Saskatoon Compote Recipe

Ah, the Saskatoon Bush (Amelanchier alnifolia) and its delightful berries. The Saskatoon bush is a native Shrub that within canada grows from Western Ontario, thoughtout canada to the West Coast B.C. and up into the north as far as the yukon.

It would be very fair to say that for many peaple in the history of canada, that this was one of the most common eaten and preserved berry. Depending on what tribe lived were would have slightly different uses, the one I am most familiar with having grown up in alberta is using it as the dried fruit that is then crushed to be added to dried, pounded meat fibers mixed with fat to create energy balls that was then stored for both trips and winter food use.

From what I can see having harvested a good number of fruits, the saskatoon fruit is a ideal drying fruit as it tends to have a good thick meaty bite to it, a lot less moisture then others and yet it is round enough (its not truly round, its a touch flatter) that you can easily shake your drying basket with no need to flip or turn each one.

I planted Saskatoon Bushes the first spring I arrived on the farm, and was a bit surprised to find that the local store called them bird food.  I have planted a number of them since and plan to add them to the pack garden as well.  I remember picking this fruit with family and friends for many many years in my childhood and youth.. I love a good Saskatoon Pie, I think most folks who have tried it does 🙂

However in my family, most often it was put up into Saskatoon/Rhubarb fruit in the jars, this was a trick from my grandmother and my mother that allowed them to Stretch out small fruits flavour by combining it with a easy to grow/harvest and help fill up that jar of rhubarb fruit. This is still a great idea if you have a large family or are looking for a way to try rhubarb in new ways.  Start with 50/50 but depending on the fruit you can go as low as small fruit at 25% to 75% rhubarb.

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I noticed I had one small bag of our own grown and picked Saskatoon berries in the freezer door, the reason for this is that it was not enough on that picking to make a batch with, it was about a cups worth from the final picking and I had planned to use in mixed fruit batch that I never got to. Now as it happens I had cooked a large venison roast to med-rare and was making different meals out of it.

Saskatoon Compote 2 Servings (can easily double or triple this)

  • 1 cup saskatoons
  • 2 TBS of water
  • 2 TBS of Sugar or Honey or monkfruit sugar replacement
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger or minced ginger
  • 1 TBS rice wine vinegar (or any other wine vinegar)
  • 1 tsp of butter
  • pinch of salt and pepper

In a small pot on med heat, add your fruit, sweetner an water, simmer gently as the fruit cooks, once it starts to soften, you are welcome to mash a bit of it up on the side of your pot to help some of them release their juice more. This will take about 6 to 10 min depending on the amount of fruit you are cooking and the size of it, anyone who has picked saskatoons will understand, sometimes they are tiny and sometimes they are huge.

Once you have your fruit cooked, then add your ginger, wine vinegar, butter and salt and pepper to taste, then drop your heat and simmer it down to your desired thickness. Be care to not burn it as it gets thicker, stir often, spoon over the meat and serve hot.

Don’t have access to saskatoon fruit? This could easily be made with Saskatoon Jam, Add Jam, ginger, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and warm it up and then simmer it down to your desired thickness and spoon hot over your meat.  This was delightful on Venison but would also be O so good on moose or duck, I expect it would be very good with grass fed beef as well.

Do you have saskatoons in your garden, food forest, hedge row or wild down the lane.  What is your favorite way to use them? While they do best if they can get eight or more hours of daylight, they do very well as intermixed bush with half sun and half shade.  They tend to produce smaller drier fruits on hot years unless watered but they will still produce and they are a very long lived bush, normally living between 30 to 50 years and they will sucker well meaning that you can replenish your plantings from your favorite flavored bushes into the next generations.

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Eating for Health

While I am beyond grateful for getting some answers in regards to my health, one of the things that came out of it was that I needed to work harder to clean up my eating habits and slowly but surely lose some weight.

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Beef Taco night but the bowl is made with heated till crunchy cheese bowl. This was very good!

