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Tracy Wandling

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since May 30, 2016
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Tracy is an artist, graphic designer, musician, gardener and permaculture addict. She has recently moved to the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, and is enjoying getting to know a new area.
Sunshine Coast, BC
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Recent posts by Tracy Wandling

Don't wait for brassica starts! Direct seeding works great for brassicas. Plant some really early - just a small patch, so that if you get some nasty weather, you won't lose much - and then plant them at 2 or 3 week intervals, so you have a continual harvest, instead of them all being ripe at the same time.

And you can direct seed most brassicas right up until September. This will give you a longer harvest window, in the spring and in the fall.  Most brassicas are very hardy, and some get even sweeter with light fall frosts.

Hope this helps!
Many mustard greens are very cold hardy. I planted in mid March, and was eating it before the end of April. Pac Choi as well. Radish has already been mentioned. Cilantro is also a cool weather crop. As is arugula. Mix all those together and you've got a pretty tasty salad!

Happy gardening!

Thanks, Ben.

Yes, rapini is very good. It has a stronger taste than broccoli, but very enjoyable. And awesome in stir fry. : )
1 week ago
There’s a moment in the gardening season when it seems like everything just kicks in over night. All of a sudden plants are huge, flowers are blooming, and the bees have discovered the patch of mustards that have gone to seed. The zucchini are pumping out their massive blooms daily and starting to grow little zukes, the broccoli is heading out, and it’s time to harvest the spring stuff and make room for new plantings. The borage flowers are heavy with bees, and the calendula are brightening up all the corners of the garden.

I love that moment. But it’s also time to get out my snippers and cut back some of this jungle, harvest some turnips, and do another planting of carrots, cilantro, green onions, winter leeks, mustard, chard, and possibly some other things tucked in here and there.


We are eating salad (mmmm arugula) and stir fry fresh from the garden regularly, as well as the occasional green smoothie. Yum. (We did a video of that which I’ll post soon, once I get my youtube channel up and running.) We have our sun tea brewing, and there is regular grazing going on in the garden. Had a nibble of fresh dill the other day. So tasty. It’s fun showing my friend Rich what’s growing and what to pick. He likes to go into the garden and pick mint and lemon balm for his tea. And graze in the mustard patch. : )


My sun tea has mint, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, stevia, and borage flowers, all fresh from the garden. Oh, and some organic green tea. Should be a nice refreshing healthy drink. I have a sweet tooth, so I’ll probably add some powdered Monk fruit, or some honey to it. Powdered Monk fruit is my sweetener of choice these days, as I’m trying kick the sugar habit. It smells funny, but it sure tastes good in baking, and on my oatmeal. (I did try the powdered Monk fruit in my tea. Very tasty.)

It’s been cloudy and rainy the past few days, and the garden has been drinking it in. It’s been pretty dry up till now, but we seem to be getting our April showers in July. I don’t mind though - we really needed the rain.

There are lots of other flowers planted throughout the garden: marigold, calendula, sweet alyssum and sweetpeas (mmm so sweet), borage (really BIG borage plants) a wild flower mix, and of course the cilantro, mustard, pac choi, radish, and rapini that has gone to seed. Lots of things to bring in the beneficial insects and pollinators. And it just looks purdy. Can’t imagine a garden without flowers.

The turnips are mighty impressive, and the carrots are at a good size for eating now. Lots of the mustard, rapini and pac choi that I planted in the spring are going to seed; but we like to eat the flowers, so I don’t mind. I’ll leave a small patch to go to seed, and cut back the rest for a little chop and drop.

The tomatoes are flowering now. That’s something I’m really looking forward to. That and the zucchini. I do love zucchini. I do a lot of baking with it. And this year I hope to dry a bunch so I can have zucchini in my winter stews. I grow the Romanesco variety - I find it so much tastier, and you can let it get quite large without losing flavor. More bang for your buck! And it’s great for drying too.

And the broccoli is almost ready! I don’t know why, but growing your own broccoli is very satisfying. I’ll let you know how it tastes. : )

We’ve also been having fun with the rocket stove. Great fun to cook different things on it. We’re even using it for baking by putting a cast iron Dutch oven on top. We’ve done bread (Rich puts some coals on the lid to brown up the top), pizza, cookies, and biscuits on it so far; along with rice, stir fry, and stew. We’re going to do a bunch of videos about how to cook different things on a rocket stove. Fun!

After we got the design sorted out on the lawn with the fire bricks, Rich did a really cool thing - he built it into the stone wall we built. This area is going to have a shelter built over it, so it will end up being the outdoor kitchen area. It’s going to be lovely.

