Good day Hive, what's buzzin!
Well now that I know I can successfully post again, time to dive in both feet or head first (whichever you prefer) with my regular time consuming posts that I love writing. What have I been up to the last few months? Well with the rona going around...not much at all! Mostly smoking pot and yelling at the bogus mainstream news trying to cash in with ratings on the new strain of the common cold and getting roasted for not following arrows in the grocery store isle...making me feel like a total rebel at the supermarket. 😝 I'm pretty sure I already caught it last fall before it was a thing according to the list of symptoms...but did I die? To be honest it wasn't pleasant either, felt like cement in my lungs for a few weeks. As far as the lockdown, well I just went along with it because I didn't have much of a choice. Even our fearless Kit-Ten got roasted for being outdoors, we had to get him a harness to take him on walks like a dog, turns out he is NOT a fan. Ah the times we live in. I got to watch the best and the worse out of the great people of social media and society as it all degenerated over toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the rat network established by the paranoid for people enjoying the outdoors, my pregnant friend even got social media shamed for ordering too much pizza for her and the family, very eye opening experience! Luckily, Alberta didn't get as drastic as some other provinces where their local government behaved in, well, un-Canadian ways to put it mildly.
Besides analyzing social behaviors under pressure, surely I must have done something productive! Well yes I did but not too much picture taking. Turns out you are my inspiration for photography, if I don't post I seem to not go out and take many pictures, time to change that. I did start a ladybug facebook page that I also don't post much yet... What a shock eh! As many of you are aware, last year we installed some bird feeders for the urban wildlife and they are quite messy. Last September I noticed some sunflowers sprouting up that flowered in October out of nowhere, turns out the messy birdies scattered seeds all over the yard. It had me thinking, if things grow without me trying, maybe I can try growing actual food this year. Given our master future plan is to take off on an acreage near the mountains and growing our own food, it might not hurt to practice a little beforehand.
We re-arranged some stuff in our tiny backyard and noticed that there are so many stray sunflowers growing all over the yard, this year they are early enough that they might actually grow tall and produce seeds this fall with a full growing season but I did have to relocate some of them. I may also have stray corn growing on the lawn too...Bahahaha. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with my stray corn yet, probably wait for them to be strong enough to get transplanted in a more appropriate location and see if I can grow them for seeds to turn into micro-greens next year. I did plant a row of sunflowers with intent and they sprouted nicely and seem to double in size every couple of days, keeping my fingers crossed they will get tall and full of blooms, I used the same black oil seeds I feed the birds with, nothing too complicated.
After doing some research, they can grow with ease just about anywhere in any soil type. I Initially was going to turn them into bird food for next year but maybe I'll just use the strays that grow near the feeder for the birds and the ones I intentionally planted for next year's sprouts. I did some research into micro-greens, turns out sunflowers are supposed to be some of the best tasting packed with nutrition and anti-oxidants, I will start growing some of them this year just not from my own seeds yet. I grabbed a couple of seedling trays from walmart for FREE, they throw them out after they have sold the plants so I asked if I could take a few and they were happy to let me take them just visit your garden center and ask. You may notice this strange powder on top of the soil & sprout, that is a sprinkle of cinnamon to ward off disease common to sunflowers. In about 2 weeks, the sprouts in the tray will look like the little sprout below and will be ready for harvest. Here is some additional info:
What else did we plant? I got @silvergingerman to build me a vertical potato box as an experiment. It's probably too early to tell but I'm not sure they will grow, the green bits on the sprouts don't look that green anymore maybe a little on the purple side, they don't look dead either but seems like they were growing better when they were in the bag. They are covered in dirt except for the sprouting part so it's a bit hard to tell. We have another raised bed with some newly planted chives, both onion and garlic chives...Yum. After doing some research I found out they are a good insect repellent which will come in handy to keep our crops safe from pests. Tasty and useful, they will keep growing back each year for some truly free food. With all the supply chain disruptions and ongoing talks of growing food insecurity as the mainstream distribution systems seem to be crumbling, might not be a bad plan to at least learn, I don't remember much from my childhood gardening skills, only a few things here and there from watching my parents and helping out.
