is saying something

We could be coming up to the best show the nature channel has to offer. It has been a nine year wait since the last really good episode of herring spawn in the local waters but it is looking like the sequel is finally going to be released.

There have been gorgeous photos on the news of the recent spawn up the island from where we live. It looks to be a good one this year. Today, I saw herring under our deck release their eggs. The seas are full of the tiny fish, causing the water to ripple and the wee bubbles to rise to the top.

It would perhaps be beneficial at this time to repeat the chronology of the events of the last great herring spawn in 2014.

March 21 – We saw herring below the deck releasing their eggs with the little bubbles floating to the surface.

April 2 – Spawn at Mudge. Eggs visible on the kelp, water white with milt. Gulls, eagles feasting on the herring which the hundreds of sea lions push to the surface.

April 5 – Pod of Orca (5) follow the spawn through Dodd Narrows

April 8 – Milt outside of our marina

April 9 – Milt outside the marine park. Hundreds of eagles, sea lions and sea birds

April 10 – Milt appears in the bay at the front of our family’s south house, slowly spreading to the next bay as well.

April 13 – The waters of the entire south side of the island are white and inundated with sea life.

My favorite memory of that time was sitting in beach chairs on the point at my sister in law’s watching the sea lions push the herring up against the rocks. Often the herring would jump up and land on the rocks beside us to get away. They were literally six feet from where we were sitting. E, who can’t kill anything, was picking the herring up and throwing them back in the water to give them a fighting chance.

In addition to a walk down memory lane to 2014, I will take a moment to remind you that it was three years ago this week that Bobby the humpback whale arrived for his three month stay and E got this picture of an Orca in front of our house.

Considering the sights we have seen in the eleven years we have lived here, we could be coming up to the best show there is, and that

is saying something

to eat bananas

E is currently going through a particularly gruesome annual chemical peel which keeps him inside, away from the sun and other humans, while he feels and looks miserable. Transplant recipients are high risk for skin cancer so it is something he has to do and it is horrid. So while he is recovering and Piper is recuperating from his surgery, Shanty and I are just trying to keep quiet and stay out of their way.

This allows me hours on Youtube watching videos on topics like rose propagation, pressure canning and cast iron pan seasoning. Most of these channels are run by self titled homesteaders but, they often wander off topic to nonsense, especially the men, but there are one or two of the women who have a lot of great gardening advice. So I ignore the political yammering and skim ahead to the part where they teach me how to store farm fresh eggs in a glass jar for eight months with no ill effects.

I did take some time today to go up to the garden in the sunshine to check on the rose experiment situation. It was 35 degrees in the greenhouse so, needless to say, the rose babies no longer need a glass jar over each pot. In fact, I might have already fried one or two. The other two growing in the ground are so healthy that I was able to plant them each in their own pot.

The garlic is healthy but only half the size it was this time last year. I really don’t know if it is because it’s a different type or the weather we have been having, but I weeded the bed none the less and I am sure it will be fine.

We are still waiting on the herring to arrive. They are getting closer. They were in Nanoose today. There is a fishing boat which has been contracted by fisheries to test the herring population in the different areas up and down the coast. They are currently sitting out front of us. Presumably tomorrow we will read an update on what they were able to find.

It has been nine years since we had a really good spawn in these waters. I really hope it happens next week when our grandkids are here. We have to go to Vancouver at the end of the month for E’s annual testing at the hospital. If the spawn happens while we are off island, I will be displeased to say the least.

The banana rose growing experiment had a couple of unexpected hiccups. I found two of the containers on stems which had been pulled down to the ground, the soil removed and the bananas eaten. No one on any of the Youtube channels I watched about propagating roses mentioned that squirrels like

to eat bananas.

To give away

We finally found a surgeon who would perform the urgent surgery on our dog. Piper had a benign tumour, on his face, which had to be removed or it would continue to grow, and eventually impede his ability to eat. All of the surgeons (many were asked) refused to operate because it was next to some important facial nerves. One agreed to do it for 6500.00. We thanked him and kept looking.

