mid-winter garden inspiration

In the middle of this cold dreary winter it's hard to think ahead to spring!  Looking for some inspiration I turned to favourite garden quotations and pictures from last summer.  This one features my dear friend Bonez Poley's garden behind her dwelling which is one part house, one part punk-rock party venue *grin*


Green in the Snow

No wonder Suehlihung, a type of chinese mustard greens, are commonly known as "Green in the Snow"!
These incredibly tough, hardy, cold tolerant greens seem to be surviving the winter remarkably well under the blanket of wintery white we've finally gotten this year.  When they poke through I've been clipping small handfuls to garnish soups and stews - their usual sharp mustardy taste is a little milder and sweeter it seems, though still quite pungent.  Along with the amazing Suehlihung I also still have the everlasting and seemingly impossible to kill rainbow swiss chard that I think has got to be 2 seasons old now!  I just continue to cut the leaves back to the base and they continue to grow, snow and all.  Anyone who claims that it's "too anything" (cold, dry, short season, poor soil) to garden wherever they are can stuff it!  Mine 1 foot wide strip of disturbed land next to a parking spot and now under a layer of snow is clearly proving the odds are beatable.


everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink!

a windowgarden I had, once upon a time ago... now inspiration for future gardens :)


Niagara Seedy Saturday

It's happening again...

I sat down at the computer this afternoon and heard the unmistakable pip..skitter of a hard seed, falling out of my sleeve onto and across the table.  Not surprising really, considering I spent the day at an event called Seedy Saturday!  This day is like the New Years Eve of my growing year.  It won't be long now, before seeds are skittering everywhere and soil is tracked in underfoot.  The new season is almost, but not quite upon us and I feel the same excited glee that others might have felt at the holidays, unwrapping seed packets like presents and leaving my gifts for others, at the seed exchange table.

Seedy Saturday has a real warm and friendly feel to it.  I have to give huge thanks and congratulations to Linda Crago of Tree and Twig Heirlooms for that, she brings together wonderful experts, speakers, vendors and the people who attend round out a true community.  

I am incredibly lucky to have such wonderfully active friends in the local agricultural area and spending the day with these strong women is downright inspiring.  Two of them were speaking at the event - Elva, my dear friend at Rhizome Farms spoke about being a young farmer in Niagara.  It was really encouraging to hear another farmer, my age, speak about  the same struggles I've experienced, but also listening to the joys and accomplishments she's managed in just a short time longer than I've been growing.  She was followed by Tiffany Mayer, a local blogger I read and admire, who spoke about her residential fruit picking program: Garden of Eating Niagara.

Reason #632 that I had a great day at Seedy Saturday (no really, it was that good of a day) I got to meet one of my favourite bloggers - Karen of The Art of Doing Stuff, who was the 3rd speaker I managed to check out.  She was delightfully sarcastic in person, as she is in writing, but also quite heartfelt in how she conveyed her passion for her front yard garden (and illegal backyard chickens).

The swap table is my favourite but also most essential part of Seedy Saturday.  Every year I save more seed than the last and I try to take as much as I can spare to the swap table.  This year I managed to donate 30+ bags of seed, 15 types of tomatoes and the rest mostly beets and rapini since the last thing I did in the garden was let an entire planting of each go to seed.  I was there all day so I tried to spread out my donations every few hours.  Veggie seeds were slim pickings, but despite leaving the less abundant ones for others I still came away with a few very interesting specimens!  Yellow Pear tomatoes, Purple Orach mountain spinach, Tom Thumb popcorn, Elva's chives, and Karen hooked us up with some Cubit's Organic Rainbow carrots - I am now incredibly impatient for spring!  The rest of the afternoon  went by quickly, chatting with other passionate growers and seed savers and enjoying the company of even more friends - Keri and Laurie, organizers of Niagara VegFest and Tikvah, representing Niagara Community Garden Network.  I said it once before, but I have to say it again... spending the day with these strong women is downright inspiring.


COC Free Concert Series

I think one of the most radical things about living in a bigger city is the access to free (or cheap) cultural activities!  Don't get me wrong, when I go to see local bands I always pay the cover and I fully advocate for properly paying our musicians and artists when I'm acting as a community organizer.  But personally?  I don't have a ton of cash, and neither do many of the people I know - so programs like the Canadian Opera Company's Free Concert Series are a fantastic way for an underserved group of people to access classical music and fine performance arts, all on their lunch break! 
I had been meaning to visit Toronto for one of my days off, which for me are always weekdays so I had been keeping an eye on the COC's lunchtime and yes, free events.  I'll admit - I wanted to see dance, ballet or some kind of physical performance because as you can see the space is fantastic.  The stars aligned differently, however, and I ended up seeing Stephen B. Hargreaves on piano.

Variations on 1930 - American pianist, harpsichordist and conductor Stephen B. Hargreaves presents a colourful snapshot of the year 1930 with an eclectic program ranging from piano music by Copland (Piano Variations), Britten (Three Character Pieces), and Kodály (Dances of Marrosszék) to Art Tatum’s transcription of Tea for Two.

Within your own community I would highly suggest keeping an eye on public event listings in the paper, online classifieds and even facebook for free or inexpensive cultural outings.  Adding a little bit of traditional arts performance to your life routine can be incredibly enriching and inspiring :)