fond of them

Everyone makes rookie mistakes when they move to an island like this. My neighbours must have laughed and laughed when we barged over a load of pebbles to the island for a path in the garden. Rocks to an island made of large sandstone rock with a gazillion little sandstone rocks everywhere. EVERYWHERE, and, especially, everywhere in the garden. I have spent a very good portion of my time living here over the last ten years moving island rocks into buckets, out of the garden, off the driveway, and out of my shoes.

Fortunately, there are plenty of people willing to give advice and share their experiences with the new islanders. All they have to do is ask. If not asked, everyone will keep to their own business and let you figure it out on your own. If you ask for advice and don’t follow it, you have only yourself to blame when, for example, you have to be rescued from your sinking aluminum boat with the motor which was too heavy. But, as I said, all of us have made mistakes.

Fortunately, and I say this with some trepidation that I am going to jinx things, but other than a pair of glasses, we haven’t dropped anything into the ocean when loading our belongings on and off the boat. I know of others who have lost furniture. We always wear life jackets on the boat and I continue to wear mine when we are off-loading ’cause I am sure that if I ever do fall in, it will be when we are backing and forthing along the narrow finger beside the boat carrying heavy boxes. I can just see me ever so acrobatically falling in while heroically saving the box of groceries. For just such a situation we wear auto hydrostatic life jackets which inflate when wet but are lightweight and comfortable when dry. I often forget it is even on.

I don’t know where I am going with this but, if not obvious yet, I spent some time today pulling hundreds of little rocks out of the iris bed when I was supposed to be weeding. The bed is a mess and very high on my list of things to deal with this summer. I had thought at one point I would move the iris, dig out the bed and plant roses until I realized the bed is about four inches deep and actually just a rock ledge with iris planted on it. As I pulled all those little rocks out and threw them on the path I was reminded of the money I wasted bringing path pebbles to the island.

The good news from the greenhouse, because I know you have been worried, is that the tomatoes are alive. I didn’t kill them with my soapy spray. In fact, three of the four which were really damaged by the white fly yesterday give every impression of a complete recovery. So a collective whew!!!

And, because you have been so patient to read along so far, I include tonight a video of me feeding my sweet little squirrels. We have two who have been with us since we got here. I have grown quite

fond of them

get the memo

Since the whole romancing otter event two weeks ago, there has been little opportunity here on the nature channel to entertain you. To avoid reader disappointment I will again include a favorite video clip from the past. With any luck there be some newer activity to show you before I run out of favourite old videos.

When I went up to the greenhouse today, I discovered what could be a huge disaster. There are tomatoes which have obviously been under some sort of attack. Upon closer inspection, a few have white fly. Yikes. we could lose everything! I suspect the flies came in on some bedding plants I bought at Rona last week which are still sitting in the greenhouse waiting for the warm weather to arrive.

Before the fly infestation spreads too far I have sprayed everything. A mixture of grated homemade soap, warm water and a drop of vegetable oil shaken up in a spray bottle has always been my go to for aphids on roses but I was hesitant to use it on the tomatoes. After all, aren’t we always told not to let tomato leaves get wet? They are all sprayed now. Hopefully tomorrow I won’t go up to find everything dead.

In addition to the soap spray, I made a white fly trap… Yellow paper coated in a mixture of corn syrup mixed with an equal amount of water. I cooked it down until it was a glue and once cooled, I painted it on the yellow paper to dry. Tomorrow I will hang it in the greenhouse, with my fingers then crossed.

E has now redesigned his solar hot water project three or four times. Today, he rebuilt the first two boxes to add metal sheets painted black to the inside of the boxes, under the tubes. He still had extra materials so built and added a third box to the system.. It is an ongoing experiment…

Then, he stained a bit more of the deck…

The area in front of our house is a rockfish protection area and fishing is not allowed. The sea lions apparently didn’t

get the memo

really darned cute

Normally, I am a big fan of birds, big and small. I feed them, provide baths for their enjoyment and make sure there are lots of plants and flowers for their food and entertainment in the garden. Endless hours are spent watching these welcome visitors, and I have cared for countless injured hummers, gold finch and even a hawk, but I find it very difficult to see any redeeming qualities in the turkey vultures who live on our lane. They are just the ugliest creatures about and have no business hunting the ducks in front of our house. The ducks are very much alive, get lost….

Did I mention that we opened up the rain catchment system again? First, I washed the patio table every day until there were no more signs of pollen. E then power washed the gutters and, on April 26th, we opened the system which had been closed since March 3rd. The only positive from the crappy weather lately is that we can try to get the water tanks full to the brim again. I will let you know what the levels are when we begin the summer. If the summer ever begins.

The greenhouse is officially full. I spend the majority of my time now rearranging plants to try to fit them in more efficiently. I decided to pot up the eight unmarked tomatoes and will keep them for myself. I had eight other tomatoes I wasn’t going to pot up ’cause they were so tiny but I will keep them too and just baby them in the greenhouse longer than the rest.

There is a lot that we see living here that I, for one, had certainly never seen before. I don’t know about you, but when a beaver swam in the ocean in front of our friend’s place, it was definitely a first. It happened a few years ago but a lot of you probably haven’t seen the video. I added music ’cause the whole minute just makes me so happy when I watch it.

Most of what we see here is nicer to look at than the turkey vulture and sometimes it’s

really darned cute

Looked there yet

This is a little embarrassing, I lost the honey crisp apples seedlings. I don’t mean they died, I mean I actually lost them.