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Now something are just awesome with the way we already are, I mean we already eat home raised grass feed meat, lean wild meat, and farm fresh eggs and so on.  Above is a lovely grass fed steak with veggie/mushroom side

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We also are coming into year 20 this spring on the farm.. Can you believe we have had the farm for 20 years! wow..  and so we have a large amount of beyond organic hard and soft fruits and gardens of veggies growing on land that has never seen any spays or chemicals.

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We need to be even more careful this year to grow, put up and eat as cleanly as possable in terms of chemcials and so on. In the salad above, I am trying to add more nuts/seeds to our salads with a bit of dried cranberries or currents

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I thought you might like to see a sample of meals made over the past week. Gearing up for showing off meals made in No Buy Feb. I wish I could say that I have had time to get out fish locally, I mean I have the river right there but the salmon and the haddock were bought.  I am hoping to get a few fishing trips done this year where I will max out my daily limit (I hope) and get some extra local caught into the freezer.

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Kitchen Garden Plans 2023

Its the time of year where you start planning out your gardens, the cold snowy days are perfect for plotting and planning/checking seed boxes and orders and planning out the early starts. 

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This spring we will be coming into our fourth spring for the Kitchen Garden and I do love having one, its outstanding to walk out the door, poke around the kitchen garden snipping this, pulling that, picking this and that, taking up the fresh herbs and back into the kitchen I go. The photo example above is plot one and plot 2. 

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As always a garden is movement and flux..  Plot 1 for 2023 is getting climbing fence on the house side with a salad medley of items on the rest of the area with some pops of orange. 

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Plot 2 is also getting a bit of a adjustment, as I need to move the blocks in a line to make sure that the propane line when it fills the tanks has a “stopper” from the line sliding into the garden bed. In plot two I am putting in a cucumber climber for patio cucumbers, so they will be smaller stocker plants and then for the back end, I am going to place big tomato ring and will be putting in a sweet one thousand cherry tomato that will be a massive early start and will produce till frost.

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Plot three is a deep bed and everything in it thrives, it has been planted with so many things over the past few years as you can see above, each year I lose more space to the fruit bushes. Coming into year four, there is just a narrow row on the front of the bed available.

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I will need to get new photos of this area come spring because plot three is now massively overtaken by the fruit bushes in a big way, so I am just going to plant the front row into strawberries to finish it out into a full fruit bed.

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Ah, plot 4 is such a dream to work with, the combo of the vertial climber with the front and back into ground veggies work, anything that likes half shade does wonderful on both sides of this plot, it helps keep the greens from bolting and the back half does amazing for carrots, beets or parsnips. The sloped backside of the plot is in strawberries for added stability. 

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Its a very early bed in the season, it warms up beautifully, I often can have pea’s producing here weeks before other areas.

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Now plot five has been in strawberries with a comfrey plant for the past few years and its getting a revamp this year, the strawberries there was put in the first year and the oldest are ready for the compost pile and last year I let them go crazy with the babies, so the babies will be taken out and put into the row on plot 3. 

I am do have cabbage moths but I rarely have a issue with them, none the less they will have marigolds and celery intermixed with them. Did you know that they do not like the scent of celery, I am not planning on eating this celery fresh, because it will be grown in full sun, its going to be super strong and on the bitter side so it will be dried, ground and added to soup blends in the end. 

That comfrey is getting bigger then I would like, so there will be a lot of cut and drop on it, I do want it to flower but I do not want it to go to seed, I am hoping to get three or maybe four cuttings from it. and plan to just drop it around the cabbage/celery as ground cover mulch. 

Do you have a kitchen garden? if so, how close to the house? what is your favorite to have in it? How big is yours. Each of my beds are 20 feet long by 4 feet wide with 2 foot pathways. 

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Let it Snow Snow Pack and Gardening

Starting late afternoon yesterday the snow came and this morning we were at 10 inches deep and its still coming down.  Look at how much snow came down on that chair, this deck was perfect cleared before the snow started yesterday.

