Fall projects and progress 2013

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It is long overdue but here it is. I’ve been meaning to send a thank you and an update on how the garden and other things have come along since some friends had come up to help out up at our cabin. Thanks so much to all who came up this year. I hope everyone all had as much fun as I did. I always enjoy having like minded company over to share our accomplishments, aspirations, and knowledge.

A great crew up at the cabin with Freckles, Nicole, Carol (with Maddie), Paul, Terry
A great crew up at the cabin with Freckles, Nicole, Carol (with Maddie), Paul, Cassie, and Terry
Nicole and Paul suit up for a lesson in beekeeping while Terry helps coach.
Nicole and Paul suit up for a lesson in beekeeping while Terry helps coach.

Thanks to Terry, we measured out and got supplies for all of the eavestroughing and got the most difficult one up onto the barn. Terry was also a big help with the honey harvest and I believe he gained some good experience and got quite comfortable with the bees. We had some good fun honing our rifle skills which might have even helped Terry get his very first deer this year. Congrats, Terry.

Thanks to Paul, Carol, and Nicole for their back breaking efforts to clear out all the brambles to make room for the new garden. Carol and Paul did a great job on building the cedar compost bins while Nicole saved me loads of time building frames for the bees. Paul, Terry, and Nicole also got to be my first students at teaching some basic beekeeping lessons.

Area cleared out to make way for the new gardens
Area cleared out to make way for the new gardens. Eaves up on front of barn and new compost bins ready

A few days later, my good friend and fellow permaculturalist, Tom, came over to spend a few nights. We brought up a good heavy load of maple for next year’s firewood. To add to the woodpile we took a trip to his nearby property in Danforth Lake (only 30min NE from the cabin) to load up on more hardwood that we could use this winter.


Fence all set. We will eventually extend some of it higher and draw wires to keep the deer out.
Fence all set. We will eventually extend some of it higher and draw wires to keep the deer out.

Huge thanks to Tom who spent grueling hours helping dig out over 120 feet perimeter trench 2 foot deep to bury chicken wire and helped set up all the fencing to go with it. We also put our heads together to take down a few huge trees that were threatening the barn. I’m convinced those dying trees would have come down just a few weeks later with that major windstorm we had late October or from another storm we had in November.

Getting started with the hugulkultur beds. This bed will get much higher with wood, leaves, compost, and dirt.

Now with the fence up, and Corrie fully impressed with all of our hard work, Corrie, Mark, Krista and I started to build one of the new garden beds. We decided to make one of them a giant hugulkultur bed and made use of all those cut brambles and much of the deadfall that was laying around. We also ordered in a full load of regular topsoil to add to it and for the other raised beds we will eventually build come spring.

Thanks, Mark and Krista, for helping out with the huglekultur and firewood and for being willing victims to our dominance at Settlers of Catan.

The Bees

The bees are doing well and all covered up for the winter. Unfortunately due to the bear attacks I had to combine my weakest hive with a stronger one as the queen never seemed to recover to lay enough brood to make it through the winter. Since I split the hives I did not get the same honey harvest as I did last year but still managed to get about 120 pounds. We sold out in only two days from announcing it to friends and family. I’ve set aside a few jars for all our helpers. Honey from bees that you know personally will always be the sweetest you’ll ever taste 🙂

Bees all wrapped up and cozy for the winter. The pallet provides a windbreak and those white panels create a sun trap.

Other notable events from our fall

  • Picked up a very full carload of free cedar plank from the mill that we used to build the compost bins and will use for the raised beds.
  • Managed to fit a full chord of dry maple into the CRV. Bought for this winter from a local guy about 15 minutes away for only $65.
  • Harvested tons of local apples for free. Corrie made apple sauce and we also sliced and dehydrated enough to fill nearly a dozen 1L Mason jars.
  • Dehydrated bushels of green tomatoes from our gardens. Spiced them up to make tasty snacks to keep in the office and car to get me off my nasty Doritos habit.
  • Harvested all kinds of wild elderberry, hawthorne, highbush cranberry, and chokecherry. Made lots of interesting stuff with them. We used the elderberry to make jellies, a medicinal syrup, and added some to a batch of my Honey Harvest Ale. The hawthorne made it into some fruit leather and the cranberries and chokecherries made it into jellies or added to kombucha.
  • Had a great time over at Tom’s camp out on Sharbot Lake where we gathered and split firewood and feasted like kings on Tom’s delicious wood oven pizzas. The next day we managed to get a fair amount of work done on the permaculture designed rock wall terrace gardens.
  • We managed to get a great harvest from a tiny plot we inherited at the community garden. 36.5 pounds of red skinned potatoes!!! All we really did was plant them and come back to harvest. Since it was a first year community garden we had no potato beetles to deal with and really nice soil.
  • Another great hop harvest this year provided plenty of hops (and tons more to spare) for my annual Honey Harvest Ale. I made a double (10 gallon) batch and added elderberries to half. What wonderful medicine to enjoy daily.
  • Scored a nice chunk of Chaga mushroom when I was in Sudbury where there is an abundance of birch trees. I don’t feel too bad harvesting there with such healthy populations of birch and chaga.
  • Prepared the garden bed at home while cleaning up the compost area. Sheet mulched with rabbit urine soaked newspaper and thick layers of rabbit soiled hay, maple leaves, wood chips, and finished compost.

Check out the full photo gallery


Thanks again so much to all who came over to help out. I really had a good time and you are welcome over anytime. I’m definitely signing up for income averaging next year and hopefully we can do this again. I definitely still owe you some good hard labour so don’t be shy to cash in on that when you need me.

20131001_144810Take care and hope to see you soon.

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