Pepper problems

Anyone have tips for growing peppers? Our plants aren’t doing so well over here.

Remember this picture of the little pepper and blossoms from a few weeks ago?

Baby pepper and pepper blossom

Well, the plants haven’t grown at all. In fact, they’ve regressed. See the little green nuggets laying on the soil?

Little pepper plants

The little peppers fell off their stalks. (My finger is in the shot for scale to show you how little the peppers grew).

Baby pepper

The peppers are the only things that aren’t doing well in the garden.

I thought maybe they weren’t getting enough sun, but we’ve planted two different batches in two different locations.

We’ve tried jalapenos as well as sweet red bells.

None of them are growing.

Do you have any tips?

Uncovering a favourite perch

So you have a spot like this in your yard, right? Somewhere that you just let things go a little bit?

Overgrown clump of weeds

My pledge this year is to not worry about the yard and focus only on the vegetable garden. But this clump of overgrowth at the edge of the south lawn finally got to me. My inner Edward Scissorhands came out (along with a pair of clippers, since I don’t actually have blades on my hands).

Who knew there was a dead curlicue bush, a mostly dead catalpa, a huge flowerpot and two stone benches hidden in there? (Well, we did, since we’ve seen them before… and put some of them there during our previous yard clean-up episodes).

Trimming bushes

The bush and the tree froze to death last winter. The big flowerpot is a gift from previous owners that I haven’t bothered to get rid of yet. The benches? Well, the benches belong to Ralph.

While she didn’t express gratitude (are cats capable of gratitude?), I think she appreciated our work.

The benches allow her to ascend to the perfect height for convenient scratching.

Ralph getting scratches

But most importantly, the benches allow her to assume a superior height over her brother.

Ralph and Baxter

So our landscaping meets with the cat’s approval, if not the dog’s. Now to convince Matt to get out his chainsaw and deal with those dead trees…

Do you have an overgrown spot at your house? Does anyone else’s animals “help” with the yard work? What furniture belongs to furry friends? Who’s the boss, your cat or your dog? (I think I know the answer to the last one… in my experience that relationship only goes one way).


Learning to like lilies

Last year, when Matt and I transplanted a lilac from beside the driveshed, I dug up a few other plants that looked like they might be something (as opposed to just being weeds). I was wishing for hollyhocks because I had found a plastic tag near them that said hollyhock. (Plus I love hollyhocks).

This year when they started to grow, I realized they were probably not hollyhocks. As they started to bud, I thought lilies, but maybe (wishfully) calla lilies? Surely they wouldn’t be ubiquitous day lilies, would they? (Not my favourite flower, honestly).

Well, they are day lilies, but they’re a bit special. They’re two-toned, which is kind of cool.

Orange and yellow day lilies

A bunch of lilies still in their nursery pots were among the plants we inherited from the previous owners. I stuck them in the ground last year, and they’ve done super well.

There’s the orange sherbert (again, I’m not the hugest fan of this version).

Yellow lilies

The lemon sherbert is a bit more palatable.

Yellow lilies

Then we of course have what I classify as regular orange day lilies.

Orange day lilies

The late bloomers that have come on in just the last week are these dark red ones. I actually like these quite a lot.

Red day lilies

But the star of the show is one special lily. Yes, this an Easter lily. I stuck it in the ground last year. And this year, after doing nothing (except having a close call with Wiley), it’s blooming. In fact, it’s bloomed so big that the second blossom has split open.

Easter lilies in the garden

The success of our lilies makes me think I may not have such a black thumb after all. Or else lilies thrive when neglected.

As the lilies are growing in the garden, they’re also starting to grow on me. I think I actually like them. I know for sure that there is one type of lily that I’d really like to add to our garden.

Growing up, we had two clumps of tiger lilies in our backyard (basically day lilies with spots). My Mom had transplanted them from her family’s farm where she spent childhood summers. The tiger lilies eventually got squeezed out of the garden, but I’m hoping I might be able to find some for our farm. For now, I get my tiger lily fix from a plate painted by my great grandmother that lives in my Mom’s china cabinet.

Tiger lily plate

I’m hoping I can find some tiger lilies to add to our farm. Sentimentality always wins out for me.

Do you have lilies growing at your house? Are you a fan? Any suggestions for a source for tiger lilies?


Did you happen to catch the #OneBoardChallenge last week?

Jen from House of Wood initiated it. She challenged 16 other bloggers to build something from a single 1x8x8 board.


The projects were amazing. I was super inspired by how creative and skilled people are.

Here are some of my favourites.

DIY Round Mirror by Build Basic. I really want to make this.

DIY Round Mirror Frame by Build Basic

Interlocking tiered display shelf by Sawdust Girl. I like the precision of these shelves.


Cool geometric art by Sawdust & Embryos. Complete with a pop of pink.

Geometric art by Sawdust & Embryos

A modern three-legged end table by Pneumatic Addict. I’m amazed that this is made out of one rectangular board.

Modern three-legged end table by Pneumatic Addict

I admit, this challenge got my brain churning. I’m not sure what I’d build if I had only a 1x8x8.

What would you build?

Bounty of berries

This year is an incredible year for raspberries. We have canes growing all around the farm, and they’re all loaded with tiny berries.

Black raspberries

Black raspberries

I’ve never picked this many berries any of our previous summers.

Black raspberries

It took me awhile to pick them–not just because there were so many. I had to do it all one handed because this was happening on my other side. Oh Ralph, so helpful.

Ralph getting scratches

After harvesting the berries, I decided to harvest some canes. The plan is to have two rows of raspberries in the vegetable garden: one red and one black. I had already started the red row with canes from my parent’s garden,and they’re doing well. A few days after transplanting, though, the black canes aren’t looking so hot.

