- By Caitlyn Borowsky, Student & Karma Yogi
What have we been up to so far this Spring at Niwas?
Planting, dreaming and preparing Annapourna Garden.
We began this season with planting onion seeds in mid-February followed a few weeks later with a variety of flowers. So far, we are grateful to be nurturing four types of onions, three varieties of lavender, viola, lupins, ornamental oregano, two varieties of snap dragons, portulaca, asters, chilli peppers, and petunias. On the Piscean New Moon we sowed the seeds of basil and tomatoes, which will become delicious Niwas tomato sauce in the last weeks of Summer.
In addition to planting and tending to the seedlings, we are thoughtfully setting the garden and ourselves up for success for the growing season. We are not only tending to the Land in anticipation, we are also tidying up our own actions and energies to make space for the manifestation of abundance and beauty, so we may spend this next cycle offering from a place of simplicity and full-hearted love.
We are preparing the garden beds to hold and nurture new life by clearing the remnants of last year’s crops and using those remnants to feed the compost which will cycle back to the Earth. Currently, 'Niwas feels much like a space of transformation, regeneration and preparation. Personally, I am am feeling Spring’s frequency of optimism and opportunity, especially as I walk through Annapourna Garden, hearing and dreaming of the possibilities that are on the horizon.
The Awakening of Possibility and Opportunity
Although nothing truly dies in Nature, Spring does bring about a tangible experience of vitality and life compared to the quietude of Winter, where activity is slower and beneath the surface. We see new life emerging everywhere, from the fresh tips on the fir trees, geese making their way back home, and all of the onion and lavender seedlings thriving towards the Sun. We hear the various melodies of birdsong among the treetops where silence once hung, and we smell the aroma of pine sap beginning to ooze to the surface of their bark. The potentiality of this new growth would not be possible without the offering of what has come before.
At 'Niwas this regeneration is witnessed most tangibly via…compost! Last years' pea shoots, buckwheat stems and oat straw have been broken down and mixed with a generous amount of cow dung all winter to become a vibrant heap of nutrients for this years crops. This regenerative re-cycling shows us the opportunity of letting go of what has served its purpose and to utilize the breakdown of this ‘death’ to fuel what is to come, what is to be birthed and brought to life.
Today, in Annapourna Garden there is a sacred sense of vacancy and as I walk along the dormant strawberries and hibernating garlic, the crunch of fallen pinecones and the last remnants of snow beneath dirt covered boots treading where bare feet will soon dance again awakens a sense of joy and optimism within me. At first glance, the garden plots may appear bare and empty but if we take a moment to truly listen, we can sense the vast possibilities that await. Those rows of bare dirt and rotten leaves will soon be transformed into an environment bustling and blooming with calendula, cabbage, tomatoes, honeybees, pumpkin, foxgloves, lupins, chili peppers, and bushes heavy with raspberries and groundcherries. This is what I think of when I imagine explaining what 'Niwas feels like. A home for opportunity and growth and abundance for all living beings, not only reserved for Yogis but also for the insects, the dark eyed juncos and crows, chipmunks, goats and the plants themselves.
5. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. The dough will become smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour and continue kneading.
6. Let stand for 30 minutes before rolling. If rolling the dough by hand, use a pasta-specific rolling pin if you can and roll it very thin. Cut in 1 cm strips for fettuccine.
7. Try to procure a pasta machine, This helps! Always follow the machine instructions for rolling and cutting.
8. To cook pasta, this should be done right before serving, with all the sauce and fix-ins ready and waiting! Cook in a pot of boiling water (we like to add a bit of salt as well). Fresh pasta only needs 2-3 minutes generally, as compared to dried packaged pasta which requires close to 10 minutes. You will know the pasta is ready after it floats, and a taste test of course!
the size, color, purpose and growing traits! Seed companies usually include detailed descriptions and pictures for each variety, so you’ll know what to expect in the garden. There are three main types of seeds to consider when looking at varieties for purchase; Hybrid, Open-Pollinated, and Heirlooms.
Hybrids are the result of crossing two varieties to create a plant that contains the benefits of both parents, however it is not possible to save seed from hybrids, nor to locally acclimatize them to your growing conditions. Hybrids work great in large-scale and mechanized systems, however may not be the best choice for long term sustainability.
Open-pollinated seeds contain a lot of genetic diversity and although they show some variation when grown, this variation ensures that the crop can adapt to climate change and weather extremes. The seed saved from open-pollinated varieties will grow true-to-type, meaning you can expect similar growth, traits, and yields every year. The added benefit to being able to save your own seeds is that every year you will be saving from your best plants, and as a result will be acclimatizing the crop to your own specific micro-climate! Of course, you'll also have your own seed, which saves money and increases your self-reliance.
Heirlooms are also gaining popularity, and for good reason. Heirloom seeds are simply open-pollinated varieties that have been grown in a specific location for many generations. Passed down by family members, heirloom varieties will have significantly acclimatized to their region and will have developed a chosen trait over time, such as a purple carrot!
Whatever type of seeds you choose, there are many excellent companies that sell a large variety of high-quality seeds that will ship to your door. We encourage the use of open-pollinated seeds, especially heirlooms in order to preserve rare and valuable varieties.
We’ve had great success Saltspring Seeds, West Coast Seeds, and especially Rare Seeds.
So, what’s next? We have to determine how many seeds we need before we order! There is a valuable resource to be found in the book titled How to Grow More Vegetables. The master charts contained within the book outline the volume of seed required to plant a pre-determined area, as well as optimal spacing, and details on how to grow every crop from seed to harvest. Typical yields are also included, so if you are aiming to grow 100 lbs. of potatoes, you’ll discover how large an area is required to do so!
Seed shopping is one of our favorite tasks, and we encourage you to take your time and enjoy the process. Before you know it, it’ll be time to sow those seeds!
~ by James Christie-Fougere and Sharon Coombs
A great first step to designing a garden is deciding what to grow. By focusing on foods we enjoy eating, we'll have more motivation and excitement in growing these foods in the garden. To answer the second question, we need to do a bit of research. We all live in different climates, and not everything we're used to eating on a daily basis can be grown in every region. Once we have a list of foods we most like to eat, we can narrow that down to foods we can actually grow at home. Check out this link and enter your postal code to get a good idea of how long your growing season lasts, and when your first and last frost dates occur.
Once you know your growing zone, you can make educated decisions on crops that will likely be able to survive and reach maturity in your climate. Many seed companies list the compatible growing zones for food crops, taking the guesswork out of which crops can be grown.
The last question should be answered from the heart: how much of your food do you really want to grow? If it's just a few staples, great! Want to grow your entire diet? Don't be too quick to dismiss such a goal, it's definitely possible! When answering this question, don't worry about the logistics, we'll get to that in the next issue!
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