Monthly Archives: June 2011

gardening for the future

I want to share this video of my daughter planting apple seeds: it’s completely unscripted, I just pointed the iPhone at her and told her to tell me what she was doing. Very spontaneous, it says a lot about who she is and how she sees the world. I apologize for the low sound… you’ll probably have to crank your volume.

Planting Apple Seeds for the Future

She is a constant reminder to me that kids hear what we tell them – but also what we don’t tell them. She loves to follow me around in the garden, plant her own seeds and tomatoes, and do whatever I happen to be doing. Especially if it involves the watering can.

It is so important for children to see where real food comes from, and to know that not everything in the grocery store claiming to be food is actually food. Just because you can eat something doesn’t mean your body knows what to do with it. I really love what my friend Elin is doing in Toronto: she is a garden educator who has two school gardens in operation this year. She is the coordinator, and teaches children about where their food comes from and how to grow it. She has a list of great books on her blog that you might want to consider sharing with a young person near you.

My daughter knows that she won’t be eating her own planted apples until she’s a teenager, but she plants them anyway. She looks forward to the day when she can enjoy them, rather than dreading the wait. She is such an inspiration to me.

planting apple seeds

washing wool

This is my first ever attempt at washing wool, so this little photo album is not intended to impart years of wisdom; rather, I hope to inspire anyone who might be considering this by showing how anyone can blunder through the process and end up with something useable. If anyone has anything to add, please feel free to start a conversation!

So, let’s get started.

filling tub

First, I filled the tub with hot soapy water. I used my regular dish soap. Note the rubber gloves ready to go, and how filthy dirty the fleece is.

dunking fleece

When the water was about 6 or more inches deep, I started putting the fleece in by handfuls. I picked out bits of poo and hay as I went along. I also should have trimmed out a bit more of the stiff little ends, but it worked out for me to get most of it afterwards. Still, it would have been easier if I had done it first.

wool soaking

I made sure the wool was all thoroughly soaked by gently pressing it under the water. You can’t agitate it or you’ll end up with felt! Careful.

dirty water

After soaking for 40 or so minutes, the water was filthy.

draining water

I drained the water and added new soapy water. Here you can see that the wool is much whiter in parts. I pushed it all back to the back of the tub in order to allow the dirty water to drain out of it. When the soapy water was filled up again, I spread it out in the tub very gently (no felting!) so it could soak up the soap. In all, I did 3 soapy soaks and 1 rinsing soak with just hot water.

reject bits

During the rinse stage, I realized that a bunch of the little bits were not going to come clean and started picking them out with scissors. Next time, I’ll do this before washing.

drip drying wool

After draining the rinse water, I put a little step stool in the tub so the wool would be elevated above the tub floor. This allowed it to drip dry for awhile. I did a bit of squeezing too, but wool has a HUGE capacity to retain moisture. So I thought I’d just let it sit for a bit. Like, hours. I didn’t exactly keep track of time.

wool on towel

Then I laid 2 towels on the floor and spread the wool on top.

stomping wool

Added another towel and walked over it to squeeze out more moisture.

rolling wool in towel

Found that wasn’t working super great so I rolled up the towels….

squeezing out moisture

And again used body weight plus the added pressure of being rolled up. That helped get a lot of the moisture out, but it was still damp.

wool laid out to dry

I placed a fresh dry towel on the floor and laid out the wool to air dry overnight.

wool outside

The next morning, I put it out on the picnic table to take advantage of sun and wind. It dried very well.


Thus ends Part I of my wool adventures. Thank you to everyone who gave advice along the way – Michelle and Erin particularly!!

Stay tuned for adventures in carding…..



garden tour

carrot seedlings

Carrot seedlings have sprouted in their boxes!

sugar ann peas

Sugar Ann Peas – a dwarf variety of sugar snap. (edible pod)


Tiny strawberry plant. We’ll see how these do. I’ve got two varieties on the go. One with bright pink flowers!

freckled romaine

Romaine variety called “Freckles”. Appropriate, no?


Bush beans. I think they’re green.


The garlic is coming along nicely. And I love the green between my stepping stone path.

morning glory

Morning Glory seedlings in the garden – such unique leaves! Not edible.

sage bud

The Sage buds are spreading out but not open yet.

horseradish flower

This surprised me: Horseradish flowers have the most beautiful fragrance!

grandma's lavender

Lavender. I pinched some seeds from the plant at my grandma’s house, and this is the only one that has survived.


Chives, mauled by children. I love it.


I’d love to see pics of your garden too! You can upload to the SKG facebook page, or leave a link in the comments if you blog or have a flickr account.


lazy potatoes

I was gifted some organic seed potatoes this past weekend, so I thought I’d try a technique that I remember reading about awhile back. I didn’t do any additional research because my days are crazy this time of year. I just went out and dumped them onto the ground where last year’s garden was:


Added some compost:

potatoes and compost

Opened up a banana box and placed it around them (plus took out a few big weeds):

potatoes and compost in a box

Added a bit of soil dug from the garden:

potatoes and compost and soil in a box

Took some straw and filled the box to 2/3 of capacity:

potatoes and compost and soil and straw in a box

And now, I’m waiting to see what happens. I’ve heard this makes it easy to harvest them. And, I think I’m supposed to add more straw around them as they grow taller. For now I need to just wait for the greens and we’ll take it from there!


This year I’m also experimenting with using boxes for carrots:

potting soil and compost and carrot seeds in boxes

I generally don’t have much luck with carrots. This is probably due to the fact that I’m not super great at making my soil nice and fluffy. So – here’s a whole lotta fluffy in boxes, we’ll see how these two varieties of carrot enjoy the potting soil. I’m trying Amsterdam Maxi and Danvers 125.

How is your garden growing?