Welcome 2022

It has been over a year and a half since I last posted, but I needed the time to just learn how to be on my own again.

As I begin this year I have set some goals for myself. One is to get back on track with this blog and website. It has been neglected for far too long.

Second is to stay consistent on my other website and my new podcast (I’m 6 episodes in now). I have been publishing weekly blog posts and my readership has increased, which makes me happy.

Third, I just want to enjoy what life has to offer. Summer 2020 was a major challenge for me but I got through it, and built a deck almost all on my own; simply because it was something Ross and I had talked about and I needed something to do. Summer 2021 had its own set of challenges, with the almost zero rainfall and wasps that kept me inside. Here’s hoping Summer 2022 is better in that regard.

Now that I’m moving forward in life, let me tell you about the few things I have done since May 2020.

As mentioned, I built a deck onto our house; a project that was supposed to be ours since travel was out of the question. (Damn COVID.) I may have built it a little bigger than we had talked about, but I’m happy with the result. When the package was delivered I took one look at the pile of lumber and thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” After some googling I found some information I could work with, and proceeded to mark out dimensions.

Fast forward to September 2020 (I started it in July, after we had Ross’s Memorial Service and family get-together) and the deck was done. Aside from a little help from my daughter, my son’s girlfriend, and a friend, the majority of it was done by me. And I only bled once when I cut my leg with the handsaw (no stitches required, just a band-aid). Finished size: upper level 8′ X 20′ and the lower level is 16′ X 24′.

After taking a Leave of Absence from my library position after Ross passed away, I handed in my resignation at the end of September. I decided I could manage on my savings and some life insurance; a choice I’m glad I made. I did the occasional writing gig, and made some sales on Etsy that helped pay some bills.

I invested in a snowblower so I could do most of my own snow removal. My father-in-law did use his tractor and plow a couple of times, which was appreciated. The downside to it all was we didn’t get near the snow we should have, which led to a very dry spring and even drier summer.

Summer 2021 was spent tending to my raised beds (I built two more with the help of my daughter), camping with a friend, and fighting off the wasps when I was outside. I made a self-watering planter and filled it with herbs and put it on my deck. It was nice to have fresh herbs right outside my door. I have plans to build at least one more this summer for more herbs.

Photo above was taken March 19, 2021, just after my daughter and I put my new outdoor furniture together.

The yard changes continued in November when I hired an arborist and his crew to take down some dying poplars, Manitoba maples, and a very overgrown caraganna hedge. I now have somewhat of a view from my office window, and a winter view of the field north of my house. When spring rolls around the row of young caragannas will fill in and I’ll no longer be able to see the field, but that’s okay. I do plan on having the crew back to get rid of some other dying trees, but that will have to wait until my budget allows.

And now here I am, with the first two weeks of 2022 already gone. As I anticipate a summer filled with more rain and less wasps, I have plans to plant some roses, build an arbor, and create a living fence around the firepit. My goal is to publish at least two blog posts per month, and add more articles to the website as well. Life does go on, and moving forward is something we must do no matter what life has handed us.

Oh, and my houseplant collection has grown considerably as well. I’m seriously thinking about adding on a 4-season sunroom to let in more light and give my bigger plants a better home. Did I mention the only south-facing windows I have are my office and where my dining room table sits?

I am excited to be back on track, and am even more excited to share my gardening experience and knowledge with you.

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Peace Amid the Chaos

To start, I hope everyone is doing well. We are dealing with an unusual situation; one most of us have never had to experience before.

It has taken me a bit to wrap my head around the whole thing and I have decided to take advantage of the down time. Well, the little down time I will actually have that is.

My part-time job as a library assistant is still there, although we are no longer allowed to have our doors open to the public. We will still be proceeding with cleaning of shelves, weeding of books, getting craft kits ready, and doing inventory. Yes, I think we will be busy for awhile yet.

As spring is finally here (well, the calendar says it is) it’s time to start thinking about the garden. Keeping a supply of fresh fruit and veggies on hand will be easier when we are able to grow our own. I’m impatiently waiting for the snow to melt so I can start building my greenhouse, build some raised beds, and mark out the areas for the fire pit, arbors, and flower gardens.

There’s just something about working out in the garden. No matter what is going on in the world around us, the garden offers peace and tranquility. I am fortunate to live in an area with few people around. I consider us blessed to have the peace and quiet so many others only dream of.

