Tuesday, December 12, 2017

9 Crops for Winter Gardening

W is for Winter Gardening

In June the Powell River Garden Club invited Cathy from Mother Nature to give a presentation on fall and winter gardening. It was very timely, because it was the last club meeting of the season and preparation for cold weather gardening needs to begin during summer.

Winter harvest of kale, beets and carrots.

I learned that it's not necessary to let your soil rest during winter as long as you replenish it in spring with compost and other essential nutrients. I really like going to Garden Club. I learn new things to make my small garden more productive.

Two weeks ago I shared how I'm using covers for containers on my cabin deck to increase the season for greens. Click here to read that post.

Here are some additional winter crops I'm growing in my raised bed floating garden.

Beets and carrots remaining in the ground.
1. Beets left in the ground. Beets planted spring through mid-summer develop before the cold arrives and will maintain their size. Even with some freezing temperatures, my beets remain in good condition through February. I grow Detroit Red Beets from seed.

2. Carrots left in the ground. As with my beets, I plant one crop in spring and one more in mid-summer. Mounded with soil to cover the I plant carrots in  I grow Scarlet Nantes carrots from seed because they are short and

Dwarf Green Curly Kale.
3. Kale left growing. My favourite is Dwarf Green Curled Kale. It's compact and grows well in a raised bed. Spring plants last all winter. It tastes even better after the frost arrives. Stems benefit from staking during winter storms. 

4. Chard left growing. Like kale, chard planted in spring continues to grow through winter. It's quite tolerant of mild freezing conditions.  I like Rhubarb Chard with it's bright red stems and large green leaves.

Broccoli, chard and perennial rosemary.
5. Broccoli left growing. Last spring I bought Broccoli sets and the plants have been giving me florets ever since. They're slowing down now, but will have another spring burst before going to seed.

6. Purple Sprouting Broccoli planted mid-summer. A Garden Club member brought seeds to a meeting. I started the them in mid-summer. This variety is taller so I have staked them to withstand winter storms. They will produce in late winter and early spring.

Brussels sprouts starting to form.
7. Brussels Sprouts. This is my second year growing Brussels Sprouts. They will produce sprouts from December to February. The variety is compact but benefits from staking.

8. Perennial Herbs. I grow herbs in deck pots and in my floating garden. I cut my mint back and wait for it to come back in spring. You can't keep a good mint down. My thyme, sage and rosemary continue to provide fresh herbs throughout the winter months without covering.

9. Planting Garlic. Fall is a good time to plant garlic. This is my first year trying it. I created space by picking kale and carrots at the end of one of my beds. The garlic cloves will remain in the soil for sprouting in early spring. When it comes time for new garden planning and planting I'll know this area is taken.

The winter float garden.

It's important to get your seeds or seedlings planted early enough to allow them to grow and mature before the first frost arrives in your area. After that, plant growth will slow down. In my area, early August is about the last opportunity to get things going. Another tip is to pick cold tolerant varieties.

Do you have a winter garden? What kinds of things do you grow?

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-first round of the meme originally established by Denise Nesbitt. It has now being maintained by Melody and her team

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Paddling the Pacific Northwest" by Wayne J. Lutz

A Christmas
Shopping Suggestion

Paddling the Pacific Northwest
by Wayne J. Lutz

Takes you on a kayak adventure.

Grab a paddle as the author leads you on day trips and overnight adventures on the rivers and lakes of northwestern Washington. 

Paddling the Pacific Northwest takes you to out-of-the-way destinations where kayaking allows us to pursue our innermost individual freedoms. Come along on freshwater exploits in a sea kayak as a Canadian paddler heads south to probe the rivers of Washington, searching for “slow pushers” to propel his kayak lazily downstream mile after mile. A travelogue memoir of enlightening adventures set in the magic of the Pacific Northwest.

Print for $12.95
Kindle for $5.99 
Other E-book formats for $5.99

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Cabin Baking: Cabin Carrot Cake

I have a small floating garden at my cabin (keeps critters away) and one of my crops is carrots. Believe it or not, my root crops and kale last in the ground through winter. When carrots are this plentiful, I substitute them for apples in my Cabin Cake recipe. Yum!!

Cabin Carrot Cake

¼ cup raisins
¾ cup grated carrots
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves or allspice
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water

Heat ingredients together in a pan until melted and the raisins plump. Cool before proceeding.

