I know this post is a bit late and in all honestly, I wanted to post it right after I visited the Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm. But I’ve had a bit of a crazy month (read this post) and have just gotten back into blogging regularly. I still wanted to talk about my Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm experience even though the sunflower season is over.
The Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm
The Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm is a family owned farm located in Hamilton. They are the largest continuous growers of sunflowers in Ontario with 75 acres of sunflowers that blooms and opens to the public for viewing every 3 years. And boy, is it a sight to be seen! The sunflowers are in bloom for 2 weeks in the year before they start to die. The beautiful yellow colour seen over the 75 acres just makes you smile.
This year, the Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm was open to the public for viewing and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go. I went on the fourth day the farm was open and there were a decent number of visitors. It was so nice to just walk around, talk to people, take some pictures and enjoy the sunflowers. Gursheel and I had an amazing time.
Bogle Seeds in the News
However, a few days later on the weekend, Bogle Seeds Sunflower Farm became super popular and hundred of people came to see the sunflowers. So much so, that some people were not even paying the super low entrance fee and just walking into the farm. Others were walking all over the sunflowers to get that beautiful Instagram shot. These sunflowers are the livelihood of this family farm where they harvest the sunflower seeds and sell them on the farm. It became so bad that the family had to shut down the viewing and call the police! You can read more about what happened on this article and why the farm owners have now said that they are closed forever!
Although I’m super sad that this happened, I’m sure many more people were respectful of the sunflowers and just wanted to appreciate their beauty. So, although it looks like Bogle Seeds won’t be opening for public viewing in the future, Davis Feed & Farm Supply is open with their 40 acres of sunflowers!
When I posted pictures from the Bogle Seed Sunflower Farm on my Instagram, a lot of you asked where I got my pants from. Well, they are from Simon’s although I am unable to find them online or in stores. However, I’ve linked to some of my favorite printed and floral pants below!
This year we started our first ever backyard vegetable garden and today I’m going to be sharing everything we learned throughout the process. Before starting, I read some books and listened to some podcasts about starting your own backyard vegetable garden, but the best way to learn, is to just go for it. Although books and podcasts can be a great way to learn cool tips and tricks, just getting started is a whole other experience. So, if you’re on the fence of starting your own backyard vegetable garden, I say just start! But I do hope this blog post will be useful as well!
HAVING A YEAR ROUND BACKYARD VEGETABLE GARDEN
One of the books I read: The Year Round Vegetable Gardener is written by another Canadian who also lives in colder climates. This book is great because it talks about how you can have vegetables growing in your garden year round! Even in the winter. Although our garden isn’t quite ready to grow in the winter yet, we are working on building a raised bed with a cover soon so we can try next year! I love the idea of having fresh produce from your garden throughout the year!
This books also talks about seeding directly or transplanting, which is just starting the seed indoor and then moving it outside. Certain vegetables do better if they are transplanted while others can be seeded directly. From our experience, this is is definitely true!
seeding directly or interplanting
This year we planted carrots, cucumber, kale, bell pepper, hot pepper, roma tomatoes, basil and snap peas and we noticed that all the vegetables that were transplanted grew a lot faster than the others. Only the kale and snap peas grew very well regardless if they were seeded directly or transplanted. The vegetables that I transplanted were started indoors in April, although next year, I’m going to start them even earlier. What I did was, take a toilet paper roll, cut it in half, and fold the bottoms to make a little container. I added some potting soil, added one seed per pot, and topped it up with a little more soil. I watered it daily, and within a week or two, I saw little buds growing out.
You can even purchase seed starters from the stores. I particularly liked the toilet paper pot method, because when it came to transplant, I just added the entire pot into the soil outside. I believe if you use the seed starter container, some are made of plastic, so you will need to prop out the seedling and there is a chance of damage as you transplant. I’m thinking to test out this method next year as well.
location, location, location
From all the books and podcasts I read, I learned it is very important as to where your backyard vegetable garden is located. You want to find a place in your backyard that is more elevated, has sunshine for several hours in the day, is close to a water source and is close to the house itself so if you do start a year round backyard vegetable garden, you don’t freeze too much in the winter. We found that making a raised bed really helped us create more of an elevated location for the plants.
This was a quick and easy DIY. We just bought a piece of wood from Home Depot that was fairly wide, and got it cut into four pieces. Then we nailed the sides together to secure it. We then cleared out a space in our backyard and tried to dig a fair distance into the garden, so that vegetables like carrots got a lot of space to grow. We then placed the raised bed into the area and used wooden pegs to secure each side to the ground. Here is a picture of the raised bed with some directly seeded kale and snap peas.
The other thing we used in the garden were just some good old fashioned planters. These are great because they are highly elevated and therefore have great drainage and you can keep every vegetable separated. Just make sure there is either a hole in the bottom to drain out the water, or place something at the bottom that allows for drainage.
finding compatible vegetables
Another thing I learned as I read books and listened to podcasts, is that it is quite important what vegetable you grow alongside another. Some vegetables like nitrogen, whereas others don’t, so if you are interplanting some vegetables, make sure to research if the vegetables are compatible. We grew the kale and snap peas side by side and they are vegetables that can be interplanted. They grew beautifully the entire season! However, our cucumber did not.
