Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Ghoulish Halloween

A quick Halloween post to show off my two little ghouls. They definitely revelled in being very spooky, creepy and mysterious.

Here is our "Most Popular Pumpkin of the Year", the SpongeBob jack-o-lantern created by Joe. Almost every visitor to our door commented on it!

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fall Fun, Featuring Noah the Horse-Headed Boy!

We went on another jaunt to a local apple farm yesterday and I snapped this hilarious pic - the horse put his head right in front of Noah just as I snapped it! We were laughing so hard at the resulting photo that another family asked to take a look at our camera to see what was so funny.

Okay, so we are easily amused but this has all the makings of a classic McLaughlin family photo.

Joe also got a good photo of both boys (with their own heads!) hanging out with the bunnies at the farm. As you can see, Noah's already getting geared up for Halloween (Halloween runs a very close second to Christmas in holiday importance around here).

And oh, yes, I remembered to get a pic of this sign that I missed out on last time as we were sans camera.

Love it! I think I should make one to hang outside my house.

McLaughlin "Urban Farm" Gets Ready for Winter

Wow, it's been a month since I last posted here! That's probably because life has been very, very full in the last few weeks. I hosted a baby shower for a friend of mine on September 24th, then the next weekend we had two birthday parties to celebrate Nathan turning seven (one friends, one family) and last weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada!

In amidst the flurry of all those activities, I've been busy harvesting, preserving and preparing my garden for winter. We had our first frost this week, so I got everything done none too soon.
Now I have green tomatoes ripening in a basket on my countertop, a fridge full of peppers and celery, and a variety of dried herbs stashed in my spice drawer. I also transplanted a bit of my oregano, parsley, and basil into small pots for my kitchen windowsill so hopefully they will thrive and I will have some fresh herbs throughout the winter.

Another project I've been working on in the garden is putting together a couple of cold frames to grow spinach and lettuce. This is the first time I've ever tried this, so we'll see how it goes. After looking at a few different cold frame constructions, I settled on a less-traditional but hopefully effective design. This is build with three layers of brick (it's a lot deeper than it seems from the photo). The white cloth at the side is agricultural cloth, which will cover the top to keep in the heat (held down snugly with more bricks). Nathan helped me lay some of the bricks for these. I chose this setup rather than the wooden frame with an old window type of design, because I have both limited storage space and garden space and I can totally disassemble these in the spring when I'm done using them for the season (I put the bricks and agricultural cloth to different uses throughout the course of the growing season).

I've also brought in two of my pepper plants to see if I can keep them going through the winter indoors; I've read of others having success with this and I have a large southern facing window so I figured I'd give it a shot. New peppers are still forming on the plants, so things look good so far.

Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the first season of my biointensive gardening experiment. The biggest success was definitely the bush beans (green and yellow) - they were amazingly productive and delicious to boot! The greens (lettuce and spinach) and the peppers also did very well. The hanging tomatoes were reasonably productive; I'm hoping to have some nice planters to plant some on the deck next year as well. My raspberry canes seemed to be thriving and produced a few handfuls of berries (not bad since I just planted them this year). We'll have to wait for next year to see how the blueberries do! I had a few failures too - the pumpkins, watermelon, and cucumbers all died off without producing. Next year I am hoping to add a dwarf pear tree to my mix of fruit; I've read they can be grown in large planters (such as a 1/2 barrel). What with my indoor gardening experiments, tending to my cold frame veggies, and planning for next spring's garden, I should be plenty busy all winter!