Tracy Wandling

steward
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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

Thanks for the replies, gang. I'll try our your ideas.

The socks and pants he wears, he has owned for a while, so it's not that. And there just isn't anything else new that could be causing an allergic reaction.

Perhaps it is a circulation thing, so I'll try some massage too. Hopefully I can give him some relief.
1 month ago
My friend has recently become afflicted with insanely itchy calves - sort of where the top of his socks are, and slightly higher. There is no rash, it's not hives, and it's driving him crazy.
We haven't change laundry soaps, or any thing like that. It seems to me that if there is no rash, it must be a nerve thing? I really don't know.

Does anyone know of anything that I might try to help him out? He's threatening to go to the doctor, and I just know they'll give him something nasty to put on it. I'd really like to try some other options before he decides to slather cortisone or something on it.

Any ideas?
1 month ago
As much as I love the abundance of summer in the garden, autumn has its own abundance. I love the colors of autumn. I love the crisp cool air, and the smell after the rain. And I’m excited to compile all of the information from this first year garden, and decide what I will grow where next year. I love the planning.

I have herbs drying for teas and cooking - parsley, lemon balm, bee balm, stevia, rosemary, oregano, sage, and soon some chives - and concoctions brewing for herbal remedies and skin care.









And I made my first ferments! Wow. So tasty. I sorta kinda followed a recipe I found on line that is a bit like kimchi, but uses kale. I have a lot of kale. And I loved it!

So I’ve done another 6 quarts, using some purchased veg - garlic, bok choi, jalapeños, ginger, carrots - and as much as I can from the garden:

kale
chard
beet tops
parsley
summer celery
leeks
green onions
chives

The next one will include the above, plus some carrots, kohlrabi, and beets that are about ready, and as many herbs as we have left hanging around: rosemary, sage, and oregano mainly. Oh, and I’m going to throw in some lemon balm into a jar as well. Hopefully it will add a nice citrus flavour. I wonder if the medicinal qualities will remain after fermenting? Should be an interesting experiment. AND! Cilantro. I’ll put that in a couple of jars and see how it tastes.

I’ll also have some green tomatoes, and will try those in some ferments to see how it tastes. Maybe do it with cilantro, garlic, and hot peppers, to make a fermented green salsa! mmmmmm

Anyway, I think fermenting is my new favorite way to preserve! Next year I hope to have a good dehydrator, but this year fermenting is the way I’m going.




But the garden season isn’t really over. There are still things growing in the garden; still things to harvest, and hopefully some to eat throughout the winter - unless we get gobs of snow like we did last winter. But the kale is tall enough to poke up through the snow. : )




Still growing in the garden:

Parsley
Chives
Summer Celery (which didn’t grow worth a damn in the summer, but kicked in when the cooler weather came)
Chard
Kale
Arugula
Kohlrabi
Carrots
Beets
Beet tops
Mustard











And the flowers:

Calendula
Marigold
Sweet Allysum
Cosmos (which are HUGE, and didn’t start blooming until the end of September)






I planted some veggies at the beginning of September, but then we got weeks of rain, and very little sun, so they didn’t all really kick in. But I’ll be getting some beet tops, chard, kale, baby greens, and cilantro, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

And of course, the cool, damp weather has brought out the slugs and snails. But that’s to be expected here on the Wet Coast. We have to share. : )

Most of the garden doesn’t get any sun now, so I’m harvesting all I can, and will put it to bed soon.





Compost

We do love gathering things for the compost. Of course, there are the leftovers from harvesting, cleaning out the garden, and chopping veggies for the ferments, which all go in the compost.

We also pee in jars and put that on the compost piles. : )

In the name of diversity, we also gather leaf mold from the forest floor of deciduous forests; and we’ll be gathering maple leaves soon from the same spot we gathered from last year, to use to mulch the garden.

AND! When we go for walks with the dog . . . we gather elk poop. : ) Yes indeed. We take our bags and our gloves and scoop it up and take it home. We’ve done lots of looking around, and found the best places where they congregate and eat in the evenings. We don’t have room for animals here, so this is how we’re incorporating animal manure into our compost piles.

