Lush Eco Lawns Spreading the Mulch!

Do you remember our garden overhaul after my weeding revenge? If you missed it, you can read about it here.

We thought it looked neat and tidy then… until our bark mulch arrived.

John Larsson Trucking - Mulch Delivery

John Larsson Trucking did an awesome job of dumping this full load right onto our slightly undersized tarp! My Dad offered us his larger tarp, but I insisted ours was just fine. Shhhh, don’t tell him he might have been right! ;-)

Mulch Pile

Lush Eco Lawns team was already hard at work mowing, weeding wacking, and prepping to spread the mulch.

Lush Eco Lawns Team

Hard working guys, seriously!

Lush Eco Lawns Crew at Work

And you know that overflow of mulch I hinted at? Well, when this team was finished you would never know any mulch had hit the ground!

Here’s a look at the Lush team’s work!

Landscaping with Garden Mulch

Notice how clean the gravel is?

And check out how thoroughly the mulch has been spread, especially around the border of Lily of the Valley on the left. Not easy.

Landscaping with Garden Mulch

We can’t say enough about the professional service of the Lush Eco team.

Especially when you see this shot of the garden before the fresh mulch.

Garden Needing Fresh Mulch

And compare it to this shot after the Lush team worked their magic!

Garden with New Mulch

Isn’t it incredible what a difference this fresh layer of mulch makes?

And what about that team? It was such a treat to bring in these professionals to do what they do best, because you know me, we had plans to tackle it ourselves. Lush Eco Lawns – you rock!

Thanks for stopping by!

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I hope you had a great weekend. :-)

Photographs by Sheila Zeller

These Flowers Are Not Your Friend!

We had an incredible long weekend with awesome weather, so I was able to get out and tackle the extra greenery that wasn’t really invited to our garden plot.

Our side yard looked like this…

Overgrown Weeds

Yes, I hang my head in shame. :-(

But it looks worse than it really was. These party crashers seriously seemed to pop up overnight!

Weeds

They look pretty in this photo, but trust me, they are not your friend!

These pretty weeds (what are they anyway?) cover the ground like a floral carpet, and before you know it, you’ve got wall-to-wall!

Well, not anymore.

Now our side yard looks like this!

Wheel barrel of weeds

Two heaping wheel barrels and this mini load later.

I know. Crazy!

And to keep the weeds down, Lush Eco Lawns will be replenishing our bark mulch with a very, very thick layer. I’d call that ripping out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood instead! ;-)

How about you, are you battling the first weeds of the season? What are your weed control strategies??

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photographs by Sheila Zeller

 

DIY Planter Makeover for Herbs & Garden Gnomes

Not too long ago I was given a hand-me-down planter with these little gnomes that hang off the sides. Now I know these guys are pretty cute, but I’m not so much into cutesy garden things. Don’t unfriend me for that!

Garden Gnomes

Okay, they’re actually kind of hard to resist with their mischievous little faces… they spell trouble, right? But, I still wasn’t convinced. I kept trying to decide where to feature this planter with these little guys, and then it all came together for me!

My friend Heather over at Grillfusion blog posted about her new little friend, a white garden gnome! Seeing the gnome in white changed everything! Thanks for showing me the way, Heather!

Here’s a look at what I did.

Painting Garden Gnomes

Poor, unsuspecting little guys! I painted the planter, too.

And then potted it up.

Sweet Marjoram…

Sweet Marjoram - Container Planting

Rosemary & Basil…

Rosemary & Basil - Container Planting

and Thyme.

Thyme - Container Planting

And look who popped up!

Basil - Container Planting

See what I mean about mischievous? How did he get in there??

And what’s this guy doing hanging around here?

White Garden Gnome

So bad. I knew they were trouble!

Garden Gnome Planter

I guess my planter of herbs is their new playground!

Herbs - Container Planting

I’m hoping the herbs will survive in this planter, but if not I’m game to move them and try something else!

How about you? Have you given herbs in a planter a try? And what about garden gnomes? Are they in or out at your home, or have you already unfriended me for that? ;-)

Today I’m linking up over at Satori Design to join Shauna and the gang for the outdoor extravaganza party. Why not pop over and check out what everyone else has been up to! And if you’re into potting up herbs, check out Shauna’s tutorial. She’s has a few great tricks to share!