I did my first gardening rookie move, when I bought some of my seeds, I didn't read the names, I only looked at the pictures on the package. Turns out that wasn't very smart but it might workout even better, maybe it was meant to be. I thought I bought green onions since it's a staple in this house, turns out I bought something called potato-onions. What on earth? After doing some reading, I found out they grow similar to garlic, plant a small bulb and the multiply 5 fold so I can have enough to harvest for eating and keep some bulbs to plant again next year....for free! I don't know what they taste like, I have never eaten any or even heard of it until I planted them and noticed the bulbs were a bit big to be green onions! I can still use the stems as greens onions I suppose. 😂 Here is a bit of literature on the subject:
I didn't over-complicate the planting since we are very limited in space and experience, I also planted a few heads of butter lettuce to make some fresh salads this summer along with marigolds for natural pest control. I remember as a kid, we used to plant lettuce and eat from it all summer as it grew and in the fall they would turn out huge. We'll see the results. I also bought a potted strawberry plant that I plan on replanting into a more permanent location in the fall but since it's already flowering and showing signs of producing this year, I figured I would leave it alone for now to not shock the plant and lose the potential harvest I will already get. Other potted plants like 2 types of ivy that seem to be growing vines like it's the apocalypse, one of them is twice as long already and it's only been a week. They may be non edible but they do look nice and grow long vines that can later be wrapped around the windows for live home decor, once upon a time I grew one over 20 feet long. They definitely grow better outside but they do quite well indoors over the winter, they are pretty low cost and low maintenance, they practically grow themselves for the most part.
We are not done figuring out everything we want to plant yet, I will most likely stick to herbs here on out but we are slowly turning our backyard into our private oasis since I have other stray bird food related plants growing that I haven't identified yet that may need relocating. We tried having a flower garden before but the big ole tree sucked up all the nutrients out of the soil and nothing would ever grow to fruition so we kind of gave up for the most part. Hopefully the raised beds can change that along with reducing the garden pests. I did dedicate the lockdown time to get more educated on gardening and the nutrition/medicinal values of different herbs and yielded some interesting results especially with the very fragrant rosemary, I want to go back to the garden center and get a potted rosemary tree to help keep the yard mosquito free that I can take indoor for winter. Along with it's immense medicinal properties, it's smells amazing and is delightful with beef or mushroom dishes especially in gravy and soups. (If I remember, maybe I will post my rosemary/thyme garlic crusted prime rib recipe in the near future) For now, here is a bit of a read on health effects of rosemary, anyone have male pattern baldness? This could be your new friend if you refuse to accept your genetics without a fight.
corn to be relocated in the near future.
For the first time in almost a decade, I did notice some dandelions growing in the backyard, while most of you would be annoyed at the sight, I'm actually quite happy and will harvest the leaves for salads. Before you go "eww that's gross ladybug quit eating the unsightly lawn weeds" take a look at the premixed salads bags you buy, it's mostly dandelion leaves just need to make sure if you decide to harvest that they were not sprayed with herbicide. I'm sure you can imagine what my parents felt like watching me eat random foods from the lawn, it's like I was born with the wild edible plants knowledge already in my dna. Essentially they are a super food and the ENTIRE plant is edible from root to flower loaded with medicinal properties. What do they taste like? Well they are a bit bitter so don't make a salad of entirely dandelion leaves but with a nice sweet dressing would be delish, fyi, the smaller leaves are less bitter. I will be working on making a honey dijon vinaigrette recipe to go along with my bitters to post later this summer. Who knew inviting birds into the backyard would snowball into stray food that inspired gardening! It should be quite the experience, even the cats enjoy it and spend every minute nosing in on what we are doing (or rolling in the grass seeds). Even the bees are starting to move in, I can't keep the door open anymore for the cats to go in and out as they please. (clearly a good thing to have some pollinators around, just not indoors!) We must have an invisible beacon that says all wildlife welcome, we already had to relocate some back outside where they belong.
I always had a dream to one day return to my roots and live off the land at some point in my life once the city outlives it's usefulness (looking like that might be sooner rather than later), I used to hate it as a kid but as an adult I do appreciate the thought of it more and more. Maybe this summer I can get into making posts and recipes about foraging unusual nutrient dense foods that just grow naturally. Is that something you might be into? To be honest, many of us could benefit from returning to natural local wild food sources even if it's just once in a while, it's good knowledge to have anyway in case you get lost in the woods or worse, there ends up being bigger supply chain disruptions in the future. You would be surprised to know what is edible or what common foods grows wild (asparagus grow wild in Alberta and are also a perennial crop). I grew up kinda poor and on the foraging system, it's some of the most delicious and nutritious food even if it seems strange at first to most city dwellers.
Here is a link to the ladybug facebook page, I will make an effort to post more there too but it's mostly pictures with links to my blog. https://www.facebook.com/ladybug146photographyAlberta