He also set up an outdoor water heating system: black ABS hose running along the top of the garden fence where the sun shines most, and then down over the side. It heats the water enough for washing dishes, or having a quick shower - right beside the hydrangea. Nice.

Rich cut back the trees some more by the rock garden area, so it’s getting much more sun, and will be the new herb garden. There are sage, thyme and oregano in there right now, along with lovage, bee balm, and some flowers from a flower mix. And nasturtiums. Still pretty sparse right now, but next year it will kick in.

There’s a small bed nearby with cucumbers planted in it. They are starting to kick in, and although it isn’t exactly full sun, it is very warm; and the plants are starting to bloom, so I’m hopeful that I’ll get some cukes from them.

There has been surprisingly little predation in the garden. The turnips were the hardest hit when they were small, but they’ve done fine despite their holey leaves. The scarlet runner beans that I planted to grow over the garden gate got hit hard too, but they are bouncing back, and climbing up the bamboo pole I set up. The black turtle beans also had some visitors who like to chew holes in the leaves, but they are doing fine as well. I had kind of expected to have more loses there, so my bean patch is pretty thick. But they all look healthy, so I’m not too worried. They are blooming now, with little purple blossoms.

I’ve only come across one big ol’ fat slug in the garden so far. He was relocated. : )

Of course, there are weeds growing in the garden - all the more for chop and drop! I let them get big, if they’re not shading anything out, and then cut them back. That way I am adding more organic matter to the garden. I don’t mind weeds in the garden. If I decide I don’t want them there, I just hack them back. No problemo. They’re just part of the diversity of the garden.

I have used some of our homemade compost to build up one of the beds. I need more growing space! Carrots, mustards, and some other stuff (don’t know what yet) will be going in shortly. The compost was a mix of some finished compost, and some almost finished compost, over top of some chop and drop.

Here's the list of everything that is growing in the gardens at the moment:

summer savory
lemon balm
bee balm
wildflower mix
green onions
snow peas
black beans
scarlet runner beans
lettuce mix
pac choi

All in all, I’m very satisfied with the first year of this garden so far. The low light situation hasn’t really affected it too much. Even though it doesn’t get sun until about 11:00, it’s still growing beautifully. The areas that get early afternoon shade are planted with things that like it cooler, such as mustard. We do like our mustard. : )

I have been working fast and furious on Paul and Shawn’s new book Building a Better World in Your Backyard, and have missed spending more time in the garden. So I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty again.

My next adventure will be fermenting! I’ve never done it, but I’ve read up on it a lot, and found some recipes for the stuff that’s growing in my garden - turnips, leafy greens (Yay, a way to preserve the arugula, beet, and turnip tops!), carrots, and zucchini. I’ll hopefully have cucumbers as well, for fermented pickles, and most of what I’ll need for fermented salsa. Yum.

I hope everyone’s gardening season is as joyful as mine has been!


P.S.  More random garden pics. I just can't stop taking photos of this beautiful garden!

1 week ago
I can make an animated gif. AND I can edit video. So, you know . . . I'm your girl!
2 weeks ago
June in the garden.

It's been a crazy late spring/early summer so far. Very little rain, and heaps of sun. It's a little overcast today, which is nice for being outside. I'm not really a hot weather kinda girl. : )

The garden is gorgeous. And delicious. Right now we are eating:

mustard greens and flowers (I let it go to seed, 'cause the flowers are yummy)
pac choi flowers (yummy flowers)
beet greens
green onions
mint (he likes it for tea)

Soon we'll be adding carrots and turnips to the menu. And the oregano and thyme are just about ready for snipping from. And the zucchini is getting ready to bloom. Can't wait for zucchini!

The beans are growing well. A few got munched by mysterious garden devils, but nothing catastrophic. The beans, turnip leaves, mustard greens, and pac choi are about the only things that show a little damage. Otherwise, it's been pretty good.

Rich is doing some chop and drop in the garden today. The magnolia is done blooming, and shot up like a rocket. So he's cutting it back, along with the purple tree (I don't know what it is), and I'm using the cuttings to mulch the paths. So that will let a little more of the afternoon sun into the garden.

Things are growing a little slower, because of our light situation, but it's not really hampering anything. The garden doesn't get light until about 10:30 am, and parts of it are starting to get shaded by 3:00. But I'm using that area to plant greens that tend to bolt in the heat. I've got mustard greens and pac choi planted, and will put in some spinach and lettuce shortly. It can grow by the leeks. It will be long gone by the time the leeks need the space.

All in all I'm totally thrilled with this first year. The produce is delicious, and I know it's better than anything we could get at the store. He likes going grazing in the garden. : ) He eats the flowers from the pac choi and mustard, and he loves mustard greens. Cool.

