Garden Pic #1

This year we decided to triple our garden adventures and what does that mean? Why triple the work, of course! I think I’m *just* starting to recover now.

We had a lot of great successes but instead of going into great descriptive detail about them I’m going to post a series of photos of our recent gardening odyssey.

First up: the trip up to the Countryside Produce Amish Market for our seedlings.

Plants in the trunk on thier way to thier new life in our garden in Lodi

Plants in the trunk on their way to their new life in our garden in Lodi

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Organizing the Garden Shed

Garden Tools

Garden Tools

So next weekend is our first trip to Lodi in a while–in fact, I think since November. We have a lot of work to do to get the garden ready for the year but we will probably not get to do too much of that because it’s still a bit too early in the season.

I have a couple of goals however that I think could really help us get ready and organized for the coming garden season. I would like to whip our garden shed into shape and arrange tools, shelves and other materials so that when it comes to the hard work we have everything at the ready.

Last year had a large amount of gardening equipment already on the premises which was kind of surprising since it was the first year we created a garden and also not at all surprising because our garden is on a farm.

However the hoes, rakes, shovels, stakes, gloves, spades and posts lived in any one of four different locations at any time: the garage, the far end of the second barn, the near end of the first barn or the woodshed. Which makes for inefficient work patterns, grumpiness and conversations like this:

“Where’s the _______?”
“I don’t know, look in the barn”
“Which barn”
“The big barn”
“It’s not there”
“Look in the other barn”
“It’s not there either”
“Look in the shed”
“Oh forget it I’ll use my boot”

Or similar.

I also think that having clear and consistent places for your precious equipment leads to an attitude of better care for your tools. For those of us (me) who were (rightfully) reprimanded for leaving potato forks in the ground overnight thus leading to rust could use some reminding of how to best care for the gardening equipment.

So going into this new season I have a vision of a perfectly organized shed where the tools hang in their rightful places, the materials are piled neatly and I can *always* find my gloves. “Anyone seen my gloves?” “Look in the barn.” “Which barn?” etc…

Anyone have any advice on successfully organizing a garden shed? We need all the help we can get!

The Seed Catalogues Have Arrived!

Seed packets

Seed packets

A few months ago my aunt suggested that it was time to order free seed catalogues in order to prepare for the coming gardening season.

I scoffed and retorted that until I am a more seasoned gardener I won’t be growing much from seed. A few failed experiments last year were enough to (break my heart and*) reassure me that my gardening skill needs a helping hand in the form of pre-started plants.

However, I did take her advice for no other reason than ordering seed catalogues in winter has the same affect that the Sears Wish Book used to have in September: you flip through the pages slowly with pure wonder and joy imagining what great times lie ahead.

I also decided that the seed catalogues would be a great way to do research on different varieties of plants and to solidify what we can plant next year. This “planning” took the form of me cutting out pictures of all the things I’d like to consider growing (again, Sears Wish Book flashback). I roughly chopped out photos of crisp pickling cukes, luscious ripe strawberries adorned with tiny white flowers, handsome husked tomatillos and adorable orange cherry tomatoes while I flipped right by things like broccoli, cauliflower and page after page of squashes and gourds.

Now that I have all of these funny little cutouts I intend to paste them into a scrapbook or perhaps (if I get really organized) a to-scale plan of the garden so that I can see what this garden-to-be might look like. I admit this whole idea is a bit grade 3 arts-and-crafts but it’s giving me a visual representation of my dream garden. And it doesn’t hurt that looking at lush greenery helps take the mind of the many days of flurries and overcast skies that we must endure before getting to the time we’ll actually breaking ground on our garden.

*Ok, saying my heart was broken by my failed seed planting is admittedly a bit melodramatic, but somewhat well-founded. I took it in my head last spring that I wanted to replicate a lovely flower bed that my grandma had tended for years but which now sprouts only a few valiant tulips every spring. I was seduced by the colours on the seed packets and drawn in by the promise of bright, spiky dahlia, cheery shasta daisy and fragrant blue sage. And what did I get? Nada. Zero flowers even sprouted and the dream of gardening in my grandmother’s muddy footprints evaporated.

My other failed seed planting is a two-time lack of sunflowers. Sunflowers seem like a no-brainer: everyone has them. They grow like 8 feet high. And the two times I’ve planted them from seed I’ve gotten no where.

