Animals

Well, as much as I want a flock of backyard chickens I don’t think this city is ready for it… and I’m most likely not, either.  So our only farm animals so far are our two cats, Wendel and Winston.  They were both adopted from the local Humane Society and have been a great addition to life here.  Wendel was adopted back in November and Winston joined us in February of this year.  They are both the same age but seem to have quite a bit of a size difference, with Wendel being the larger of the two.  

Wendel

Wendel

These are a few pictures of their first trip outdoors.  They are on leashes/harnesses due to my belief in responsible pet ownership.  I can’t understand people who let their cats run free.  They are smart animals but are still susceptible to fights with other cats, dog attacks, cars, and the odd cruel person.  Indoor cats also live longer lives, are healthier and have lower vet bills than indoor/outdoor cats.  I want these guys around for a long time.  

Winston

Winston

Frigid Weekend

The Victoria Day weekend is traditionally when most people put in their gardens and generally expect frost to be a thing of the past.  Unfortunately the weather has been awful this year.  Cold records broken in winter and less than a handful of sunny days above 15 degrees thus far.  Although Saturday was quite nice (I even got in a round of golf) and Sunday was fairly decent Monday and today have been awful.  I’m starting to get a little worried that I’ll never get my frost hating plants in the ground.  rain_clouds

Blueberries and Strawberries

Just an update on the blueberries since I just planted them in the ground.  I was originally planning on placing them on the northwest corner of the house to receive partial shade.  However, we have decided to get new windows soon and I didn’t want to place too many permanent things near the house just have them trampled down.  So they have received a much more prime location on the western edge of the property in full sun.  I dug each hole roughly two and  half times the size of the root ball and then backfilled with peat moss and composted sheep manure.  A nice deep watering on each one should encourage root growth throughout the summer. Blueberries

The hardest part of the whole experience was plucking off the beautiful little flowers and knowing that I won’t get a single, delicious blueberry this year.  A part of me really wanted to cheat and leave a few on but I know that I’d just be setting the bushes back for next year.  

As you can see there is a lot of room left for another plant maybe in the middle, depending on how big they get.  I’m never good at estimating how big plants will get and always regret my overcrowding later.  But there is a lot of sod left to come up so I could always extend the bed to the north in the future.  How many bushes would I need for two people anyway?  

 

Next, we have the strawberries.  These are planted just south of the blueberries (just above them in the picture).  I dug them up at the same time as the rhubarb from my parents yard.  Unfortunately that week was busy and cold and they sat in a plastic bag with some wet newspaper for about seven days and enduring a few light frosts.  Regardless the leaves were still green and I put all twenty of them into the ground.  After three days a few of them look like they may have gone to the big strawberry field in the sky but the majority are showing some enthusiasm for life.  I’m not too broken up about any losses.  They were free and to be honest I can’t recall what type of strawberry they are anyway.  I inherited a few plants from my aunt when I was probably 11 or so and big into gardening then.  I planted them in a crappy northern exposure beside my parents yard and they haven’t been thinned or cared for since, yet still produce the most delicious berries.  If these die I can pull another twenty out of that bed at my parents and still be doing them a favour.  Still, its always encouraging to see things thrive in the garden. 

The strawberry bed also received a nice layer of manure and some nice top soil.  The soil in that area isn’t particularly full of clay compared to the rest of the yard, but it wasn’t good, either.  Its a big question of ‘we’ll see’ what we get out of there, but I remain optimistic.  I’m hoping to get enough for at least one strawberry feast or maybe even a strawberry/rhubarb pie.  That rhubarb is sure seeming to take off.

