Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dreaming of springtime...

Christmas is over and the days are getting longer, so I'm dreaming of next season's garden and starting seedlings. For years and years I've needed some kind of indoor growing space with good lighting so I'm not constantly carrying seedling trays from the daytime sunny greenhouse to the house at night for protection from cold. Veseys Seeds sells a deluxe 3 tier lighted steel stand for $629.00 plus tax and shipping..a bit out of my league, so finally I got around to building one. For about $80.00

Which could be done a lot cheaper but the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store was out of fluorescent light fixtures, and I was impatient and bought  them new. The 2x2 frame was $11.00 and the 5/8" plywood pieces came to about $10.00 The dimensions are 4'x20", 5'8" tall. On the back side I pinned one of those foil emergency blankets to reflect light back towards the plants and after things are up and running I'll put another on the front. Also some angled white deflectors made of flashing will go on the top of each light fixture.
Every home should be blessed with a friendly handy neighbor who can be called upon to do tricky and dangerous things like plumbing and wiring. Here is our multi talented Jean-Marc from down the road doing an efficient and safe job of wiring up the unit for me.

I have a new toy to play with, it's a soil block maker. It will make compressed soil blocks, 4 at a time.  A standard plastic plant tray will hold 50 blocks. From my favorite seed nursery, Johnny's Selected Seeds in Maine.
I'm experimenting to find the right mix of compost, peat and soil for them to hold together well. Each block has a dimple to receive the seed. Today the first leek seeds went in, as I just had to plant something! With the sun shining it was T shirt weather in the greenhouse today, perfect for playing in the dirt. If the weatherman is being truthful we are in for a milder than average winter, so I hope to get little leeks into the garden in late march.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yes, I'm steamed...letter to the editor yesterday

The other day I was fuming about a letter to the editor in our newspaper, The Telegraph Journal. It was by the president of Monsanto's canadian branch, extolling the 'virtues" of genetically modified crops, and how we should be breathlessly awaiting the gmo apple and pear that won't turn brown when cut. Since I prefer my fruit the way God designed it and am horrified at the idea of frankenfish, and the disappearence of non gmo seed diversity I get really steamed about this bio-meddling. Since Michael Taylor has worked alternately at the top of both Monsanto and the FDA it's little wonder there is no required independant safety testing for gmo products. Add to that monsanto's powerful lobbying against labeling requirements, we in north amerika are entire populations of guinea pigs. If you eat processed foods you are consuming gmo's in corn, soy, canola, sugar in sugar beets and the myriad of products made from them. Following is my response Letter to the Editor  yesterday, Telegraph Journal, Saint John, NB :

Lorne Hepworth, president of Croplife Canada, a branch of Monsanto, paints a fantasy picture of a biotech industry with a sordid history of putting profits ahead of health. This is the company that brought us dioxin and PCB's that now contaminate the far reaches of the earth.
Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, has documented 65 serious health risks from genetically modified (GM) products of all kinds. Among them:

* Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce;
* Sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn reported worldwide;
* Fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products in India
* Allergies among British children went up 50 per cent with the introduction to Britain of GM soy;
* The advent of "superweeds" requires ever-increasing loads of the toxic herbicide, roundup, to be sprayed on GM crops. Peasant families routinely exposed to roundup sprayed on GM soy fields in Argentina are seeing a 25 per cent to 30 per cent increase in childhood cancers and birth defects.
*Six European countries have recognized the dangers and do not allow GM crops to be grown within their borders.
No one knows the full extent of what happens to the end product when you splice in new genes, and then eat that product for several generations.
Consumers seeking to avoid GM foods can download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and look for the GMO Free Project label on store products. the website of The Institute for Responsible Technology is a good education  on the dangers of gmo's and for an in depth look at tremendous problems worldwide caused by Monsanto, watch "The world according to Monsanto", a documentary found on

And on a happier note, here are some lovely healthy non-gmo greens and herbs in my greenhouse this morning.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas is coming...but it's not winter til the garden is frozen...

Christmas wood working is a good way to pass the time when its blowing a gale outside and driving rain and sleet. My sawdusty workshop is cosy with a wood stove warming all but the corners, and I can make lots of mess and it just makes it all look that much more productive. This little wagon is 11"x16" and just needs a piece of sisal tow rope with a wooden ball on the end to finish it.  
The blocks and wagon are sanded smooth and oiled with cooking oil. The fun part is playing with all the pieces before they are packed into the wagon for the new owner.
                                                                                          Winter has held off long enough for one last garden tilling 2 days ago. We spread 2 truckloads of leaves on the new garden plot on a rare windless day and got them tilled under before the next round of rain. They should break down more quickly mixed with the garden soil than they would have piled up dry in the compost pile.

With the weather so unsettled I keep alternating indoor and outdoor chores. Here is batch of granola bars just about cool enough to munch. Tomorrow if the wind settles down we'll go find a Christmas tree to bring home before we have snow to wade through.
And since this blog started out being a place to post my watercolors, here is a little one I did recently while longing for warm summer sunshine. It's a doorway of one of the famous waterfront buildings in Lunenburg, NS. Details of this and our other works are on our new art site