Lettuce do some indoor gardening.

We’re in a winter wonderland right now! Almost 30 centimetres (12 inches) of snow fell on December 21st and 22nd here in Calgary and we all spent a few days digging ourselves out (then we had a bit more snow the night before last, just to add some extra frosting to an already thoroughly iced cake). Once again, I am grateful that I walk to work, and I am keenly looking forward to the snowshoeing treks this beautiful white fluffy stuff promises …

Now that winter has officially arrived, it’s time to start some lettuce! Not for outdoor transplant, because our spring doesn’t truly show up until June sometime (I exaggerate, but just barely), and I direct sow lettuce anyway, but for something to grow in the apartment. I recently upgraded my indoor growing system from the cobbled-together elements I’ve been using. Both set-ups are comprised of the same types of simple equipment – a grow light and a frame to put containers in – but the new one has aesthetic value and an ease of use that the old one didn’t quite possess (as well as a proper reservoir for watering, with a capillary mat. Not necessary, but absolutely delightful to have). Accordingly, ‘Flashy Trout Back’ is happening in my kitchen right now:

I don’t have room for any sort of big indoor gardening initiative (my little set-up lives on top of my refrigerator!), but I’ll grow some baby lettuce and some basil for a few months, then start some onion and tomato seeds for spring planting. If you live in a small space, don’t let the lack of room deter you from growing some food – especially during the cold winter months, when things seem pretty bleak and lonely. Small is something, and it can give you the chance to be inspired and creative and nurturing, which are some of the reasons why we garden in the first place. Plus – there’s the whole eating part. My mouth is watering just looking at those little lettuce seedlings. Aren’t they the most lovely things?

October snow.

Gardening so isn’t happening right now.

Gotta love October in Calgary! It’s been snowing on and off all week and we’re currently under a snowfall warning (to see what Environment Canada defines as a “snowfall warning,” click here)…and this morning around six, we hit a low temperature of minus 15.5 degrees Celsius (that’s 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit). To put that in perspective, our average daytime high temperature for October hovers around plus 13 degrees Celsius (55.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Oh well. It’s still rather pretty. (I’m just saying that because I went out and planted and mulched my garlic five minutes before the snow started late last week. Totally squeaked it in on my lunch break from work. While wearing my dress clothes and shoes.) 😉

Spring is springing.

Catkins ˈkat-kəns

Noun, plural.  The fuzzy little huggable bits that emerge from the tips of branches of some tree species in very early spring.  A sight for really sore eyes after twenty months of winter (I exaggerate, but only slightly).  More snow is supposedly on its way tomorrow, but for now, we’ll go with this. *purrs contentedly*

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Beach party: signs of spring.

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A week of seriously cold temperatures has given way to unbelievably warm temperatures ((we’ve gone from dipping as low as -30.9ºC (-23.6ºF) last Tuesday to +6ºC (42.8ºF) today)) and the poplar trees are responding like the rest of us are…giddy with the sunshine and ready to fling off the parkas and toques.

But we had better not throw them too far away. Spring is not just around the corner.  Not yet. Despite appearances….

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Floral notes, early January.

I hope the start of 2020 has been good to you!

What’s growing (nothing outside – other than the snow piles):

Catgrass (I’ve planted a mix of wheatgrass and oats).  I swear this stuff germinates in five minutes.  If you ever feel like your green thumb’s gone bust, just plant some catgrass and your confidence will be restored almost immediately.  My personal assistant Smudge is cut off after only a few good gnaws, as she has an exceedingly delicate digestive system and I hate cleaning upholstery.

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Droolicious books I’ve been gawking at:

Urban Botanics: An Indoor Plant Guide for Modern Gardeners by Emma Sibley and Maaike Koster (illustrator)

Whether you’re a dab hand at growing houseplants or you’re captivated with the idea of growing them and want to know more so you can actually get started, this book is worth a gander or two. Or more:  While the text offers up plenty of well-researched information and will likely lead to rushed trips to the nearest garden centre to scoop up a new Dracaena or Philodendron or an entire shopping cart full of succulents, the illustrations by Maaike Koster are absolutely glorious, pure eye candy at its most delicious.  

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The Embroidered Art of Chloe Giordano

A co-worker mentioned Giordano’s Instagram account to me and after just one glimpse, I was highly motivated to track down this gorgeous book. Thread-painted woodland animals – what could be more beautiful?  Even if you don’t embroider, you can’t help but be amazed at Chloe Giordano’s insane talent and creativity.  

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Getting out and about:

One snowshoe trek is in the books!  In early December, my hubby, my brother, and I earned “Braggin’ Rights” out at West Bragg Creek.  Braggin’ Rights is 8.7 kilometres (5.4 miles) long, but we linked up via Snowy Owl and Old Shell Road, which added a few more K.  Even though the bulk of Braggin’ Rights is in forest, the snow changed texture as we progressed from the cooler morning to the warmer afternoon, luxurious powdery crystals becoming sticky and heavy and clinging to our ‘shoes.  I’m hoping we can get out several more times during the next eight months of winter*, but scheduling is a bit wonky with work, so we’ll see….

*I exaggerate, but only slightly.

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(Old Shell Road)

What fun things are you doing this early in the new year?