Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Home Garden for Food Security

Cheery Crocus and Narcissus
With the explosion of Covid-19 and a World Health Emergency, we must learn to live a new normal. I've heard from numerous friends who are ramping up their food production this year. In Linda Gilkesons latest letter, she mentioned receiving many emails from first time gardeners wanting to grow food in this year of the pandemic.

We are so grateful to live on Denman Island where much of our small population lives isolated on a normal day. For many of us, growing food is part of our life here and for me, a big part of my heritage that started with my grandparents in 1919.
Garlic Bed; excess mulch removed & watered~Mar. 21, 2020

We are already experiencing climate change. Extremes of hot, dry summers then cold and snow in winter. Hmm, I moved here to get away from that!! The past few years I've noticed how dry it is in March. Last year I didn't notice it until the garlic was limp and leaf tips were turning yellow. We have had a stretch of cold nights lately, so I haven't checked the garden since the carrot harvest. Several days ago I removed the top maple leaf mulch from the strawberry and garlic beds and hooked up the water system. The strawberries, garlic, kale and rosemary were all in need of water on March 21st.
Strawberry Bed; maple leaf top mulch removed
The strawberries have a good start already, even though they were under the maple leaf mulch. Notice in the foreground where the leaf mulch has been removed from covering the plants. Compared to the top right of the photo where the plants are still totally covered with winter mulch. At this point it's really easy to also pull up the little maple trees that have started. A small price to pay for the benefit of the winter mulch! Maple leaves are free, with a bit of raking and bagging they provide a fluffy mulch for the winter rain and snow. I keep extra bags on hand for when the weather gets too cold or if snow is predicted. In that case, an extra layer is piled on the beds and also used to cover the carrot and beet tops. If the mulch gets packed down, another layer of fluffy leaves gives added cold weather protection.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Before all the Covid-19 restrictions and our plunging Canadian Dollar, I ordered some unusual seeds from a very interesting company called Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. I placed my order on March 5th 2020, shipping was free and the parcel arrived 11 days later. I was impressed! Their catalogue is huge and colorful with the most incredible photography, I was salivating after looking through the melon and fruit pages!! I put in a small order of some unusual vegetables; 'Taiwan Yard-Long Beans', 'Little Gem Lettuce' and 'Thai Double Blue Butterfly Pea' ... and a few new winter varieties to try; 'Green Mountain Winter Celtuce' and 'Kyoto Red Carrots'. Every order is sent with a free packet of seed and I got 'Rouge D'Hiver Lettuce', a French Heirloom red romaine winter lettuce. A few of the unusual edible flowers I wanted were already sold out. If you're into heirloom, non-GMO, unusual or rare seeds, take a look through their website. Unfortunately now is probably not a good time to order, but it is entertaining and exciting to browse their collection of seeds.
Bald Eagle down feathers

On my walk near the Eagle nest I found what I think is Bald Eagle down feathers. The most amazing, soft, wispy yet strong strands. To show size, the down is on the finger tip of my black wool glove. The Eagles have been very loud with the female in the nest, hopefully on eggs and the male hanging out in the perch tree. It is exciting entertainment!

Our household has been under self isolation since March 17th 2020. I can't think of a better place to be. We are saddened and shocked with the daily News. We live in such peace and beauty, it's hard to fathom the suffering and loss in the world right now. It is a strange and uncertain time living in the Covid-19 pandemic ... please, take physical distancing as a serious matter, stay home unless it's absolutely essential, keep two meters away from the next person and avoid groups ... all to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus and ease the burden on our health care workers. Continue to follow regular, thorough hand washing and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. There are vulnerable people everywhere and we want to do our part to protect everyone.  

Until next time... Please stay healthy and be safe... Bon App├ętit!
Photos by Sally Rae

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