deluded to think winter is really over, how can you resist believing the warmer weather is here to stay?  
Last spring I decided to "get into bees" and set up a hive and ordered a box of bees.    Several days before the bee package was due to arrive, I fell and broke my back - no spinal cord damage but two crushed vertebrae.  So, when the call came that the bees had arrived I was unable to drive to pick them up and my poor, unsuspecting husband had to go off to get them.  I should hasten to add at this point that he was definitely NOT interested in getting into bees.    
He was even less interested in driving home for an hour with a mesh box full of approximately 10,000 annoyed honeybees in the back seat.  I have to say he is a good sport.  So, he got the queen and her attendants all situated in the hive and I have had very little to do with them until now.  As you can see above, today I donned my bee jacket. I went out to try to assess how they managed getting through the winter.  I got the two top lids off and my assessment is that they got through VERY well!  Or at least there are a lot more than there were when we started out last year.  Today's whole experiment came to a quick stop when both the bees and I realized that my gloves were not sting proof.  Tomorrow is another day... Took my mind off COVID for awhile though!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Long Time...No See!

Wow, has it really been 4 years since I posted?!  Well, I'm back. A lot has happened, lots to catch up on...  I persevered this evening and figured out how to get back into my blog - felt the urge to start a Covid Diary.  I hope everyone who used to follow my blog is well and being safe.  More tomorrow!