Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fall, winter and the holiday season

    Fall and the beginnings of winter are finally arriving here in Manitoba. This has been the longest we have had to wait for our first snow fall in both mine and my parents lifetime! The unseasonably warm weather has been amazing but it has lead to quite a shock about the reality of the holiday season being just around the corner. Fall chores  that should be done or abandoned are still on the to do list as a possibility but some days are just for bunkering down and making plans for the winter. I have already started focusing on reading and forming a rough idea of what the new year will look like.

    As for the blog topics threw the winter, I have more than a few posts I had started but never posted, I will be finishing and posting these, especially the one today on vermiculture, which seems like a fantastic winter topic, especially with all the vegetable scraps from holiday dinners being produced. It is a very brief over view and questions are encouraged, hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


When someone decides to change everything they know, and tries to hybridize city with country, where better to start than the ground up.
Vermiculture is the art of turning your leftover food scraps and flyers into luscious, rich, soil. Which in turn adds nutrients and health to your crops and thus to you. Who knew trash could be so lucrative!
Actually fall is like winning the lottery, all those incredible soil building leaves just laying there waiting for someone to realize their potential. I spent days raking up all that bounty, allowing my son and his friends a couple of runs through the piles before stashing them into garbage bags to add to the worm bin throughout the year.
You can easily build your own worm ranch by purchasing a plastic storage bin that is no more than 12-18” deep. Storage bins are great because they keep moisture in, more importantly the worms and valuable dirt. Any deeper and there is not enough air flow, allowing the pile to turn anaerobic, causing the normally odourless crop to become vile and suffocate the herd. In order to keep the air flowing and the worms breathing, you should drill several holes in the tops and sides of your bin, although if you have a shallow bin, like I do, you can get away with just placing the lid, not securing it.
                       This is my bin that works, on top of the one that didn't. I keep mine in the basement, far away from the litter box, apparently the worms despise cat smells and will be less productive.
I use shredded newspaper and flyer's (that do not have a shinny coating) for the nesting material. This should be moistened to the consistency of a wrung out sponge. When you add kitchen scraps be sure to add fresh newspaper or dried leaves, the skill in vermicomposting is to get the right balance between wet and dry.
In order to get the most luscious soil possible, Red Wrigglers are the worm of choice. You can use regular brown worms but they will be more difficult to work with. The benefits of using red wrigglers are that they are smaller than brown, and eat more food, producing more soil than their brown counter parts. The best place to get red wrigglers is from a breeder or a friend who already has a bin. 
                                             My happy little guy's almost ready to harvest

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Seasonal Eating

Changing diet in tune with the seasons

  You always hear contradictory information when trying to figure out just how to eat healthier. Are eggs good or bad? What about bread? The problem not only lies in that statistics can be extremely fluid and can be warped into supporting almost any opinion, but also with the one statement that is always true, extremes are never healthy. Any time the phrases never or always are used, I become sceptical, variety is after all, the spice of life and keeps us from getting bored, injured or sick. Another problem is trying to educate mass amounts of people, before you lose their attention. In todays world, the average person will not spend 3 hours a day preparing food, never mind researching it.

   After a lot of research I had concluded that the single action I could take to ensure a more nutritious diet, was to eat seasonally. Great, one step I could focus what, I have NO IDEA when things are in season! I laugh now at how detached for nature and how little I knew, but I always considered myself someone who was outdoorsy and interested in nutrition. That means that the average person probably knows even less than I did. To help with this problem, in an easy access, returnable format, I have added my Fall recipe's Pinterest board and will add the other seasons as they come. The benefit of eating seasonally is that you are eating the freshest, more likely local food, which has shown to be more nutritionally dense. Farmers markets are always an excellent source of local, in season food but even doing so in a common supermarket is a positive change.

  I am again going to bring Eliot Coleman into this discussion, I am quickly becoming aware of why his name is so tightly bound to sustainable, fresh food. I am now reading his book the Four Season Harvest, in which he describes his trip to France following the 44th parallel on which his farm resides, to a place that has been using intensive, sustainable procedures for generations. (His story has me considering adding a similar trip for my 49th parallel, as a bucket list item) In it he comments on how it is widely accepted that little changes is growing conditions, care, variety, etc. can effect the flavour and nutrition of things such as wine and cheese but has been debunked as truth when it comes to things like vegetables, eggs and meat.  The way he speaks about carefully grown produce, the way others do of their wine and cheese, and the comparison of commercial production that is grown for yield and uniformity, it is hard not to get caught up in his passion. He states that there is no wonder the majority of people know that eating more fruits and vegetables are good for them but they don't anyway, given the tasteless, chemical ridden varieties passing as food in todays supermarkets.
   This is where I hope to help, eating seasonally is the main step to better health, finding a local farmer who cares passionately about not using chemicals and increasing quality over quantity, would be the next. I hope to become that farmer soon, but creating something so beautiful and delicious takes time and practice, one day I will be that person.