In the Garden: Garden Planning

Gardening Planning ~ Blog post by Bubblegum Sass ~ Garden journals from Taproot Magazine
Seeds from West Coast Seeds and garden journals from Taproot Magazine

There might still be the occasional snowflake falling from the sky these days, but it is time to turn some attention to garden planning & prep. My hubby is truly the brains behind the operation, while I lend my hands & time to the work in the spring, summer & fall. He comes up with our garden plan each year, while he plans out the other yards for his urban farming business. Even the seeds for our own garden get lumped into orders for Happiness By The Acre.

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From Weed To Yummy

Confession: Our backyard is a sea of dandelions.

They’ve taken over any area that we left as lawn. In past years, we tried pulling, mowing, even spraying them with vinegar (we refuse to spray any chemicals). This year, I’ve given up and I’m treating them like just another crop to harvest.

Dandelions are such a cheerful thing to harvest.
Dandelions are such a cheerful thing to harvest.

Here’s some tips I’ve found handy so far:

  • If using the greens, harvest fresh or no more than a day before. They keep in the fridge, but they really are best eaten as soon as possible.
  • When preparing to de-petal the dandelions, pick them no more than a couple hours prior. They are easiest to de-petal when the blossom is big and open. Dandelion blossoms tend to close up and wilt very quickly. In general, I pick a big bowl of blossoms right before making dinner and then 2-3 hours later, after Sam heads to bed, I get comfy on the couch & start to de-petal the blossoms. You can still de-petal dandelions even after they close up, but it’s just a trickier task.
  • Dandelion petals can be frozen! Once you de-petal the blossoms, pop them into a freezer bag or container (I measured out 1 cup bags). This makes life easier when you want to tackle bigger dandelion projects (like dandelion wine) or if you only have a small crop of dandelions and therefore have to combine multiple harvest days to accumulate enough petals.
  • I tried washing the dandelion blossoms, letting them dry, and then de-petaling. It was kind of a fail. Now I don’t even worry about washing the blossoms to de-petal them. You can clean off any bugs you come across while you de-petal each one. Our yard is chemical free, and pet-free, so I just don’t worry about it. I do wash the greens in cold water after I harvest them (just treat them like any other salad greens).
  • I choose to wear rubber gloves while de-petaling. Besides my struggle with eczema on my hands, I just don’t love the sticky, &  yellow stain mess that is involved with de-petaling. Even with pumice soap, it’s tricky stuff to get off. Then again, I spend a couple hours at a time de-petaling, so maybe if you’re only doing small batches, it wouldn’t be so bad ;-)
  • Fact: Children love to play with dandelions. They are an easy crop to teach kids to harvest. Sam has really enjoyed helping me pull off blossoms. Even got him de-petaling for a little bit one afternoon. So dandelion harvest time can definitely be a kid friendly task.
Dandelion petals ready to be frozen.
Dandelion petals ready to be frozen.

There are lots of interesting things to make out of dandelions. There’s a good collection of ideas & recipes on The Prairie Homestead blog. I started out simple, just making come dandelion green salads. There’s really no end of possibilities when it comes to salad combinations. Just think of some of your favourite salads or dressings, and add or substitute dandelion greens. For example, I love broccoli salad, but there’s no broccoli ready to harvest in the backyard, so I used dandelion greens instead, added my usual raisins, nuts, and cream dressing. Viola! I tend to like adding sweet things to salads made with dandelion greens, just to cut the slight bitterness of the leaves. I’m thinking strawberries and sunflower seeds next time around or maybe a sweet rhubarb dressing. Just have fun experimenting with it!

Dandelion green salad with fresh chives, raisins and pumpkin seeds. I made a simple creamy dressing of mayo, vinegar & a touch of sugar.
Dandelion green salad with fresh chives, raisins and pumpkin seeds. I made a simple creamy dressing of mayo, vinegar & a touch of sugar.
Dandelion green salad with fresh chives. I simmered dried apricots and prunes with coconut oil and a bit of water to form the dressing. Sooooo tasty!
Dandelion green salad with fresh chives. I simmered dried apricots and prunes with coconut oil and a bit of water to form the dressing. Sooooo tasty!

