Sunday, December 28, 2008

A post from the Bruce Peninsula

We made it to the cabin although the drive was not the greatest. We left late due to all the snow I had to clear at home before we left. The drive was rainy & foggy for the most part, then followed by wet snow and 60km/h wind gusts once we enter the peninsula. We arrived in the dark and after some confusion as to which number we belonged at I shoveled out what the plow left use and we drove in.

We came into a warm cabin with a wood stove that was already set up for a fire. With the strike of a match the week of relaxation began. It is a great setting, it is in the woods and is set back about 30' from the lake. The living room has a high cathedral ceiling with large picture windows viewing the lake.

The weather has been kind of crazy since we arrived. The first day it snowed about 4". The next day the temperature went well above freezing and it rained melting almost all the snow. Today a cold front blew through with 100 km/h (62m/h) wind gust which created some massive waves on the lake. It has actually been rather interesting to see and photograph so many weather events in such a short time frame.

Here are a few pictures I have taken on the first couple days well there was still a lot of snow on the ground. I will post more photos once I get back home of after the snow melted and what ever else mother nature throws at use.

Home for the week

The board walk to the lake

The aftermath of a days fire

Ice on the rock

The road in after the snow storm

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dan is going on vaction

We are heading north again, this time to a rental cabin in the Bruce Peninsula. It is about 5 hours north of Brantford and we are staying for a week. The Bruce Peninsula is part of the World Biosphere Reserve, it contains two national parks, the Bruce Trail goes through the area, it is part of the Niagara Escarpment and contains at least six light houses etc etc.

The cabin is located at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula at the dividing line between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay so the scenery is right at our door step. It will be a week of peace and quite with a little sight seeing, hiking and photography mixed in. The cabin is equipped with wireless internet so as long as it works I should be able to share some photos well I am away.

Happy Holidays Everyone,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What A Difference A Day Can Make

Friday morning we had a snow storm roll in from Colorado which intensified over the Great Lakes and dumped a massive amount of snow on Southern Ontario. We received 12 inches in Brantford and areas closure to the lakes received even more. I don't recalled ever seeing this much snow at once in my 23 years.

I spent four hours last night blowing snow on the front driveway and the side shared driveway which is about 100 feet long. Then another hour this morning clearing the elderly lady's driveway and clearing the missed spots from last night. Lots of work and I am so glade I did not have to clear it with a shovel.

To top that off we are supposed to receive another 6 inches from Sunday to Tuesday. It is not even winter yet! If this is an indication of what the winter is going to be like we are in for a very long winter. Maybe I will open a ski hill on the front lawn?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wrapping up the brussel sprouts for winter

First off, I have redone the title photo with all the helpful input I received. I have added the outlined text so it is easier to read. I have also toned down the photoshop effects so the veggies look less like veggie blobs. It think I am pleased now and thanks again for all the input.

Now for the garden, I spoke too soon that there is no garden tasks left as I had one more task to do. I wrapped my brussels sprouts in row cover. I am doing this hoping that they will survive the winter and produce more sprouts in the spring. I have read that they are hardy enough to make it through the winter with either protection or snow cover so it is worth a try.

Here are some photos of the wrap plants and what is half alive in the raised beds:

The two big brussels sprouts together, they
grew about 4 feet long

The runt of the Brussels Sprouts, it did not produce
any sprouts big enough to harvest. I think it was too
warm of a spot with it being surrounded by concrete.

Baby Beets, maybe they will make it through the winter?
At least there is no leaf miner problems this time of year.

Broccoli, the first sign of cold damage after the -20c(-4f)
night we had last week. There will be no big broccoli
heads from these plants.

One of the garlic sprouts, They have all sprouted except for 5.
I think I will replant the voids before the ground freezes solid.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Layout

My title photo was looking a little frumpy and off center so I decided to do something about it. I photoshop'ed the photo and re-sized it to actual fit. After that the photo looked like it didn't fit so I found a new template that is more toned down in terms of colour. I think I am pleased now but still not 100% sure. Any ideas for changes?

I also have a post up about the fence I am building below:

Dan is setting fence post

What better to do at the end of November then dig 3-4 foot holes by hand and set fence posts, hmm maybe not so much. This all started from purchasing the neighbor’s ladder as he is in a financial mess and then having nowhere to hang it. My initial plan was to set a couple posts so I could hang the ladder and then proceed with the rest in the spring. After setting the couple posts needed for the ladder it was decided that I should just go ahead and set all the posts on that side of the yard.