It’s great exercise, and I’ve gotten to see a lot of the country side around my new home. It’s quite beautiful, and quite abundant. We also spent quite a bit of time this summer gathering deadfall to use in the rocket stove; and of course, last fall when we were building the garden, we gathered deadfall to use in the hugelkultur garden beds. There is an abundance of material in nature that we can use for building healthy gardens. We don’t have to buy it.

And seaweed! We’ll be gathering that as well. Such diversity in our compost piles will surely make the second year in the this garden even better.

The one resource that some of you might find controversial is . . . recycling peat and perlite that we find dumped in the woods, that was once used for growing marijuana. We get that a lot around here. : )

Having read up on how grow ops generally grow their weed, and knowing that it’s generally grown safely around here, I have few qualms about using it. We put it through the compost process, layered in with the greens, manure, straw, and urine, and feel quite safe using it after that. Most of the stuff we gathered had been sitting out for quite a while, so it has been rained on and leached.

The fact is, I just couldn’t let such as valuable resource go to waste. All that organic matter! And the waste of such a precious and finite resource as peat moss! I just couldn’t do it. It’s perfect for beefing up the sandy soil here. So, while some may think this a bit crazy, I am pretty confident that it is a good thing.




~

And that’s the fall garden! It really was an amazing first year garden. Most things worked well, a few weren’t great but still contributed to our summer diet, and a couple were total fails. But that’s gardening - it’s always an experiment in timing, climate, pest control, and soil health. I always learn a lot, and will apply what I’ve learned this year to next year’s garden.

You really do have to observe a site for a year before you know all there is to know about it. Light being the limiting factor here, I’ve learned where I’ll be planting things next year to get the most out of the garden in space and time. If it were MY place, there are a couple trees that I’d cut down. But it’s not, so I won’t. : ) So it will be a matter of utilizing the light there is, and optimizing the space to get the best harvest.

I’ve scoped out a better spot to grow tomatoes for next year - they just didn’t get enough light on the deck - and hopefully we’ll have a better harvest next year.

I hope you all had a fabulous garden season, and were able to put aside a little for the winter.

And now, to wait until the new seed catalogs come out!

Cheers
Tracy

PS

As you probably know, Paul and Shawn’s book is printed and ready for purchase - you can grab a copy HERE.. As you may not know, I illustrated and did the layout for the book. I just got my copies in the mail, and I think it’s GORGEOUS! But I might be a little biased . . . : )



4 months ago
August update

Planting a fall garden is like spring all over again! Preparing the soil, adding compost, planting seeds, and watching daily for signs of life. I love it.





The peas that were planted in March finished, and I’ve cleared them out and planted broccoli, green onions and parsley. I planted the fall peas along the fence, along with green onions, dill and cilantro.





Fall carrots have been planted, as well as a new crop of mustard, to take over when the current crop goes to seed. I’ll sow some pac choi, when the weather cools down a bit more. Radishes too.

The volunteer tomato plant that sprung up in the garden has fruits forming. Curious to see how much we get from it, and what kind of tomato it is. We had some more volunteer tomatoes spring up in a pot, which we transplanted to the garden, and some other pots, just to see what happens.

We had our first cucumber the other day - so juicy and tasty. I planted Green Dragon cucumbers, from West Coast Seeds. One of the plants has the usual Green Dragon fruits. But the other two have different fruits - smoother, shorter, and fatter. Not sure what happened there, but they’re all tasty. That’s all that really matters. Green Dragon is an F1 hybrid.





The kohlrabi is also doing okay. Very tasty, too.





I took out the last two zucchini plants. I think the blossom end rot is a calcium deficiency. Definitely not a lack of pollination - the garden is always buzzing with bees and other insects. So next year I’ll have to make sure I get some calcium into the place where I’ll be planting zucchini. I really miss having it. It’s one of my faves, and I LOVE zucchini bread. : (

I have some leeks growing, and am curious to see how they do once the weather gets cold and the garden isn’t getting much sun.

The Black Turtle Beans are LOADED with pods. I’m pretty stoked about that. Really looking forward to trying homegrown black beans. I love black beans, but have never grown them. They are in the process of drying down now. If I get a good harvest, I’ll plant more next year.





I have a couple of scarlet runner beans growing by the gate. They got majorly set back by slug damage when they were small, but they have bounced back, and are growing really well. They have reached the top of the fence, and are blooming, and even making some pods. They’re quite lovely.