There are several things I want to try making with the dandelion blossoms and petals, including syrup, fried blossoms, and wine (if I’m super ambitious one week). We made dandelion cookies this week from some of the fresh petals. They were yummy and a hit with Sam. I used a recipe from the Dinner For Everyone blog. Since they are basically oatmeal cookies with dandelion petals, I want to try adding raisins to them next time around.

Cookies made from dandelion petals. Yummy, but next time I'm going to add some raisins.
Cookies made from dandelion petals. Yummy, but next time I’m going to add some raisins.

Have you ever done anything with dandelion greens or blossoms? Would love to hear about it! Also, should let you know that if you happen to be one of those lucky folks who don’t suffer from dandelion invasions in your yard (or don’t have a yard), chances are you can purchase dandelion greens from your local urban farmer or grocery store. Here in Calgary, you can check out the YYC Growers & Distributors booth at some of their upcoming farmers’ markets. Some of the greens you purchase from them might just be from our yard.

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Into the Ground

It’s almost been a full week since our Happiness By the Acre Tree Planting Day out on the farm. Still feels like we’re recovering here or maybe it’s just that we’re still “on the go” so much that last weekend feels like a blur. I’m hoping that things get a little less hectic in the coming weeks, not just for my sake, but for Sammy’s. He sure has been a trooper, but some of the craziness is taking its toll.

We had an AMAZING turnout for the Tree Planting Day!! Loved that so many of our friends brought their little kiddos along too! It was a great way to share the day and build some of our first memories of the farm. We really appreciated each and every effort made by our volunteer team, big and small. There is NO WAY we could have gotten this project done without the help of family and friends. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! We will not forget the smiles or the sweat that went into planting our one acre of food forest.

Food and hand wash station (we tried to keep everyone hydrated and their bellies full)
Food and hand wash station (we tried to keep everyone hydrated and their bellies full)
This is the first event I've made a real effort to do "low impact". We used real plates, napkins & utensils (no disposables), mason jars of cold water in the cooler, and as much locally sourced or homemade food as possible. It was tricky, took a bit more work, and I cheated a bit here & there (hello broccoli salad & cans of pop), but felt super satisfied by the end of the day. Only a half full bag of garbage to throw out after feeding more than 15 people :-)
This is the first event I’ve made a real effort to do “low impact”. We used real plates, napkins & utensils (no disposables), mason jars of cold water in the cooler, and as much locally sourced or homemade food as possible. It was tricky, took a bit more work, and I cheated a bit here & there (hello broccoli salad & cans of pop), but felt super satisfied by the end of the day. Only a half full bag of garbage to throw out after feeding more than 15 people :-)
The kiddos got much use out of these. We put them on tree watering duty. SUPER helpers!
The kiddos got much use out of these. We put them on tree watering duty. SUPER helpers!
Volunteers got to choose a tree to adopt. We've measured each tree and will send growth updates over the coming years. (Little Rylin did so well amongst all those boys. She even had fun picking up dirt, a first for her).
Volunteers got to choose a tree to adopt. We’ve measured each tree and will send growth updates over the coming years. (Little Rylin did so well amongst all those boys. She even had fun picking up dirt, a first for her).
Super helpers Joanna and Soren with their hazelnut tree!
Super helpers Joanna and Soren with their hazelnut tree!
Little helpers here & there! Thanks boys!
Little helpers here & there! Thanks boys!
We hope everyone had as much fun as Shauna! She's anxious for us to get moved out to the farm so she can come visit. Looking forward to it too, Shauna!
We hope everyone had as much fun as Shauna! She’s anxious for us to get moved out to the farm so she can come visit. Looking forward to it too, Shauna!

