I've been busy with school, learning about Natural Insect Control and ran out of time to think up any new dress up ideas.  So this year was, appropriately .. Round II for the Beneficial Ladybug costume!  Now with ladybug stockings as well :)  Ladybugs are beneficial to gardeners and greenhouse growers because they are a natural predator of all sorts of icky pests we don't want: aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites!



featuring Jere Gettle (@rareseeds) of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds


Mossy Boneyard Terrarium

-----(Inspired by @LarkCrafts post TheGraveyardShift)-----



keep calm & scary on

Jessica posted this quirky free printable on her blog Craftily Ever After and it was just the thing for my daily Halloween fix!  Everything in my life is scary these days from my mummy cycling gloves to my scarred tomatoes and purple cauliflower (look closer for some more Halloween finger food .. mwa ha ha ha!)

(this is a repost from last year .. school is keeping me busy!)


Creepy Spider Eggs

Great healthy but grim looking halloween snack: hard boiled spider eggs (can also pass for dinosaur eggs).  Frozen blueberries stain the imprint of cracked eggshells but magically leave no taste!  Hard boil eggs as usual, but with frozen blueberries in the boiling water.  After the eggs are mostly cooked, but still a teeny bit soft - crack them with a spoon and return them to the blueberry water.  Let them sit in the stain at least until they cool but preferably overnight.  Carefully peel the shells, but leave some behind for a "just hatched" effect if you like.  Serve with pepper and grey sea salt for extra-goulish presentation!

(Repost from last year.. busy w school!)


Dusty Bones

Today in Annuals&Perennials class we talked about Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)  An underrated plant with a chalky texture, silvery colour and skeletal appearance, its a perfect plant for a Halloween themed potted container!  And since its the end of the season its time to clean these annuals out of the beds anyways so I re-potted the best specimens (those not gone to seed).  Julia wrote a tutorial for this excellent idea on her blog SnarkyVegan, all I needed was a halloween container and a few skeletal pieces from the dollar store.  I also found some fabulous realistic looking severed fingers and a matching lime green container with spooky cats and bats so look for another Halloween themed container coming soon!


Greenhouse Cats

Super busy day at school today, so no post .. just pictures of greenhouse cats!


Documentary: The Cove

Its been a while since I saw a documentary that really really turned my worldview on end.  I've been watching The Cove, 2010 Oscar Winner for best documentary and a truly frightening film .. both fascinating and harrowing.
Since I was very young, I've loved dolphins .. but I formed my very own opinions about using them as an attraction after my one and only visit to Marine Land as a small child.  I vowed to never visit dolphin parks, made my mum buy dolphin friendly tuna and boycotted the movie Free Willy.  I had some wonderful encounters with these breathtaking creatures in the wild though!  I've watched dolphins from boats off the coasts of Atlantic Canada and New England and from the beaches of the south-eastern US.  While kayaking in Alaska a few curious ones followed us into the channel and they seemed to love playing in the cruise ship wakes.  In Scotland, we stood way high up atop a coastal castle and saw pods jumping, playing and racing across the ocean coves.  Swimming with captive dolphins in a small pool pales in comparison with what my brother and I experienced in South Carolina: there, as we waded and swam along the sandy beaches, wild dolphins approached my brother taunting him by cheekily surfacing in front and behind him one at a time as he turned around .. and what made it so special is that THEY chose to swim with HIM.  There's no question in my mind, these animals belong in the wild, exercising their own free will.

So when The Cove aired this week on CBC's The Passionate Eye, I was really interested to check it out.  I had heard the Oscar buzz, but I've found documentaries lacking in effort and depth lately.  Too many docs I've seen lately reuse stock news footage, internet searches and still images wound around poorly researched or tenuously connected stories.  This movie however, stunned me!  Its less of a documentary and more like an adventure suspense drama and while admittedly one sided, this film is definately well researched and thought provoking.  But it doesn't stop there.  The Cove is an excellent documentary, but it would be great as an action spy thriller!

note: this is the trailer, CLICK HERE to watch the whole film

National Geographic photographer and founder of the Ocean Preservation Society, Louie Psihoyos, leads the high-stakes caper along with the renowned former dolphin trainer of Flipper fame, Richard O'Barry.  Joining them is world champion free diver Mandy-Rae Cruickshank who dives under the cover of darkness to place underwater recording devices and ingenious fake rocks with hidden cameras provided by yes, Industrial Light and Magic!  Night-vision cameras and thermal binoculars capture this dangerous logistical operation with tactical precision.  Deserving of its Oscar-winning status, this documentary plays out like a Hollywood espionage drama but never looses the guerilla journalism roots.

To me, the most stunning scene is the concluding one.  If you don't watch any other part, watch this.
This is an effective form of protest. Walking into the International Whaling Comission's packed conference room with a video monitor strapped to his chest, Richard O'Barry plays the extremely graphic footage for the previously unaware voting delegates that decide the fate of the oceans.  In the next shot he stands with the video monitor playing the same horros in the middle of a busy Japanese crossing, taking the message directly to the people.  Making the powers that be and the populous masses very uncomfortable and aware of a problem they cannot deny is a far more effective form of change than angrily waving signs.

