• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 16/Grade 11, 14/Grade 9, and 13/Grade 8.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Summer garden tour

In 16 years, I haven’t had the same gardening weather two years in a row.  This year we’ve had very strange weather, first quite dry, which has been standard for the past long while, but then quite wet (though not as wet as Saskatchewan, thank goodness), and some very warm days and fairly cool nights.  Which has all resulted in some things growing like gangbusters, but other things rather  more slowly than in previous years.  I’m as confused as the plants.  The carrots took forever come up (though I didn’t have to seed them three times, as so many of us had to do last year), but they’re already considerably larger than at this time last year.  Apologies for the wonky light, which is different in almost each picture, which I took at various times of day beginning several weeks ago and ending today.  I’m putting these up for me for next year and also for my mother, so she can see what I spend most of my day doing (not including cutting dead branches off shelterbelt trees and running to town for baler parts).

My dipladenia, which spends fall through early spring indoors,

A mimulus,

Behold, papyrus on the prairies! An experiment this year, a small water garden.  Last year I noticed the nursery was selling plastic baskets already planted with water plants, and was intrigued. This year, I succumbed. The garden seems to be happy and doing well because the one plant is blooming with lovely yellow flowers,

Some of my many pansies,

My rose starting to bloom last week; I think told Sheila it’s the Explorer rose, Alexander Mackenzie, but now that it’s in full bloom, I think it’s Explorer David Thompson; it’s my Alexander Mackenzie coming back slowly from a bad winter kill, down to about four inches,

Mr. Thompson just before bursting into bloom,

My ornamental rhubarb has never, in all of its five or six years, looked like this — it has never put out such flower stalks, or been so tall.  And until this year it was always more horizontal than vertical.  I like the leaves on the stalks, which rather remind me of flying birds.  Here’s Davy with the rhubarb one evening last week,

I took this picture of just the stalks the week before,

Poppies everywhere,

I can’t for the life of me remember the name of this perennial, which is growing under my nicest peony, and I can’t find my tag (though the writing is probably faded anyway, drat).  Sheila, do you know?  It’s one of my favorite plants, easy to grow, lovely to look at, goes with everything, and fairly uncommon (which of course is why I can’t remember its name at the moment). The flowers look like little drawstring pouches,

Peony and mystery flower,

My other peony plant, with blooms just opening today,

The columbines, which seem to be thriving with our weather.  Some of the older plants seem to be a riot of blooms,

The simple, elegant white columbines square off against the gaudy, two-tone fuchsia hussies,

Some recently planted lettuces and dill,

The irises several weeks ago, at the height of their bloom.  They’re gone now,

My strawberry beds, on the south side of the garage (tomatoes in pots in front), newly mulched with chipped trees,

My new experiment this year — red-painted “rock strawberries” to discourage the robins,

A day’s pickings,

Earlier in the spring, I needed an extra plant stand while potting up my plants, and found the following, which Tom had rescued from garbage pile behind the supermarket; once I removed the signs/posters on the side and front for all the breads, it was quite spiffy. And it’s on wheels!

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10 Responses

  1. Stone strawberries! That is a crazy but incredibly smart idea – everyone around here nets their berries (but me but I think it’s because mine are so crowded all you see is leaves). I love the container that the mystery plant is in – where are all those gnomes I sent you? I think I sent one that looked like a Strawberry Shortcake doll.

    Is the mystery plant perhaps some kind of campion? It looks vaguely like sea campion with those fat pods and the branching.

    Love the ornamental rhubarb! Fabulous big plant. And your Explorer rose looks a lot like my Michel Trudeau rose; I wonder if they’re related.

  2. Gorgeous. I have to redo my strawberry bed this year, it is overcrowded and the fruit was small. We have several explorers, William Booth, John Cabot, and I can’t remember who. They are fantastic roses for this climate.

  3. Sheila, my mother-in-law told me about the idea, which she got from some of the Hutterites in the idea. But they paint their rocks in quantity, in a concrete mixer with gallons of red paint. I’d like to do the netting but I need to make some sort of upside V-shaped frame to hang the nets on, and painting rocks was faster, easier, and cheaper. Nuttier, too. So far haven’t seen any robins with headaches, but the only strawberry predator has been a little striped gopher.

    It *does* look a bit like white campion but it’s not as weedy looking or behaving (thank goodness!).

    Ah, the gnomes. Well, they, er, um, are hiding under the leaves… Yes, that’s it, they’re hiding under the leaves!

    Yes, it does look very much the MT rose. I would think they just might be related, they’re both rugosas.

  4. Mary Lou, I didn’t think anyone who wasn’t limited to Zone 2 roses would grow them, so it’s nice to hear they are popular! As Sheila wrote to me the other day, it’s fun to think of one’s garden being peopled by all these characters.

    I’ve had a battle getting a good bed for my strawberries, first they were out directly in the soil in a larger garden bed, far from the house, and it was hard to keep them watered and weeded. They are much easier to tend now, and get lots of sunshine and warmth in the location. My next project is to find a good home for my raspberries, which also need a more protected, convenient (for me) located.

  5. I saw a good netting idea: stakes at each corner with a small terracotta pot upended on each tip. Drape the netting over the pots and secure at ground level with rocks. I’ve never tried it but it looks easy and, err, decorative. Maybe the gnomes would come in handy as terracotta pot substitutes?

  6. Sheila, I tried that last year in part because it did look so darn decorative and English cottage garden-y, but even with the securing at ground level with rocks I found it was very saggy and droopy, and a pain in the neck to remove for gathering the berries every day. That’s why I want something more fixed and easier to lift up, like my little A-frames. Will have to see what son #1 and I can bang together one of these days if it ever stops raining…

  7. Sheila, meant to mention, husband put together small round raised bed for mystery plant and peony because he had some leftover the year he made the raised beds for me — the vegetable raised bed is the same material, curved gray brick stuff, perennials/annuals are in one made of old lumber (probably leaching stuff so not ideal for edibles). Small round raised bed is four bricks high, and peony seems very happy there.

  8. Bummer on the terracotta pots idea. It looked so nice, too. Well, thanks for test driving it for me :)

    Love that stone. It has such gravitas and it’s the perfect colour. I’m off to get some round posts for a fence, will have to withstand gray stone allure…

  9. Hi Becky,
    What a beautiful garden!!! Oh, I could just invite myself to have a cup of coffee watching the birds and the flowers!:)

    I thought of you when I was given this award -Blog of Substance to be passed it on.

    You can find it here. http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/2010/07/blog-with-substance.html

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful resources here, Becky. It is a joy to visit here!
    -Subadra

  10. Sheila, oh my, my garden has some gravitas! If I ever write a book, that might be the title — “Gardening with Gravitas” : ).

    Subadra, thanks so much for the award, and by all means you and your family are invited any time!

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