To facilitate Piper’s visit to the saint of a vet who offered to do the surgery for a much, much, much more reasonable cost, it required a trip up to Campbell River. A complicated process but to save that kind of money, we could handle the inconvenience. We spent the night with friends in Nanaimo and headed up island before dawn. After the operation, the doctor released our wee boy to us as soon as he absolutely could and we were able to drive back down island and home before dark. Piper was fairly woozy when we picked him, but I held on tight and we didn’t lose him overboard. His recovery seems to be going well at home.

There are lots of healthy wee vegetable seedlings covering our dining room table. They are doing really well under the new grow lights and on the heat mats, which last year’s plant sale funded. It puts us weeks and weeks ahead of schedule. The support of my gardening friends is much appreciated. I am hoping to repeat the sale this year.

I opened all my dahlia tubers and gladiola bulbs, which had been stored oh so carefully wrapped in paper, covered in wood chips and egg cartons. All of the gladiola are moldy and all but three dahlias rotten. It was very disappointing.

If you recall, last year I tried to grow a variety of roses from cuttings and just when everything was going very well, I fertilized all the babies and it killed them. I was left with only one Queen Elizabeth rose which survived. This year, I have tried to propagate roses in three different ways.

In September I pruned two branches off the Golden Opportunity rose, dipped them in rooting powder and stuck them in the dirt in the garden. They have had no extra attention or covering during the winter. They are doing really well, and there appears to be new growth on the stems.

In January I took 17 cuttings from various roses. I dipped them in rooting powder and put them in pots filled with a very sandy soil, in the greenhouse. They were left alone for six weeks. Then I watered them and put glass jars over each. At this point most of them seem to be doing well, I will not be fertilizing them.

The third method is really fun. Last week, I split a strong stem in half on four different roses. In the middle of the split I placed a banana skin. Then I wrapped a banana around the whole stem and zip tied it in place. Then I wrapped a plastic jar filled with potting soil around the banana and again zip tied it in place. Apparently, and this remains to be seen, in a couple of weeks the jar will be full of roots and I can cut the stem away from the mother plant to pot on its own.

With any luck this year I will have roses to plant in the garden where I had expected to plant dahlias and gladiola.

Still very little rain falling and we are about 2000 gallons shy of having full water storage tanks. Time is running out with pollen season arriving any minute. If there are a couple of solid days of rain in June (like we used to have every year) we will be fine. But it is frustrating for sure to have those tanks sitting unfilled.

Last year. I had a pink lace hydrangea that I had grown from a cutting as a door prize. This year it looks like I will have a rose

to give away

understood her assignment

Lots to cover today on the nature channel. Let’s get to it.

We have Columbia black-tailed deer on our island. In an effort to help you increase your knowledge about Columbia black-tailed deer, I thought I would share with you the very little bit I know about their antlers.

Only the males grow antlers and they shed them every year. The antlers are reputedly the fastest growing tissue know to man. Beginning in the spring, they can take as long as four months, growing up to 1/2 inch per day to reach full size.

Over the summer the antlers are covered with a soft hair, likened to velvet, which the deer then rub off in the fall using trees to help them. They seem to especially like my dogwood and apple trees so I have wire caging around the younger trees to protect them.

The healthy male retains his antlers throughout breeding season. The females prefer bucks with large heavy antlers, indicating good health. A six point buck is likely around 2 years old. The bucks use their antlers to not only impress the women folk but also to intimidate or fend off the competition. E and I have in fact found skid marks on our driveway which indicated an obvious battle had taken place there over night.

Bucks tend to hang around with other bucks, when not canoodling, and have nothing to do with raising the young. The females tend to all hang out together, led by the eldest mother. The young males will stay with their moms until they are about 18 months old. Antler shedding happens between December and March and then the whole process begins again when the hormones are activated with the sunlight of the spring.

It has been cold and miserable lately and there is no work happening around here. We are plowing through British crime dramas on the TV while we try to stay warm by the fire. I have a new-found, yet understandable, issue with leaving the woodstove burning while we are asleep, so we are typically waking up to a house temperature of about 13 degrees. It is nothing another sweater and a few blankets can’t fix, if it helps me sleep better. The house really warms up quickly if E makes a wee batch of scones for breakfast.

How I see the garden in my mind is very different from how it looks these days.

The water situation in the storage tanks is good but not great. Although cold out, it really hasn’t rained very much. Time is running out to fill them before pollen season but, honestly, it would only take a couple of days of really good rain to see us topped up for the summer. We are currently sitting at 5500 gallons with 2700 to go.

