To quote Bruce Cockburn, “I’m going to the country…sunshine smile on me.”

Sunday, July 29, 2018Smiling Sun

Summer is in full bloom and my mind is on day trips out to the country. Lazy afternoons spent meandering along village streets and picnicking along the banks of  pretty rivers are what I am dreaming of. With this in mind, I’ve gathered together some links to happenings of interest in nearby towns. I hope you can take time off to enjoy some of the abundance of scenery we have all around us. If you head out today, bring an umbrella just in case.  Note:  a 40% chance of rain means 60% chance of good weather.

If you can get organized in time this morning, a trip out to scenic Westport and area will allow you to tour a number of unique working gardens and farms with a focus on sustainability.  To buy tickets, visit this site:

Garden Tour: Revitaizing Food and the Land (Westport, Smiths Falls, Perth)

This is a sample of one of the four gardens on the tour:

Visit the garden of two permaculture teachers on 1/5 of an acre of land. Learn about our permaculture design for this site, now in its 8th year, and how we created edible gardens to replace our suburban lawn.  See edible perennial polycultures, a hugelkultur bed, sheet-mulching, a greenhouse, outdoor and worm compost. 

Over 100 species of useful perennial plants, including: 

  • cooked greens: goji tips, nettles, fiddleheads, Korean celery, beetberry, daylilies, lambsquarters and good King Henry
  • salads: sorrel, arugula, alliums, sedum, mallows, garlic mustard, oxalis and reseeding kale
  • berries: currants, elderberries, wild strawberries and raspberries
  • root veggies: sunchokes, skirret, groundnut, cinnamon yam and daylilies
  • herbal teas: bee balm, lemon balm, catnip, mint and ground ivy
  • herbal tintures: echinacea, elderberry, St John’s wort, mullein, oregano and thyme
  • birch sap and black walnuts

Also on today, the Taste of the Valley Herb Fest at White Lake  is the successor to the very popular and long running HerbFest outside previously held just outside of Almonte, Ontario.

For more information see:

For something to plan for another weekend: on August 11 a drive out to beautiful Perth will allow you to stock up on local garlic. Why buy garlic from Argentina or China?

mountain of garlic
Photo from

Perth Garlic Festival

see also:

And more garlic can be had from Carp area farmers, also on August 11. On offer are a range of inventive products made with “the stinking rose”.  Garlic jelly is amazing with cheddar cheese on toast.

garlic contest
photo from

Carp Farmer’s Market Garlic Festival

Buy a braid and you’ll have local garlic in to the winter. (or braid your garlic yourself)

If you prefer the sweet fragrance of lavender to the savoury smell of garlic, you might rather visit Lavender Ridge Farm and Store near Luskville some weekend this summer.

photo from

One last stop that is definitely on my “to do” list is a visit to local Carp vineyards and winery where they grow both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their website says they are: “practitioners of truly sustainable viticulture”. Tastings are from 11 to 6 on Sundays. They can also be found at the Landsdowne Market.

KIN Vineyards near Carp


wine glass

Enjoy the last weekend of July. Please excuse my lazy blog. We are packing up the picnic.


I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine…


Naturalized Boulevards

I have been admiring this wonderful little patch of wildflowers by the sidewalk at the Old Ottawa South library each summer.  Grateful appreciation is due to the people who decided to create such a colourful haven for bees and butterflies on a busy street. Poppies

If such a small space can bring such joy to people and nourishment to our hard-working pollinators, imagine the impact of a whole swathe of wildflowers alongside a busy traffic corridor?  This video clip shows a wildflower-filled cityscape on a much grander scale.

What’s the buzz today…

So many good events on for Sunday outings today. What to choose?

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Sunday, July 22, 2018

There is a neat workshop happening at the Just Food Farm today. An event to educate about pollinators, a subject close to my heart. With some friends, I organized such an event a couple of years ago as part of the 100 in 1 Day Activities. I ordered in 30 painted lady butterflies and we gave them out to kids to raise, along with information about their importance in the ecosystem.  The kids had great fun with that project and making butterfly crafts under our tent in Strathcona park.

Today’s Just Food events will include a chance to work on building a wild pollinator hotel. I have been saving up all the cardboard tubes in the centre of the dog’s bags. I will have to go and ask the presenter’s opinion on their suitability as the base for a Mason Bee House. I am hoping they will be sturdy enough to hold up.

Equally of interest is a Urban Foraging Walk in Strathcona Park organized  through the “Meetup” site. I went on one of these 20 years ago with a local botanist.  Her wealth of knowledge was amazing. Mine, not so much. I got distracted while we were talking and someone had to point out to me that I was throwing milkweed into the salad, whereas it was to go in to the pot to be cooked to destroy its toxins! Close call. We made dandelions dipped in batter, fried, then rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Delicious. Of course, I would eat just about anything prepared that way.

Since it is Sunday, there are also farmer’s markets to chose from. If I go out to Just Food, I will certainly visit the Just Food Farm Stand. I have been wanting to try the Chi Garden savoury pancakes. But if I stay in town, I may pick the Ottawa Farmer’s Market at Landsdowne for local produce. In that case,…I will make sure to hit the Boochfestat the Horticultural building.  I am a Kombucha addict. (Even though I always have to Google how to spell it. )

We don’t need much produce this week, as it was our pick up week for our share from Roots and Shoots . This is the second year we have opted to support community shared agriculture. Last year, it was a challenge to pick up so much fresh produce in one day. What to do with it all? A lot of it I ended up giving to friends and neighbours, as I found it was too much to process. I discovered that it all has to go in the fridge right away.  I suspect that the vegetables grown for the big stores are bred to hold up to being left out at room temperature for longer. But vegetables that won’t keep as long on the counter is a trade off I am quite willing to accept.

I have got on top of it this year and am quite happy with things. I was especially excited about the wonderful mushrooms from Le Coprin. Fried up with our share of zucchini and green onions they were a nice accompaniment to dinner. Mushrooms.jpg

If anyone knows the name of the mushrooms one the middle left that resembles cauliflower, I would love to know. It was almost spicy.

Anther great option for Sunday afternoon is a tour of the Organic Demo Garden at the Experimental Farm I took a beginner’s organic gardening course there and it was such beautiful setting to learn in.

Another competing event choice on my agenda this Sunday is a private garden tour organized through the horticultural society I recently joined. Twenty plus years of gardening yet it would never have occurred to me to join one…. except that a woman I garden for is on the tour. A magnificent acre of woodland gardens and ponds.  If you haven’t already, you might want to look up your local society and see what garden surprises are on offer.