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Shauna's blog

Autumn in the Garden

I love to be in my garden in the autumn.  The temperatures are perfect for working outdoors and it feels like there is some sort of natural rhythm that is encouraging us to get outdoors and create something.  You pull out your gum boots and your favourite old gardening sweater and head out to your yard, knowing that this is exactly what you should be doing.  Leave the blasted cell phone and computer behind and be off the grid in your backyard for a few hours to get some fresh air, exercise and clear your mind.

Autumn is a very successful time for planting trees, shrubs and perennials.  The cool nights and overnight dew refresh newly planted, hardy garden plants.  The fall soil temperatures are still warm enough to get some good root growth to develop before winter comes and your newly planted trees, shrubs and vines will get off to a great start.  Of course it is a great time to choose plants with fall colours; Japanese Maples, burning bush, smoke bush and all the plants that hold berries through fall and winter are fabulous to add to your garden now.

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Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Nothing says summer like fresh basil.  I love this simple recipe that can be used immediately over pasta or frozen in muffin trays to bring back the feeling of summer in the dead of winter.


Place the following ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.  

1/2 to 1 cup olive oil 3-5 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon salt4 cups fresh basil leaves1/2 cup fresh parsley 1/4 - 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

No basil?  You can also use a big bunch of parsley when basil is not in season.

When freezing your pesto, top your muffin tins with a wee bit more olive oil to keep your pesto nice and green.  Then tap out frozen pesto portions into a ziplock bag to store in your freezer.



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Green Tomato Pickle Recipe

My Mom's Sweet Green Tomato Pickle


5 lbs (2 quarts) green tomatoes 2 ½ lbs onions ¼ cup salt  3 cups pickling vinegar ¼ cup pickling spice 3 cups sugar 1 tsp mustard ¼ tsp cayenne pepper


1.    Slice onions and tomatoes.2.    Layer the onions and tomatoes, alternating and sprinkling each layer with salt.3.    Let stand overnight.4.    Drain.5.    Bring the vinegar to a boil with the pickling spices (tied in a bag), and the sugar, but not the mustard or cayenne yet.6.    Add the onions and tomatoes.7.    Boil 1 hour & 15 mins or until the veggies are transparent.  (Don't boil so long the liquid all evaporates.)8.    Just before removing from heat add the mustard and cayenne pepper.9.    Seal in clean, hot jars immediately.Enjoy!

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Fresh From the Garden

For gardeners there is little that is more satisfying than looking at your dinner plate and thinking, we grew these spuds, tomatoes and/or salad greens.  We are literally eating the fruits of our labour and we are enjoying it so much we just don't want the fresh supply to come to an end.  Luckily as we harvest the last of the spinach or broccoli plants we create a spot for some new little transplants of lettuce, broccoli or swiss chard to grow.  The best veggies to re-plant now are kale, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard and many types of lettuce.

This week I will harvest our garlic that we planted last fall.  Nigel pulled up a couple of our plants a week or so ago and they were wonderful.  Last fall we planted Russian Red, Elephant and white garlic as well as some new varieties.  If you haven't planted garlic before start eyeing up a sunny, well drained area for your fall planting, it really is so simple to grow.  Our garlic bulbs will be available in early September when the daffodils and tulips arrive.

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Vinaigrette Recipe


Simple Vinaigrette Dressing

I love this vinaigrette dressing over a salad made from fresh garden harvested veggies.  Some lettuce or kale, a cuke and some tomatoes and you have a great side dish to dinner.


1 clove garlic 1/2 cup olive oil ¼ to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar teaspoon of unpasteurized honey sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste 

You can get fancier by adding some any of the following to the salad.

herbs sliced pear blueberries bluecheese dried cranberries  


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Garden Inspiration

Where does your garden inspiration come from?  Seeing plants as they naturally occur, such as large drifts of beach grass or ferns at the base of majestic trees can inspire us.  Seeing the beauty of what other gardeners have created can fill the gardener's soul.  Whether walking down the street and peering into your neighbour's garden or visiting a famous garden on holidays; refueling the inspiration tank is a wonderful thing.  

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Fragrant Roses

For many of us, fragrant is a must for roses.  We can’t stop ourselves from sticking our noses into a rose, closing our eyes, as we innately know by cutting off our sense of sight only serves to enhance our sense of smell.   When we are rewarded with a fragrance we breathe it in deep and nod as if confirming to ourselves all is the way it should be.  It is then that we usually smile and want to share our discovery.  Stop and smell the roses… perhaps this little old saying is more fitting in our busy world than ever.

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Best New Plants for 2013

Each spring I am amazed by the selection and qualities of the new plants for our west coast gardens.  I spend much of the fall and winter sorting through to choose the very best ones for our nursery; the ones that suit Campbell River and the ones that really sound like improvements on old favourites.  For 2013 we have many new items so let's get started!

Buddleia 'Pink Flutterby'

... and Buddleia 'Peach Cobbler Flutterby Grande'

Two new repeat blooming buddleias that are more compact and bushy than the original in fresh new colours.  Hardy to zone 5 these buddleias will mature in your garden to 4' tall and up to 5' wide.  The flowering is also heavier with extra large flowers of either pink or peach that butterflies love.



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A Sunny Sunday in the Garden in March

There is not a lot I enjoy more on a day off than a sunny Sunday in my garden.

Yesterday morning did start out a wee bit chilly but by the time I had my inside jobs done, and was ready to head outside with a cup of coffee, the crocuses were wide open offering themselves up to the sun.

I spent a good portion of my time weeding and preparing areas for planting, then I harvested banana potatoes, a beet root, some kale leaves and some brussel sprouts to go with our dinner, not too shabby for early March:)

I planted some basil seeds and red russian kale seeds indoors under lights and checked on the curley scotch kale and spinach I planted a couple weeks ago in my unheated greenhouse.

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Starting Veggie Seeds

For everything you want to know, take a seed and watch it grow. My little sister, Alana, gave me a card one birthday with this quote on it and it took root in my mind and my heart and I've never forgotten it. It is very true. You can plant a seed and watch it develop into a plant that will bear you produce, which you can harvest and then prepare for your dinner all in a matter of months. Along the way you will also learn everything that the seed needs from you to grow; how much light, what temperature, how deep to plant it, do you start it indoors or outdoors, how much water and when you should feed it. These are all things that need to be considered but if you have never tried before, or have failed in the past, don't be alarmed - these are all things we can learn to do, you may not always be successful the first time but start small and grow a little more each year and you will learn 'everything you want to know'.
Timing is very important. You can do everything right with your seeds but if your timing is wrong your seeds will probably die (sorry for the big heavy). Obey the timing guidelines for each plant and you are sure to have far greater success. It's important to recognize that there are three main planting times for veggies.

1. March and/or April - Cool Season Crops

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