Lilies in Abundance

lilies1I have recently become moderately obsessed with our flower gardens.  And Andrew can attest to my unexplained love of lilies.  I’ve dragged him outside on more than one occasion to go look at lilies that have recently come into bloom in our garden.  For the past few years our flowerbeds have included both yellow and orange day lilies. We also have a couple tiger lilies that were accidentally translated in a hosta plant from my parents.lilies2

But I recently discovered Asiatic Lilies and have gone a bit crazy over them.  Last year we planted Asiatic lilies and oriental hybrid lilies from bulbs last year so it’s been a bit of a surprise to see what they look like as they start to bloom.  I love the colour and the number of blooms that come on a single plant.  They also seem to require very minimal maintenance. A definite win in the flowerbeds at Oslicken Acres.

Camping: A Weekend of Firsts

This coming weekend we have booked a campsite at Pancake Bay Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Superior. This will be our daughter’s first camping trip and that makes it an extra special outing for us!  It’s also our first visit to Pancake Bay. We’ve heard good things about it and are looking forward to checking it out for ourselves. Additionally it will be the first time we take our little camper trailer out since we purchased and refurbished it.  I bought it a couple of years ago and have been slowly working away at getting it roadworthy and ready for camping again. It’s been a lot of work and there is still more to go but it’s been an enjoyable and rewarding process.

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Our refurbished camper

Upgrades to the trailer have included: new axle/rims/tires, exterior LED running/tail lights, battery, solar panel, power inverter, leveling jacks, sofabed cushions, curtains, window screens, roof vent, front window covers, exterior storage hatch latch and door step. I also removed a storage closet to make the interior space more roomy and replaced rotted wood where there had been leaks in the past (oh and fixed leaks!).

Still to come is interior and exterior painting, new flooring and whatever other new projects I come up with! In the mean time we will be enjoying our first trip in our little camper that is uniquely ours.

Square Foot Garden Update

20150719_142120As I mentioned earlier Andrew and I are trying our hands at Square Foot Gardening for the first time this year.  When I last wrote we were thrilled with how quickly we were able to plant the garden.  It’s now mid summer and our new gardens are thriving.  We’ve already been treated to lettuce, radishes, marigolds, and chamomile in abundance and many of the other plants are thriving.

The smaller garden is also making it much easier to stay on top of the weeds.  Normally by this point in the gardening season the weeds are out numbering the plants and we’re struggling to keep the traditional style garden under control.  Andrew and I have found that the smaller gardens are much easier to stay on top of and that weeding is no longer as time consuming.

We were using this year as a trial of the square foot garden method and built two beds to start.  Based on how well things are going we are considering building a couple more beds for next year — more construction projects on Andrew’s never ending list. One thing we will do differently next year is the number of tomato plants per square foot.  As you’ll notice by the picture below our tomato plants are huge and are taking over the one bed.  We’ll definitely give each plant more space in the future.20150719_142110

Living Local: Shabby Motley

Deliciousness from Shabby Motley.

Deliciousness from Shabby Motley.

This is the second post in the Living Local Series. The first post in this series featured Outspoken Brewing and can be found here.

Shabby Motley is a yarn shop, cafe, and funky hangout out space on Queen Street.  Coincidentally it is located right next door to Outspoken Brewery, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.  The store is filled to the brim with every type of fiber and yarn a crafter could ask for.  But, given how crazy long it’s taken me to approach completion of my latest knitting project I haven’t indulged in too many of the beautiful yarns offered by Shabby.  My goal is to finish using up some of the yarn I already own before I stockpile more.

But, even if you aren’t a knitter or fiber artist Shabby Motley is a pretty neat space.  They have delicious baking, locally roasted coffee from St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, and delicious sandwiches.  The staff are super friendly and helpful.  It’s an inviting space that makes me want to knit more every time I visit the shop.

The shop’s facebook account is also pretty awesome and hilarious at times — and they are constantly posting inciting photographs of tasty treats.  I am very happy to see a local business like Shabby thriving in Sault Ste Marie’s downtown core. Definitely a local gem.

