Monthly Archives: August 2013

The secret life of bees

One of the reasons I love gardening is that there’s always something going on. The garden is teeming with life and activity 24/7. Something new is always waiting to be discovered.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time watching the bees. There have been a lot of posts on the Facebook pages I follow about pesticides killing off our bee population, including powerful photos of what the fresh fruit and veg isle of our grocery stores would look like if there were no more  of these essential pollinators. I think about this as I watch them go about their daily lives in the garden.

Bee (and friend) exploring a sunflower

I find the bumblebees in my garden particularly funny. The way they bumble around… They almost look like they`re high, covered in pollen as if it`s cocaine, or drunk.

Bees covered in pollen

Bees covered in pollen

This guy staggered out of this zucchini flower like he was drunk!

This guy staggered out of this zucchini flower like he was drunk!

I joke, but in all seriousness they work really hard, doing the things that help to produce the abundance of fresh veggies that I enjoy on a daily basis. Then they return to their hives to continue the work that produces other delicious and useful things: honey (yum) and beeswax.

This guy was staring at me as if I was interrupting something private.

This guy was staring at me as if I was interrupting something private.

Nowadays, more and more people are thinking about and questioning how their food is produced and where it`s coming from. People are coming together and advocating for better and healthier food choices. Something so basic to our survival has become so complicated when really it shouldn`t be. And honestly, it isn`t. When we put growing food back into our own hands, we feel empowered and we make better choices. There are so many options for where to grow your own food – your own or a friend`s back yard, balcony or rooftop, a community garden, an allotment plot. If you don`t have your own space, you can share with others. I just have to look at my gigantic zucchini plant to realize that one tiny seed produces so much with very little effort. It`s easy!

We waste a lot of time and effort on things that don`t matter and neglect things that do or should matter to us. Growing your own food and supporting local growers is a great way to spend time with family and friends and to build community, which should be what life is all about.

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Summer’s end in “The Hammer”

I’m spending the next two weeks as a resident of Hamilton. I’m really looking forward to walking to and from work (have done it for two days already and it’s been great!) and no commuting to Toronto for two weeks – woo hoo!!! This will also give me good insight into what it’s like to live here.

Planning to spend a lot of this time in the garden, cleaning up the summer mess and planting for the fall. Some interesting sights in the garden right now: it seems my relatives have been lax with the watering. The plots are dry as a desert. As a result the greens I planted on my last visit (spinach, collards, kale) are nowhere to be found. I guess I should cut them some slack. They’ve been more focused on preparing for their trip to England.

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The garden minus all the beautiful morning glory.

Acorn squash plant is near death but the fruits are looking good (hallelujah!)

Acorn squash plant is near death but the fruits are looking good. How are they still thriving?!

Also noticeably lacking are the beautiful purple flowers that were climbing the fence. I thought were the precursor to beans (silly girl). Turns out they were morning glory. Really beautiful but difficult to get rid of once they’ve settled in. Both my aunt and uncle have talked at length about the problems they had trying to remove morning glory from their front flower garden.

I personally don’t see what the problem is. I think they’re beautiful! Whether they’re closed for the evening or open in the morning, they really are eye-catching. What a sight!

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What’s the story, morning glory?

I don’t think they caused any real harm, except maybe competing with the sugar snap peas (they are doing quite poorly actually). When you’re this beautiful, how can anyone stay mad at you for long?

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Closing up shop for the evening

The same flowers, closed up in a different way. Interesting...

The same flowers, closed up in a different way. Interesting…

My edible flowers are starting to go to seed. I should start harvesting before I lose them in the soil. Seeing them makes me mourn the fact that the borage seeds didn’t take. What a loss.

What a bounty from just one plant!

What a bounty from just one calendula flower! How many seeds can you count?

Some good sized nasturtium seeds

Some good sized nasturtium seeds

My uncle’s side of the garden is looking pretty good. The many okra he planted are finally starting to produce fruit.

Okra flower and fruit!

Okra flower and fruit!

I searched a few blogs and apparently you should harvest okra when it’s about 4 inches or pinky size. Test okra’s readiness for picking by either cutting the tip with a sharp knife or trying to break it off. If it cuts/breaks easily, it’s nice and tender for eating. If it’s tough, then add it to the compost. The more you harvest, the more it will produce. I think the one in the picture above is ready.

His eggplant are starting to make their appearance…

Silician eggplant

Sicilian eggplant

And he’s got a couple of butternut squash hiding out as well.

Butternut squash

Butternut squash

I have one butternut squash that’s coming along nicely and I noticed the other day that I have another one coming along on the other plant!

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There were two tiny ones also growing on this plant but they died.

New squash at the back of the garden

New squash at the back of the garden.

My seed packet says they take 100 days and I read (somewhere) that you can harvest them once your nail can break the skin. Ooo, can’t wait to make my favorite butternut squash soup recipe with it!

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