a collection of sporadic thoughts, ideas, wonderances, observations and musings.

April 2022

APRIL 25 2022

In just a few hours I plant so many young plants into the ground. 957 to be exact. (Incase you are wondering: no, I didn't count as I went. I did math based on the empty trays to come back in to the greenhouse). Beds are filling up in April and it feels wonderful. We cover each bed with a light flece as it fills to protect the seedlings from cool nights as well as the full, unfamiliar Spring sun.

It feels satisfying to have so many of the shoulder season crops out before their roots bind up in our plug trays... but I can already tell that I won't be able to walk tomorrow.

APRIL 22 2022

I flip the Autumn/Winter compost heap from bay three back into bay two. It's a quick job to type out, but actually takes a rather long time in reality.

This is the first and only flip this heap will recieve before we use it, hopefully in July. I move it over with a fork, rather than a shovel, because (the top in particular) is not at all rotted down. It's just a tough and woody jumble of fir boughs, kitchen scraps, and dried stems that were added slowly over the Winter months when the heap was cold an inactive. It takes me nearly two hours to reach the bottom two inches of the heap - which turns out to be the most difficult as it is still frozen to the ground.

APRIL 19 2022

It rains and rains and rains. As far as we can see the Saint Croix River turns completely brown. It could be mistaken for chocolate milk. The length of our greenhouse, as well as our compost bays, back flood entirely. This is new for us, the devastating result of being at the receiving end of a new, man-made topographical funnel.

The mature root systems of our willows and pasture land wick up water as fast as they can - but it isn't enough for this aggressively and unnaturally graded seven acre catastrophe with which we share a property line. Andrew and I walk the boundaries to asses the damage on this side of the orange flags. Silty subsoil runs clear from the road all the way down to the shore and into the river like rapids, washouts meeting at the bottom to create a pressure and pace that would surely match that of a fire hose. I wonder what this level of run-off will do to our soil structure and the ecosystems within the river. It makes me sick to my stomach. We turn around, soaked to the bone. We begin to trudge back, the opaque mud-water funnelling into our field continues to rise, up, up, up and over my rubber boots. We both walk up to the house like our feet are in a couple of fishbowls.

APRIL 18 2022

I spend the day (truly, the whole day) creating new garden beds for what I am fondly calling My Veg Plot. I broad fork until my arms ache - but I don't mind. With every pull motion, pride wells up in my chest because this is a broad fork made by a local blacksmith... and I do love that kind of thing. I lay cardboard in a jigsaw so that my beds are covered in full, without even the slightest sliver of a gap. Then, I move the rest of last season's compost, chipping away at those final few frozen bits, one wheelbarrow at a time over to where our vegetables will grow.

APRIL 14 2022 A grey and somber feeling day. Much greenhouse work to be done (in the forms of sizing up, sowing, planting out, and sorting through) but it's mid-morning and I haven't left the coffee pot yet. Honestly, I've been thinking of radicchio.

This afternoon we will harvest the flowers to feature in our Easter Clutches at McGuire Chocolate this Saturday. It feels both moments and lifetimes since we've last had flowers for offer. I hope that you love them.

APRIL 13 2022 Oh, the dahlias! Today we take hundreds of tubers out of what was cold storage and down to the greenhouse to be sprouted. Box after box, I remove clumps of dead, hollow, and peanut butter consistency tubers (no, this is not how they ought to be). Somehow, our key white varieties pull through, nearly unscathed and for this we are so grateful.

We haul crates and crates of lost tubers to the compost heap. Andrew and I spend the rest of the day cursing ourselves for not noticing just how dramatic the temperature fluctuations in the walk-in were.

March 2022

MARCH 28 2022

We wake to snow. It's the soft lazy sort that it utterly romantic in December, but tauntalizing like a school yard bully by the end of March. I haul fresh water to our eclectic flock of chickens and ducks, remembering that I didn't collect eggs yesterday. No doubt they have all frozen and burst... I'll tell the dog and he will be delighted. I go around and top up all of the songbird feeders with a mix that I am confident the grey squirrels can sniff out regardless of distance.

Snow has collected on my shoulders when I decide that grey skies mean that the greenhouse can wait a moment or two longer than usual. I resolve that I've earned an espresso and quick warm-up before the next round of tasks.

And, just as well. I hear the rumble of large engines booming to life next door. I try to act casual as I scurry inside like the slowest participant in a game of desperate hide-and-seek.