There are other things blooming, or getting ready to bloom, too - not just veggies going to seed. : )
Flowers I've planted: sweet allysum - such a yummy scent - nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula, borage, and a Pacific Northwest wildflower mix for shade areas, from West Coast Seeds. And of course there are the bloomin' weeds. But I don't mind them - they add color and diversity, and they feed the bees. It's all good. : )

And here are far too many photos of my garden growing! I like to keep a record of how things grow, but I'm not very good at writing it down - but a digital camera is awesome for keeping track of how my garden grows.

AND! I moved. I moved to the property where my garden is. Happy girl here. It's a cozy little shack with a high bed, so there is space for a desk underneath. And I got THE BEST chair for it. $85 at Habitat for Humanity. The comfiest chair I've ever had. It takes up a lot of floor space, but there's not much I'll be doing in there that requires floor space. I'm a curl-up-in-a-comfy-chair girl. : )

And we've been putting together an outdoor kitchen. I've always wanted an outdoor kitchen. We've got a little rocket stove made of firebricks that we've been experimenting with. Totally fun. We've cook rice, oatmeal, stir fry, Mexican food (black beans and spicy pork), and stew. Awesomeness. I've also got a little propane cooker, and a toaster oven. Someday I hope we can make a rocket oven!

The big black box thingy used to be in his old canopy. The part that is covered with (recycled) foam is a cooler (I'm going to cover it with something). Keeps my stuff nice and cool. And it's right outside my door.

Here's the view from my front steps!

All in all, it's been a lovely spring/beginning summer. Hope your gardening season is going as well as mine is!


1 month ago
A 30 minute long video featuring five different people demonstrating starting a rocket mass heater and talking about how they care for a rocket mass heater.

- paul wheaton ...  stuffs a lot of paper in and then uses a torch
- ernie wisner ...  a little paper, a lot of kindling and a lighter
- peter van den berg ...  starting a batch box rocket mass heater
- matt walker ....  paper towels with bacon grease and lots of kindling
- anthony aiuppa ... newspaper plus paper garbage plus kindling

1 month ago
Oh, how I love when it starts to feel like summer in the garden.

I've been eating heaps of greens, and am starting to get some sprouts from the rapini. Delicious.

The pea plants are huge, the zucchini are happily growing, the beans have leapt out of the ground and are growing gangbusters, and I've been tucking transplants and seeds in every available space.

We built another little garden that I'm going to fill with herbs. Had to use up all of those extra rocks left over after finishing the wall. : )

Speaking of the wall - it's gorgeous! And it's going to look even better when we get it planted with stuff. I'm pretty proud of it.

I'm really happy with the progress of the garden. Everything seems to be happy in its home, and the lack of light doesn't seem to be affecting it adversely. There will be some nice shady areas where I can still grow greens during the heat of summer, and when the fall veggies need more light, the leaves will have fallen from the magnolia and the sumac to bring more light to the garden again.

The only veggies that have been munched on by something besides us humans are the turnip leaves. Seems odd, but nothing else has had much damage at all. It's a pretty healthy garden with few pests. So far. : )

I hope everyone is enjoying the gardening season as much as I am.


2 months ago
This snail has been hanging out on this azalea for about a week. Really lovely.

2 months ago
Here's a good explanation of how the name came about - and why it's wrong.

". . . the English name came about through a mistranslation from Spanish.

The dish we English speakers know as refried beans is called frijoles refritos in Spanish: frijole being the Spanish word for “bean,” and “frito” being a Spanish adjective meaning “fried.” The translation error came about through the mistaken assumption that the prefix re- means in the same thing in Spanish as it does in English. Although placing re- before an English verb is a common way of indicating an action undertaken more than once (e.g., reschedule, reassign, redistribute), in Spanish that prefix is sometimes used as a form of emphasis. Therefore frijoles refritos are not beans that have been fried multiple times, but rather beans that have been well-fried, as Diana Kennedy explained in The Cuisines of Mexico:

Several people have asked me why, when the beans are fried, they are called refried. Nobody I asked in Mexico seemed to know until quite suddenly it dawned on me. The Mexicans have a habit of qualifying a word to emphasize the meaning by adding the prefix re-. They will get the oil very hot (requemar), or something will be very good (retebien). Thus refrito beans are well fried, which they certainly are, since they are fried until they are almost dry."

When I make beans for Mexican food, I don't fry them. I sauté up some minced garlic and onions, add the beans and water and spices, and simmer until they are in a thickened sauce. And I don't mash them.

mmmmm  I think I'll have to make up a pot of black beans tomorrow.
2 months ago