The garden at Northbrook has been put to bed by now, of course.  A few of the perennial herbs were moved into their new homes in the outer beds.  Against all advice from the gardening books I also moved the asparagus to an outer bed.  Before I planted last spring the books told me to choose the spot for asparagus carefully because it shouldn’t be moved.  Guess what?  I wasn’t careful enough and I really hated where I had put it.  So I’ve taken my chances and if I have to start again next year, so be it.  The garlic was planted in October – about 150 cloves from two different growers.  Mulch has been applied where necessary.   And now come the delightful months of planning for next year.

If I had to sum up in one word what I’d do differently next year, having learned a lot from my first year of the Garden Obsession – that word would be MORE.  Sure, we had plenty of bounty from the garden – we happily ate lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, potatoes, leeks, peas, chard, kale, spinach, scallions, zucchini and herbs all summer long.  Oh, but I want so much more.  It turns out I’m a horribly greedy gardener.  I want a cornucopia of produce – pounds upon pounds of it.  I want so much bounty from the garden that I have to leave it in the dead of night on the doorsteps of my unsuspecting friends and family members.  I want to can and preserve things until my hands threaten to fall off from the scalding water.  I want bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer next fall.  Oh but that’s not all.  No.  I want masses of bright flowers in the garden – flowers spilling into the vegetables in every colour imaginable.  I’m dreaming of zinnias and larkspurs and cosmos and that’s right…more.

This terrible greed comes, I regret, from way too much time looking at other people’s gardens online.  Surely you’ll understand when I show you this:

and this, which has me imagining my one-day greenhouse:

and this

The above pictures come from the Meadowbrook Farm blog, where I’ve been lurking lately.  I hope they wouldn’t mind me sharing the photos – they are just too beautiful not too.  The work they’ve done on their farm is stunning and inspiring.

And then there’s this the Edible Landscaping blog I’m loving which has me wanting to grow vegetables everywhere in the city as well as at the farm.  Friends – be warned: if you’re not careful I’m going to start planting chard and lettuce in your front yard when I come to visit.

And, when I’m not envying other people’s gardens online, I’m at web sites like this one and this one, where I daydream about what Northbrook could have been in a different life.

I find myself dreaming of vacations that involve farms like these – doesn’t it sound lovely?  Regrettably, it also sounds spency!

So, as you can tell – there’s no shortage of farm inspiration swirling around in my already-full brain.  But then, what are the cold months of winter for if not for reading, planning and imagining what next year’s garden will bring?  In just a few days, I’ll be sipping tea next to the wood stove and up to my eyeballs in gardening books and seed catalogs.  I hope to spend many of this winter’s weekends this way.  I can’t wait.


Fall leaves (because now we can talk about it)

So it’s November 7th somehow, and I haven’t posted in a long time.  This is because, unbelievably sadly, I haven’t been to the farm in a month.  October is filled with city commitments – birthday parties, our school’s annual fun fair, bike racing and more.  Add to that two trips I’ve taken in the last three weeks – one to New York and one to Vancouver, and I’m starving for the farm.  This weekend has only one city commitment so we’ll have a partial weekend to spend at Northbrook, thank goodness!

The WorkHorse and the children spent last weekend at the farm dealing with the leaves.  I think what actually happened was that the WorkHorse dealt with the leaves while the children snuggled inside watching Ghostbusters, but I wasn’t there so who knows for sure?  Last year we raked the leaves by hand.  There are about 100 maple trees and 10 acres of grass around the house and outbuildings.  To say that it was unpleasant raking those leaves would be a bit like saying Hurricane Sandy was a spot of bad weather.  In all seriousness, the WorkHorse and I can’t even speak about the leaves last year- yes, it was that awful.  This led my smart husband online last winter to research another way.  In his online travels he came across the Cyclone Rake.  It’s a leaf collection tool that attaches to a riding mower.  I love the marketing materials for this company – every picture has someone grinning from ear to ear while using their Cyclone Rake. Like using it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to them.  But then, maybe it is….

Cyclone Rake XL field mowing

What the WorkHorse’s research told him was that this piece of equipment was very loud, hard on the wallet, and just about the greatest thing ever for those well endowed with fall leaves.  We hemmed and hawed about the expense of it.  But then a very generous Fairy Grandmother made a gift of it to the WorkHorse.  Given the trauma of last year’s leaf collection, it was too hard to refuse her offer.  I’m happy to report that the leaves were collected with a lot less distress this year.  Better yet, they are mulched and waiting in the back paddock for whatever mulching and composting I want to do with them!  The best part?  I missed the leaf collection altogether!