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In area’s that drifted it was close to three foot drifts to push though with the snow blower and a good amount of hand shoveling, the wood stove is going strong and I am loving my never ending kettle of hot water and the joy of putting our wet gear out to dry. 

This storm earlier in jan was the biggest so far this month,  yes that is 15 inches of snow in one day

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This is the third week in jan where we have gotten at least a foot or more of snow per week.  This means we have lots of snow cover here on the farm, now I get that for some of my readership they would be looking at that amount of snow and just be shaking their heads going no, NO… NO!!!!!

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And it is work.. just as my snow breaking dogs that are trying to clear trails lol 

However as a land owner and as a gardener, I am thrilled! This deep snow pack is a wonderful thing, right now it means that if we do get deep cold over the next 6 to 10 weeks of winter, my older and my baby trees and come again plants are all beautifully protected under that deep layer of snow. If we get freezing rain, warm snaps of 0 to 4 or 8c it means that it can not melt this type of snow pack fast enough to create any issues with them. 

Last but not in any way least, this kind of deeper snow pack means much needed moisture in the spring as it melts and it also means that it will slow down the budding out and flowering on my fruit trees! This increases the odds that I will get a good fruit crop this year. 

For a good number of my fruit trees, I need a certain amount of cold days and I am pleased to be marking them off successfully this winter, so if the spring works with me, I could be heading  into a very good year when it comes to stone fruits. Then again, we could get a very hard late frost, time will tell.

How is it looking in your neck of the woods if you are zoned where you get winter? Do you have a good snow pack? or are you bare ground? Last winter we have enough straight very deep cold days that we had some good kill off of different garden or forest pests. So far this year, we have not had that kind of longer straight deep cold, but it will be fine either way, as it takes time for them to build their numbers back up.  I still have time for a good cold snap.

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This deeper snow has been driving the wild turkey hens onto the farm early for a bit of extra feed in the cleaning up under the bird feeders, we even caught a doe feeding on the horse hay this week.

 

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No Buy Feb 2023

What is No Buy Feb?

Its pretty simple.. Only buy what must be got (clearly you are going to need to buy your pet food) most peaple do allow themselves to buy basic food items but not all do.. and otherwise, anything that is a want/wish/would be nice is NO BUY..

I am stunned to realize that I did my first No Buy Month (feb) in 2011.. that means this is my 12th year for doing some version of this..

Anything that is a need, as in I need to X, then you can get it.. On average in a non-pandemic year you should be able to save at least a couple hundred dollars over the month.. its a way to put up a little extra, pay off those last of the Christmas bills and so on.

We have always allowed farm/or animals a pass on this as required, clearly if I need to spend money on my dog or a cat for health reasons, I am going to do so.

The big one this No Buy Feb is reno’s. Dear Hubby is taking the last two weeks of Feb off work so we can focus down hard on finishing some renos before spring and all that comes with it work wise.

A) I have not ordered and or bought all the required supplies, I have some things but not others, and even so, if you have ever done a reno, you know that there will be SOMETHING that you forgot on the list and will need to get more of or a different part or whatever.

So I am giving a Reno pass on No Buy Feb, if we have it, we use it, if we have to buy it, I will own it and put it on the spend side, not the save side.

So Here is my No Buy Feb Rules

No Personal wants!

This right there cuts out any chance of me doing a add on to a online order or asking for a few extra things on I am heading to town.. it also means no fab friday sale shopping third friday of this month.

Local Food programs is not allowed this year, I am going to give myself leeway only on salad greens/salad fixings if I truly run out of homegrown.  This is for health reason only and it will be limited tightly to just meet the daily requirements for both of us.

I am very VERY slowly healing and I can not allow a No Buy Feb challenge to set me back, so salad greens and fixings are allowed. Costs on these will be recorded.

No bulk buys allowed!

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When it comes to the farm, the same rules have applied for the past 10 years.. if the farm or the farm critters need it.. its allowed.. period..

Now comes the far more tricky part.. the above are standard rules and while they can be surprisingly harder to live by then you think.. a little buckle down and it happens pretty well..

