Garden 2.0

New Garden Plot

Originally uploaded by j-co

Labour Day weekend is traditionally the last summer cottage hurrah. While our weekend was tempered with a glorious lobster feast and a shopping trip to catch the Labour Day sales, we did a serious dose of work on the garden. Garden 2.0, that is.

With a full 6 months of gardening experience behind us we are using this end-of-growing-season time to re-evaluate many things about our first-ever garden. We did a highly scientific comparison of the sunniest spots on our property (which mostly consisted of squinting into the sky and arguing) and decided that the spot we chose this year for our garden had some good qualities, but was far from perfect.

The other thing we figured out is that we don’t have the “perfect” spot for a garden on our property so we’ll probably have to make do with a few different plots in different places for different things.

To that end we identified what we think is the sunniest spot which is at the end of the lawn right on the border with the farmed acreage. This might be the best place for the things that really need sun to thrive like tomatoes, peppers and, of course, sunflowers.

We also took some very sage advice (pun intended) and transplanted our herb garden to the plot right behind the house and right outside the kitchen door. This will make it easy to pop outside for fresh herbs while in the midst of cooking.

We did a rather drastic weeding job on this plot, as you can see from the photo. The entire area you see as dirt was covered with Japanese lanterns which can be lovely in small does but which had gone completely wild. We reduced them substantially in order to plant some new perennials and create another of our several garden plots. What’s great about this area is the soil–it’s rich, dark and easy to manipulate, nothing like the clumpy clay of our previous garden plot in the sheep paddock. We added several new perennials that we hope will thrive here and keep the Japanese lanterns at bay, as well as transplanted the herbs and planted 20 head of garlic.

Most interesting with this plot is the archeological discovery: a foundation from an old woodshed or similar. The foundation, in addition to being a lovely relic from past incarnations of the house and the people who lived here, is also a great boundary marker for our new perennial garden.

Now, we’ll just have to wait and see another year for the verdict on this particular patch of ground and what thrives and what dies. This whole gardening thing requires an awful lot of patience!


Main Street, Lodi

Lodi Museum on Main Street

Lodi Museum on Main Street

We have some friends from Lodi visiting us in Ottawa this weekend and it was great to show them the sights like the Tulip Festival and the Parliament buildings. But it’s also great to catch up on everything that’s going on in Lodi from thier perspective, to get the news and hear about what’s been going on recently.

Now there’s always lots going on in a small town, but what’s funny about Lodi is that there is not much in terms of commerce on our Main Street so you don’t neccessarily see the activity on of the town on the Main Street. Apart from the post office, there aren’t a lot of chances for people to meet in town to see each other and chat, like a coffee shop or a diner or a grocery store.

Over the years there have been lots of different businesses that have come and gone on Main Street of Lodi of course. My dad remembers when he was little and there was a large dry good store and hardware store on Main St. I remember when I was little there was always a little corner store on Main St. where you could pick up milk, bread, the newspaper etc. Actually, when I was little the main things I was getting at the store were Atomic Fireball candies and Italian Ices.

There are curently no businesses on Main St. except for the Post Office and the Eagle Hotel, which is a bar and serves a fish fry on Friday nights and other dinner items on Saturday nights. The bar and the dining room are in different areas of the building, and in fact the hotel portion is no longer in operation, but it’s one of the oldest establishments in Lodi. There are several other store fronts, one of which is now occupied by the Lodi Musuem, which was opened last year. It’s a lovely little building stuffed with local lore and artifacts.

There is a building that was recently purchased which we all beleived was being turned into a microbrewery. They did a lovely job of redoing the facade but it has sat empty for a few years now. We were speculating as to the reasons, but no one knew for sure what’s going on there. It would be so cool to complement the great wineries in the area with a microbrewery and to draw more people to Main Street.

Tonight we all agreed that locals could really benefit from having a small grocery store or corner store. The nearest store is at least 5 miles away, which is not far, but a bit of a pain nonetheless. It would also be lovely to have a little coffee shop or bakery, maybe a gift shop where you could pick up Wine Trail information… so if there are any budding entrepreneurs out there, think of Lodi as a prime spot, ready for some local businesses!