To alleviate the boredom of more tomato talk tonight I will finish with a favourite video I took here on the nature channel of a beaver swimming in the ocean with a pack of otters investigating him as he lay on the rocks after the swim. It should be mentioned beavers aren’t supposed to like salt water. It was taken a few years ago but a lot of you are new and maybe haven’t seen it.

Today, I potted up what should be the last of the tomatoes needed for the plant sale at the end of the month. The good news for my friends reading who have ordered tomatoes, is that I will be able to fulfill everyones first choices with a few extra for anyone who needs more. Who doesn’t always need more tomatoes than they thought? 132 tomatoes are ready to go with only 20 unspoken for.

Other than watering, I haven’t really done anything with the peppers or cucumbers lately. With the tomatoes sorted out I took a minute to look at the peppers. It should be mentioned at this point that I spent a lot of money, spared no expense if you will, to order 500 popsicles sticks from Amazon so that I could diligently label all of the baby plants.

Upon investigation there seemed to be way more peppers than I thought I had planted. Twelve little plants marked as green peppers were quite definitely tomatoes. Sigh, I set them aside and won’t pot them up unless someone wants discount mystery tomatoes. I suspect they are Grenadero but can’t sell them as such. I bravely then went to check on my baby honey crisp apples.

I would like to stress at this point that the apple seeds were gently planted and specifically kept separate from the tomato seedlings in little plastic pots.

Yet, today, they too have become tomatoes.

I have absolutely no idea where the honey crisp apple seedlings have gone. Maybe they are in with the cucumbers, I haven’t

looked there yet

plate of pasta

It’s a good day when we get our intended jobs done. To increase the possibility that we will accomplish what we hope to, we begin with low expectations. After all, we must work very hard at conserving our energy for the thirty years we have left here.

My plan, as is usual these days, was to pot up more tomatoes. I now have 114 one-gallon pots complete. Those tomatoes require no more work on my part, but for a bit of watering, until the end of May. They will get big and strong in these pots with lots of room for some solid root growth before they go into the ground. I have about twenty still to pot up but I doubt they will get as far as the one-gallon pot stage in time. That is ok, my friends can still plant the the smaller ones. They will produce the same. The pumpkins are in one-gallon pots too but the peppers and cucumbers are proving slower.

I moved the baby roses, Dahlias and Daphne O’doro out to the garden because I am running out of space in the greenhouse. Beet and cabbage starts were planted in the soil of the right-hand garden bed. The rest of this bed will be filled with an assortment of vegetables and the tomatoes, which were in this bed last year, will move to the other main bed. All going well the pumpkins will go in the cloth bags which housed potatoes last year. I am not growing potatoes this year. No room!

E is busy on his new pet project. In an effort to let the sun assume more of the responsibility for heating the water for the hot tub, he has designed a black box full of black tubing hooked up to a pond sized pump to the tub. Two of the boxes now sit in front of the deck facing the hot south sun. They will be attached permanently to the deck once the fine details are sorted. It is an experiment designed and built by my MacGyver with left over bits from the reno.

We finished the day by doing our taxes. We tried to wait until the last possible moment and then found out they aren’t due ’til the 2nd.

We continue to be surrounded by no whales.

It was a perfectly manageable list of things to do today which were accomplished happily, leaving plenty of time to watch the Blue Jays with a bottle of home made red and a big

plate of pasta.

less pressing issues

Our 7kw Kubota diesel generator would normally be found on a tractor. I don’t know how old this one is. I would suggest close to thirty years. We have been told it will long out live us all.

Late in the afternoon, one day last week, the fan belt on it died. We had thought about having a spare fan belt on hand for years (ten) but never got around to it. One other guy on the island has a similar generator. He had three spare fanbelts. (that is the kind of guy he is) Traded him a bottle of home made antipasto for it and E had the generator fixed by dinner.

This week, again, it stopped. Just wouldn’t start. Without so much as an adios it just quit. Fortunately we have a spare Yamaha 6600 which we have as a back up. You know, just in case. We have long wanted to hook it up with the Kubota so that it would just require a simple switch to change from one to the other. But E’s to do list is long and that particular job was way down the list.

The weather has been miserable lately and E didn’t feel like working in the rain to sort it all out so he just manually plugged the backup Yamaha into our system to solve the immediate problem. We have had all the power we needed for the last couple of days with our backup but, with better weather today, he set out for the gen shed to solve his problem d’jour. Job list, item one, fix Kubota generator.

One of the suggestions on the google forum for Kubota starter problems was “if all else fails tap it with a hammer”. E decided to “before trying anything” tap the starter with a hammer. Three taps and the generator started and is running like a charm.

My friend came to the rescue yesterday lending me 27 empty one-gallon plant pots so I could continue potting up the tomatoes. I spent the day today mixing soils together and prepping them for when I need to move tomatoes up to that size pot. Weather looks to be really great next week so there is hope for great progress in the growth of the greenhouse plants..

All plants have now been moved up to the greenhouse, although all are in varying stages of development, I am optimistic they will be ready for the plant sale. There are a ton of sweet peppers thriving, which I hadn’t expected. I learned last year to keep them in five-gallon, black plastic plant pots throughout the summer rather than planting them in the garden. The ones in the pots last year were three times the size of the ones moved into the garden soil. The bonus is that in September they can also be moved into the greenhouse to continue production. With the same thought in mind the plan is to plant a few tomatoes into big black pots to then also bring into the greenhouse in September.

140 onions (70 red and 70 yellow) have now been planted in between the rows of garlic. The thinking is, that space is limited and, when the onions are getting bigger and need space, the garlic will already have been harvested in July.

E thought fixing the generator would take the whole day, maybe need some parts ordered on-line, instead it took ten minutes. This freed up his day to spend dealing with

less pressing issues.