How do I work in future needs/restocking/back orders?

I do get a few things in monthly on amazon which nets me 15% savings on them and I will pause them for one month for this.

This year, there will be no sales.. I think its going to be all about.. stock and back orders..

So here is my general rules in this regards.. If its been on my pick it up list for more then 3 months and its been not available and or on back order and shipment came in..

I am allowed to get it..

If I know I need it for something within THIS YEARS coming projects and I KNOW just! what it will be used for and when, then if its stock and I am not sure at how long that might remain.. then if I can find it this month,

That really narrows the window of what I can consider but keeps some flex and common sense in there..

Nitty-Gritty

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We have 6 chicken layers, they are on average giving us 3 eggs a day on no heat or extra lighting, we also have so far three duck hens out of 6 that are giving one to two eggs per week but that will increase as the daylight does.

We have a milking sheep so assume 6 to 8 liters per week available.

We have a indoor greenhouse but its not up and running properly at this time, As noted i was sick all of aug and into sept (including two hospital stays) then did a very slow recovery only to end up sick again first part of dec and back in again for a even longer hospital stay and am still in recovery at this time.

Asking hubby to take on the greenhouse with everything happening did not happen! So while we can start things now, its not like I am walking into No buy feb with a stocked and ready to go greenhouse

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Having said that, I am walking to it with a full fridge, a well stocked pantry, a well stocked cellar and stuffed to the gills freezers.

I am expecting to do a once a week post with one follow up, but you never know, I might do a meal or recipe as well, we will see.

So anyone want to join me in No Buy Feb, I am planning on doing the March Pantry Challenge so maybe one appeals more then the other?

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Wood Heat/Cooker Combo Stove

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This has been a project that started early 2022, I wanted a new combo wood stove, I figured out what we need for sqaure foot heating, I figured out what I had to have in regards to being able to cook and then I added a wish list. 

This awesome cookstove made in Quebec fit the bill and I went to buy it.. hahaha..

Like most things it was out of stock across canada and it had a hefty backorder numbers on it, to the point that they first refused to even let me order it, I finally asked if they could call and at least ask if I could not get on this pre -order when would I be allowed to pre-order on the next planned shipments, 

They had noted that they expected two shipments of pre-orders to go out in 2022. Once they spoke to the guys in montreal, they agreed to put me on the wait list but I would not know if I would get that one of the last ones on the first of the year shipment or be on the first of the list on the second of the year shipment.

I made it into the first an so this black beauty arrived on the farm early spring and part of it was installed and there is sat for months to be honest, I started pushing to get things sorted in the early fall but to get a booking date for the crew was proving difficult.

Thankfully all the cords of wood I had ordered arrived on time, so we are not lacking there at all!

I got a date and then I got covid and ended up in the hospital and so they cancelled not wanting to come to the house.. I finally got a new booking date in early dec, with the promise of a fire for christmas, and sure as shoot.. it was right in the middle of me being back in the hospital, I was still in and it was to be done but hubby was watch to find out if he was going to get it and so they didn’t want to risk the crew getting sick and cancelled on me again.

So I was so happy when late last week, they woke me up at a crazy early time with (Morning, we have a cancelled work day and the crew is waiting on the road for you to wake up and so on..)  It was one of those stumble around for a while but otherwise, get it sorted.  

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The crew got it finished and we were able to get the inspection the very next day! It is wonderful to know that we have the new stove ready to help heat the house in winter but just as important is that it can also be used to cook on reducing both propane and power use!

Do you have a wood stove? outdoor only? Heating only, combo unit that you can cook and heat with or do you have a big old proper woodstove with the oven and water heating and maybe even more?

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Blue Monday

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Today is the third Monday of Jan and that makes it the official “Blue Monday”  I am never sure I truly believe this made up day, they say its called the saddest day of the year over all. 

I disagree for many reasons, I think that everyone has their own much sadder days and we do not need to be told that a certain winter day to be given this name.  Do you find Blue Monday is in fact a hard day or time of the year for you?