The sweetpeas are gracing the garden fence with their sweet blossoms. My favorite scented garden flowers. The sweet alyssum (my second favorite scented garden flower) bloomed sweetly, and I cut it back to get a second bloom. The nasturtiums are running rampant, and bringing hummingbirds to the garden. Nice. I had to take out a couple of massive ones, to make room for more food. Marigolds and calendula are still pumping out the blossoms; but the borage is winding down - although I see that they have dropped their seeds all over, and I am ‘weeding’ them out. The bees will miss them. But there are still plenty of bloomin’ things in the garden.




This whole garden has been an experiment to see what grows well in a garden with less than optimal light. So far so good on most things. Now to see how it does in winter. Most of the garden really won’t be getting much sun at all in the winter, so hopefully things grow fast over the next couple of months, and I’ll have veg to harvest in the winter. I’m trying to be strategic in where I plant things, so they get as much sun as possible.









The parsley and arugula are still going gang busters. II’ve been making pesto with the greens in the garden. I’ll be making a bunch more to put in the freezer. Great way to preserve greens for winter tasties. So far I’ve made arugula, arugula and parsley, and turnip greens and kale pestos. Pretty dang tasty.

Pestos I’m going to try:

Parsley and dill - this would be awesome on fish, or as a salad dressing
Brassica greens and herbs - will be nice added to winter stews
Mustard - winter stews, stir fries, or as a marinade. yum
Cilantro - I’ll use this to make fresh salsa
I’m also going to try adding lemon balm to a batch and see what that’s like. Might be nice with the cilantro.

Rosemary and oregano will be dried, along with parsley, summer savory, sage, and hopefully a bit of thyme. I started the thyme from seed, so it’s still pretty small. But it will kick in next year and I’ll have lots.

Other things that I will be drying are kale, tomatoes (we had our first ripe ones the other day!), and peppers. And we’re going to pick a bunch of blackberries too, and dry them. Maybe make fruit leather out of them. That would be yummy.







The cucumbers are doing surprisingly well, considering they don’t get as much sun as they probably prefer. I’m going to try some fermented pickles with them, although they’re not the pickling type. I’ve heard that they might not be crisp once fermented. But I’ll try a jar and see how it goes.

I’d also love to try some fermented salsa. I think that would be a great way to preserve summer freshness. I read that I can ferment greens, so I tried a jar, but it went bad. But I think I like the idea of making pesto with the greens instead, and freezing them - or just blanching and freezing. I think I’ll really enjoy that ‘fresh greens’ flavor this winter. I’ve got a jar of grated turnip that should be fermenting, but it’s not bubbly at all. Smells great, and definitely has a ‘fermenty’ smell. This is my first time doing ferments, so I don’t expect to get it all right the first time. : )




Fall and Winter crops

Broccoli
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Turnips
Beets
Mustard
Kale
Parsley
Carrots
Arugula
Cilantro
Green onions

Oh, and I’ll be planting garlic too. Better figure out where those are going to go, so I save space for them.





Herbal remedies projects

I’ve been picking and drying calendula flowers all summer, to make an infused oil to use as a base for salves and skin cream. My tiny house was festoon with hanging bunches for weeks. Very festive. I’ve got two quarts of calendula infused grapeseed oil brewing now. And I have two small jars, one of cayenne infused oil, and one of comfrey infused oil.









I’m also going to make a rosemary infused oil, and some herbal vinegars. Great to use for cooking, as well as skin and hair care! Hmmm maybe I should do Apple Cider Vinegar infused with rosemary for a hair rinse. That would be a good one. I also have 3 jars of Fire Cider brewing. All of these will sit for a month, and then I’ll strain and rebottle them.





I also have plantain (harvested from the property), and (other leaves that I don’t think I can mention the name of here) drying, to make into infused oils. And today I’ll lay out some lemon balm to dry, for the same purpose. I’m really having fun stocking up my apothecary. Can’t wait to start experimenting to see what works for our various aches, pains, and maladies. Menopause has left me a little ragged around the edges, so I’m excited about putting my new found remedies to the test. My skin and hair need some TLC. : )




The outdoor kitchen project

The outdoor kitchen is pretty much done. The structure is up and roofed. We decided to go with a clear roof, so the space will be a little brighter. The floor is cement and wood. Doesn’t it look great? There will be a table/counter in there at some point.