Project featured over at Living Savvy. Thanks so much Tiffany!

Living Savvy

 Thanks for stopping by!

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Photographs by Sheila Zeller

Guest Posting at Home Bunch: Putting A Pause In Your Day

Isn’t it interesting how time seems to be flying by? I don’t know about you, but my Spring feels like a blur!

Today you’ll find me over at Home Bunch taking you on a tour of one of my favorite places in the Cowichan Valley… a very tranquil, beautiful place where time checks itself at the door, and Spring does not pass you by…

Won’t you join me?

Home Bunch

 

A big thank you to Luciane for inviting me to be her guest today! I promise, this tour will put a pause in your day for just a moment. :-)

Thanks for stopping by…

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Wrapping Up Our Growing Season

Well, it’s definitely come to an end.

Our Makaria Farm tomatoes that once looked like this…

Have all ripened and run their course. We just picked the last of them off the vine.

And all our basil that flourished and overflowed this pot…

Has called it a season.

So I thought I’d share one of our quick and easy recipes that was a favorite with these fresh ingredients.

Tomato and Basil Salad

Tossed Tomato & Basil Salad

Ingredients:

2 or 3 ripe Tomatoes {Makaria Farm}

1/2 English Cucumber

Fist-full fresh Basil

1/3 cup Feta Cheese, or to taste

Balsamic Vinegar Sea Salt {Vancouver Island Salt Co.}

Fresh Ground Pepper

Drizzle Olive Oil to taste

Drizzle Blackberry Vinegar to taste {Shady Glen}

Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar to taste

  1. Slice cucumbers and layer in bottom of serving dish the size of a 9″ glass pie plate (should have about 2 layers)
  2. Sprinkle each layer with sea salt
  3. Slice tomatoes and layer on top of cucumbers
  4. Lightly dust with a little more salt and ground pepper
  5. Cube or crumble feta cheese, and sprinkle over tomatoes
  6. Drizzle olive oil over layers of tomatoes and cucumber
  7. Drizzle blackberry vinegar (I sometimes use raspberry vinegar instead), and a dash of balsamic vinegar over ingredients
  8. Top with fresh basil
  9. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

Is your garden finished for the season? What’s a favorite go-to dish for you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Photography by Sheila Zeller

Sweet Pea Challenge: And The Winner Is…

Okay, it’s officially fall. In Canada we’ve had our Thanksgiving dinners, and according to the weather man, the rain is on its way :-( It’s been a good ride, though, hasn’t it?

But, all good rides must come to an end, so today I’m going to announce the winner of the sweet pea challenge between my Dad and me. Remember my cheeky post way back in May?

Here’s the photograph I totally photoshopped to suggest this is how my sweet peas were going to grow!

After all, aren’t we supposed to ‘vision’ our desired outcome? ;-)

So, I got the seeds going… set them in a container, covered them with water, and put paper towel on top. Then they went into a dark closet, and were left for about a week, but I made sure the paper towel remained moist.

This is what they looked like on planting day!

I had already planted about half of them before I remembered to take this photo!

I ended up with waaaay more than I needed…

So the rest were planted in these round pots.

My Dad is such a good sport. He didn’t think my idea to let the sweet peas climb up the lattice of the heat pump surround was such a great idea. So, he helped me out by building a proper trellis.

Complete with perfectly placed netting!

And then we sat back to see whose sweet peas were going to grow!

In no time at all mine were off to the races, looking pretty good!

Dad’s, on the other hand, weren’t doing so hot. I don’t have any photos of his progress at this point, but he was pretty sure they weren’t going to make it.

So I passed these pots of extras on to him!

One good turn deserves another, right?

While Dad’s were busy rerouting themselves (or is that re-’rooting’? ;-) ), and trying to play catch-up…

Mine were thriving!

And then I got to make the first phone call. You know the one!

Oh yah, uh-huh…

Flowers on the vine!

Pretty, pretty flowers!

And enough to pick my first bouquet!

Oh, how beautiful they smelled! Picture a happy dance, and a little side-line gloating ;-)

But then the unthinkable happened!

Look closely at the stems at the end of each arrow…

That’s right. My beloved sweet peas were grazed by the neighbourhood deer! Can I just say, they ARE. NOT. CUTE!!!

So in an effort to keep the deer out, every night hubs would lean an extra piece of lattice over the whole sweet pea patch.