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I think the important thing in winter is getting in natural sun whenever possible.  Open the curtains, clean that glass and let that winter light pour in! Each day I am gaining 3 more minutes of daylight and I enjoy every single one of them. I made a point of opening the heavy heat/cold blocking winter curtains and my house right now is flooded with light, the new wall with its window in the kitchen has been just amazing!

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I would like to say that I have been able to get outside because the truth is that is the best thing to do in winter, it does not matter if its sunshine or overcast, getting out there is the best choice possable. Walking the dogs, shoveling as needed, winter chores, or for those without farms, snowshoeing, winter skiing, winter hikes, winter horseback rides (the footing is great right now with the new snow falling and milder temps)

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I have had some sitting bird taking time and I have gotten out once in the past weeks for a forest drive with hubby. It was lovely to see the trees, I can not wait till I can spend more time outside. Have you been able to get out and get some winter fun time in? or are you enjoying winter chore time? 

Feeling Blue Monday? I hope you can get outside for a walk,  Can’t take a walk? I hope you get outside to sit in the sun and look at the birds or the trees or your yard and have a cuppa.  Not well enough to get outside, then open  your curtains and let the sun in!

Onwards we go and slowly at here on the homestead, the sun stays just a bit longer each day and for that I am grateful.

 

 

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Porcelain Doll Pumpkin Review

Per Johnny Seeds Company Credit for the photo above as well 

add diversity to fall ornamental displays with the unique color of Porcelain Doll. The sweet flesh can be used for pies, soups, and other gourmet delights. Full vines bear blocky, deeply ribbed fruit averaging 16–24 lb” 

Now this is a one eye catching pumpkin and if you are growing it for the market of display, its a knock out on the wagon, that poppin pink color when its freshly picked, those lovely range of sizes and that awasome deep ribbing. I pick one up from a grower down the way along with a few others to try.

It was picked a little green, so I carefully cured it down and it did really well, it turned a bit more tan with some under tone greenish hue marbling as it cured and then stored for three months.

I was pleased at how well the skin cut, I have raised ones that need a hatch to get it cut open lol, honestly while the skin was nicely firm and not easy to cause any issue with storage, it cut very well.

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LOTS of hollow inner space and yet I was truly surprised at how few seeds I got and I took all the mature good ones (about 70 to 80 percent were good) out of such a massive pumpkin..

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The seeds are open pollinated in a huge pumpkin field of a big mix of 8 kinds so who knows what they will produce next year in terms of colors/textures and so on.. but it will all be big ones that should work well for fowl and or sheep fodder.

Farmgal tip, The seeds were washed and are on a lid with a ring set to dry, I put a 1/4th measuring cup on the back end, that way any extra water will run down, catch in the lower drip round and I just flipped the seeds every 4 to 6 hours as they dried down before going into a marked paper bag for starting and planting out next spring.

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It was time to cut it open and do a taste test..  I trimmed up one slice and baked it with a bit of oil in the oven, smelled wonderful, clearly drier flesh but nice texture, for lower fat, instead of butter could use a bit of broth to get it smoother and better mash to it. 

It was a utter fail! I did not like the taste of this pumpkin at all, Hubby did not like the taste of this pumpkin at all, even the 3 out of 4 dogs took it, tasted it and dropped it to the floor and then eat it on round two, Uther loved it, he loves everything lol.

You know who else loved it, the wintering fowl on the farm and the sheep though it delightful!

Live and learn.. Have you grown this? Did you like the taste of it? How was it for holding for winter use? 

 

 

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One Freezer Down

The big once a year beef order came in this week, which meant a rework of all the freezers, pulling older meat out, sorting, checking for freezer burn. Putting the new in sorted in types in fully newly emptied freezer, with the older going into the first use freezer in the kitchen pantry.

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So much sorting to be done but it needs to happen.. the chickens are going to be thrilled, thawing out some nice organs bags, some for the hounds the rest to be tossed in for the chickens to go wild on. They love their meat in winter in a big way.