Black raspberry canes

Wilted black raspberries

I’m hoping I can convince them that they’ll be happy in the garden. I also have hopes that with a little domestication, hydration, fertilization and cultivation, I’ll not only have healthy canes but big and juicy berries.

Do you grow raspberries? Are they black or red? Who else has a four-legged helper for picking? Any tips for domesticating “wild” berries?

The growth of a garden

As I was putting together Friday’s post, I started looking through old photos of the turnaround garden. It was amazing to me to see how far it’s come–even though I’ve been here for all of it. I had to share it with all of you.

The turnaround started out as mountain goat territory. Rocks, mounds of dirt and weeds made a very unattractive scene right outside our front door.

Turnaround garden before

Allow me to illustrate the scale of our “mountains.” (And the pile of crap at the old firepit in the background. Ugh.)

Turnaround garden before

We did nothing to it the whole first year we lived here. Finally, in spring 2013, our farmer came by with his big tractor and flattened things out for us. Hello, Easter.

Turnaround garden before

I enriched the soil with lots and lots of manure.

Kioti CS2410 towing a trailer full of manure

And my parents helped with mixing it into the soil and picking out rocks.

Rototilling a garden

Wiley, Matt, Easter and I dug out a path across the turnaround.

Digging the pathway

Then I laid a herringbone brick path.

Herring bone brick pathway

And Baxter joined the family in time to be part of the project, helping to fill the joints with sand.

Baxter helping with the brick path

Then things got a little weedy (a lot weedy). The turnaround is huge–the size of a suburban backyard. I just couldn’t keep up with it.

Weeds on the turnaround

At the beginning of spring 2014, I had given up on half the turnaround. Matt mowed the weeds. The other half was still weedy at the beginning of May, but I went to work.

Weedy flower garden

By the end of May, the turnaround was planted (half of it, at least).

Turnaround garden in May 2014

And this year, it looks like an actual garden. (And I’m already starting to think about the other half).

Turnaround garden in July 2015

I am amazed how much the plants have filled out in just one year. Everything in the garden, including the bench, the birdbath and the brick path, came from the farm or from family (except for the plants you saw on Friday). Transplanting and splitting–and a lot of hard work–have made this huge garden come together nearly for free.

The most important element of gardening in my opinion though is patience. Gardens take time to grow. But the payoff is huge. I’m so glad that I’m able to take a look back and realize how far we’ve come.

Evolution of the turnaround flower garden

Do you keep track of your garden’s progress through the years? Who else has a garden that’s taken awhile to come together?

When you are ready for planting

When my aunt came to the farm for the first time (three years ago), she brought with her as a housewarming present a gift card to a local nursery.

Gift card

It may have taken three years, but we’re finally ready for planting.

Well, we’ve actually been planting, using plants we found around the farm. We’ve been transplanting and splitting and spreading everything around, trying to fill in the gardens. And they’re looking pretty good. (Just ignore the weedy path).

Flower garden

There were a few gaps I was looking to fill in.

  1. I wanted some different colour foliage to break up all of the green we have happening right now.
  2. I wanted a shrub for the well garden.
  3. I wanted some lavender.
  4. I wanted a white hosta.

A visit to the busy nursery gave me what I was looking for.


It also gave me a reminder of why I don’t buy plants. Even with my aunt’s gift card, I shelled out a fair chunk of cash–and I only bought five plants.

Most of the plants will spread, though, so I should be able to get some good mileage out of them.

Here’s how some of them look in the garden.

Purple sandcherry in the well garden. Definitely pops against the green.

Purple sandcherry

This flower wasn’t labelled at the nursery. Is it fox glove?


I heard that lavender is a mosquito repellent–so, so needed this year.


And when it comes to propogating, I’m already rooting a sprig that broke off the sedum. I love this dark purple tone. (And ignore the weedy path again).

Purple sedum

Auntie Anne is a loyal reader of the blog, and she’s always enthused about what Matt and I are doing here at the farm. Her gift card has definitely given the gardens a boost. Thanks so much, Auntie Anne. We appreciate your encouragement.

What would you like to add to your garden? How do you find new plants for cheap (or even free)? What plant should I consider adding to our gardens? Do you have an Auntie Anne cheering you on?

Accidental demo

So I started to take apart the sunroom last weekend.

Inside the sunroom

It was a bit unexpected. I mean, we’ve always been planning to demolish the sunroom. However, I wasn’t planning on doing it now.

I opened one of the patio doors and it just fell apart.

Broken patio door on the sunroom

Broken patio door on the sunroom

The door is just one of the problems with the sunroom. Allow me to share the other reasons the sunroom is not worth saving.

Weeds growing inside the room.

Weeds growing inside the sunroom

Rain dripping inside the room.

Rain dripping inside the sunroom

Moss growing in the carpet inside the room.

Moss growing inside the sunroom

Glass shattered over top of the room.

Shattered windows in the sunroom

The sunroom is pretty disgusting. We haven’t used it, except for the very first week we owned the house. The heat was out, and the sunroom was the warmest place to have lunch–yes, we were that desperate.

Knowing the sunroom is coming down, we’ve not worried about maintenance. (Nor about finding a better spot for the skids leftover from the fireplace stone yet). So this view makes our house look a bit more derelict than it actually is.


The eyesore isn’t going away any time soon though. Matt patched the door back together and stuck it back in place. And hello, driveshed reflection.

Broken door propped in place

So my impromptu demo turned out to be a bit premature. We’ll have a sunroom for a little longer yet.

What’s the biggest eyesore at your house? Have you ever unexpectedly demolished anything? Do you have sunroom? Does anyone else have vegetation growing or rain falling inside your house?