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Hundreds of Happy Trees

400 hazelnuts tucked into a trench awaiting Tree Planting Day
400 hazelnuts tucked into a trench awaiting Tree Planting Day

Have I mentioned our crazy plan of planting an acre of food forest out on our “big farm”? And when I say “crazy”, I mean it’s driving us a fairly crazy. Wowza! Hubby started feeling in over his head about two weeks ago and we’re seriously in the thick of it now! This is all a part our of Happiness By the Acre adventures.

We had 400 hazelnut trees arrive last week. We’ll be picking up 400 raspberry bushes, and a few dozen apple & pear trees at the end of this week. Yep, that’s over 800 plants to be planted. Oh boy…

That's what an acre of land looks like. Now picture it covered in a beautiful food forest (or food savannah as Marcus keeps correcting me)
That’s what an acre of land looks like. Now picture it covered in a beautiful food forest (or food savannah as Marcus keeps correcting me)

So we’re organizing a Tree Planting Day! On Saturday, May 24th, we’ll be trying to get ALL those plants into the ground out on our farm near Carstairs. If you’re interested in lending a hand & spending some time out in the country this weekend, let me know or check out our event page on Facebook. We’ll be providing tasty treats and cold drinks. Come for an hour or come for the day! Kids are more than welcome.

Sammy_with_shovel

This is your chance to be a small part of our family farm history in our very first project. And as a thank you to all the folks who come out to lend a hand, we will be letting each volunteer adopt a tree of their choice. Attach your name to a bit of history. Get your picture taken with your little tree and we’ll send you growth updates as the years progress. Plus you can pop by and check on your tree the next time you visit the farm.

I hope that some of you can join us on Saturday! If not, we could sure use some extra prayers to see this project through.

I’ll be sure to post photos from Tree Planting Day and let you know how it all goes. Until then, we’ll be continuing to run around a little crazed, checking things off the to-do lists, and praying for plenty of sunshine, and more importantly, that we can find a bobcat operator with an auger to dig 800 holes by Saturday. Oi!

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Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Mother's Day breakfast with my boy. I cooked up special beet & apple waffles with blueberry sauce. Super yummy! We both gobbled them up.
Mother’s Day breakfast with my boy. I cooked up special beet & apple waffles with blueberry sauce. Super yummy! We both gobbled them up.
Just chillin' outside with my boy on Mother's Day. Love his sunglasses! I need some!
Just chillin’ outside with my boy on Mother’s Day. Love his sunglasses! I need some!
May 12th would have been my oldest brother's birthday. Sammy & I took a little trip up to the cemetery for a visit. When I told Sam we were going to the cemetery to see Uncle Blake, my sweet boy asked if we could read a story with him. So we brought one of his Berenstein Bear books with us and sat there reading a story together. When we were just about ready to leave, I wished Blake happy birthday. Sammy heard me and starting singing Happy Birthday to Uncle Blake. Just another truly precious moment to get me through the week.
May 12th would have been my oldest brother’s birthday. Sammy & I took a little trip up to the cemetery for a visit. When I told Sam we were going to the cemetery to see Uncle Blake, my sweet boy asked if we could read a story with him. So we brought one of his Berenstein Bear books with us and sat there reading a story together. When we were just about ready to leave, I wished Blake happy birthday. Sammy heard me and starting singing Happy Birthday to Uncle Blake. Just another truly precious moment to get me through the week.
Sammy was a big help this week with all sorts of tasks. We did some watering at one of the yards for hubby and he was happy to try out his new watering can (I know he doesn't look too happy in the picture, though).
Sammy was a big help this week with all sorts of tasks. We did some watering at one of the yards for hubby and he was happy to try out his new watering can (I know he doesn’t look too happy in the picture, though).
Finally got to enjoy several meals outside this week. Loving our old blue bench (painted it last year, but barely got to use it).
Finally got to enjoy several meals outside this week. Loving our old blue bench (painted it last year, but barely got to use it).
Sammy helping Auntie Tina dig one of the many holes out on our "big farm" for the hazelnut trees that we are planting out there. It's a big task (over 400 hazelnuts to go in, 400 raspberry bushes, and a handful of pear & apple trees). Mark your calendars, the official tree planting day is May 24th! Contact me if you're interested in joining us!
Sammy helping Auntie Tina dig one of the many holes out on our “big farm” for the hazelnut trees that we are planting out there. It’s a big task (over 400 hazelnuts to go in, 400 raspberry bushes, and a handful of pear & apple trees). Mark your calendars, the official tree planting day is May 24th! Contact me if you’re interested in joining us!