The big surprise was the loss of our smallest freezer, you can look down the stairs and see the light on it, so it gets qoute “checked” regular but it turned out that didn’t matter, while it was cycling, cutting in and out, it was not working..

The good news.. it was only half full and it is our smallest size freezer..

The Bad News, it was my cheese fridge, to replace that cheese at todays store prices at least $500 to $600 at a bare min, plus what would be a $200 or so massive beef Brisket plus some really nice beef steaks, another couple hundred if bought at store prices. My guess is if we had to replace it at current store prices, we lost at least a thousand or more plus the freezer itself.

Its truly the wrong time of the year to have extra milk coming in to make cheese, so that will have to wait for spring, thankfully I have at least a few months which will need to be stretched till at least spring before I can start making and putting up more cheese.

I am just thankful that it was not holding my extra butter! Still what a waste, sadly nothing was able to be saved. Did you do a bulk buy direct from a local farmer this year or this fall? I grew my own chicken, duck, turkey, an lamb to go with what we already had in our freezers. I bought locally raised beef from just down the road from me (in farmer talk that means I can get to the farm within 15 min drive time).

This is our fourth year of buying our beef from them, I do miss having a calf/steet to a point on the farm in some ways, I like cows.. however I know that the beef I am buying has a much better life then even I could provide. I used to buy a half beef-Half Dairy calf from Farmer R and they were well started and I love raising up a calf. But I will admit that I know its better to be born and raised by momma. They have much larger pastures with great shelter belts of trees in each field.  Cows are herd animals and I know they are living their best cow/calf life. I did my best to give a good life to my calfs/steers and I did good.. but I know that the ones I buy now have even better in ways.

We raised two pigs in 2021 and we do have some pork still but not to much. I will have to decide if we are going to add a weaner or two in the spring or if we are going to buy half or whole from one of the local producers.

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Canada’s Plant Hardiness Site

Canadian Native Plant zoning

Very Useful information indeed. A big Thank you to the Canadian Government for this site..

Plant Hardiness Zone by Municipality

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This map puts my homestead firmly in the 5a zone which is both true and not.. like most folks I have area’s that are colder, more frost prone, higher wind and I have other area’s that are warmer microzones and I can grow and have produce one zone warmer. 

Still as a base starting point its a useful tool because as we often see in so many of the seed catalogs or the online versions that they just stop at the USA line and we are just this blank.  Its not often that you get not just the basic zone but can look up your town as well.

The seed catalogs are coming in now, I know they are arriving in mass to my mail box and I expect yours as well. The best selections will be had in the next 4 to 6 weeks of buying. I went thought a crazy amount of seed last year due to the weather, in some cases I replanted some rows 3 to 5 times. 

Today I finished my seed shopping, allowing me to get a overall 5% discount code and as I got in time for the deal, free shipping on my order. Check your catalogs when they arrive for their codes and use them to save some money! 

Even for me that is a lot of seed of some of my most common planted, add in this year that I want to try and beat the weeds by planting food producing plants in every single nook and then pull and harvest it as needed even if for fodder as the more desired plants grow and need more space.  

To say that I intend to overplant is a understatement and then some.  My indoor greenhouse and my outdoor greenhouses will be in full swing for early starts this year,  I do not expect to have much of a spring, I fully expect we will go from cool/cold spring to summer heat  YET AGAIN! and that means head starts for some things, insane mulching for others, and in ground seeding on some things with covers for others. 

If its going to be as hot I expect it will be at certain times this year, do consider looking hard at your yard and gardens and spot your half shade areas, these will be a very good thing when it comes to the heat and certain plants.  I know, I know, we all want full sun for so many of the gardens but I am telling you as the climate changes, we are going to find our half shade 60/40 is about perfect, lots of morning sun ideally with afternoon shade is going to be a much wanted garden spot!

Have fun with your seed catalogs, due check your zoning, it is moving, work on finding or making your microclimates and spot and plan to use your different shade zones in your yards. 

 

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