Early Harvest: Radishes and Greens

Nothing beats fresh produce straight from the garden.  A lot of the crops Andrew and I plant on a yearly basis seem to take forever before you get to taste them.  Carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips and squash are all ready late in the season and we tend to store these treats for months after they are picked.  These veggies are definitely worth the wait but sometimes I’m an impatient garden.

Oslicken Acre Radishes

Oslicken Acre Radishes

The short turn around time on radishes and greens are one of the reasons I love growing them.  Within a couple of weeks of planting radishes and greens they are on the table and ready to be eaten.

This year I planted Swiss chard for the first time.  It seems to be flourishing and we’ve already sampled some.  So far I’ve only been using the leaves, but I read somewhere that the crisp rib portion of the chard can be cooked and eaten as well.  More experiments will have to be done.

My parents used to grow radishes on a regular basis.  For whatever reason it hadn’t occurred to me to add these tasty morsels to the list of things Andrew and I plant.  So this year was the first year we’ve grown radishes at Oslicken Acres.  I’m enjoying them in salads and as uncooked veggie snacks in my lunch.

Growing Garlic: Harvesting Scapes

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

Andrew and I are trying our hand at growing garlic for the first time this year.  Last fall we dutifully cracked garlic bulbs into cloves and got them into the ground before the last frost.  Over the winter snow buried the garden, garlic moved off my radar, and we let nature take its course.  In the early spring we were delighted to see that almost all our garlic made it through the winter and was thriving.

Having something come up in the Spring before you’ve even planted the rest of your vegetable garden was a great treat.  The early growth of garlic made me get excited for the coming growing season and start planning what else we were planting this year.

This week we started cutting the scapes from our garlic.  They are pretty and so far we’ve just used them as decorative items. They also have a lovely subtle garlic smell. I’m hoping experiment with different ways of cooking the scapes — adding them to a stir fry seems like the easiest option and will probably be what I try first.

Now that the scapes are cut we’re entering the homestretch and in a few weeks we’ll find out how our first foray into garlic has gone. Fingers crossed for a bountiful year.

Crafting and Never Ending Knitting

Years ago I helped teach Sunday School at the church my family attended.  The lesson plans often included a bible story followed by a short craft.  I vividly remember a small child laughing at my attempts to make a craft and pointing out how superior their craft was.  Needless to say my confidence in my crafting abilities is pretty low. Despite this I’ve taken on a few small craft projects in recent years – often as presents for Andrew.

I also started learning to knit a few years.  My first project was a small scarf.  I watched YouTube videos, pulled out lots of stitches, and eventually managed to knit a scarf that included knit and purl stitches.  It wasn’t perfect but I learned a lot and felt awesome for knitting something.

Not wanting to get too fancy for my second project I decided I would knit a blanket — blankets are just like huge scarves for your lap right?  Two years later I’m finally putting the finishing touches on this seemingly eternal knitting project.  I get marks for preserving, right?  I think I’ll pick something much smaller for my third knitting project.

Living Local: OutSpoken Brewing

I love finding local places that are unique, offer a great product, and owned by friendly people.  I think supporting local businesses and your local economy is important.  The “Living Local” series is inspired by this affection for local places and local products.  The series will highlight some of my favourite haunts, tasty eats, and miscellaneous local goodness.

If you hadn’t already guessed Andrew and I are beer drinkers. We recently sampled two beers from OutSpoken Brewing a microbrewery that recently opened in Sault Ste Marie.  Outspoken currently has limited storefront hours and sells by the growler and howler.  Your first growler is $20 and refills are $12-13.  We picked up two growlers from OutSpoken, one of Anvil Red Ale and one of Rabbit’s Foot IPA.

Surprisingly I enjoyed the Anvil Red Ale more than the IPA.  It was subtle, smooth drinking, and a lovely amber colour.  Andrew and I are looking forward to trying more selections from Outspoken — especially since they recently introduced expanded hours.