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Tracy Wandling

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since May 30, 2016
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Tracy is an artist, graphic designer, musician, gardener and permaculture addict. She has recently moved to the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, and is enjoying getting to know a new area.
Sunshine Coast, BC
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Recent posts by Tracy Wandling

This snail has been hanging out on this azalea for about a week. Really lovely.

1 week ago
Here's a good explanation of how the name came about - and why it's wrong.

". . . the English name came about through a mistranslation from Spanish.

The dish we English speakers know as refried beans is called frijoles refritos in Spanish: frijole being the Spanish word for “bean,” and “frito” being a Spanish adjective meaning “fried.” The translation error came about through the mistaken assumption that the prefix re- means in the same thing in Spanish as it does in English. Although placing re- before an English verb is a common way of indicating an action undertaken more than once (e.g., reschedule, reassign, redistribute), in Spanish that prefix is sometimes used as a form of emphasis. Therefore frijoles refritos are not beans that have been fried multiple times, but rather beans that have been well-fried, as Diana Kennedy explained in The Cuisines of Mexico:

Several people have asked me why, when the beans are fried, they are called refried. Nobody I asked in Mexico seemed to know until quite suddenly it dawned on me. The Mexicans have a habit of qualifying a word to emphasize the meaning by adding the prefix re-. They will get the oil very hot (requemar), or something will be very good (retebien). Thus refrito beans are well fried, which they certainly are, since they are fried until they are almost dry."

When I make beans for Mexican food, I don't fry them. I sauté up some minced garlic and onions, add the beans and water and spices, and simmer until they are in a thickened sauce. And I don't mash them.

mmmmm  I think I'll have to make up a pot of black beans tomorrow.
2 weeks ago
I am in the process of getting rid of the poisons in my life. I've started making my own toothpaste and deodorant, and while I've never been much for 'beauty' products, I have gotten rid of soaps and such, and am relying on the cleaning power of water as much as possible.

As for cleaning the house, although I am not sensitive to cleaners and scents, I surely don't want to be sucking chemicals into my body. So I don't use nasty stuff to clean my home. Water, a little lemon vinegar, and no paper towels!

Who else has traded in their Pine Sol for something a little more earth friendly?
2 weeks ago
Things are really growin'! The weather has been gloriously sunny, but night time temps are still cool.

But everything in the garden seems to be happy. And I'm happy. And what else matters, really? HA!

So, what's been planted in the garden . . .

pac choi
green onions
sweet alyssum
bee balm
lemon balm

In the grow shed, under lights (but taking a little holiday in the sun today):

sweet peppers
summer celery

In the greenhouse:


So my garden diet consists of greens right now - lettuce, spinach, kale, radish greens - and will soon be joined by mustard and pac choi. Perfect for stir fry!

The last seeds that need to be direct seeded in the garden are the beans. Then I'll transplant the zucchini at the end of May, and then it'll be all filled up!

Lots of succession planting going on. I've planted short rows of carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, beets, spinach, cilantro, and greens; and will just keep replanting every 2 or 3 weeks.

I'm also starting plans for the winter garden. I'll work toward having carrots, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, beets, brussels sprouts, rapini, and leeks going into winter. And there are plenty of greens that will grow well into fall and early winter here on the coast - spinach, mustard, cilantro, pac choi - and I'll have fall planted garlic as well.

Seed saving:

I think that seed saving is a very important part of gardening. Knowing how to grow food is an important skill. But knowing how to save seeds is going to be another important skill as we move into an increasingly uncertain future. I'm starting my seed bank now!

Because I have a lot of Brassicas growing in this garden, seed saving will be interesting. I think the best way might be to save seeds from only one variety each year, by only letting one go to seed. Although, if I time it right, I might be able to save from two, depending on when they flower. We'll see how it goes.

And that about wraps it up for April in the garden! I think things will be taking off really quickly with the warm May weather.

Happy gardening!


3 weeks ago
The only problem I've had so far is birds eating my pea seeds. But enough came up to make it worthwhile. For my fall pea planting I'll put a little cage over them until they sprout, or start them under cover.

The birds spend quite a bit of time in the garden eating worms. But they haven't bothered any of my transplants. So all is well. : )

Next week I'll be on the hunt for berry plants - I want to have raspberries, and perhaps some haskaps, along the edge of the garden. There are already plenty of blackberries on the property, so adding in a few other berries will be nice.

I picked a couple handfuls of greens for my first harvest! So fresh and delicious.

Happy gardening everyone!

1 month ago
I love spring. Green things are growing, things are blooming, and spending time outside in the garden is far more pleasant than slaving away over a hot computer. But I have to support my seed habit somehow. :)

So far in the garden these are green and growing:

kale, broccoli, broccoli raab, snowpeas, green onions, mustard, pac choi, radishes, cilantro, thyme, cilantro

And these have been seeded:

turnips, kohlrabi, arugula, parsley, spinach, nasturtiums, calendula, borage, carrots, sweetpeas, mixed greens, cosmos

I've also planted a couple of flower beds, and will be doing a couple more around the yard. Right now I'm just planting a wildflower mix for shade areas. But eventually I'll have some flowering perennials in there. Pretty.

Still more to be planted next month - black beans and zucchini. Yum. I've also got starts for tomatoes (Juliet and Gold Nugget), sweet peppers, marigolds, garlic chives, bergamot, leeks (summer and winter), basil, oregano, lovage, and celery.

The greens in the greenhouse are now ready for munching on.

The magnolia tree is blooming beautifully, and shedding its flowers on the garden.

It has been exciting sharing permaculture with my friend. He has really embraced it, and has become quite good at sourcing stuff for the compost. And he is learning about rocket stoves, too! Today he built one out of fire bricks, and we heated up some stew on it. It worked pretty dang good for his first try. He's going to keep working on the design, and learn more so we can build an outdoor kitchen. I think I've even convinced him to try building a rocket oven! Pretty excited about that.

I'm so happy that he is enthusiastic about permaculture. Just today we were talking about how we can use the greywater to water the flower beds, and he thinks he's figured out a good system. Awesomeness. And it didn't take much to convince him to pee on the compost. : ) He's quite a guy.

Stay tuned for further instalments!


1 month ago
I planted an entire 5x80' garden in 1 year old wood chips. The only soil that went in was the soil that the transplants were planted in. The wood chips were layered over buried wood, mown grass and weeds, and sand.

The garden was fantastic! You can see it if you click the link in my signature. I grew tomatoes, lettuce, onions, parsley, kale, broccoli, celery, zucchini, cucumbers, and maybe some other stuff I've forgotten. Everything was very happy.

I look forward to seeing how your tomatoes fare. I bet they will be very happy.
1 month ago
Aww, shucks. Thanks, Rosemary. It's kind of a dream come true to be a book illustrator. This is my second book, and I'm hoping for many more to come!
1 month ago