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We’ve been continuing to add to the garden, even if I haven’t been all that good about posting the details. One of the major additions was a group of hardy kiwi plants two years ago. They are gendered so we have six females and two males. (one male can pollinate over ten females) All have settled in and are growing, with several doing better than others. They flower and fruit on the second year wood, so we did see a small number of flowers and the berries set in late May. kiwi1

The only problem was that we had no idea when they would ripen or what they would look like when they did. As a result, I spent nearly four months doing regular squeeze checks for ripeness until they turned in mid-September. They were well worth the wait and were sweet and delicious. Easily the best kiwi I’ve ever had.kiwi1kiwi2

They are shade tolerant so we’ve given them the west run of the south fence. The thing with the kiwis is that they are quite vigorous growers and you have to be pretty severe with the pruning, if you want them to maintain a shape. I’d like that fence to be as covered as possible so we attached some support grids to the fence and have been attempting to espalier them along it. It’s going well, but each year I’ve ended up with a chunk of pruned off twigs. Last year, I discovered that the trimmed bits are capable of rooting so this year I made a serious attempt at propagation. I’ve got around 10 survivors in gender marked pots. The plan right now is for me to bury the pots for the winter and we’ll see if any make it. If it works, we’ll finish the west fence and probably add them along the east run as well since the fruits are so tasty. I’m also hoping to be able to share with friends and family.kiwi1

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This may not look like much but it’s the start of making a new batch of walnut ink. I made the last one around 10 years ago and it ran out this year. It’s not a complicated process. I just took the hulls off a whole lot of walnuts and added water. You have to take the time to remove the nuts because if you don’t squirrels will chew into the tub to get them. (yes, I did learn that one the hard way) It’ll soak for a few weeks. Then I’ll strain it and ditch the hulls. After that, it’s just a matter of letting it evaporate to concentrate it down. The last batch never completely hardened, but was a very thick sludge, right to the point where it ran out.

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The warm brown tones of the finished ink are a colour range I’ve found it to be very useful for both writing as well as antiquing paper and fabric. To keep it that way I’ll have to be careful not to expose it to iron since that will oxidize it and turn it black.

This is a much larger amount than I’ve ever tried so there might even be enough to try some light fabric dying, but we’ll see how much is left after the straining.

Due to the number of nuts I ended up with, I’m also going to see how they are to eat. The nuts have been washed and are spread out upstairs to dry and cure for another couple of weeks and then I’ll get cracking!

After 8 years on Etsy, I closed my shop at the end of May due to some policy changes on their end. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally got my very own website up and running! ( sort-of, not all the payment options are live yet, but that should be done very soon)

I went with Squarespace, since I’d spoken to other artists and heard good things. (their pretty templates helped too) After taking a TON of photos, I’ve got a good sampling of my work listed! Now to finish filling it out…

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Last year, one of the bigger garden projects was that we put in four 4’x4′ “squarefoot” gardens. They covered over where the old septic tank used to be and make that space usable for crops. (it was solid clay and gravel so even grass had a hard time surviving in it)

I’m still getting the hang of how to make them work the best way for us but so far, they have been productive, even if I heavily over-planted them last year.

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For this season, I started early and put in the first round of peas in mid April. One batch was our regular sugar snaps and the other was a new one called a grey dwarf that is also supposed to make edible pods. Just this week, both started putting out their flowers and I was pleasantly surprisedĀ  at the pretty flowers from the new pea. All the other edible ones I’ve ever grown just had white flowers but these are right up there with most of the sweet peas for the beauty of the flowers. I’m hopeful that the pods will be tasty, but even if they aren’t, I may let a few go to seed since I wouldn’t mind growing these as an ornamental!

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One of the things I did in the past year was upgrade to a Nikon slr camera. I’m still figuring out all it can do but it’s already much easier to work with than my old point-and-click.

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Pretty much all I do is one-of-a-kind so I try to make sure to photograph everything before it gets put out for sale. That is another thing I have to catch up on for this year. At least I did shoot all my 2016 jewellery, so while this necklace has found a home, I have a record. The antique pocket watch piece had such a beautiful, natural oxidation that all I did was add the co-coordinating drop that I found in the salvaged stash and add a chain. I have to wonder if it’s original watch had fallen into salt water and then just got left for a decade or two. I’d love to know more about the stories of the pieces I find, but they mostly stay mysteries!

Changes

Wow! It’s been an incredibly busy year and while I’ve been back at work on a ton of different projects, I haven’t been keeping up here at all. Sorry about that and I’ll try to do better!

The gallery is usually open our regular summer hours, Tuesdays to Sundays, but it’s always good to check in by phone or email if you want to stop in since I am called away now and then. I can usually accommodate early or late appointments too, so long as you let me know.

The biggest change is that the etsy shop is now closed. They’ve made using their payment system mandatory for sellers and I’ve decided it was time to move on. I’ll post here when I’ve figured out a new on-line selling venue but of course, can always do mail orders through the store. Just call, or drop me an email and I can let you see what’s available.

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I have taken on a major project and as a result the gallery will be closed until sometime in late June. The Etsy shop will stay open and I will be a vendor at the Niagara Falls ComicCon, June 3 to 5.

See you in the summer!

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