Decorating with Nature
When decorating this winter, look to the outdoor space to find inspiration and supplies for gorgeous and unique decor
We are fortunate to have a stand of pine trees on our property so pinecones are plentiful! We collected a bucket of them this week and have plans to create something great with them. They are currently outside because we haven't baked them yet. We recently learned baking the pinecones gets rid of the sap and any critters that may be hiding in: 30-40 mins on a Baking Sheet at 250º will give you perfect decorating pinecones. Visit our Pinterest Board to see what plans we have for them!
The scent of evergreen trees brings to mind winter and Christmas and adding some fresh branches from an evergreen tree can give you home the look and aroma of Christmas. Its also a great way to have the real Christmas Tree experience without having the adding work and issues of a whole tree. We found some fallen branches and love the classic wintery feel they have all on their own. There are tons of great ideas for using them in an arrangement or as part of a table setting. See the ideas we loved on our Pinterest Board.
Branches may seem less festive than the others, but bare branches can be the base to some spectacular holiday decorations. Use them as they are or spray them with glitter, make them into a wreath, use them in an arrangement, the options are endless. Our favourite Pinterest option are on our Board!
Plums and Gooseberries
This hot weather has been great for our fruit and we now have Golden Plums and Gooseberries
Starting Saturday July 19 our Golden Plums and Gooseberries will be ready for U-Pick. Come to the farm, pick your own fruit and then come in for a tasting.
These little yellow plums are sweet and juicy. When they start to get a pinkish tinge you know they are at premium sweetness, the perfect time to pick.
Perfect for preserves, desserts or eating fresh, these berries are versatile and tasty. Some berries can be a bit on the tart side while others can be quite sweet.
The strawberries in our garden a ripe and we are use them in our Garden Teas
Keeping hydrated is so important in Kelowna during the summer and we love to combine local produce, tea and water to create a healthy drink for hot days! Now that the growing season is in full swing, we have lots of things right in our garden that we can use to create Garden Teas.
Fresh fruit, honey, and fresh herbs can be combined in many combinations to create refreshing, fruity drinks. Some of our favourite combinations are:
- Raspberries and honey in water
- Strawberries, mint leaves and honey in water
- Cranberries or Strawberries and honey in chilled Peppermint Tea
- Raspberries and honey in chilled Lemon Ginger Mate Tea
- Blueberries and blackberries in lemon water
- Blackberries in chilled Peppermint Tea with a dollop of honey.
With so many fruits available to us here, there are so many possible combinations. Use local products from your garden or the Farmer's Market to create delicious Garden Teas for yourself. We will also have Garden Teas for sale by the mug here at the Farm this summer!
Our Meadow Vista Tea Mugs are perfect for Garden Tea. Get yours at the Shop.
We all get a bit thirsty in this hot weather, honey bees are busy pollinating away and they need water too
Bee baths are a great way to ell the bees through the summer and to make sure your flowers get pollinated. Busy, pollinating bees mean lots of delicious honey for us to enjoy, and to make wine out of! Bee baths can also add another element of colour and beauty to your garden.
To make a bee bath simply take a shallow bowl or container and put it in your garden. Add small rocks for the bees to sit on while they drink and then add some water. Its that easy to help the bees.
Get creative, add different shapes and colours to compliment your garden. Be sure to check your bee bath regularly to make sure it is filled-water dries up quickly in the Kelowna summers! We refill ours when we water our flowers.
Looking for a good Bee Bath? We have some great options by local artist Annemarie Fux available here at the wine shop.
Natural Pest Control
Stave off garden pests the natural way by planting these repellents that are both functional and beautiful
Bugs can be bothersome, invading your garden and reeking havoc on your hard work and as annoying as pests can be, pesticides aren't ideal. Support your garden's health with these natural pest-deterrant plants.
Marigold - repels whiteflies and nematodes (be careful though, they can also attract spider mites and snails!)
Mint - these aromatic herbs repel flies, fleas, rats, ants, and mice.
Catnip - an excellent repellent for mosquitos. The essential oil derived from catnip, neptalactone, is said to be substantially more powerful than DEET.
Basil - aromatic and delicious, basil can repel flies, mosquitoes, and thrips.
Lavender - repels moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes.
Clover - great for preventing aphids and wireworms.
Nasturtiums - staves off whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, cabbage looper, and many beetles.