And we even tried this.

Bobbex Deer Repellent

Bobbex is an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, all natural repellent that is smell-y!

But by now Dad’s sweet peas were well on their way and catching up! And mine, well… I was able to squeeze another teeny, tiny bouquet from them. So, I took this as a sign they were on the mend.

Only now, the tables were turned. Dad’s sweet peas were totally flourishing.

And he was only too happy to send this bouquet my way… can you tell?

It’s killing me to point this out, but his bouquet was about twice the size of my first pride and joy bunch! And he was picking multiple bouquets at once :-|

While Dad continued to ‘harvest’ his crop…

Mine continued to wither away :-(

That’s right. Wither and die! So sad :-( :-( :-(

Now it’s my turn to be a good sport, and announce Dad as the winner of the sweet pea challenge! {cringe, wince, choke}

Yah, that’s right. Dad totally swept this one away! I mean, look at how high his sweet peas grew! Even if mine survived, they wouldn’t have reached this height, because my trellis wasn’t even close in size! What was I thinking?

So, the wine was on me… but we shared it over a BBQ dinner at Dad’s house. That was the deal. Wine was consumed at the winner’s house, and we all pitched in on dinner :-)

Of course, when I was leaving, Dad couldn’t resist but to send me on my way with one last bouquet!

And you know what? He’s still picking the last of his sweet peas before putting the garden to bed for the winter!

Congratulations, Dad!

And what about next year? Um, don’t even go there. Didn’t I mention, all good rides must come to an end?!

How did your garden grow this year? Do you have any stories to share… do you battle the deer where you live?

Thanks for stopping by!

Photography by Sheila Zeller

And Our Garden Continues to Grow!

Remember when I posted about the Heather our neighbour gave us? Here’s a little flashback in case you missed it. The yellow circles are where we planted them back in June.

And, here’s a look at them now!

They all survived! You can’t see the fifth one in the top, right corner, but it’s the same colour as the one in the foreground, and is also in full bloom

Here’s a close-up of my favorite one.

I love the colour!

But this is only the half of it. You see, this same neighbour has decided to dig up more plants, and pass them on to us!

Here the bins are filled with what he gave us, as well as a huge lily that was planted before this photo.

If you look at the spot circled below, we learned from all the watering over the summer, that it doesn’t drain at all. So this area turned into a thick mud bog.

I couldn’t stay on top of the weeds, and wasn’t sure what to do with this spot.

With the gift of more plants I decided to build another garden bed. Why not let the plants help with that excess water, right?

I moved Black-Eyed Susans to the new bed from the one on the left, and was able to add two mounds of our neighbour’s Dianthus in their place. Now that whole bed is filled with Dianthus.

For the rest of the water-logged area, sand was spread and then topped with fresh bark mulch.

But I made a mistake, and picked up black mulch instead of brown. I thought I could live with it, but I can’t! I’m going to mix some brown with the black for a more even blend, and spread it around further.

Our neighbour also gave us some Primula, which are planted along the same side as the Heather.

The Lily of the Valley border came from my Dad’s yard last year, and he’s planning to split some of his other plants up again this year. And… they’re destined for our yard!

The yard is slowly starting to fill in, and what’s so awesome, is most of the plants have been given to us!

Quite a few have come from hub’s parents as well, including all of these grasses that you see scattered throughout.

It’s a win-win!

Here’s my favorite part…

Now, I know you’ve seen this ‘Before’ photo many times.

BEFORE

But in order to appreciate the progress, it’s great to see what it looked like when we first moved in.

And compare that to what it looks like now!

AFTER

I find it so rewarding to see the yard come together.

On the note of rewarding, do you remember the sweet pea challenge I was having with my Dad? Well, stay tuned. I’ll be back with how that went!

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY! :-)

Photography: Sheila Zeller

A Little Stop at Makaria Farm Market

Have you heard… Makaria Farm Market is now open daily from 11am to 6pm?

Hand Painted Sign

Source: Makaria Farm

That’s right, daily through the growing season!

Here’s a little sampling of Makaria’s organic offerings…

Organic Produce Makaria Farm Market

 

Organic Produce Cowichan Valley

Looks pretty tasty, right?

I bet you’re dying to see a few close-ups, aren’t you?