I have never built a fence before but I have read about it in books and online so it should seemingly turn out well. So far it has gone pretty smoothly as it was easy digging but it has been a very chilly project. Thankfully the ground had not froze yet so the concrete set fine. Now that the posts are ready to go, I can complete the fence on warm days through the winter or complete it in the spring.

The fence is going to looking similar to the photo above with my crude editing of the photo. The black bars are vertical 2x4. I am also going to add cove molding to trim around each inset panel. This will make the 'bad side' look better then the 'good side'. The fence is going to go straight, then there will be a gate at the end, it will then be inset and end at the corner of the shed. The inset will accommodate the ladder and give more parking space on the back shared driveway. Have I ever mentioned to never purchase a home with a shared driveway? If not, please heed my warning.

I am going to build a gate arbor that is the same layout as this arbor but the end cuts will be a different design. I am thinking of matching the cove molding profile used to trim out the panels on the ends of the 2x6's. That way everything will be consistent. I found the arbor design at Ken's House Blog

All I have left to do now is clean up the big mess I have made and of course hang the ladder which started the whole ordeal. I will be following up with a post on an interesting way of setting gate posts that I just read about.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Road Trip To Toronto

December 6th we headed for Toronto to watch the Cavalcade of Lights show in Nathan Phillips Square. The show consists of musicians, festive lights, ice skating and what I went for, one amazing fireworks show. They shoot them off the roof of city hall as well as in front of the building, very cool!

It turned out to be a little bit of an unusual night because when we got into the city the dash board lights started to dim. I shrugged it off as a poorly charged battery from being in slow, stop can go traffic in the cold. So we proceeded to find the parking lot I saw on google satellite maps and we went to the show. After the show the truck started fine so we headed home. About 25 minutes after leaving the lot the dash lights went almost dead, all these gauges started to flash and the truck died. After a tow to a $24hr shop$ we left Toronto with a new alternator and many hundreds lighter. Did I leave out the part that we didn't get home until 3:30am?!

With the reliability of North American auto's aside it was a good night. Here is a series of photo's I took during the night:

Skating at Cavalcade of Lights
Skating Blur
Fireworks at Cavalcade of Lights 2

Fireworks at Cavalcade of Lights
There is actual people holding these fireworks,
scaling down the building on ropes
Fireworks at Cavalcade of Lights 3

Fireworks at Cavalcade of Lights 4

Young - Dundas Square
Young & Dundas Square
TD Centre
TD Centre
TD Centre & CN Tower
TD Centre & CN Tower
CIBC Lobby
CIBC Lobby

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Snowy Garden

You may have noticed that this veggie blog has not been very veggie related for the last couple months. Well, this is because there is next to no veggies to blog about. This past weekend has been extremely cold, with the wind chill factored in, it feels like -20c(-4f). For anyone that is lucky enough to not know what wind chill is, it is not the actual temperature but what it feels like with the strong wind. We have also received our first snow accumulation that is enough to shovel.

We are supposed to have a few warmer days next week but I think the weather has pretty much set in. This will be the end of growing anything outdoors included in the cold frame. Next fall I want to be more prepared with my cold frame and possibly a large hoop cover seeded by Sept/Oct. This year, four season gardening will be a bust as it is just too cold to start anything.

I will continue blogging about this and that at least once a week but in terms of the veggie garden there will not be much to update other then how much snow piles up. I do have some plants to blog about over the winter like patio plants I keep over the winter, house plants, seed starting and of course getting the cold frame going in march. Up coming post for December will include short trips I have taken, amaryllis planting & care, the fence I am building although now on hold and whatever else is happening. The next veggie related task will not be until mid Jan when I start onions from seed.

I will end this post with some photos of the veggie patch as of Dec 7th at 3pm:

Not much need for mister ugly a/c unit now!


The runt of the three Brussels Sprouts, This one did
not produce any sprouts large enough to harvest.

-10c(14f), taken in full sun on the coldest
day we have had this fall.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Large Meteor Falls In Edmonton , Alberta, Canada

I keep forgetting to post about this huge meteor that burnt up over the sky of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on November 20th. It was filmed on a police dash cam and a few other cameras. They have since found a few small pieces of it and were even offering a reward for finding the meteor. Below is a map of where it happened and a YouTube video with a loop of the different videos of it. It is quite a sight!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How To Build A Cold Frame

Here are the basic plans for how I built my cold frame. I am not going to go into great detail as details change depending on your window size, materials used etc.