MARCH 27 2022

I had an over fed jar of sourdough starter erupt all over the counter yesterday - so I put together a larger than normal large pot of dough. Today, it is more than I care to shape or bake. In my best attempt to be liaise faire, I put two thirds of the wonderfully fermented (some of my best) back in the fridge to fuss with later.

Doesn't Andrew take it out and shape it into two beautiful baguettes. I am overjoyed. He bakes them with a makeshift steam component and forbids me to open the over for fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes later we enjoy warm baguette with butter at the table (I would rather not disclose how much baguette we eat), with a small jar of narcissus as cheerful company.

MARCH 25 2022

The week passes in a blur. One moment here and the next moment gone, It feels far too early in the season for me to loose time like this... I'll blame it on a tweak in my back - don't worry it is nothing lasting or severe, just the result of a silly twist and reach combo move in the perfectly wrong way.

As for news from the gardens - the hellebores have finally opened. If you follow us on Instagram you know that they toyed with the idea of opening for weeks before actually unfurling those petals. It was a tedious wait, but well worth it in the end. Isn't that always how it goes?

Oh, and, the rats are back. This time into seedling trays. Now, I've already told myself that I will not get into that this evening. Instead, let us enjoy the joyful thought of blooming hellebores as we head into the weekend.

MARCH 20 2022

Wishing you the happiest of Spring-beginnings.

In our corner we are celebrating because last night was the first night in what feels like ages (though more accurately could be measured in weeks) that we haven't' lost our earliest greenhouse crops to hungry rats. Perhaps the warm nighttime temperatures have quickened the compost bays to thaw and the rats are content to feast outdoors? Perhaps the countless traps, ready to snap at so much as a breeze, have taught them that my greenhouse is not a safe space for their gatherings and dinner parties? All in all, I cannot help but to suspect that last night simply did not last long enough for them to make the trek into the greenhouse. We crossed the line and longer days are our reward. We've braved the darker months of Winter. Brighter, warmer, happier days ahead.

MARCH 18 2022

The first narcissus of the season greeted me this morning. Perhaps you've already read about the personification I gave such a bloom over on our Instagram... I do not often personify plants, it just isn't my scene. But this morning, I was so delighted... I couldn't really help myself. Already this season we have enjoyed the earliest heralds of Spring - wee crocus, delicate muscari, fragrant hyacinth, musical-looking hyacinthoidies, and forced forsythia - but to find a blooming narcissus beside the coffee pot certainly delivered an extra jolt of cheer.

MARCH 17 2022

Let me begin by declaring that, despite what the following photos may suggest, neither Andrew or myself are skilled or diligent note takers.

Each Spring, when I rapid-fire recall the endless moments during last season in which I humbly thought to myself 'oh, I'll remember this", I desperately wish that we were. It's a sort of on-going goal to make the time to record our processes, our successes, and our flamboyant failures as the occur. So far this season, I would score our attempts as 'fair'. I'm not completely convinced that we've built new habits yet. Honestly, I accredit the bulk of our early note-taking success to the fact that we carry our notebook around as though it is a lifeline. Sometimes we write in it simply to avoid the next big, daunting task at hand - which is a rather convenient escape when said notebook is tucked under your arm. Also , I should mention that we've recently bought ourselves some new pens. It would be a lie for me to suggest that I am not prey to the childhood 'back-to-school- keep-everything-organized-and-preform-admirably' emotion that those sorts of purchases uncover.

Thus far into 2022, we are on-track to providing our future selves a thorough look back into the happenings and emotions of March... and I do suppose that this is a valiant start.

A grey morning in the greenhouse spent potting up the arrangements that will soon unfurl into our Indoor Spring Gardens. Over my shoulder, you are looking at seventeen trays of pre-sprouting ranunculus corms, the bulk of which will be tunnel planted, into our roll-up bed, for a mid-May and June bloom.

Doesn't this photo make us look like proficient note-takers? In reality Andrew is desperately flipping through, skimming the pages, in search of something that I've said I am certain that I have written down... in about two minutes time we are going to accept that I actually did not write it down.

a look into the high tunnel from the propagation segment of the greenhouse. You are able to see what we call the 'roll-up' bed, which runs adjacent to our roll-up side. This space is best utilized for: crops that require more than average air-flow, crops that need more than average shoulder season cooling, or our fruiting crops that require pollination.