Blueberries

The garden centre at work is in full swing (although under cover right now due to the crappy weather) and they are selling some big pots of blueberries that look like they’re in decent condition.  I usually like to frequent the local garden centre but these were really inexpensive and I do need to worry about budgeting since I’m planning on splurging on apple trees later this week.  So I bought three bushes.  They’re highbush I believe and were in blossom. The flowers are fairly inconspicuous but quite pretty when you notice them.  

blueberryf

I’ve decided to put them in a little triangle formation on the northwest corner of the house.  They’ll get direct sun in the afternoon until early evening, which should be fine for the partial shade loving plants.  I also picked up a big bag of peat moss.  I’m trying to avoid peat based products since they’re fairly non-renewable but blueberries do need the acidity that comes with peat moss and it will also help counter balance the clay… so I’m making an exception. Once they’re in the ground all those pretty little blossoms will be plucked off to direct energy into the roots, so unfortunately no berries this year, but I’m hoping this year’s sacrifice pays off.  

I’ll post some pics after I put them in to show how it looks, so check back then.

Does anyone have any experience growing blueberries?  Any tips on planting/maintenance?  Leave me a comment.

Snow!

Nothing throws a wrench into my spring momentum like a day of snow. It’s not all that much and I’m sure it’ll be gone by this evening but still, snow. What a pain in the ass.

City Life

I love the city.  My city probably differs from what most people consider ‘city’.  It has less than a quarter of a million people and has a very small downtown.  I do not live ‘downtown’.  I do not live in a condo or a highrise.  I have an older city lot that I guess may have been the 20’s version of the suburb.  However, as far as this area goes I’m considered ‘in the city’.  I live less than a 15 minute walk from downtown.  I have all amenities within easy reach and my neighbourhood is mature.  Great trees, fantastic park nearby and the provincial legislature is visible from my front garden.  

On the flip side, I work in an area that is not so ‘city’.  Although it is within city limits as much as my area is it is much younger.  The denizens of that area have a much different idea of what a city is than those who live in my neighbourhood*.  It was established in probably the 60’s through 70’s.  It has a very consumeristic bias and is not very pedestrian friendly.  There are no landmark parks or pathways.  The patients I deal with are not the type of people I’d be friends with.  

I find it very striking to see the difference a few blocks can make in the makeup of a community.  By no means am I claiming I have hit up some utopia of social living… I’ve been here less than 3 years and less than a year in the current home.  But I am saying that I feel more at home in my area of the city than I ever would up where I work.  Those who have garages have them in the back lane, not out on the main road.  You can see the people and their front yards instead of an enormous port for people to park their cars in… effectively preventing them from stepping outside at all on their journey to and from work… or walmart.  My area has local shops with independent owners.  CathedralIMG_7237.1Regina

I can feel a little more comfortable ripping up my plain grass lawn to plant a hedge, or god forbid… a vegetable garden.  Would I get away this in my area of work? Maybe… but I know the neighbours would hate it.  The girls I work with have grown up in the ‘newer’ areas of the city and constantly make digs at where I live, despite it being one of the most sought after neighbourhoods in the city.  These girls complain about having nowhere to park, feeling claustrophobic with all the elm trees and the ‘tacky’ old houses.  They can’t fathom why someone would want to live in an older home or near the lake which would stink in summer (for those of who know… it doesn’t anymore).  They don’t understand the benefit of having an eclectic neighbourhood where you can walk to where you want to go.  

I love where I live.  This may not be where I’ll be forever, but for now it feels more like home than any place has before.  I feel like I’m able to put down roots and find community here.  I want to nurture this plot of land that I have into something beautiful, not just for resale value but for the mutual benefit for my own sense of being and soul.  The heart of the city is really alive and I love being a part of it.  I feel inspired on my walks just soaking up the heritage and the hard work of those who have been here before me and that of my contemporaries.   I look forward to becoming even more involved with the community.  This is where I live.

Queen City Farmer – The Prequel

QCF is not the first blog I wrote.  I was previously on blogger and had a few difficulties with the site.  However I did do about 15 posts over there and instead of bringing them over to wordpress I decided to just link back to them.  It’s called Urban Pharmer.  Kind of a play on words since I’m a pharmacist.  Funny, I know.  Anyway, check it out, its all me and I can answer questions about those things on this blog too.  I may from time to time steal posts from there and republish them here… so I don’t think thats plagiarism.  

Anyway, enjoy!