Backyard Gardener: First Harvest

It’s been a while since I updated about the garden. Life has taken a crazy turn so a lot of things were put on the back burner. I decided to update today because I got to spend some time in my neglected little garden and even though I haven’t given it the care I usually do, things seem to be going well.

I’m growing beans and peas this year, but they’ve suffered from the lack of rain (it’s so dry here… rain just seems to be a tease… or if we actually get it, it’s a torrent that can’t sink in to the ground very well). However, there are a few growing on the vines. This one intrigued me because the vines were wrapping themselves around the bean. I’ve never seen that before, but I’m sure it happens. Tomorrow, I plan on adding a second round of peas and beans for the coming weeks.

Our jalapenos are doing amazing! All of our plants have at least 5 jalapenos in varying sizes, so we may have a bumper crop this year!

Our tomatoes are a little iffy this year. Some of the plants are not doing well, but still producing fruit… others are just really spindly and not flowering at all. But it is early in the season and I’m looking forward to these ripening up and being ready to harvest.

I am super proud of my basil. It grows like crazy underneath the big pine tree. My brother questioned that, but it gets a lot of sun but also seems to love the shade. Whatever it is, it’s working. My sister in law,  who comes from a family who grows a lot of basil, can’t believe how big my basil grows!

I think this is the first year that I’ve grown cucumbers and actually may succeed with it. We have teeny tiny baby cukes on the vine, and tons and tons of blossoms. I hope we’ll get to eat some fresh off the vine. My zucchini are producing lots of blossoms but so far no fruit… one can hope!

The garden is coming along well. It needs some TLC since I haven’t been out much in the past few weeks. But at least today, with the help of my wonderful husband, we finally got everything staked and cleaned up. Next, I need to reseed the lettuce and the radishes and then just keep it up for the rest of the season.

This was the harvest today… my husband tried one of the jalapenos, raw and he just shoved the whole thing in his mouth! I’ve been told that they are indeed hot!

Happy gardening! Hope others are enjoying playing in the dirt as much as I am!

Backyard Gardener: Cloching

I finally took the leap to start the growing season outside. I know the popular thought is to wait until the May long weekend to plant outdoors, but I decided that I wasn’t going to wait any longer. Worse comes to worse and we get either a very cold night or a frost warning, I’ll cover the garden, clochges and all, with a tarp or blanket for the night. 

That said, I knew it was still a bit too cool for a free for all, so I decided to invest in garden cloches to turn the heat up on the plants until Mother Nature does it herself. Because I know they love heat, I started with planting the peppers and tomatoes that I had started from seed. Hopefully, the cloches will help them grow big and strong and provide us with huge crops!

And yes, I grow my garden in containers, mainly so that the boats behind the garden can be moved as needed without destroying any of the plants. I also discovered last year that container gardening is great for the plants as well because you can rotate the plants to give each of them some time in the “prime” garden spots. For example, the heat reflection from the boat makes the back row an ideal place for heat loving plants. 

It was so good to get out in the garden yesterday and get my hands in the dirt. As always, my garden is partially about growing my own food but it’s also about experimenting and discovering what grows and what doesn’t. I think I”m going to plant the vine plants next… get them started even though it’s still a little cool. And yes, I bought more cloches and I fully expect to have an entire garden under “glass” by the end of the weekend!

Happy planting!

Backyard Gardener: Getting Started

  I am really excited about the summer. Not for the usual reasons, but because it’s the growing season and I love getting out into the backyard and trying to make the best of my green thumb. And over the weekend I got a headstart on the season, even though we’re about 12 weeks from the usual “safe date” for gardening. But I just couldn’t wait any longer.

If you’ve ever read a seed package, you’ll know that certain seeds should be started at different intervals to maximize the growing season. I was inspired to start my seeds this early by Linda Crago, who runs the amazing Tree and Twig farm. She mentioned in a post that she was starting her peppers, so based on that I decided that so was I!

Now of course, Linda seeds in huge quantities, both for her crops and her awesome May Long Weekend seedling sale. I however, plant in small quanties since my garden is a container garden that is tiny in comparison to her farm. But I started the seeds now anyway… a girl can dream that her backyard is a farm, right???

So I started my 2016 gardening adventure by sorting through my seeds (as you can see Maizie helped me… or as she prefers, she supervised). I needed to figure out what I had (lots of things), what I wanted to get (things like pumpkins), and what I needed (carrots, I need carrots) and to sort out the seeds by seeding date.

