Friday, 30 May 2014

Farmer Lori Gets her Grow On!

As part of our renovations before we moved in, we had to have the drainage system around the house completely redone, and replace the main water line into the house and the storm water and sewer drains lines out of the house.  Which meant that what little landscaping there was around the house was mostly destroyed.  And then we moved in and had so much else going on inside the house that we didn’t have time to deal with the outside.

So here’s what it looked like last fall:

IMG735 Yard northeast corner.jpg

Yes, that’s horsetail fern down the middle North side of our east-facing front-yard. (Plus blackberry and ivy and lots of dandelions.  Probably the worst looking yard on the block.)  I wasn’t too fussed about it, since I like the look of horsetail fern, and I think they’re cool plants.  They’ve now spread a bit further and are very well established.  At least they’re green, I thought.  Until I started reading about them this Spring.  They’re very hard to get rid of.

Well, I have never been a fan of lawns.  Eventually I’d like to terrace this bit (there’s a steep hilly portion) and have one level full of asparagus, and the level closest to the sidewalk full of medicinal plants like Echinacea and Valerian.  But first I have to get rid of the horsetail fern.  And there aren’t many plants that can outcompete it, and even herbicides are pretty much useless if I wanted to go down that road (and I don’t).  Digging it out is impossible because they have very deep roots and even the tiniest bit of root will re-grow into lush horsetail ferns.  They prefer low-nutrient soils (and hog whatever they do find).

So here’s the new plan:
Grow CORN!  In my front yard!  For five years!

Yep, I’m gonna dig me some rows, fertilize ‘em and grow me some corn to outcompete them there horsetail ferns.  Of course we have lots of squirrels (they eat all the plums and hazelnuts), so we may get no corn out of the deal, but that’s ok.  And you know, if you let a geeky girl grow corn, she’s going to want to try out the traditional First Nations companion planting “Three Sisters” system, so of course she’s also going to plant beans and squash.  I only like some squash, and I’m the only one in the family who can tolerate it, so we’ll see how that goes.

Today I made a special trip out to Ladner (I LOVE the new South Fraser Perimeter Road - it only takes 30 minutes to get there!) to get seeds from West Coast Seeds’ retail store.  And since I was going out that way, I found a lady on Craigslist who was selling old hay cheap, which I’ll use for mulch between the rows. (Straw would be better but I can’t find any.)  Of course I only have a sedan, so I put one bale in the trunk and one in the back seat.  Note to self: if transporting hay inside a vehicle, it’s probably best to completely wrap up the bale rather than just cover the seat with a tarp, or else you get hay *everywhere*.

I decided to go with the Triplesweet Honey Select Corn.  Then I’ll grow some Purple Peacock beans with them at the front (some attempt at curb appeal), and Scarlet Runners towards the back.  Then pumpkins (mostly for carving) all along the top of the retaining wall next to the sidewalk, Kabocha along the back near the house, Pattypans near the stairs and Spaghetti squash (for my low-carbing sister) along the property line.

I also got a new “Pot Maker” for making little seedling pots out of newspaper.  We have one but we gave it to the inlaws to use after we moved to our townhouse (and had no garden).  I could have got it back from them, but every time we go over there, elder Brother-in-Law gives us more of Husband-Man’s teenage boy stuff.  Bless elder Brother-in-Law for trying to declutter other family members’ stuff from his parents house (where he still lives with all his stuff), but we don’t have any more room for teenage boy stuff at the moment, so it was easier to just buy a new Pot Maker.

While we were down in the states for the Life is Good Unschooling Conference last week (it was a blast), I also picked up two Burpee’s self-watering seedling trays on clearance.  ($5 each!)  They come with little pellets of seed starting mix, and Kid 2 thoroughly enjoyed adding water to these to see them fluff up and fill the cells.  Here’s one all sown with corn on my table (well, the lid is on, so it just looks like a plastic square):

IMG1318 - seeds sown - burpee thing.jpg

Pardon the mess on my kitchen table.  I suddenly discovered that I had to rearrange my kitchen (and basement and garage) to make this project happen.

I also made lots of pots, because these trays only have 16 cells each, and I had a lot of corn to grow in a hurry.  I decided to start the seedlings indoors because the ground’s not ready yet, and I don’t want to go to all that trouble only to have squirrels dig up the seeds before they sprout, and because our last few Junes have not been very warm.  I set up my new seedling storage system next to the back door using an Ikea Trofast unit that wasn’t being well-utilized in the basement, and discovered that the Trofast bins are perfect for putting all my newspaper pots in.

IMG1317 - seeds sown.jpg

And that’s 98 seeds sown, in hopes of getting 96 plants.  That could be a lot of sweet corn… there might be a few corn boils in my future…

And in the backyard, I was going to cut down the rosebush by the back door because it’s a bit straggly and Emily is allergic to roses.  But it’s not very smelly.  And then it gave me this today:

IMG1315 - ROSE.jpg 

It might have to stay...

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