I love sunflowers. Their constant cheerfulness at their slightly absurd height is downright heartwarming. I want to grow them! But sunflowers remain my great white whale, though I vow to conquer them oooooone daaaayyyyy *stands on deck of ship shaking fist in air*

Lodi Resolutions 2010

Garden Bounty

Garden Bounty

Well this is the time of year that we make resolutions and set goals for the year to come, and I thought I’d jot down some areas of improvement for our various Lodi projects for 2010.

First of all, this blog was a New Year’s resolution for 2009 but I resolve to continue to blog about Lodi because I get a lot out of the experience. Plus I think I enjoy a pretty special niche in the blogosphere as one of the very few Lodi bloggers. 😉

Here are a few other goals for Lodi projects in 2010
1) The Golding Farm. This is a big one, but the improvements we made to the Golding Farm property last year were so great that we need to capitalize on this momentum and push through to get things up to a level of being able to rent it out for vacationers. This is no small feat and will take more strategizing, investment and elbow grease, but suffice it to say that Golding Farm improvements are definitely a big goal for 2010.

2) Garden goals
-better organization of garden plots: I want to apply a little more logical structure to the garden next year and plant things in cohesive rows instead of amorphous blobs.
-better labeling of everything we plant in the garden, by name and variety
-better assessment of garden hits and misses (i.e. this variety of tomato is better than this other one) in order to make more informed choices in the future
-grow tomatillos. I got hooked on salsa verde last year and so really want to grow our own tomatillos to keep the supply coming!

3) More and better canning and preserving. One thing I learned as a byproduct of doing the actual gardening was what to do with the stuff you grow. In 2010 I want to be even more strategic about dealing with the fruits (ahem, pun intended) of our labours and improve the ways we preserve the great food we grow. More sauces, jams, salsas, chutneys… here we come!

4) continued improvement of Home Farm grounds. In 2010 I want to continue the work we’ve done on some of the perennial patches on the grounds. We need to tame the raspberry/fern/lily patch right outside the back door of the house in the first set of improvements. I also would like to work my way around the property identifying areas of healthy perennials and removing the weeds to let them grow. This may be a long term project… but we have to start somewhere.

5) create a tame raspberry patch. There is a lot of wild raspberry around our property and I have a theory that if we can tame it and tend it properly it will actually yield delicious raspberries. I will test this theory in 2010 and maybe by 2011 there will be crazy amounts of fruit to allow for Resolution #3.

Ok Coverts–any other Lodi Resolutions you can think of? Getting the tractor going this year, perhaps?

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!

Summer Visitors




Tomatoes from the garden for dinner

Originally uploaded by j-co

This summer has been the summer of visitors to Lodi. I don’t know why, but we’ve been lucky enough to have a steady stream of friends visiting Lodi for summer mini-breaks over the last month or so.

Most recently we had a house full of 8, including 2 kids, and we had a wonderful time lounging about the house, poking around in the barns, swimming in the lake and touring around the area.

My friends said they had no idea the Finger Lakes were so close, which I think is part of the reason people love coming here: it’s still a relatively unknown little hidden gem of a vacation spot. It’s odd because it is so close to many larger cities: only 5 hours from both NYC and Toronto, 4.5 hours from Ottawa, 6 or so hours from Boston.

I love to show my friends around Lodi and the area. There is so much family history that the stories are amazingly realistic when you can say “My grandfather’s Wallpaper store was right there, across the street”. I feel proud and happy to have the luxury of being so clearly connected to my ancestors and their lives.

Most fun, of course, is showing off the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes with the rolling hills, vineyards and amazing lake views. The wineries are always enjoyable to visit and so convenient with 20 or so within a 20-mile stretch of Route 414 near Lodi. There are fabulous restaurants featuring ingredients procured from local farmers. And there’s always the outlet mall for a little retail therapy, if that’s what you need.

But best of all is gathering together with friends and infusing this house that’s seen so much of my family history over 100 years with the laughter of children, the smells of great meals cooking with ingredients picked fresh from the garden and the enjoyment of warm, wonderful friendship.

So, when are you coming?

