Wendy O'Neill

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since Nov 25, 2015
Wendy likes ...
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur cooking solar trees wood heat
Zone 3, but try to push the limits. Starting hugelkultur beds in 2018. Currently super interested in chinampas as my property is swampy. Working the 'farm' mostly on my own. I like offered advice. I am always looking to learn new things.
Hobbies: Crochet, cross stitch, chainmaille, metal jewelry, super hot peppers, herbal remedies.
Argyle, Manitoba, Canada Zone 3
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Recent posts by Wendy O'Neill

I am in Manitoba, where winter is -40 for a long time.  I have purchased a swamp for a farm (only way I could afford land) so these trees are of real interest to me.  I would love seeds from all of them, please!
I am propagating a lot of trees and shrubs and the cost of pots is something I looked at.  I decided to get a big roll of heavy landscape fabric and a sewing machine for my oldest daughter.  I got her to make bagged pots.  There are youtube videos on it.  Very easy to do, a project we did during winter months.  The advantage was that as I used them, I could get her to make them in different sizes to suit the tree or shrub that I was growing.  Also to advantage, they last a few seasons!  I reuse them as well.  
Tip:  Don't skimp on thread, leads to much sadness
10 months ago
I am in Zone 3a, Interlake region of Manitoba.  I would love seeds and scion wood.  I have very little to offer in exchange, as I'm just beginning to seed bomb my property.  I have some cherries, josta berries, a crab apple, some blueberry and saskatoon plants.  Also have a great resource of native hazelnuts, but won't have seed until this August when I harvest (before the worms get at them!).  I really want to grow mulberries as well.  Any help would be appreciated.
11 months ago
I have an incredible internal compass.  My sister tests me by driving to strange places and tells me to find my way home....hmmm...maybe an ulterior motive in there??  One time, lost in Minneapolis, I found our way back to our hotel, in the dark and no map.  She still tells people that story, I call it "Driving by feel".
I am from the True North and have navigated by stars, moon and good old compass.  All three helped me hone my sense of direction.  Neither of my children inherited this trait, so I think it is probably a skill to learn, although most of my family is "directionally challenged".
11 months ago
I'm sorry this project didn't get off the ground.  It sounded interesting, and if funds were not an issue, I would have supported it "just because".  I would not, however, be able to use much, if any, of the information you would have been providing.  Maybe something from Minnesota or North Dakota, but all of these are for climates a whole lot warmer than mine.  (Although, something from Kansas about wind issues would be good...).  Maybe if you show a snapshot of what the classes would look like, or the type of information available, it would be better?  I'm in a swampy area with plenty of spring flooding, massive deluges of rain in the summer and winters that are -45 C for prolonged periods.  The issues up here are too hot of a summer and way to cold of a winter, and water either ankle deep or non-existent.  If I thought I could get even one piece of usable information, I would have dug a little deeper and found the cash for it.  Please try again!  
11 months ago
I give the seed company 8 out of 10 acorns.
I have ordered from them over the last 3 years and they are prompt filling orders.
This year (this week actually) is the first time I've had anything put on backorder.
I only get their annual seed as they are so much warmer than I am, most perennials don't make the winter.
I LOVE their information and growing tables and guides.  So much really good information.  And they have a planting calculator that you can customize for your own growing zone.  Very handy tool!
I give this seed source 9 out of 10 acorns
I have ordered from them and purchased seed in local shops.  I always get prompt service and a quick answer to any question I may have.
The catalogue has next to no pictures, but so much information on seed sources that you can't help but want everything offered!

The website is cumbersome but it's much better now than it was even a year ago; and has pictures for just about everything (if you are a visual type of buyer).
My favorite from them is their melons.  We have a short season and these have been proven over and over again in Manitoba.  They taste soooo much better than "store bought" and the regular melons you find at the big seed companies.