MORE INFO: http://www.savejapandolphins.org || http://www.thecovemovie.com ||


Is it International Cake-in-a-Mug Day or something?

First, at 7:30 @seannalexander posted this WIRED how-to for Cake in a Mug (which I'm sure he found on reddit) then later this evening, just before 10:00 @Chelsey2point0 whipped up this recipe and posted a picture!  MMM!  Its driving me nuts, such a good idea and looks so simple & yummy but I don't have the ingredients grr well I'll have to try it out soon :)


Instant Art - Printable Botanical

I have been looking for a way to craft quickly and keep my home looking lovely without taking too much time away from studying.  Crafting with botanicals also keeps my mind on the Annual & Perennial latin names I should be learning .. eep!  Karen (@graphicsfairy) over at a wonderful site also called *The Graphics Fairy* found this superb vintage Lavender image from the 1852 Encyclopedia of Useful and Ornamental Plants and she has kindly made it available in a high resolution PDF, ready to print and frame!  I printed mine onto contact paper and pasted it onto my clipboard with a matching lavender coloured mini binder clip.


Cedarway Floral (Beamsville)

Last year, just as the workload was getting to me .. I focused on the benefits of being a horticulture student. This year its even worse!  Our final year in Greenhouse Technology is by far the most work I've ever done in my life.  I'm up from day break to well after midnight most days - with class and practical work, growing crops, reading and researching, and a dizzying number of early morning field trips.  

Today, we had to be in Beamsville at Cedarway Floral's greenhouses before 8am to visit a grower, graduate of our program, which wouldn't be too bad if I hadn't been up all night finishing other homework.  eep!  Waking up in darkness day after day while its getting colder and wetter is challenging .. but when I stepped into the warmpth, light and colour of a Gerbera daisy production facility .. I realized things could be far worse :)  They grow over 50 varieties, in a rainbow of colours and the clear glass greenhouse let in all the sun as it rose.  Although I had to take notes and "learn stuff", it was a pretty lovely relaxing break from lectures.  Plus I took home a charming bouquet of dusty rose coloured minis!


Lovely Libraries

These adorable lil notebooks are a fun way to use up some square graph paper scraps I had lying around and the mid 90s library cards from the front and the back of some withdrawn library books found at the Banana Box Booksale earlier this summer!  Caitlin of the blog Packagery has a very straightforward tutorial that I will direct you to should you want to make your own :)

On the Library note: @stcathlibrary had some great Urban Farming inspiration
  • Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato (Arthur Allen)
  • The Scavenger's Manifesto (Anneli Rufus, Kristan Lawson)
  • Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry (Madhur Anand, Adam Dickinson)
  • Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Novella Carpenter)
  • Pickled, Potted & Canned (Sue Shephard)
  • City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing (Lorraine Johnson)


Deadly Delicacies

Last week I went back out to Linda (@treeandtwig)'s market heirloom farm to pick up seeds for our tomato research project but just in time for Halloween month she's got some treacherous, evil looking plants! oo00o0o0oooo 

Prickly punishing to pick Horned Melons (left) are also known as Hedgehog gourds for their hostile exteriors, but the lime green jelly coated seeds inside are worth the torment.  Then there's the treacherous, no, downright hazardous Morelle de Balbis (right) .. covered in thorns, the stems, the leaves, even the husks of the gory red fruits won't yield to harvest without drawing blood!


Mini Market Quiches

3/4 cup grated cheese
3/4 cup broccoli
4 slices bacon, cooked & diced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
12 pre-made tart shells

Preheat oven to 375°F.  In medium bowl, combine cheese, broccoli, bacon, eggs, milk and season to taste.  Stir until well blended.  Pour mixture into baked shells .. bake on middle oven rack for 20 - 25 minutes, or until set.  

The only ingredient not from the market was pre-made tart shells shells from No-Frills


Pickin N Grinnin

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Johnston's Cranberry Marsh 'Pickin N Grinnin' by Riley Lake Productions


5 minute lamp makeover

Another super easy and quick autumn project!  I was collecting beautiful leaves outside and wanted to display their colours in the same luminous way they look with the warm sunlight streaming through them.  I simply inverted a vase over my lamp base and used a thin elastic to secure a handful of them around... then a few acorns for accent and voila!


the Dreaded Deadly Dots!

I've been taking Applied Plant Pathology this semester, so when @anneheathen tweeted that her tree was "diseaaaaaaaased" it was great practice to try and help her out :)  She posted some photos and a description of the "Dreaded Spots" on her maple trees, and I immediately recognized the culprit shudders Tar Spot.