Garden Hits and Misses

The Deer Repellant

The Deer Repellant

The garden has been in full swing for about a month and things are going well so far… for the most part. We’ve had some great triumphs and a few challenges, mostly of the pest variety.

The tomatoes and the potatoes are going great guns. They are getting the most sun and they are growing tall. We’ve been dilligently tending to the garden and I’ve found that removing the suckers is an important chore on the tomato plants. These are little baby leaves that grow between the larger branches and they are called suckers because they suck nutrients away from the plants. We have lots of flowers which I hope will yield a fantastic crop of tomatoes.

Some unfortunate victims include the coriander, lettuce, parsley and nightflower. We thought at first that the culprit was deer, then slugs clearly were feasting on the lettuce specifically, but I also caught some birds munching away. So it’s safe to saw we’re being ambushed on several fronts. We took some preventive measures which seem to have worked to varying degrees. To repell the deer, we fashioned a kind of a stick with aluminum plates that clang in the breeze. For the slugs we sprinkled crushed eggshells. All in all we have to face the fact that some of our crops will not make it, no matter what we do to prevent assault.

The beginnings of a cuke

The beginnings of a cuke

A few vegetables are definitely starting to grow and turn into actual vegetables. It’s kind of amazing! We have one small tomato and the beginnings of a cuke. There are also many squash blossoms, little buds on the peppers and zuke flowers. It will be really great to watch as everything grows and at some point we’ll need to read up on how to harvest our earthly riches!

The Phlox has taken over




Phlox and Tomatoes

Originally uploaded by j-co

When we started clearing the ground to create our garden area, one of the first orders of business was to get rid of all the bramble, raspberry bushes and other related weeds from the paddock. Andrew took to this like a duck to water and even sharpened the appropriate bladed instruments to accomplish the task.

It did feel like a great accomplishment to clear that land and feel like we were giving it new life. And new life is exactly what has sprung up: phlox by the dozens! This crop of phlox is a gorgeous lilac, lavender and white and simply covers the ground, standing to about 3 feet high.

This certainly gives us pause in terms of re-clearing the land around the garden, which was one of our goals. We will have to reevaluate after the phlox has lived out its life.

In the meantime we will enjoy this blanket of field flowers and feel happy that we helped give them what they needed to flourish!

Lettuce… yummmmm




IMG_0359

Originally uploaded by j-co

The first crop of the produce from our garden was harvested this week! Yes, it’s true… we are now officially gardeners.

Mum and Dad reported that they harvested leaves of lettuce, pictured here running up one side of the garden plot (this is the shadiest of the 4 plots and thus contains herbs, peppers, lettuce and onions).

Now I’m no expert gardener, but I have to say that I thought we could eat that lettuce right out of the little plastic container it came in. I mean, it looked like lettuce! It didn’t really look like we needed to plant it for it to grow very much for us to then pick it and eat it.

But this is why I have a lot to learn about gardening–you pick the outside leaves, then more will grow up through the centre, then you pick those leaves etc.

The more I think about gardening the more I realize that a lot of gardening wisdom will really just come with experience.

Mum and Dad say the lettuce was excellent, which is definitely a good sign. I wonder which vareity they had–Buttercrunch or Ithaca Lettuce? We will have to do a taste test later in the spring.

The report is that it rained last night, which is just what the garden needs. And now that Dad has installed the rain barrel we will have an irrigation system for the garden which will be a huge improvement over the current system of filling up a watering can in the house and walking out to the garden.

I’ll be in Lodi this weekend and can’t wait to see the progress of our garden. I might have to give the plants some encouraging words to get them on thier way…! Grow, guys, grow!

The Garden!




IMG_0356

Originally uploaded by j-co

We did it! We planted the garden! We planted 4 plots as follows:
1) Tomatoes + Basil
2) Potatoes + Watermelon + Canteloupe
3) Peas + Cukes + Zukes
4) Lettuce + Onions + Herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, coriander, parsely)

Now we wait to see how they turn out. It was wild weather this weekend, so we had hot and humid followed by torrential rain followed by cool and chilly. I can only imagine that our little plants are wondering what on earth has happened to them.

I’m feeling quite nervous about what’s going to happen next… I hope they are successful. What if they die? what if they are choked by weeds? what if our combination plans were wrong?

All we can do is wait and see… and learn from experience.

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