Initially, we had the cucumber growing by itself in a planter and it grew so fast and so large and started to flower. At that point my mother in law planted cilantro in the same planter as the cucumber and just a few days later the cucumber leaves started to yellow and die. Upon researching, I learned that both cilantro and cucumber need nitrogen. Since both these vegetables were competing for the same nitrogen in the soil, they both started to die out. We then moved the cilantro into another pot where it started to grow. However, although the cucumber did start to look a bit healthier, we still didn’t get any cucumbers growing. This is why it is important to make sure you are growing compatible vegetables together.
I’m just going to wrap up this post with a summary of the important points I learned throughout our backyard vegetable garden process:
Start most seeds indoors in March, water daily, and transplant when the weather is warmer.
Build a raised bed or use planters so there is plenty of drainage.
Find the optimum location in your backyard – close to the house, close to a water source, lots of sunshine, and an elevated area.
If growing vegetables side by side, make sure to read beforehand to see if they are compatible.
In terms of soil, use potting soil when starting seeds indoors and a mixture of soil and compost for the planters and raised bed in the backyard.
Peas grow super tall – find an area near a fence or use poles to support the peas as they grow.
The more you pick certain plants (like basil and kale), the more they will grow.
Just start your garden and you will enjoy the process.
Please do let me know if you found this post helpful and if I missed anything. I am definitely going to try to make our garden bigger and better next year! It was such a fun and satisfying past few months and the garden actually made me so happy! It’s great having fresh produce from the garden to make soups, salads, juices and dinners!
Hi friends! It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here but I’m back and ready to get back into a regular routine. It’s been a stressful month for both Gursheel and I. I got a layoff notice from work and Gursheel quit his job at around the same time! I just wanted to come over here and talk about my experience with dealing with the layoff notice because it is something people don’t talk about often. Fortunately, my employer did give me a 2 month notice, however, I was still shocked and quite upset upon hearing the news. Because Gursheel quit his job at around the same time I heard the news, my biggest fear was us both being unemployed at the time, which led to my stress levels being on high!
I was reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid are food, shelter and water and then security and safety. Because I didn’t feel secure, I couldn’t think of anything at the higher levels of the pyramid such as the psychological and self-fulfillment needs. That’s the reason I didn’t even think about the blog, which I love working on! So, when I heard the layoff news, I got to work right away. And today I will break it down with some suggestions as to what to do when you are dealing with a layoff.
Don’t Panic – a Layoff is not the end of the world
When I was first told about my layoff, I started crying and I couldn’t stop. At the core, I’m a planner and this was one thing I didn’t plan. So, when I heard the news, immediately my brain started to think about what to do. I was fortunate to be given a 2 month notice vs. 2 weeks, so I should not have panicked the way I did.
After a couple of days, the initial shock started to wear off and I started to write things down and plan. I made a list of companies/institutions in Google Sheets which linked to each of their job boards. I started talking to people around the lab if they knew of any companies/people looking to hire. And I became more active on LinkedIn as well. Again, just take step back, write things down and take everything one step at a time. You WILL eventually find a job!
Have an Emergency Fund
Gursheel and I are fairly good at budgeting. We are able to live comfortably off of less than one persons take home income. However, with Gursheel unemployed and me losing my job soon, I was worried about how we were going to pay for monthly expenses like property taxes, utilities, gas, groceries, donations and life without having to dip into our savings if both of us were going to be unemployed at the same time. Thankfully, we do have an Emergency Fund just for this reason. This money is more liquid and easily accessible as compared to our long term savings and is enough to cover 3-4 months of living expenses. Looking back at our experience, I definitely want to increase this amount so I can feel more secure/safe if this happens again in the future.
See what options you have
If you have been paying EI through your paycheck, then you are most likely eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). You can apply for EI after you finish working and will just need a letter of employment from your employer. Then just go on through the Government of Canada website and apply using this link. In 2018, the maximum insurance earnings amount is $51,700, which means a maximum amount of $547/week. I believe this amount will vary on a number of things, so just be sure to explain everything in your application. $547/week is around $2188/month which is definitely not a number you can live off here in Ontario, however, it is a bit of a safety net if you are unable to find another job quickly.
Re-evaluate your budget/spending
You really want to sit down and look at your budget and see where you can cut back for a short time, until you find another job. I knew our emergency fund was built just for emergencies like this, however, I just really didn’t want to dip into it unless it was my last resort. So, I cut back on things like eating out, buying anything that we didn’t absolutely need and entertainment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Try to find budget friendly activities.
During this past month, Gursheel and I went to Bogle Seeds (an amazing sunflower farm, that had a very low entry fee), David Dunlap Observatory (which was free to visit) and Forks of the Credit Provincial Park (which just cost parking to enter). There are so many cool places out there that cost little or nothing at all to visit, so this was the time to take advantage of that.
Visit the Doctor
I think this point is quite important. During this past month, with the layoff looming over my head, the only thing on my mind was to find a job. Things like drinking my green juice, exercising, reading, listening to podcasts and rest were not even on my radar. And to top it off, I was in a continuous state of stress. This is exactly the time to see a doctor and make sure everything is alright. A lot of people do get sick from stress and that was the last thing I needed. Make sure you take time for YOU!
DO ARDAAS and count your blessings
Gursheel and I have read so much Baani this past month and started going to the Gurdwara almost every single day. And the only reason I mention this is because I hate that we only thought to do this during this stressful time. But this is a lesson to myself to think of God always! During the hard times AND the good times. I hope we continue to read Baani and make going to the Gurdwara a regular part of our daily routine. Be grateful for what you do have in your life and don’t forget to thank God for everything.