The Weather’s Got Me Down; A New Job Has Me Looking Up

July 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm (Gardening, goings-on, Other, permaculture, Vancouver) (, , , , )

Vancouver is notorious for its wet weather, but by this time of year I’m usually so enthralled by the stunning beauty of clear summer skies, I forget all about the gray time of year and think there could be no finer place on the planet.  Well, not this year…

I thought last year’s cool, wet spring leading to a late start to a short summer was a bummer, but this year has been even worse, especially for my garden.  I have had to reseed many things that are usually very easy to grow–lettuces, arugula, brassicas, radishes even!  I mulched too early, causing an explosion in the number of slugs in the garden and they’ve decimated everything.  On top of that, I’ve lost tray after tray of indoor starts when I put them into the greenhouse to harden off and apparently rats from the junkyard next door found them.  I’m not surprised they ate the nutritious broccoli and collard starts, but they helped themselves to Ellie’s wildflowers too!

On the bright side, the garlic is going strong; we’re eating the scapes now.  The strawberries are producing prolifically; unfortunately, the lack of sun has resulted in quite tart fruit.  At least when it comes to raspberries and tayberries, tartness isn’t a bad thing and these are now starting to bear fruit as well.  I got my corn transplants in the ground much later than I wanted; now I’m concerned that the heat of summer won’t last long enough for the corn to mature.  The pole beans, which ought to be really straightforward to grow, are getting off to a really slow start due to slug damage.  I have, since realizing the problem, removed the straw mulch from the newly planted areas, but it hasn’t seemed to help much.  Likewise, beer bait traps haven’t curbed the onslaught.  I just keep hoping for sun and warmth (show me some global warming!) and checking the long-range forecast.  Sun always seems to be a few days away, but it doesn’t materialize and I’m starting to lose faith in meteorology.  Weather like this has me wishing for a heat wave like they’re having in Atlanta right now.  Ahhh… What I wouldn’t give to bask in 100-degree heat!

I’d like to think the pitiful state of my home garden is just an indication that I’m spending too much time in other gardens, all of which have been way more successful.  Last weekend we wrapped up the Landed Learning year at UBC Farm with a volunteer appreciation dinner and I said goodbye to the beautiful plot my kids had tended all spring.  Every time I’m at the Mt. Pleasant Family Centre, I stop in to see the community garden plot I helped start there, and it’s growing beautifully as well.  Even the garden plots at the Charles Dickens Annex Children’s Garden, to which we added almost no compost and can hardly stay on top of the weeding that needs to be done, are off to a great, albeit late, start.  There, the lettuces and radishes were well timed for me to harvest a huge bowl of salad for the kindergarten kids to share (since they’re the ones that planted it) with their friends and teachers on the last day of school.

The only high point for me this early in the summer has been the start of my new job at the Vancouver Homesteader’s Emporium.  The store hasn’t opened yet, but we made an appearance at the Main Street Car Free Festival to let people know what we’re all about and that we’ll be opening soon.  Basically, we’re a store specializing in all manner of urban homesteading materials–from everything you need to keep bees and chickens in the city to any supplies you need for canning, fermenting, baking, and making your own cheese and soaps.  And, don’t worry if you don’t know how to do all those things yet; we’ll be offering workshops to get you started!  I’m super excited about the opening of the store because it’s a chance for me to learn more as well as share what I already know.  Also, it’s great to be involved in the store from the beginning.  I went in on Friday to help unpack inventory and clean up the construction mess.  The space is looking awesome and I see so much potential for this store as a viable, profitable business!  We’re located at 649 E. Hastings St. in Vancouver, right across from Dan’s Homebrewing Supply store, so come check us out.  We’re aiming for an auspicious opening date of Friday, July 13th.

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Victoria Day Weekend

May 20, 2008 at 7:44 am (Other) (, , , , , )

With me only working two 2.5-hour shifts this weekend, Stephen staying home Friday morning, and today being Victoria Day, it’s as if we’ve just had a four-day weekend!  