Like these garlic scapes, for instance.

Organic Garlic Scapes

Have you ever eaten garlic scapes? They’re super delicious, and can be put into just about any savory anything. We chop them onto our nachos, into our scrambled eggs, quiches, spaghetti sauce… you name it! And we sautee them with plenty of things, too. For more on garlic scapes, click here!

Kale is one of our favorite, favorite veggies, especially when it looks like this!

Organic Kale Makaria Farm

What’s not to love about this silvery green bundle of deliciousness? Full of nutrients, and keeps for days… even up to 2 weeks if stored properly, no kidding! Here’s our favorite kale recipe to enjoy with a meal…

We also love beets, and their tops, too.

Organic Beets Makaria Farm

Just look at the rich, ripeness of these beauties! And when you cut into them, mmmmm, so sweet, and don’t even get me started on the intense colour that lies within!

Swiss Chard.

Organic Swiss Chard - Makaria Farm

Easy to clean, simple to cook, and oh, so good for you! For storage and cooking tips from the Mrs. half of Makaria Farm, click here!

And did I mention the asparagus yet?

Organic Asparagus - Makaria Farm

We love our asparagus steamed, buttered and eaten straight up. But if you would like to serve it with an awesome zingy vinaigrette, you might want to give this one a try.

Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

Mix together:

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon Mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

Add:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp sugar

ground pepper, to taste

Serve with 2-1/2 lbs fresh asparagus

This is my favorite vinaigrette, and can be used on just about anything for a little extra perky zip.

Are you a fan of kohlrabi (pronounced: kōl-ˈrä-bē also -ˈra)?

Organic Kohlrabi - Makaria Farm

Kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip, so that gives you a hint to it’s flavor and texture, and you can eat it raw or cooked. But with colours like these, don’t you think kohlrabi would make a pretty table display, too?

If you’re new to Makaria Farm, what you’ll learn is they’re famous for their strawberries. If you want sweet, juicy, mouth-watering strawberries, Makaria is the place to go!

Makaria Farm Strawberries - Cowichan Valley

Seriously, once you’ve tasted Makaria’s strawberries, there’s no turning back. A basket or two will do… but you’ll want three, or four, or MORE!

If you’re in the area, or just passing through you’ll find Makaria Farm located just off the Trans-Canada Hwy, on Bench Road (click here for directions)…  For all locations to purchase Makaria Farm fresh produce, click here.

How’s your long weekend been going? Have you had a chance to head out and do something fun, too?

We love this time of the year, because there’s nothing quite like freshly picked organic produce. And the little outings are always so much fun! If you get a chance to chat with Makaria’s Brock and Heather, you’re in for a treat. They’re friendly, knowledgeable, and so much fun! And who knows… if you’re heading off to the market, maybe we’ll see you there!

PS – if you’ve got plastic plant pots you won’t be using, Makaria Farm is happy to take them off your hands! Just pop by the farm to drop them off… They’ll be reused to plant something new!

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

All photos by Clemens Rettich unless otherwise stated.

The Cool Quench of a Mojito

That’s right. Summer is here! And with that comes warmer weather!

And, with warmer weather comes the need to quench thy thirst. So how about a little thirst quenching in an adult kind of way - maybe with a Mojito? Have you ever had one?

Fresh mint is a must…

Mint Leaves

And since we are into ‘cocktails by Clemens’, guess who got a whole pail full for Father’s Day?! ;-)

Pail of Mint

Romantic, right? You see, we have herbs growing outside that came with this house, and one of them looks kind of like mint… but when we used it in our first Mojitos of the season… well, it turned out to be lemon balm! Didn’t taste so bad, but definitely lacked the full on Mojito mojo!

Limes. You have to have fresh limes for this quenching summer drink.

Fresh Cut Lime

Source: Recipe Girl

There are other ingredients, too, and I’ll get to those with a recipe at the end. But you also need tools, like a muddler. This is what our muddler looks like.

Mojito Cocktail

It’s literally a Mojito muddler, not that the mint leaf graphic suggests that or anything ;-) , but you can use any muddler you have on hand, and even a spoon will do.

All you need to do is gently mash the mint leaves and lime, you know, just enough to release the essential oils of the mint, and the inner essence of the lime (that would be the juice!).

Mojito Muddler

Just make sure you don’t shred the mint when you mash.