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Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

The white stuff that won't stay away. Our poor garden. At least chives are tough little buggers.
The white stuff that won’t stay away. Our poor garden. At least chives are tough little buggers.
The aftermath. Brownie crumbs on my adorable bunny plate. Hid some pureed carrots & kale into my fave brownie recipe to try & get more veggies into our veggie-hating son.
The aftermath. Brownie crumbs on my adorable bunny plate. Hid some pureed carrots & kale into my fave brownie recipe to try & get more veggies into our veggie-hating son.
I gave up waiting for spring flowers outside, and decided to bring some spring indoors. Now there are flowers in most rooms of our house. Focusing on the simple pleasures.
I gave up waiting for spring flowers outside, and decided to bring some spring indoors. Now there are flowers in most rooms of our house. Focusing on the simple pleasures.
We had ACTUAL sunshine one morning this week. This little man thought it was sunny enough that he needed to wear his sunglasses while he watched an episode of The Berenstein Bears. Funny guy. (PS - love that they match his jammies)
We had ACTUAL sunshine one morning this week. This little man thought it was sunny enough that he needed to wear his sunglasses while he watched an episode of The Berenstein Bears. Funny guy. (PS – love that they match his jammies)

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Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Spent a morning petting adorable baby goats at Butterfield Acres. Sam & I really wanted to bring them home. (He loves his Carharrt overalls and calls them his "worker man pants". They're perfect for him! Thanks again Lisa)
Spent a morning petting adorable baby goats at Butterfield Acres. Sam & I really wanted to bring them home. (He loves his Carharrt overalls and calls them his “worker man pants”. They’re perfect for him! Thanks again Lisa)
Enjoying chilled homemade apple cider on the deck one spring evening.
Enjoying chilled homemade apple cider on the deck one spring evening.
First crocus bloomed in our yard on May 1st. Spring is officially here now.
First crocus bloomed in our yard on May 1st. Spring is officially here now.
And so it begins, in our own backyard. Hubby has been busy working on various yards for Happiness By The Acre, but this week we took an evening to get a bunch of seeds planted at our place, so hopefully we'll have some fresh veggies too. Cold frames and anti-squirrel nets are up. Now we wait.
And so it begins, in our own backyard. Hubby has been busy working on various yards for Happiness By The Acre, but this week we took an evening to get a bunch of seeds planted at our place, so hopefully we’ll have some fresh veggies too. Cold frames and anti-squirrel nets are up. Now we wait.
Rain turned to snow, but we still forced ourselves outside for the second day of the 30x30 Nature Challenge.
Rain turned to snow, but we still forced ourselves outside for the second day of the 30×30 Nature Challenge.

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Button-spiration: Spring Flowers Pt. 4

Ok. Here is to hoping that we won’t need so much spring button flower inspiration going forward (fingers crossed for later this week). Maybe we can just pop our head outside and enjoy actual spring? Just in case you’re one of those poor souls that is still dealing with snow Sadly, we are some of those poor souls still dealing with snow (I wrote this post ahead of time, and seemed to have jinxed us, again… there’s a steady falling of snowflakes out there this morning). This then, is still a much needed project to keep your hopes up.

