Saturday, December 1, 2018

What in the winter?

I realised after having a dream that I found a whole other part of my house to renovate, that I really miss renovating! I love taking something ugly apart and turning it into something useful. But unfortunately, I don't have another house to renovate.
I set my sights instead on my basement. Practicing minimalism hasn't quite prevented me from collecting some treasures down there. The trouble with treasure is, if you aren't able to use it, it has no value. 
Two years ago I bought this old gun box. I have a thing for boxes. I especially love big chests (get your mind out of the gutter).

This old gun box had been turned into a shelving unit by the person who had it before me, and painted a dark brown.

Also in the basement: table legs and two perfectly good, but out of fashion, stools that I picked up from the curb.

A bit of sanding to remove the paint and suddenly the hand carved celtic cross stood out beautifully.

The cross being on the door meant that when the door was open I wouldn't be able to see the cross. I took the door off, and flipped it.

After adding the legs and a bracket for stability, I had a pretty cool bar! I moved onto painting the bar stools and five hours later, voila!

A breakfast nook from salvaged materials.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Excerpt from The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by Carol Deppe

It took a long time for one of my parents to embrace my choice of an agrarian career. A nice bit of old advice that floats past you when you are least able to use it is "If you do something you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life." That's how I feel about farm labour. I love it. I love the challenge and I love the end result. While reading The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by Carol Deepe, I found this lovely paragraph about gardening that really resonated with me:

"I think accumulating money, working at ordinary jobs, collecting stamps, cars, marbles, or anything else, and shopping are all sublimations of our basic hunting and gathering drive. But many of us don't find those substitutes fully satisfying. We enjoy more direct hunting and gathering. Hunting, fishing, and gardening-- these are so satisfying that we will do them for "free"-- even when we don't really need the food. In fact, we will often pay a good bit to do them. [...] A big part of what we are after is just the joy that comes from that simple, purposeful, productive labor. We want to work for our food. Part of our essential nature is that we are hunters and gatherers. We want to hunt and gather. We create gardens so as to have a place that is an ideally rewarding place to hunt and gather."

As the snow settles over the garden, I am already longing to return to work next season. Maybe there is something to what Carol Deppe has reasoned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Repurposed Treasures

My community is great. When I asked for plant pots, plant pots rained down on me. It shows how much people hate to put something perfectly good in the recycling. They hold onto things hoping someone else might need it someday. 

Twice per year there is a free swap in my village, where people bring all their unwanted clothes and household items and load up on what they want. This year, I didn't need much in particular. I waited for the first waves of people to diminish and went picking through the left overs.

I am always on the lookout for small plates to put under plant pots, but this year I found myself inspired to turn new items into planters. Here are some photos of the treasures I found and turned into life-supporting vessels. My favourite is the wooden shoe!

Take care!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Anti-consumerist weekend

As regular readers of the blog (and friends who have heard my unprovoked rants) may have guessed, I am opposed to consumerism for the sake of consumerism.

My house does not look like the houses that pop up when you search "minimalism", though. I painted my walls bright colours which repulse people with dark souls, and every wall is covered with a generous amount of rescued or self-made art. All my frames are rescued from bins or relative's basements and it turns out, you can put anything in a frame and it looks like art. 

Being anti-consumerist doesn't mean you can't own stuff. Fighting consumerism is a conscious choice; everything in your house has been reflected upon. Every picture, plant pot, bowl, cat, and computer has been invited into my home after much deliberation. I don't go shopping and buy something unless I have a need for it and have already researched alternatives to that thing, or that thing second hand. This probably sounds like a lot of work to people who love going shopping and coming home with an empty bank account but lots of pretty new things to store in the closet and never look at again.

It is easier to buy without thinking than it is to walk through rows of cheap goods and only buy the one thing you need. It's harder to go to the hardware store and find the part to fix whatever is broken than it is just to buy a new thing. Just remember, every time you spend $80 on stuff you didn't need, that's another day you have to keep working that job you hate (if you don't hate your job, awesome!). 

I live happy in the knowledge that my actions are in line with my world view. We make too much stuff, throw out too much stuff, and if we could all take one day off work per week we would be less stressed and make more conscientious choices. If life isn't so hectic, you can take time to pause and ask yourself "do I really want this?"  (This applies not only to stuff, but relationships and lifestyles!)

If you really want to unwind next weekend after your stressful week at work, instead of shopping, try to turn something you already have but kind of hate into something that is brilliant. Pinterest is full of awesome ideas to turn junk that's sitting in your basement into something artistic and fun. And if you still hate it, no problem! You were going to get rid of it anyway. If you love it, you can feel good that you got a cool new thing without spending any money and without consuming more precious resources and destroying the planet for future generations. Bonus points if you learned a new skill and increased your confidence in your own abilities!