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts) if desired

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cooled wet mixture. Stir until well blended. Add pecans or walnuts (if desired). Pour into a greased and floured 8X4” loaf pan. In addition to greasing, I like to add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom to prevent sticking. Pour the mixed ingredients into the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not over bake because it tends to become dry.

When a toothpick comes out clean, it's done.

Cream Cheese Frosting

¼ cup butter (or margarine) softened
4 oz. cream cheese softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Blend butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and whip by hand until smooth. Mix in vanilla. This recipe make more than enough frosting for a loaf cake.

If you don't have all the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting, whipping cream makes a good substitute.

This recipe is derived from one called War Cake in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook. During the war, eggs and other ingredients were hard to come by due to rationing. That's how this modern-day eggless recipe got its name. And it's a good one to use at the cabin for the same reason. Groceries are a 25 minute boat and 15 minute car ride away (times two to get back home). -- Margy

Monday, December 04, 2017

Give a Christmas Gift that Features Powell River

Give a little bit of
Powell River
for Christmas

Put a little "sunshine" in your holiday shopping. Head on over to PowellRiverBooks.com and take a look inside these exciting books in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series. They're popular with locals and visitors to the Sunshine Coast because they're all about our Powell River region. Each book focuses on a different perspective. I know there's one that will fit someone special on your shopping list.

Up the Lake with stories about hiking, boating, flying and survival off the grid in a floating cabin on Powell Lake. This was the first book in the series and has a variety of stories about the Powell River region.

http://www.amazon.com/Main-Coastal-British-Columbia-Stories-ebook/dp/B003IWYEOU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid= Up the Main focuses on getting into the Powell River backcountry by bike, quad, and hiking. Come ride along with us on a quad to places like Theodosia Inlet, the head of Powell Lake, and on logging roads and local trails near and far.

Up the Winter Trail takes the reader snowshoeing, hiking and biking during the winter months. This would be a good book if you are planning on coming to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Up the Strait cruises the Strait of Georgia to uncrowded and pristine anchorages. Follow our 24' Bayliner Halcyon Days into Desolation Sound, to unique Mittlenatch Island and the Gulf Islands.

Up the Airway wings you across Canada to show off our beautiful country from up above. Fly along with us in our Piper Arrow, land to camp at remote strips with gorgeous scenery, and meet unique animals like the muskox.

Farther Up the Lake follows in the footsteps of Wayne's most popular book, Up the Lake. Read about living off the grid in a float cabin, the beauties of Powell Lake and the many different ways you can enjoy the backcountry.

Farther Up the Main takes you beyond the original Up the Main to explore the glaciers of Mt. Alfred, the remote Theodosia wilderness, a logging road ride to our cabin, and on an impromptu overnight stay waiting for a summer swollen stream to subside.

Farther Up the Strait takes you on voyages to more remote inlets and anchorages in Desolation Sound and beyond. Did you ever want to put a new engine in your boat? Follow along as our Halcyon Days gets a new lease on life and energy boost.

Cabin Number 5 follows John as he constructs a float cabin from the water up.  Over the years, when time and money are available, the cabin grows board by board. If you've ever dreamed of living off-the-grid, you'll enjoy Cabin Number 5 (yes, it's the fifth one John's built).

Off the Grid is the story of transitioning from city-folk life when we bought our cabin. We learned how to generate our own power, use propane for appliances, maintain a kitchen garden, live in harmony with nature, and exchange our hectic lives for a more simple lifestyle.

Beyond the Main takes you beyond the stories in Up the Main and Farther Up the Main as Wayne and I explore the Powell River and Powell Lake backcountry on our ATVs. Discover trails to ride and meet local off-road enthusiasts who are glad to show you the way.

Powell Lake by Barge and Quad takes you on a unique tour of the Powell River region. Following Up the Main, Farther Up the Main, and Beyond the Main, this book takes you on Powell and Goat Lake adventures with our barge loaded with quads to explore places few people get to see.

Off the Grid: Getting Started is the newest book in the Coastal BC Stories series. Following titles like Up the Lake, Cabin Number 5 and Off the Grid, this book gives the reader information and tips about going from city life to off the grid. As in previous books, our float cabin home is an example of how we made the move and lifestyle switch.

All books are available online in Kindle and Kobo and print formats through Amazon. E-book readers can also find the titles available through Smashwords and many other e-book sellers. Print books are also available locally in Powell River at Coles.