This pretty button project comes from Ashley of Little Miss Momma. She was inspired by hair pins from Anthropologie and was determined to figure out a simple (and inexpensive) knock-off. I must say, I think she was successful! I like her version even better than the ones from Anthropologie. You can find the full tutorial on her blog.

Ashley used fabric yo-yos from a vintage family quilt (of course, you can make your own yo-yos with the help of Heather Bailey’s great step-by-step instructions). Admittedly, part of the charm of these, is the vintage nature of the yo-yos Ashley used, but you can always score some lovely reproduction fabrics from the quilt shop to tap into that vintage charm. Then all you need are some bobby pins, buttons and a hot glue gun (alternatively, you could hand stitch these all together). Place a bit of hot glue on the end of your bobby pin, press onto the back of your yo-yo. Let cool. Flip the yo-yo over. Place a dab of glue in the center of the yo-yo and squish your button into place. Let cool. Put on a pretty spring blouse, along with your newly made hair pin. Go grab an iced tea & enjoy the day!

Yo-yo hair pins

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Button-spiration: Spring Flowers Pt. 3

Here is the third installment of our spring button flower inspiration. Thankfully, spring seems to have finally arrived in Calgary over the past few days. The snow is gone We woke to snow this morning, but the ground is turning into mud, and we’ve had much needed sunshine! Hopefully you’re starting to experience some of this too, where ever you may be. Or maybe you’re already delighting in the cherry blossoms & daffodils. Just a touch jealous. We have some crocuses starting to pop up.

To keep our spring hope alive, let us turn to this easy-peasy, but adorable project from indieBerries.All you need for supplies are a pile of buttons, different sizes & colours (how much variation or uniformity you want is up to you) and florist wire. She has cute step-by-step illustrations/cartoons on her blog to demonstrate the project. I so very wished I had time to make some of these right now. I feel like our kitchen could use a little bright colour. Alas, the little bits of free time I have are being dedicated to prepping for the Boutique Wedding Market. Perhaps you’ll have a spare moment in the coming days to give these a try? I do hope so. Enjoy!

Stacked button flowers

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Our Week (so far)

It’s been ages since I tried a regular photo post! A year and a half, in fact… oh my. My “One Moment” photo/keywording posts were replaced by the weekly Four Fab Finds posts. I love sharing the awesome shops & items that I come across on Etsy, but lately I’ve started missing the weekly photo post. Time to try something new, just in time for spring (which might actually be arriving in Calgary this weekend). This desire to take & share more photos again has even prompted me use Instagram. You can find me on there as bubblegumsassy. So here goes, a fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Loving the colourful cover (and the great articles) in the latest issue of Taproot
Loving the colourful cover (and the great articles) in the latest issue of Taproot
Realized that I received my BFA a decade ago. Wow! Here's where my current painting skills are at, making new artwork for Sam's room. He calls it the "Zoo Painting".
Realized that I received my BFA a decade ago. Wow! Here’s where my current painting skills are at, making new artwork for Sam’s room. He calls it the “Zoo Painting”.
Sam is discovering all sorts of neat books on our shelves. Here he is enjoying one of our contemporary art illustration books.
Sam is discovering all sorts of neat books on our shelves. Here he is enjoying one of our contemporary art illustration books.
When you've got a sick toddler on your hands, nothing makes you ALL feel better than freshly baked cookies. This time around it was peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate chips. Yummy in my tummy!
When you’ve got a sick toddler on your hands, nothing makes you ALL feel better than freshly baked cookies. This time around it was peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate chips. Yummy in my tummy!
When you get tired of waiting for spring to arrive, you make pretty flower garden collages using old seed catalogues. Sam is getting good with a glue stick. That opens a door to a whole lot of new crafting time!
When you get tired of waiting for spring to arrive, you make pretty flower garden collages using old seed catalogues. Sam is getting good with a glue stick. That opens a door to a whole lot of new crafting time!

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend, so far! Wishing you much sunshine, thawing gardens, & puddles for splashing (and perhaps a nice long nap too)!

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