Well done you!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Eden Indoors- Winter is Coming

I chose to name my business Eden's Rise, not so much as a name but as an objective. The literal Rise or Return of the Garden of Eden. As the weather cools and as vegetable ripening slows to a crawl, the season for market gardening draws to a close. I've been wondering about ways of continuing my mission ("Sell diverse products which remind customers of the importance of biodiversity and increase their environmental awareness.") throughout the winter.

During the season I was surprised at the popularity of plants. In the spring I sold quite a few perennials for the garden, then increasingly through the summer and early fall I've found Cacti, Aloe Vera and other miscellaneous houseplants that I've brought have sold reasonably well.

Which brings me to how Eden's Rise will continue to spread it's message this winter; I have signed up to attend two winter markets! Since making this decision, I've been visiting garden centers trying to find parent stock from which to propagate my plants. After all, one  mother Aloe Vera plant generated at least $70 in sales during the 3 months I have been bringing her offspring to market. I just needed more parents!

In addition to selling succulents and vines, I am waiting to receive seeds for several popular kitchen herbs, such as basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme, to grow for sale at the winter markets. Just because it is winter doesn't mean we shouldn't have fresh green stuff in our food!

I aim for zero waste in my life (imperfectly, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try), and as Eden's Rise is clearly an extension of me, I also aim for zero waste in my business. All the pots used in production are enjoying a second life. They have all been donated to me from people in my village who kindly answered the call when I put a sign in the post office and by my front door asking for plant pots. With the second winter market being in mid-December, I worry it could be very cold so I have emailed the members of my garden club to save their empty bread bags for me and several have responded promising to do so. Reusing, reducing, this is how I want to do business.

Now please enjoy these photos of my plants. I hope they calm you in the rainy, windy days to come. If you see anything you like, send me a message and we can arrange a visit. Small pots are $5 each, large pots are $10, medium pots are $8.

Mini Cactus $5/each
Small succulents $5/each
Large Palm $10

Purple Heart $10 (without pot)
Wandering Jew/ Inch Plant $10

Monday, October 1, 2018

As Usual, There Were Mistakes From Which to Learn

Every time I look at how things are going, the mistakes I have made jump out far more brightly than the successes. 

As the weather begins to cool, plans for the next growing season are already cementing in my mind. First is to maximize the amount of land available in my village lot. This season, I worked with 25 foot beds that cross my property. The reason was mainly that short beds were easier to add one at a time and it was visually appealing. However it has been clear to me since very early on that fewer long beds would be able to produce far more than many short beds. The reason? Fewer beds = fewer paths. Fewer paths = more growing space. Obvious, I know, but these are the things you overlook when you go from a kitchen garden to a market garden.

Second, I have a whole new garden in my backyard! The 30'x30' space beyond the shed was completely overrun by incredibly invasive Japanese Knotweed. While I planned to have the space cleared of this weed by July, the plant proved so aggressive that we are still pulling it out to this day. However, each new generation is weaker than the last and I am prepared to plant this area of the garden next spring. This increases the growing space hugely!
Luna, enjoying a romp in the perennials that make up the wildlife garden.

Third, when I only have 7 long beds, setting up the entire area with drip tape will be much easier and more cost effective. Being able to irrigate without hopping between rows with a sprinkler all day to water the whole garden will mean I can water more often in dry spells. With more water I can get certain crops to maturity earlier, and increase production from other crops. Water results in more food with less space. Perfect!

Fourth, I purchased another 'greenhouse'. Really, it's a carport that I'm going to buy greenhouse plastic to cover, but what's the difference between friends? My 20'x13' greenhouse produced beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers. With a second one, I can dedicate one to just producing tomatoes, and in the second grow peppers, aubergine, and cucumbers. While reading a book about greenhouse production it also dawned on me how stupid I had been with my greenhouse rows. Instead of 4 single rows, I should have grown 3 double rows! More food, less space. I am thrilled that I have the chance to make these mistakes while I still have the safety of an off-farm income!

Finally I am delighted that the orchard will finally have access to water! In the spring, I will bite the bullet and get financing to drill a well and purchase some major irrigation equipment so that my investment of fruit trees and asparagus may finally produce a crop. There is still a large section of field at the bottom of the slope where I plan to have a large plantation of haskaps (after buying the initial 30 plants, I am propagating new plants from cuttings until I can fill the field). This is where I will expand the annual vegetable production next year. Long season crops that do not require picking several times per week will be planted here. Winter squash, garlic, melons, brussel sprouts etc. 

That's the plan! With my financial goal reached for 2018, my goal for 2019 is to double that amount. Maybe by 2020, I will be able to pay myself for the labour I put in! Wouldn't that be novel?

Happy planning!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Summer of Market, Photo Diary

Nobody got into farming because they liked record keeping. One short-cut form of record keeping is taking photographs. These photographs serve to remind me when certain items came in season, and remind me visually what I had on offer on the weeks when I had the highest, and lowest sales. 

Here is some of Eden's Rise first year at the market, in easily digestible form. There are three weeks left, come to Metcalfe Farmer's Market Saturdays 9-1 to say hello!
July 28
August 11
August 25
September 1
September 8
September 22