For more information, go to PowellRiverBooks.com. Happy Holiday Shopping! -- Margy

Saturday, December 02, 2017

"At Home in Nature" by Rob Wood

I'm always on the lookout for books by locals, especially those that tell about living in remote locations and off the grid. I was recently looking at Facebook and saw a post by Rocky Mountain Books for one that caught my eye, At Home in Nature: A Life of Unknown Mountains and Deep Wilderness by Rob Wood (Rocky Mountain Books, 2017).

After exciting lives as rock climbers, Rob and his wife Laurie built an off-the-grid home on Maurelle Island between Vancouver Island and the mainland. I especially enjoyed the off the grid living sections of Rob's memoir.

Our boat at Surge Narrows.
There's an old saying, "Write what you know." Here's another one, "Read what you know." I enjoyed this book immensely because it made me feel connected.  I live off the grid on the mainland side of the Strait of Georgia near Powell River. We've boated through Rob's area including Surge Narrows. I've also read about the region in off-the-grid books by J. David Cox from nearby Read Island.

Heriot Bay fuel dock on Quadra.
Familiar references piqued my interest. Heriot Bay on neighbouring Quadra Island was a resupply point. Rob talked about the remote dock on Quadra and the Surge Narrows school and community center mentioned by David Cox in his books and on his blog.  I remember seeing the Misty Isles tour boat at Mitlenatch Island, and characters such as Kayak Bill who was an early extreme rock climbing partner of Rob's turned coastal hermit.

The drawing on the cover was enticing, but I would have enjoyed a few more pictures to enhance the story. A map of the region would also have been helpful for those not familiar with the area, and people who might want to visit and explore on their own.

Passing through Okisollo Channel south of Maurelle Island.

I recommend At Home by Nature for anyone who enjoys reading about people who are adventurous and are willing to live life to its fullest. It's also a great book to read if you are coming to visit Coastal BC to become familiar with the people, places and things to do.

I purchased the Kindle version because it's easier for me to read at my own off-the-grid cabin. If you prefer a print version, that's also available at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, online booksellers and local bookstores. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Undercover Gardening

The last of my lettuce and greens.
Fall is the time I put most of my garden to bed, but with a little bit of care the growing season can be extended and outdoor plants in containers can be protected through the cold months. When my rhubarb stops producing in fall, I cover the container to protect the roots.

My rhubarb growing in a container.
I start by removing any remaining small stalks, then crumple newspaper to provide several inches of insulation.

Air pockets in the scrunched up paper provide protection from cold and ice. Next comes a round of cardboard.

The final step is to cover the cardboard with soil.

I have protected my rhubarb like this for over ten years. Last year it was doing so well I was able to divide the roots.

The other thing I do in fall is protect the last of my greens to enjoy them for as long as possible. I use either plastic mesh or small tomato cages to support covers made from clear tall kitchen plastic garbage bags. It makes a quick and easy greenhouse.

The bags protect the containers from getting too wet during fall rainstorms. They also focus warmth from the waning sun and protect the plants from the worst effects of freezing temperatures.

The plant that did the best using my impromptu green houses was Corn Salad. In a small container it doesn't produce much, but the fresh tasty leaves continued to use in salads throughout winter.

Last summer I made a hoop tunnel to protect my lettuce from the hot summer sun. It continues to provide protection for the remaining lettuce, chard and arugula.

Do you grow fall and winter crops? How do you protect them for extended harvests? -- Margy

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas Shopping Suggestions


And get special pricing at Amazon on two of our popular Kindle titles!

Off the Grid
Getting Started

Description: In Wayne's thirteenth book in the Coastal BC Stories series, he shares how we got started in making a home in a remote location away from public utilities and services.  Have you ever dreamed of moving off the grid and living in harmony with nature? What will it take? How do you get started? In Off the Grid: Getting Started, Wayne shares valuable insights from our experiences that will inspire and assist you in fulfilling your own dream of a major lifestyle change.

Click here for your special holiday Kindle price.

Across the Galactic Sea
First Contact Science Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/Across-Galactic-Sea-Wayne-Lutz-ebook/dp/B00AR6AOLCDescription: Spaceship Challenger is on mankind’s first galactic voyage using a high-tech blend of space jumps and cryogenic hibernation. Captain Tina Brett leads her ship towards the ultimate goal, first contact with alien intelligence, until a navigational glitch changes everything. Then there's a mutiny, or is it something more? Six individuals on an epic journey for the good of mankind.

Click here for your special holiday Kindle price.


Click here if you need a Kindle or a free Kindle App.
Both books are also available in print format.

Happy reading from Wayne and Margy