The Home Farm House

A Painting of our House on Main St., Lodi by Floyd Covert

A Painting of our House on Main St., Lodi by Floyd Covert

Our house on Main Street in Lodi dates back from about 1850. This is the house that my grandmother grew up in from the time she was little, though not the first house she lived in. This is the house that my dad and my uncle grew up in and the house that my grandmother lived in until she died at 94 years old.

My uncle lived in this house when he retired from his job as an art professor in Boston. Certainly he had to make some adjustments to his lifestlye when he moved from Boston to Lodi. He lived there for about 10 years before he passed away. The house has had many inhabitants over the years going back through three generations of my family. It’s pretty cool that we’re still enjoying this beautiful house that’s seen so much of my family history.

I’ve grown up in this house as well, though only through visiting at Christmas and during the summers. I have hundreds of memories from the house, like the great meals my grandmother used to make, many Christmas mornings and dressing up in her fancy clothes.

The house is quite big and clearly not laid out the way contemporary houses are. There are 6 bedrooms and three living rooms, in addition to a kitchen and dining room, large screened in porch and, to top it all off (pardon the pun) a cupola on the top of the house. What’s a bit funny about the house is the fact that many of the bedrooms lead into each other without a central hallway. For example, to get to the bathroom you have to go through someone else’s bedroom. This is not the kind of layout that would fly these days, but there’s not a whole lot we can do about it now.

The formal living room

The formal living room

My grandmother used to rent out a portion of the house for many years. Because the house is so big, whole sections can be blocked off and seperated out. There is actually a small kitchen on second floor which allowed my grandmother to rent out a kind of an apartment up there, with 2 bedrooms and access to the bathroom, in addition to the small kitchen. My dad remembers a time that the front portion of the house on the main floor where there is a living room, bedroom and bathroom was rented out as well.

The house has gone through a lot of changes over the years, as witnessed by the numbers of doors that are no longer in use. There are at least two on the main floor that are not used anymore, one in the front and one in the back. However there haven’t been too many significant upgrades to modern amenities, so it still feels like a very old house, the one I remember from my childhood.

The Wallpaper Store

The old sign from the Wallpaper Store

The old sign from the Wallpaper Store

I remember when my grandmother had a business selling wallpaper from the building across the street from her house on Main St. in Lodi. It wasn’t a store as much as it was a place where ancient wallpaper was stored with a sign on the door that said something along the lines of “If you want to buy some wallpaper, come across the street and knock on the door and if I’m there I’ll sell you some wallpaper.” I do remember someone arriving at the door once with such an intention. It was probably in the 80s sometime.

My grandmother’s wallpaper business was something she inherited from her father. He ran a bigger operation out of that building back when wallpaper was more ubiquitous in home decor. She also ran a millinery business in the same building before the wallpaper business. Why someone would give up fashioning stylish headpieces for boring old wallpaper I’ll never know. Maybe it was at the end of the hat era.¬†Last summer we found some ancient records from the wallpaper business among the piles of artifacts and other stuff.

Before the building’s incarnation as a wallpaper store it was accommodation for hired men who worked on my family’s farm. This is going back to the early part of the 20th century when my grandfather had a large commercial farm with crops and livestock. This building was given some cosmetic upgrades by my uncle in the 90s, but still has no indoor plumbing, as it dates back to the outhouse era.

In most recent history, the Wallpaper Store was my uncle’s art studio. He was an artist and art teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art and Designin Boston for 40 years and retired to Lodi in the mid-90s. Since my uncle’s passing about 3 years ago, the studio has become storage for his artwork as well as¬†accumulated furniture and stuff from the various properties.

This weekend we needed to ask a friend in Lodi to go in and turn on the heat in the studio because we don’t want the cold to ruin all of my uncle’s artwork or anything else that’s stored in there. The items stored in here now may not be valuable in the monetary sense, but precious in terms of our family legacy.