2x6 lumber for the frame, spruce, pine or cedar
2x2 lumber, spruce, pine or cedar
outdoor wood screws
outdoor hinges
3 metal handles

Start by finding or making a window, I used a double glazed window that is used in exterior doors. You could also use old wood windows or make your own window with Plexiglass. You can also use multiple windows to make a longer cold frame.

Once the window(s) have been chosen proceed with calculating how much wood you will need to make the frame. I chose to make my frame 3 2x6 high in the back and 2 2x6 high in the front. This will create an angle of approx. 13 degrees to catch the sun.

When you have all your lumber calculated and at hand start by building the front and rear panel of the frame. You will need 5 pieces of 2x6 that are the length of your frame. The 2 top 2x6 will need to have a bevel cut on the top for the window to fit snugly. This can be accomplished by tacking a straight edge on the top 2x6's that will accommodate your saw, set your circular saw to 13 degrees and cut the top edge on an angle. It can also be done on a table saw if you are lucky enough to have one.

Now that your have 2 beveled 2x6 and 3 2x6 cut to the length of your frame you can start to fasten them together. Layout out your 2 bevel cut 2x6 and then add 1 straight 2x6 to the front panel and 2 straight 2x6 to the back panel making sure the bevels are facing forward. When the panels are layed out fasten them together using screws and 2x2's. Cut the 2x2's a 1/2" shorter then each panel with an angle cut on the top so they do not interfere with the window closing.

With the back and front panel completed, I then tacked them together with scrap wood to form the width of the frame. I then attached the window and squared everything up to the window. Doing this helps if you are working by yourself and it also squares the frame to the window which may not be overly square.

When the frame is adjusted and tacked together measure the width and cut 6 2x6 to fit. I then fastened these in place by pre-drilling/screwing through the front and back panels into the side panels. Once you get to the top side pieces, put them in place and use you tacking stripe as a straight edge to transfer the angle to the pieces. Then cut along the line and fasten them in.

Now that your frame is completed add two side handles for transporting the frame and one handle to the window to aid in opening. The only other thing that is need now is a way to keep the window open on hots days. There are many ways of doing this from a simple wedge, to a gas assist lift like the ones used on screen doors or you can use automatic temperature lifts if your window is light enough for them to operate. I will be adding a screen door opener on mine once the weather get warm enough to need one.

One other thing that is a great addition to a cold frame is a min/max thermometer that will show the lowest and highest temperature. I will also be adding one of these in the near future.

Check out my other cold frame posts

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Possibly My Last Harvest Post Of 2008

It is hard to believe that it is inching closer to December already. It seems like just yesterday I had a lush veggie patch full of produce. Now all I have left is naked brussels sprout stalks, some flat broccoli and an empty cold frame. Kind of a bummer actually but with my second year of vegetable gardening ahead of me, things should be even better next year.

With the cold spell we had last week I headed out for what maybe my last harvest of 2008 and came up with some brussels sprouts and radishes.

I stripped most of the leaves off the brussels sprouts to make harvesting easier and was able to pick about half of the sprouts. The rest were to small to pick. I am still hopeful that I may get a second harvest out of them if the weather stays in their favor. I think the following reasons are the culprit for the sprouts not developing so well:
  • The first being I plant to early, brussels sprouts are recommend to be planted late spring/early summer so the sprouts start to develop in September not August.
  • The second problem was they kept falling over due to their size & weight. Next season I am going to stake at planting time to keep ahead of their growth.
  • The third thing working against me was they received to much shade in the fall once the sun angle lowered. I will plant them in the lower beds next year as it receives much more sun.
  • Finally I am going to plant an F1 variety next year that yields better and grows shorter. I am either going to grow Bubbles or Jade Cross E as they are supposed to be the best varieties.
Now for the broccoli, I thought they were done for. When I uncovered them today they seem to be pretty unharmed. The heads still look okay and what looked like leaf damaged during the cold snap now looks fine. They certainly are a little flat from the snow covering, asides from that they seem to be in good order. I will leave them in, still hopeful an act of god will happen and I will be harvesting 2lb heads of broccoli. Next year I will be following the Ministry of Agriculture's recommended planting date of July 15th for late broccoli, not my planting date of August 5th.