The cormorants do this all the time and I have seen the eagle do it once, after a swim on a sunny day, but this is unusual behavior for him during a snow storm. He looks kind of angry.

We tasked the dogs to help us find deer antlers for a project which our soon to be official, but already doing the job, daughter-in-law is working on. Our wee girl Shanty found five of them this month. She definitely

understood her assignment

an eternal optimist

It is very difficult for me to be patient while I have to wait for spring and my time in the garden. Last year, with the new addition of the greenhouse, I was eager, too eager, and started my seedlings in the greenhouse when clearly the temperatures were not high enough. I ended up carrying trays of peat pots back down to the house.

I had lots of great feedback from my friends after last year’s plant sale. More cherry tomatoes were requested as well as more yellow and perhaps a tumbler. My preference is for good sauce tomatoes but a variety is good fun too. I like to grow baby tomatoes that you couldn’t normally find at a local nursery. This year, I think I have found a great variety. There are sixteen in total so I thought I would break them up into groups for you to see and perhaps be inspired for your own garden if you can’t buy your plants from me. We will start with the Cherry type.

Candyland Red – Early ripening currant sized. 100+ tiny red super sweet 1/4 oz fruit with concentrated flavour. Compact, won’t take over your garden. Indeterminate.

Cherry Falls – Produces bright red, sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes on productive, semi-determinate vines. Its vigorous growth habit will give you extremely high yields and the trailing vines make it ideal for container or basket growing. Does not need staking or pinching. This determinate tomato produces fruit all summer.

Sungold Cherry – Super sweet, early bearing, fruit all season in 10-20 fruit clusters. Exceptionally sweet and bright tangerine colored. Indeterminate .

Super Sweet 100’s – High yields of well rounded, deep red, sweet 3/4-1 inch fruit. Vigorous indeterminate vine requires support.


With the generator project finished, E is waiting to start the propane project. While he waits, we picked up his new chainsaw on Thursday and started to deal with the half-charred trees on the Crescent. It is the same as his last chainsaw but cost literally twice what he paid eight years ago. So far, he has taken down three trees which had no hope of surviving and still there are a few to go. On the upside it gives us some of the firewood we need. (Stihl MS291 chainsaw $650.00)

Next to the sweet potatoes, lettuce and spinach, 56 tomatoes have been planted. Theoretically, the heat mats and grow lights which I bought with the profits from last year’s plant sale will make the difference to this year’s seedlings. Seed starting an entire month earlier than ever before? I am nothing if not

an eternal optimist

some what windy

We had to go to town yesterday, for a Vet appointment which couldn’t be postponed. There was a wind warning out for the area with gusts to 70k predicted. We picked Piper up from the vet as soon as we could, and, while he was still pretty dopey, jumped on the boat and were home before the storm began. Our weather station clocked the gusts at 54km last night.

After I have perhaps mentioned fire related topics a few times lately on my social media sites, the grand algorithm in the sky started sending me links to articles related to forest fires. One such article described wood boring beetles who rush to freshly burned forests to lay their eggs in the charred bark of the trees. Closely following the beetles are woodpeckers who come to feed on the beetles. After the woodpeckers and beetles are gone, smaller birds like wrens will use the holes remaining to make a nest.

I thought to myself, “that’s interesting,” and took my camera up to the site of the fire and, wouldn’t you know, it’s already happening here.

I spend a good deal of my time these days poring over seed catalogs and eyeing the growing stack of seed packages on the table. I have made a planting time table, and designed a guide of what will be planted where and beside whom. There will be a wide variety of new veggies to try to grow this year, along with 17 types of tomatoes. The garden will be bursting.

I am hoping to sell the vegetable starts again this year, but if no one wants them, perhaps I can sell the veggies themselves to islanders. I really just like the fun of growing different plants from seed.

There is already lettuce, spinach, and annual hibiscus started in the living room next to the sweet potatoes. They are all sitting on heat mats which were bought last year with the profits from the plant sale.

JPod came by mid-day. They are resident Orca who feed on Chinook. There looked to be eight or ten of them but it is hard to tell when they will neither stay still for photos nor all come up for a breath at the same time.

All in all a beautiful Valentines Day on the nature channel, although

some what windy