Whether you live in the country or the city, now is the time to start getting your garden ready. If it is still covered in snow, there are still things you can do. One of them is to go to your local grocery or hardware store and buy your seeds, some potting soil and containers to plant your seeds in. I did a one-stop shop at our local hardware store yesterday and spent almost $100.00 on seeds, soil, mini greenhouses, and peat packs.

Image Copyright Diane Ziomek 2020

I know it may seem like a lot, but when I don’t have to go into town for fresh fruit and vegetables, I will have recouped the cost in food and fuel. And saving money is why many people start a garden in the first place.

This has been an unusual year to say the least. More people are working from home, simply because they don’t have a choice. I think that’s not a bad thing for most, as there are more opportunities to take small breaks to stretch, get some water, and have a healthy snack.

Whether you live out in the country or in an apartment, you can still take advantage of the benefits of gardening. Fresh produce, being more active, and just enjoying the process of growing your own food amid the chaos of our current situation.

It is even more important at this time to stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, utilize the technology available to stay in touch with family and friends (physical distancing), drink plenty of water, keep active, and eat as much homegrown fruit and vegetables as possible. Plus, don’t forget to take the mental break needed as well. We should all come out of this with better habits and healthier bodies if we make the changes necessary at this point.

As I get ready for gardening season, I will be counting my blessings. No matter what’s going on in the world I have my garden to offer peace and tranquility. I’ll be posting pictures as the weeks go on of my progress in my gardening journey, and I would love for you to do the same. I now have a Facebook Page where you are free to post pictures of your seedlings, plants, gardens, and even your houseplants. With physical distancing in force it’s even more important to remain in contact with others via texting, video messaging or the telephone.

Lets all do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and find peace amid the chaos.

What are you doing to stay healthy and safe?

Gardening and the Weather

There’s one thing we can’t control, and that’s the weather.

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When it comes to gardening, we want ideal conditions. Not too wet and not too dry. Not too hot and not too cold. It sometimes feels as if the weather is always against us.

We may not be able to control it, but we can take measures to work with it. Planting after the risk of frost has passed and covering our crops in the fall.

Collecting rainwater for watering when there’s no rain in sight. Planting in raised beds or adding sand and compost to clay soil for better drainage.

And sometimes Mother Nature dishes out conditions we can’t do anything about, such as a hailstorm.

Unless you plant everything in a greenhouse, hoop house or high tunnel (all basically the same thing) you’re going to have a challenge when it comes to the perfect weather conditions.

You may not be able to control it, but you can take measures to be better prepared for it. Let me explain.

One thing you can do is to tie your tall plants to a sturdy fence or poles to protect them from wind damage during a storm. That doesn’t mean you should be running around trying to figure it out at the onset of a thunderstorm, but rather plant so you have a measure of protection in place ahead of time.

Something else you can do is have framework above your raised beds or along your rows so you can add a cover if it’s going to storm or freeze. Hailstones don’t do quite as much damage when they have to get through a row cover first.

Investing in a weather station will help you make decisions based on the forecast, plus will give you some additional data as well. Knowing how much rainfall your yard gets during the summer will help with deciding which crops will flourish and which won’t without additional watering. Plus, knowing the temperatures (both highs and lows) will help with your perennial selection. Some plants can handle minus forty temperatures if they have adequate snow cover, while others are more sensitive to the cold.

The outdoor part of our new weather station.

If a weather station is out of your price range, take advantage of the local forecast.

I rely on The Weather Network App more than any other when it comes to planning my garden and the other things I do. It’s amazing how our area can be so different from the village, which is less than twenty kilometres away. It must be because we’re north of the river.

This year is going to be more interesting because we did invest in a weather station, so we’ll have more accurate data based on our precise location. It will be fun to see how much temperature, rainfall and amount of wind we get varies from the numbers my app will tell me. (Remind me to keep a journal so I can track the differences.)

We put it up this weekend so won’t know any predictions for approximately fourteen days. The instruction manual says it will take that long while the device learns our particular weather pattern. As it sits now, we can see outside temperature, windchill factor, wind speed, barometric pressure and humidity. Plus, it gives us some inside data as well. It’s like having a new toy; we keep checking the display to see what it says. We’re such kids!

The inside display panel.

We mounted ours to the top of a twelve-foot post and put it at the northeast corner of our garden. The instructions said it needs to be in as open an area as possible for accuracy. Our yard itself is quite sheltered, which has its advantages and disadvantages. (That, however, is for a different blog post.) Ideally it would be interesting to see how much of a difference there is between the open area and the sheltered area.

Do you have a weather station? If so, do you rely on it more than the weather apps or local radio/TV station? Post your comments below.