I discovered that I should be seeding peppers (habanero, jalapeno, red bell, and mini bells), tomatoes (though I may be early with them since some of my research said 6-8 weeks where others said 10-12 weeks… I guess we’ll find out what’s best) and lavender and rosemary.
  I do everything in fours. It just makes it easier to handle, and I discovered last year that it’s the perfect number for my growing collection of potted plants in my garden. I also really like these peat pots, they make transplanting simple for me. One thing I learned from last year is to label ALL of the pots, not just the one on the end. Last year, I got a few of the pepper plants confused. I also decided to use the popsicle sticks so I wouldn’t have to keep lifting the pots to know which was which. Our seedling spot plays double duty… it’s also home to some of my husband’s gear. But it’s in front of a big southern facing window that gets a lot of bright sunshine in a warm room. Now the clear lids are on the flats and we wait.You may wonder why there is a black piece of paper in between some of the pots. Apparently pansy seeds must germinate in darkness. So to create a dark “room” I separated the pansy pots with a black sheet and then covered that end of the flat. Hopefully, this year, I will be successful in growing pansies.

We are both looking forward to getting out into the yard and in the dirt. I hope this will be the first post in a series about my gardening adventures.

Tea Time: Montgomery’s Inn

There’s nothing like a nice cuppa on a Sunday afternoon. Or Monday morning. Or… well, any time!

While making it at home is nice, it’s nice to get out and enjoy an afternoon tea with a friend. And depending on where you go, you might get a tour as well!

A couple weekends ago I met a friend at Montgomery’s Inn, one of the City of Toronto’s many museums, for tea and a tour.

Montgomery’s Inn was built in the 1830s by Thomas Montgomery and operated as a place for travellers to eat and rest but also as a gathering spot for the surrounding community. Today it stands as a testament to the early years of Etobicoke.

Tea happens at Montgomery’s Inn on Sunday afternoons, with the option of a sweet or savoury plate served with tea or cider. The plate pictured above was the savoury option from the day we went, and consisted of oatcakes with raspberry jam, cheese scones, and a cute little teapot sugar cookie (everyone needs a little sweet with their savoury). Seated in front of the hearth in the Inn’s basement, it was nice to catch up with my friend over endless cups of tea.

Afterward, we toured the Inn to learn more about the Inn and life in Etobicoke in the mid-1800s. I’ll admit, the kitchen was my favourite spot with a huge hearth and all the tools for cooking over the hearth. I really wanted to play with all the bread pans and make some freshly baked bread… or I could just go to the Wednesday market and buy some of the bread they make to sell at the market. It was also interesting to be in the barroom, where the men would congregate in the evenings for a drink. Apparently they still do events in the barroom in the evenings. I think that would be really interesting to attend.

I would recommend Montgomery’s Inn for a nice Sunday afternoon out with a friend or with the family. For more information about teatime or any other event, go to the Montgomery’s Inn event page. Tea and a tour costs $10 and is payable at the door.

Welcome to 2016!

It’s a new year and a new page of the book of life!

2015 was a bit of a hiatus from both michellegate.com and mlg media, as I prepared and planned a wedding and then dealt with some serious personal loss. One thing I learned about planning weddings is that the process is a full time job and you have to be meticulously organized to get everything done on schedule. To be honest, it’s very much like producing a show… or herding ducklings… considering that both involve juggling a bunch of moving parts that need to arrive intact at the same place and the same time.

But now that I am happily married and things are beginning to settle down, it’s time to put that focus back onto living life and breathing new life into this blog and my business.

I’m not ready to make any announcements quite yet, but I can say that I am working on a lot of new projects and ideas for the coming year that encompass photography, history, food, paper and crafty stuff.

Now that 2015 is over, and 2016 is here… I’m feeling ready to take the bull by the horns (what a bizarre saying) and really put myself back into my business and my passions.

Here’s a toast to 2015, it was a wild roller coaster of emotions and events… some extremely happy and some extremely sad. But that said, you can’t live life without have a wide range of emotions. So while it really sucked at times, I can’t let it stop me from living. So here’s to 2016, a rebirth for this blog and for my business and to a year of revitalizing long lost passions, discovering new and exciting adventures and making sure that life is lived to the fullest.

I look forward to getting back to writing in this space.

A happy and healthy 2016 to you and your loved ones.

A little late but… ONE MONTH LEFT!!!

I cannot believe that there is only one month left until our wedding! It’s crazy to think that a year ago, a wedding wasn’t really on the horizon… And now here we are! 

Thankfully, we are really well positioned when it comes to the wedding. Now it’s a lot of organizing and making lists and lots of crafty stuff! 

  
 With supervision of course…  
So the countdown continues towards the wedding. The next adventure is getting our marriage licence! 

What an exciting time! 

My niece got married!

I’m about 50 days (!) from getting married but I am still floating along from the beauty of my niece’s wedding last month. I love going out to the Maritimes to visit my sister, but add a wedding to the mix and it makes things that much better!

I offered to shoot event coverage of some of the wedding events, and it reminded me how much I love… and how  much I miss… shooting events. Once our wedding is over, I am definitely going to have to put myself back into the  event photography pool. 

Going to my niece’s wedding made me really excited for them… and excited for our wedding to come. 

Here’s a look at the fantastic time we had on the rehearsal dinner boat cruise and the wedding. 

Pre-Wedding Boat Cruise

  
The Wedding

  
And the countdown rolls on to October 2. What a great wedding trip and what a reminder about doing the things I love!