Lastly about the cold frame. During the day the temperature inside is going higher then the outside temperature even on cloudy days. At night though it is matching the outside temperature pretty closely. The soil is nice and loose inside with the outside soil being frozen about an inch down. This week is suppose to be above freezing so I am going to go ahead and plant some seed. If they grow great, if not I will try again in March when the season gets a little less nasty.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Naturalizing Muscari Bulbs in the Front Lawn

****Two posts tonight so check below****

Every since we moved to our current home I have thought our tiny front lawn would be a great candidate for naturalizing bulbs. After a few years of procrastination as well as a good amount of indecisiveness I finally decided on Muscari. They are a very early bloomer, they are a small plant and should disappear the fastest in the spring making way for the lawnmower.

I picked up about one hundred Muscari 'Magic Carpet Mix' bulbs from veseys and purchased them at 50% off because it is the end of the season. I guess most folks don't like to be out digging in the snow.

My first step was to plan ahead, this is a concept I am just starting to master. In the spring we want to expanded the front perennial border a bit, changing the shape from a straight line to a curve. We also want to put in a stone path for access to the side yard. So I laid down string in the shape of the new layout and spray painted lines into the lawn. Now I won't be digging up the bulbs next spring.

I then took a narrow trowel and cut 3 inch plugs out of the lawn that are about 3 inches deep. The plugs were spaced about 6 inches in all directions. Once I dug all one hundred holes I then placed a bulb in each one and tamped the grass plug back in the hole. Now I have to play the waiting game until spring and hope the squirrels behave. I will update in March/April when they are blooming.

New Daffodil Varieties & How To Plant Them

Well ordering the muscari for the front lawn I also picked up some daffodils. I have a good variety of daf's around the yard and I have also under planted the 70 or so feet of hedge with them. I prefer planting them over other spring bulbs because they are basically care free and the squirrels don't bother with them. This year I added the following varieties.

Double Daffodil Duo - Mix of 'Replete' & 'White Lion'

Daffodil 'Green Pearl'

Daffodils should be planted 4-6 inches apart to allow for future bulb development and 3 times their depth deep or about 8 inches. They do best in full sun but I have also grown them in pretty shady condition but blooms numbers will be hampered. Planting times for daffodils is anytime in the fall when the ground can be worked.

The only other thing to consider with daf's is they get pretty ugly when the blooms are finished and the leaves have to be left alone until they yellow and die back. I just live with the ugliness but some suggest planting daffodils with peonies or daylillies so the foliage is masked within the developing plants.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold frame Setup

Well, it has been one mighty cold couple of days. It is not unheard of for my area to have lows of -10c(14f) in November but the last few years makes it certainly seem unusual. Even with the temperatures I decide to put the cold frame out anyway and see what happens.

I built the frame about 6 inches higher then is recommend so I could bury it into the soil for added insulation. I dug the hole, placed it in and then back filled around the outside. I then raked out the soil inside, put the cheapo thermometer in and shut the lid.

After about an hour I headed back out and the temperature was holding at 0c(32f) with the outside temperature being -5c(23f). I then checked again just before sunset and it was holding at -2c(29f) with the outside temperature being -7c(19.5f). I will be checking again later this evening and early tomorrow morning.

This is obviously nowhere near a consensus of the temperature range of the frame but I am pretty sure I will not be starting seeds anytime soon. If the outside temperatures stays in the range they have been I will not be starting any seeds until march I'm guessing. Now if we go back to the temperature we have been having the last couple weeks I may be able to start some baby greens. Only time will tell I guess. Either way if I can not use it right way it will most definitely come in handy in March when the sun and temps are stronger.

On another note I have started to read two of Eliot Coleman's books, 'The New Organic Grower' as well as 'Four-Season harvest.' He runs a four season farm in Maine, US and has mastered the technique of four season growing in a climate that is harsher then mine. What I can gather from glancing over the books is he plants from Aug-Oct for winter harvest and then basically holds over the crops in the cold frame or in his case movable greenhouses. So in other words I should have built the cold frame in Sept and seeded no later then Oct.

I will keep updating on the frame as things progress as well as do a post on how I built the frame next week. I also have some fall bulb posts in draft that I will be posting over the next few days.