I order from them about every other year.
For microclimate manipulation I planted wind breaks to the north and west and south.  Here in the prairies it is the freeze/thaw cycle in the fall and spring that kills most plants off.  With the shelter from the wicked cold winds from the north, the hot winds from the south and the chinook winds from the west, I can get to at least a zone 4.  From there I do most of my chop and drop in the fall, in October, so the ground is slower to freeze BUT in the spring is doesn't thaw and re-freeze.  The thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants (trees and shrubs too) stops the killing thaw that comes in January (we are going to be -1 C then back down to -19 C.  An improvement from the - 38 C!)) and then eases the plants into spring.  I remove the mulch when night time temps are going to be right around freezing.  If I forget (which happens too frequently) I just let it go.  The plants and such still do fine, just a bit slower to get to harvest.  Long daylight hours help with that!

For nuts, I grow our wild hazelnuts, tamed hazelnuts, pine nuts (no crop yet...sigh), acorns from our burr oaks (need to be soaked to get rid of tannins).  (I sometimes harvest Manitoba Maple seeds, they are like pistachios but finicky to get the seed coat off unless it's been really dry.  Those I harvest right around now.)  I am starting to push the limits and am going to experiment with some zone 4 and 5 fruits and nuts.  We'll see how that goes.  

My next steps for microclimate manipulation are going to be hugelkultur beds in crescent shapes with the crescent "facing" south,  and Sepp Holzer's crater ponds.  That's the project for the next two summers.

1 year ago
From what I can find, you are in about a zone 4 b.  I grew up in northern Manitoba and learned to garden there (a solid zone 3b, colder than yours.  I'm currently in a zone 3a but can adjust microclimates to almost zone 5).  The main thing to find is plants that will take excessive sunlight in the summer.  Most plants can't take 20 hours of sunlight, so you need to find what are called "short season" crops.  Pretty much anything grown has a short season you just have to check the "maturity date".  You would even be able to grow corn to maturity.

Start what you can inside under lights.  I found chard does pretty amazing growth in the more northern regions, from seed.  Kohlrabi, cabbage, beets, radish and lettuce are staples, also from seed.  I let my lettuce go to seed (around August) as it wants to bolt due to sun light, and then it self sows.  "Hot crops" like tomatoes and peppers need to be babied a bit but there are tomatoes out there that will grow from seed to a small harvest before frost.  My favorite is the open pollinated yellow pear cherry tomato.  Leave some in the garden and whatever survives to produce next year will be the beginning of your own landrace seed.

For perennials, Sunchokes, Blueberries, Kinikinik, Labrador tea, nettles, mints, asparagus.  I would try plums, apricots, nanking cherry, rhubarb (a staple), Ure Pear, aronia berry, chokecherry, pincherry.  Look up anything coming out of the University of Saskatchewan fruit breeding program.  Plants coming out of the Morden Manitoba research station will also do well for you (including some very pretty roses!).
1 year ago
I live in the "Interlake Region" of Manitoba and am building multiple sheds under 108 sq. ft. with no permit required.  I have 80 acres and no lakefront property.  Once you are on lake front property, you are very restricted by both the Rural Municipality building bylaws, the regional building bylaws and the Federal building codes for building near a major lake.  Also a factor is whether or not you are in a Provincial Park, Provincial Forest Reserve or Federal Forest Reserve.  Also FYI, Lake Manitoba has been in a flood state for 2 or 3 years now with many homes destroyed (there is only one outlet to Lake Winnipeg from Lake Manitoba and Lake Manitoba has been artificially kept high as a water reservoir for Manitoba Hydro, our electric utility).  Lake Winnipeg has many areas that have severe ice damage during spring breakup and fall freeze-up.  As for heating, you will have to rethink it from the ground up.  -40 C for 4 weeks straight, plus a wind at 45 kph...as soon as you open the door to a tiny structure, you lose ALL heat immediately.  Also the 5 feet of snow that blows in and hard packs against your shed could cause all sorts of problems.

That all said, if you build a smaller temporary house, you can apply for a temporary occupancy permit, if allowed on the lakeshore or the Rural Municipality and then let it lapse once you build the permanent structure.  Talk with the building person at the RM office!  They are friendly and super helpful, able to answer all your questions.
1 year ago