Friday, I unfortunately had a demo at 2, but the weather was absolutely gorgeous and it was the first truly hot day of the year, so Stephen spent the morning with Eleanor and I.  Normally, we would have gone to the tot gym and hung out with friends, maybe gone to the grocery store and ridden the mall pony… Instead, we thought, “It’s duck-feeding weather!”  Of course, we didn’t see the Please Do Not Feed Wildlife sign until our last piece of bread had been decimated by the angry Canada goose.  (Recently returned from his travels South, he wasn’t as polite as I’ve come to expect of most Canadians.)  

This was at Queen Elizabeth Park.  We then walked the meandering paths looking for Totoros and ended up at the top of the hill where there is a conservatory, fountains, and viewing areas.  The views, I have to say, were a little disappointing, as the beaches and most of the city were obscured by trees and the North Shore mountains from so much pollen in the air.

A quick jaunt back down and we were back at our old haunt: Main and 32nd, the little dive we called home for all of three months, having been forced to move due to a pregnancy and an idiot.  Didn’t know it at the time, but there existed all along this amazing Vietnamese, French Bread sandwich shop for which Stephen only recently read a review.  Lately, I’ve found a new love in Vietnamese food (in part thanks to the take-out place down the street from where we now live).  Then we rushed home for me to go to work…

The next day was opening day for the local Farmers’ Markets.  Saturday is the East Van Market at Trout Lake, a comfortable biking distance if you avoid the Mosaic route with the killer hill.  When we arrived, we had to walk our bikes a good 100 ft. down the lane to find an opening to chain them up.  I love how bike-friendly this town is!  Anyway, the crowd was a little intense: the line for tomatoes was 20 ft. long and it took almost 30 minutes to get Eleanor’s face painted, but at least it wasn’t raining and someone was playing gamelan music!  After a tiring bike ride home, I planted the rosemary and sage in the garden and Eleanor played with the neighbor’s son in their sprinkler and kiddie pool.  Also, we got to meet the brand new baby that was just born to our upstairs neighbor.  Now, I want another one!  Dinner that night was wild-caught salmon (the only salmon), local potatoes and a salad of fresh field greens with dried peppers and a touch too much olive oil.  Hehe.

Sunday… We never have so much time together in a weekend, by the way… Sunday, I did have to work, but again, it was only a 2.5-hour shift, so we had all morning together and I got home around 5, just in time for a BBQ.  First off, we went for bagels at a place with a “Don’t Kvetsch, Be Happy!” sign next to the till.  Yummy, albeit not what I ordered.  A long walk led us even further south and east than the old apartment–to the cemetary and Fraser St.  A walk north long Fraser revealed an ethically-diverse business district where there happened to be hiding away exactly what I’d been hoping to find for some time: a large fish store with an amazing selection of fish and equipment at reasonable prices!  I was so excited, I started fantasizing about my next tank set-up (moss wall, for sure).  A brisk walk home left me out of breath, rushing out the door to yet another shortened demo (yay!).  When I returned, Stephen was setting up the BBQ (grill, for the Americans) so that we could BBQ (cook out of doors, for the Americans).  The smell of the neighborhood on the walk home from the store that evening revealed that we were taking part in a city-wide celebration of the coming dry season: the first BBQ of the year.  

Today, day four of this unusually-long-weekend, was Victoria Day, an event for which I hardly noticed any fanfare, not even a great-than-average number of store closings (for a Monday).  As the day progressed, my confidence that it was indeed a statutory holiday that I was getting paid for began to wane, to the point that Stephen had to ask a store clerk, presumably a Canadian for whom Victoria Day might mean something.  Her response: “Um, yeah, isn’t it?”  Anyway, it was raining.  We appeased Eleanor’s two-year-old desire to spill juice on a restaurant floor by taking her to The Pancake Store (a.k.a. White Spot) for breakfast.  When we got home, we cleaned the house from top to bottom–even the mold that grows on the underside of the toilet tank from clinging condensation.  Oh, and in between rain showers, we took long walks and breathed the smell of clean flowers… 

The days are already so long I put Eleanor to bed with light still clinging to the edges of her blinds, and as the weather warms up, I look forward to many more such perfect weekends.   

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