Mojito Cocktail

Source: Liqurious

We like to use a lowball glass, and I prefer to go with vintage!

However, Mojitos are usually served in a highball glass like this…

Mojito in Highball Glass

Source: Share the Joy

Or a stemless hurricane glass like this.

Mojito in a Stemless Hurricane Glass

Source: Closet Cooking

It’s fun to use a hurricane glass with a stem, too!

But I bet what you’re really looking for is Mojito know how, not the glass it’s in, right?

Here’s a quick little recipe to get you started, but remember, there are lots of variations out there. I’ve gone with Bacardi’s original recipe mainly because my Dad drinks Bacardi, so we usually have it on hand! But… one of our close friends suggested we try Havana Club Rum, so our little secret is that we did, and that’s what we use instead ;-)

ORIGINAL BACARDI MOJITO

1 part (1.5 oz) Bacardi Rum

3 parts (4.5 oz) Club Soda

12 fresh Mint Leaves

1/2 fresh Lime (cut into quarters)

2 tbsp simple syrup or 4 tsp granulated sugar (we use simple syrup)

(simple syrup = premixed equal parts granulated sugar and hot water)

  • Place mint leaves and lime into glass, and gently muddle
  • Add simple syrup *if you’re using granulated sugar, add it before muddling
  • Top with ice
  • Pour rum over top
  • Top with soda
  • Stir gently, just enough to lift mint leaves up
  • Garnish with lime, and sprig of mint on top

If you want to see how this drink is made, check it out here. It’s just a short video, but adds in all the extra tips you might want to know!

And voila!

Mojitos on a Tray

Source: Pinterest

Notice the glasses are rimmed with sugar? That’s not usually part of the traditional Mojito, but it certainly can’t hurt it!

Did you know you can also make a virgin Mojito for the drivers, non-drinkers and young ones in the crowd? Follow all the same steps using the same ingredients, but leave out the rum. So simple, and it’s a sparkling, zesty, and refreshing drink every time!

Mojito in a Mason Jar

Source: Linda Wagner Blog

Love the idea of serving a Mojito in a Mason jar. There’s something about it that just feels like summer!

Do you like Mojitos? Do you have a special recipe, or any extra tips to share?

BTW – My friend Kelly over at Eclectically Vintage is of Cuban descent, and if you really want an authentic Mojito recipe, she shares hers here!

The pail of mint will have to be planted outside along with the other herbs, because one thing we know is that mint grows like crazy. But I thought the pail was sweet, and figured we could use it to gather our fresh herbs, and our tomatoes, too! 

Pail of Mint, Mojito Muddler

Cheers to summer!

PS – a little interesting Wikipedia fact…

Did you know that the Mojito was a favorite drink of author, Ernest Hemingway? In fact, he made the bar called La Bodeguita del Medio famous because he became one of its regulars and he wrote ‘My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.’ And you know what, this expression in English can still be read on the wall of the bar today, in Hemingway’s handwriting!

Thanks for stopping by… happy muddling!

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All photos by Sheila Zeller unless otherwise indicated below each image.

Zanatta al fresco anyone?

When the sun is shining, it puts a smile on my face.

Pink Poppy in Garden Edging

For outdoor dining, it’s quite the place!

Al Fresco Dining

It feels so calm and peaceful where time moves slow…

Zanatta Winery. A great place to go!

What are your plans for the weekend? Doing anything special for Father’s Day?

I feel so lucky to have my Dad close by. I bet you know by now that he’s my project guy. Dad is always there to lend a hand…

Sweet Peas in Pots

Dad installing a trellis for my sweet peas

And he always gets the job done!

Even if it means he might lose our friendly sweet pea competition ;-) {Click  here to see who won!}

Between Dad and hubs, they’ve got me covered :-)

Prepping Chandelier Installation

Hubs handling the wiring for the replacement chandelier

Love these guys!

This weekend is a busy one for us. It’s a milestone birthday for my Dad, and it’s Father’s Day! We’ll be spending time with family from out of town, and my brother and I are hosting a birthday BBQ for Dad with all our family peeps. On Sunday hubs and I are planning a casual brunch for everyone, and sharing some Cowichan Valley treats! {UPDATE: Click here to see how the brunch went!} So much fun!

Wishing all Dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day! 

Photography by Sheila Zeller