The rocket stove gets lots of use. We cook our dinners on it almost every night, as well as using it to make stove top granola and honied ginger on a regular basis. So tasty.

We do love playing with the rocket stove. So far we’ve cooked the normal fare - stew, stir fry, fried eggs, pasta, potatoes, etc. But we’ve also used it to make rice, oatmeal, and popcorn. And! We’ve use the cast iron Dutch oven on it to cook pizza, bread, cookies and biscuits. Works great - just have to put a few coals on top, and it’s just like a little oven. We went blackberry picking the other day, and made a blackberry crumble on the rocket stove. So delicious.





This week I’ll be digging a hole beside the rocket stove for the haybox cooker. I’m really looking forward to cooking up some big pots of beans and chickpeas to put in the freezer. I do love my black beans. : )

The in-ground cooler is working pretty well. I think we’ll add a little more insulation around the inner cooler to see if we can make that ice last a little longer. But eventually Rich is going to build a box to go inside the hole - which is lined with bricks - and make it good and insulated. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

~

Things that are doing/did really well in the garden:

broccoli - still getting side shoots galore
parsley
arugula (perennial)
snowpeas
mustard
cucumber
black beans
radish
green onion
kale
oregano
thyme
chives
cilantro
lemon balm
nasturtium
marigold
borage
calendula
sweetpeas
sweet alyssum

Things that did/are doing okay

carrots
turnips
lettuce
summer savory
kohlrabi
rapini
bee balm

Things that didn’t do well

zucchini - blossom end rot - lack of calcium?
summer celery - pretty puny. I don’t think I’ll plant it again next year. I have lovage growing now, so that will be my celery replacement.


And that’s where we’re at with all of our projects.  I’m very pleased, and look soooo forward each day to picking my food fresh from the garden, and cooking it in the outdoor kitchen. And I’m loving building up my store of herbal remedies from the garden and property. This is the life. : )

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful gardening season.

Cheers
Tracy
6 months ago
Thanks, Nancy. I'm really enjoying this garden. Just about to do an update!

Always happy to be an inspiration!
6 months ago
Yeah, it's a pretty fiery blend. Best used in small quantities. : ) But lots of goodness in there. It's a great tonic.
6 months ago
I just made some Fire Cider. It has to sit for a month, and then I'll strain it.

Fire Cider Recipe

1 lg horseradish root, about 7” long, scrubbed, grated
1 lg ginger root, about 7” long, grated
1 lg onion, chopped
1 lg orange, skin and all, chopped
1 lemon, skin and all, chopped
16 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-4 habanero peppers, stem removed, chopped
1 tbsp ground turmeric, or fresh turmeric, grated
raw apple cider vinegar
raw honey (add after straining, to taste)

Run quickly through a food processor, or just chop the orange, lemon, and peppers into small chunks. Add everything to 2 quart jars (or whatever jars you have). Pour enough vinegar to cover. Seal and store in cool dark place for 4 weeks. Strain and bottle. Take 1-2 tbsp daily, or use as salad dressing, in cooking, or in hot water.

Other things I added: parsley, rosemary, oregano

I'm really looking forward to trying it. I've had pre-made Fire Cider, but have never made my own. It packs a punch!
6 months ago
Don't wait for brassica starts! Direct seeding works great for brassicas. Plant some really early - just a small patch, so that if you get some nasty weather, you won't lose much - and then plant them at 2 or 3 week intervals, so you have a continual harvest, instead of them all being ripe at the same time.

And you can direct seed most brassicas right up until September. This will give you a longer harvest window, in the spring and in the fall.  Most brassicas are very hardy, and some get even sweeter with light fall frosts.

Hope this helps!
Many mustard greens are very cold hardy. I planted in mid March, and was eating it before the end of April. Pac Choi as well. Radish has already been mentioned. Cilantro is also a cool weather crop. As is arugula. Mix all those together and you've got a pretty tasty salad!

Happy gardening!

Tracy
Thanks, Ben.

Yes, rapini is very good. It has a stronger taste than broccoli, but very enjoyable. And awesome in stir fry. : )
7 months ago