Just placed my annual order with Hope Seeds, a small operation in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia that sells heirloom and open-pollinated seeds grown in Atlantic Canada. I’ve been buying from them for over a decade and like that I can buy small quantities. They will also often throw in a package of seed leftover from previous years for me to try, which is a pretty sweet bonus.
I had given up on growing garlic a few years ago as I never managed to get my act together to plant it in the fall, and spring-sown garlic just doesn’t do well in my yard. I was organized enough to place an order late last summer and chose a rocambole variety called Phillips. The bonus packet Hope Seeds chose to send with that garlic might well have been a coincidence, but I like to think someone just couldn’t resist the temptation to send this combo to me. Small really is better.
Our hens spend a lot of time roaming around our yard in the summer, and the little plants that pop up in the vegetable garden are very tempting treats. Stern warnings and pleading has not deterred those little eating machines, so some sort of physical barrier was in order.
I found some rolls of page wire in our woods a few years ago and dug them out last month. There were four sections, all basically sunk into to the the ground and firmly attached with tree roots. My best guess is that the original fence was built some time in the 1930s and could have been taken down after the 1960 West Prince Forest Fire when what had been farm fields was allowed to grow up into the forest that surrounds us now. The wire is old and rusty, kind of brittle, but good enough for what I need. It was easy to find enough small spruce trees that had blown over in the woods to make the fence posts and so I’m now putting my rickety fence together.
The person who rolled up each length of fence made sure that it was well secured, the ends wound around to hold the roll together. I wonder who took the fence down and what they thought would happen to the page wire? I wonder what they would make of using page wire to keep hens out of a vegetable garden (I know the answer: it’s a dumb idea because chickens can go through page wire, which is really meant for cows and horses…I have a plan, though!).
The hooks all broke as I straightened them, but the fence is good enough, and I’m happy the wire is being used after decades of sitting and waiting for me to find a use for it.
Last week I found out just how much chickens LOVE hostas. For some reason they ignored them for the past four years, but this year have been nibbling the new shoots to the ground. I now have various pieces of chicken wire propped around what remains of the poor plants and will hope for the best.
Today while I was weeding and edging a flowerbed, older hens Anni-Frid and Agnetha stood by as ususal to eat any worms or insects I uncovered, but they also plucked the annoying black flies that encircled my head. I guess a few flat hostas in exchange for pest control is sort of worth it. Sort of.
For all the new bakers and gardeners out there, two useful hints I’ve learned over my time dabbling in both pursuits:
If you have planted more than one seed in a pot and only want one plant (think tomatoes and squash, not parsley or basil), snip the ones you don’t want with scissors rather than pulling them out. The roots of the little plants will often be intertwined and you’ll end up dislodging the one you want to keep as you tug out their potmates.
Your recipe probably won’t tell you this, but always sift cocoa that is going into cakes or brownies. Even the freshest cocoa clumps together, and those clumps are hard to break up once you incorporate wet ingredients.