We actually just discussed this unfortunate problem in class. Its caused by a fungus (Rhytisma) and doesn’t cause any long term health problems for the tree but its certainly ugly isn’t it?  Here its shown on Norway Maples, which is one of the reasons I dislike this tree as a municipal street tree.  The diseased leaves store the fungus over the winter and in the wet of the spring the spores that spread it are produced and carried to new trees where they begin the infection again. They don’t actually spread “the Dreaded Spots” by touching.. best way to control it is to rake up the gross leaves now and get them AWAY from your yard.  To answer Anne's last question: LoL no its not Lupus!


Canadian Greenhouse Conference -- Day 2

Spent a second full day at #cgc11 -- what a valuable opportunity!  There's some interesting and exciting new things going on in the greenhouse industry from beneficial biological pest control to state of the art technology.  My favourite booth today featured this awesome Vegetable Lady made by (I believe) the wife of Howard Huy, Leamington vegetable grower and representative of RZH Canada.  Also on display were some of the more unusual tomato genetics available from Rijk Zwaan: a coeur de boeuf 'Rugantino' with deep furrows that was just introduced this year, and a green-ripening slicing tomato 'Montenegro.  I received some great information from Gus Mastronardi about some of the concerns facing atypical production that might be relevant to our tomato research project :)


Dressing your garden from head to toe with..

Hort Couture!  A fast growing plant brand I've been hearing about from my American garden blogging friends has now hit Canada with local greenhouse suppliers, JVK as the broker.  This line of branded plant products and genetics will available exclusively .. only to the independent, local growers and garden retailers!  What other brand can say that?
This display, a cute lil french cafe of a booth won best in show at the Canadian Greenhouse Conference, so clearly the branding is catching eyes.  You may or may not like the fashionista marketing that the brand first launched (I happen to) with "Runway Ready Grasses" and "Fashion Plate" pot trays .. but this year's line of "Under the Sea" is really unique and interesting.  I was also pretty impressed with the diversity of their Culinary Couture vegetable line.  There's something to be said for trialing and testing an exclusive line of novel genetics, then keeping them out of the hands of the big guys .. these plants are unique and proven regardless of what they're wrapped up in.

I'm not usually a huge fan of coleus but I'd certainly mix n match these three with their funny crustacean-esque names -- L to R: Molten Coral, Bone Fish & Langostino


Caravan Palace / Electro-swing

Today, along with 100s of others on the interwebs (thanks to reddit) I discovered Caravan Palace a Parisian electro-swing fusion ensemble.  I also found out that theres actually a genre for all the music I love .. big band brass, swing, jazz, charleston and jive with a speakeasy era flair all rolled up into one mixed up with modern, electronic beats accentuating bass rhythms and percussion breaks.  One commenter said it particularly wellSome groups decide to take old songs and spice them up with their own flavor while others create unique compositions, regardless of style these groups create something incredibly rhythmic and powerful that seems to emanate nostalgia for bygone days yet brings a sexy modern flair that will leave you tapping your foot for days.

Parov Stelar is one of the leading acts in this genre, but Caravan Palace is my particular favourite, especially since they met providing soundtracks to silent "racy" movies!  They do fit that silent movie, vintage era feel but with a modern remixed vibe.  The original track that sparked the discussion is a great one: the Jupiter remix from Caravan Palace's new EP Clash but I also love the video for their track Suzy -- it reminds me of Futurama meets Betty Boop!  The reddit post is most certainly worth reading, a great breakdown of the electro-swing genre and a whole bunch of really rad links :)


Ornamental Grass Video

@gardenmaking asked me via twitter, to take a look at this video and I'm glad I did!  There's some great ideas for gardening with ornamental grasses.  Considering the late warm season we're having its not too late to plant some grassy gardens :) and its neat its neat to see places I've been (Niagara Parks) or growers studied in my classes (Valleybrook)


Superstructures: Nature Under Glass

I've been watching a great documentary about The Eden Project the largest greenhouse in the world: technologically advanced and an engineering marvel!

A strange structure is taking shape in the rolling green hills of southern England: Engineers are building "Eden".  A sixty metre deep crater is being capped with space-age plastic domes that will be home to thousands of rare plants. The lightweight galvanized steel tubular frames are going up to form enormous self-supporting shells.


Halloween Apothecary

#halloween is my favourite holiday!  I love spooky mysterious things, dressing up, dark nights and the chill of coming winter ooo0o0oooo I'll have any number of halloween crafts coming up over the next month but here's one of my favourites from last year .. and I just took the jars out of the cupboard for this year :)   
Using translucent label paper to mimic frosted glass, I printed menacing labels from Martha Stewart's free halloween clip art collection.  The common culprits in my kitchen masquerade as far more deadly concoctions: rock salt becomes Volcanic Rock Dust, baking soda transforms into its Cyanide counterpart, white cleaning vinegar stands in for a lethal "one finger" Gin cocktail and yes that's deadly dishsoap with the floating skull!

Here are the links to Martha's free clipart 
(I modified them slightly for my own uses)