Rosemary - repels cabbage looper, carrot flies, slugs, snails and Mexican bean beetles.
Thyme - great repellent for a variety of pests, including cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, corn earworm, whiteflies, tomato hornworm, and Small White.
Use your after-Easter egg shells to nourish soil, stave off pests, and protect produce after harvest
Easter is all about eggs, but what do you do with the shells from all those hard-boiled treasures? Clean them, crush them, and combine them with soil and voila! - a calcium-rich combination that will benefit your blooming spring garden. Not only that, but egg shells can play an important role in each stage of the growing process.
Egg shells can be used in a variety of forms, from the half shell to finely ground. Crush them in your hands, have your kids mash them into the soil with their boots, or grind them with a mortar and pestle to achieve a fine dust that can be sprinkled and combined easily into the soil.
Try these techniques to reuse your remnants and benefit each stage of cultivation:
- Add crushed egg shells to the bottom of planting holes to balance the pH levels in your soil and prevent blossom end rot often caused by calcium deficiency.
- Use egg shells (the ones you manage to peel off with some salvaged shape) as starting pots for seeds, and then transplant directly into the garden, pot and all.
- Border plants such as strawberries with coarsely crushed shells to deter pesky garden intruders like snails, cutworms, and slugs. The theory is that these soft-bellied critters dislike slithering over the sharp edges of crushed shells, acting as an obstruction to their invasion.
- Spread calcium-rich ground shells around the base of plants or mix into the soil to continue to nourish them during their growth.
- When harvesting tomatoes, separate the fruit into containers in groups of consistent ripeness and lay them on beds of egg shells. The calcium is known to help develop aromatic oils to improve the taste, as well as regulate ethylene gas, the "ripening hormone" that is released from some produce that can affect the ripening process of other fruits stored near it. This will help prevent your rich, red tomatoes from influencing your less mature, greener fruit.
As an additional bonus for your backyard ecosystem, sprinkle crushed shells near bird feeders or nests to provide much needed calcium for newly nesting mother birds!
And remember to clean your shells thoroughly before adding them to the garden to prevent the spread of salmonella or botulism.
Mason Jar Terrariums
Welcoming Spring Indoors
This is the time of year when we get down on our hands and knees and start weeding through the brown to uncover tender, burgeoning buds of green that are opening up from their deep sleep. Flecks of colour start to burst out from the amber and beige coverings of winter's decay, and the sweet smell of damp earth awakens the senses. It's a perfect time to bring this new growth into our homes and welcome in the breath of fresh life that spring brings.
Here at the Meadow Vista Farm we've begun the process of weeding through winter's remains and preparing for the sunny season ahead. While out in the gardens recently we discovered some lovely lush patches of moss that were crying out for attention. Fortunately, this serendipitous discovery was paired with the unearthing of our empty Mason jar collection stockpiled from winter's consumption. Moss? Mason jars? Marvellous.
A little soil and vegetation can go a long way in a little glass jar. Coupled with some curly willow, grapevine, rocks, twigs, bulbs, or other natural relics, moss can make for a lovely, lush addition to the home - a colourful commemoration of the season.
Gardening with Bees
We have all heard that bees pollinate 1/3 of our crops. But what does that really mean?
Some plants are self pollinating, such as peas, tomatoes and wheat where other plants such as apples, blackberries and plums require cross pollination.
Though there are many pollinating insects, honey bees, leaf cutter bees, solitary bees, bumble bees and Monarch butterflies to name a few. For commercial pollination, honey bees are the most used for their efficiency, transportability and they have the bonus of producing healthful honey, bees wax, propolis and royal jelly that have a market of their own. Though the Prairie Provinces are the major producers of honey in Canada, pollinating canola and clover; Honey bees are very important to pollination of BC's blueberries, tree fruits and vegetables.
In the Okanagan, the growing season is long but the bloom time is short. That is why it is important to create flowering habitats for the honey bees. Though I like all flowering plants, my favourite are those that produce things we can eat. The following list of fruit and vegetables that grow well in the Okanagan, and I hope to continue to add to this list are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Chilli, red, green and Bell peppers
- Watermelon and Cantaloupe
- Squash, Pumpkin and Zucchini
- Lima, Kidney, Adzuki, String and Green beans
- Peach and Nectarine
- Rose hips
- Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry and Elderberry
Now that you have an idea of what you would like to plant in your garden this year, here are a list of online purveyors of heirloom seeds in BC: