A May In Review

A May In Review

The past month or so I’ve been gardening. Garden garden garden. Baby goes down for a nap, I nip outside and do the various gardening tasks in 45 minute chunks (she does sleep longer than that but I have other stuff I do need to do, like shower and eat). I haven’t had a ton of time for sewing or spinning (that polypay I started in April is STILL waiting to be plied), so most of those projects have been patiently waiting.

Not only did I have more potted tomatoes than ever before, but I also did a bunch of transplanting around of perennials, added a new raspberry and a new saskatoon berry to my yard, built a brand new 12 x 2″ shady perennial garden bed (and really angered some Andrena bees that like to nest in the area – sorry guys but I’m done and you can go ahead and build your nests now).

This was the view at the beginning of May. All these plants are happily out in the garden now.

I ended up having to mix a lot of soil; I had planned on doing a whole refresh this year, but the price of potting soil is INSANE. Like, absolute bananas. Forty percent higher than last year – yet oddly enough the actual components of soil was only a few cents higher. If that isn’t price gouging I don’t know what is.

So, I ended up mixing my own soil, and adding it to what I had, which I divided into more pots. I have something like 20 potted tomatoes this year (plus all the various other potted plants), which is a good number for a small urban yard. In my main veggie bed I’m trying square foot gardening this year (4 more tomato plants there by the way). We’ll see how it goes. I’m hardly following it faithfully because I’m sorry, there is no way you can fit 9 beets in a square foot and get a reasonable sized root. I have the added problem of a Green Ash now causing a lot more shade on that garden than I like and I’m debating about what to do about that. Moving the bed isn’t an option, and I’m not sure how drastic I want to be with that tree. But, it is my main veggie bed and I need the sun. I knew this was coming, I was just hoping to get a few more years.

The variegated leaves of ‘Dean’s Haley’s Rainbow’ Tomato. Which wins my most hated variety name.

I also have several dye plants going: Hopi sunflower, dyer’s coreposis, dyer’s chamomile, madder (in its 2nd year), black knight scabiosa, Japanese indigo (a very small amount, so mostly this will be for seed), and marigold (two kinds). I also do have a goldenrod, but it’s a different species than you’re standard Solidago missouriensis (another native to the prairies – the big one you see growing everywhere). Mine is Stiff Goldenrod, which I chose specifically because it’s less aggressive than Prairie Goldenrod. I wanted to give it a few years to grow, but this year I do plan on doing some small dye experiments with that one to see how it matches with standard goldenrod.

I also did something completely atypical for me – I bought yarn to make a cardigan. I haven’t bought yarn in many years. I made the baby Storyline by Tin Can Knits earlier in the year, and it was such a fun knit I wanted to make one for myself. I knew I wouldn’t have time to spin for it anytime soon, so I went ahead and ordered yarn. With how often I get to knit I think it’ll likely take me until fall to make, which means it’ll be perfect wearing time.

Somehow with all of that I did finish three simple sewing projects – two Seamly Basic T-Shirts (my favourite t-shirt pattern, although unfortunately it seems like you can’t buy it anymore), and The Everyday Skirt from It’s Always Autumn. The skirt I alter so that it has a proper folded over elastic waistband that you slip the elastic into; I hate the feeling of bare elastic on my skin.

I also have three blog posts for this blog right here that have been waiting to be published since March. Fitting in the time to take photos of everything has always been my bottleneck on blog posts, but one of these days I’ll knuckle down and do it then finally get these posts up.

I also finally started mordanting all the cotton I have for quilting so I can stock up on my naturally dyed fabric. I have 10 yards I believe, three of which are now mordanted. I’ll leave at least two yards for some shibori indigo dyeing, which leaves five more I’ll have to mordant. I like to do everything in one-yard chunks, and I think I’m going to try some different mordants. Gallnut is my go-to because it gives nice, clear colours, but I think I’ll do at least one yard in myrobalan (maybe two, one I can overdye with indigo), and then two either in sumac or a tannin blend I have from Maiwa that gives an interesting purpley-red undertone. That leaves one left, which I might use cutch as the tannin.

I have a new quilt that I really want to make, that requires a specific colour that I made by mistake once. I have no idea how to recreate it, so it’ll be interesting to see how close I get.

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