Now that the colder, dryer weather is upon us and the further-drying baseboard heaters have been turned on I’ve been loving my new bottle of Earthly Paradise’s Lavender Rose Moisturizer. This yummy-smelling moisturizer is made here in Toronto by Colette Murphy using organic and fair trade ingredients, all of which are simple (no crazy chemicals) and listed right on the jar.
I used to buy the Calendula Moisturizer for it’s powerful skin-healing properties but was taken in by the delicious combination of lavender and roses added to many of the same nourishing ingredients including organic calendula oil.
I bought my jar directly from Colette at the Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market here in Toronto and it looks like she is only selling this particular type in-person. However the equally-yummy Calendula Moisturizer is sold both in-store and online at Grassroots Environmental Store.
What: Knit or crochet up beautiful, warm winter gear for The Redwood Shelter for Abused Women. While I know many of you are from all over the globe we’ve decided to continue to support a Toronto-based organization again because 1. They are doing fantastic work and 2. I am in Toronto and a Toronto-based organization means I can collect and distribute the items from here.
You are more than welcome to make warm woolens for a shelter or organization of your choosing in your own area. If crafting isn’t your thing I would also suggest supporting KIVA a microfinancing project that is about providing small business loans to people in impoverished and developing countries.
Knit, Crochet, or Sew (New items made by you):
- Long Scarves – They have need of thick, warm scarves that can wrap around twice for bundling up.
- WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mittens – They receive plenty of mittens for children but need for larger, adult-sized mittens.
- Baby Blankets – For bundling babies inside strollers. It’s can get cold here in Toronto. This is an awfully tall order for hand-knitting. Sewn blankets or simple square block quilts are a great alternative here.
- Larger Items – If you were planning to make a couple of scarves, make one large item instead. They have a need for shawls and ponchos too.
How: A simple ribbed scarf is probably the best place to start for a beginner. Ribbing is simply going back and forth between the knit and purl stitches (i.e. knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and so on). It is a stretchy pattern that makes a nice, thick material. This tutorial will lead you through the process. You can also try free pattern websites like Knitty. If you have any particularly excellent resources to recommend please comment below.
Check out what we sent in 2006.
Details: Please mail your items by Dec 10, 2007. Email me at gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom for the address.
I spotted bags of Colchicums, a fall-blooming bulb plant that looks a lot like crocus, while perusing the bulb section of my local garden shop a few weeks back. I’ve long admired the delicate alien beauty of ‘Naked Ladies’, aptly named for their stark, bare petals poking up through the soil. But what caught my eye on that day was that the text on bags of individually packaged bulbs advertised setting the bulb on a bare windowsill (no water tray, no spritzing, no nothing) rather than planting in-ground as a unique, but temporary houseplant. I’m always up for an experiment so I bought one large corm to keep out of the ground, at least temporarily, to see what would happen.
While out on the Leslie Street Spit this past holiday weekend, I noticed that most of the tansy flower heads were turning black. I don’t grow tansy in any of my gardens and have never observed this detail while out walking the railroad tracks in my area where tansy grows wild and abundantly. In the past I’d swear they aged towards a warmer, less haggard shade of brown as the season wrapped up. But maybe I’m wrong and what I really need to do is get myself started on a daily regimen of Ginkgo biloba supplements and craploads of omega-3 fatty acids, stat!
Tansy is known for being distinctly disease and pest resistant, a feature that makes it a great herbal pest spray when brewed into a tea. I have been unable to find any information about possible tansy diseases and am chalking this up to the drought and humidity we experienced in late august when the plants were in full bloom. But of course tansy is also known for being incredibly drought tolerant and I think their survival in the wasteland along the railroad tracks is good evidence of that. So maybe circular logic is bringing me back to my original conclusion which is that I have simply stumbled upon an observation that I either failed to make in the past or one that was previously made but forgotten.
In conclusion: I smart.
Regardless, I really liked the look of fields dotted with thin clusters of blackened tansies poking through wild grass and aging goldenrod.
I took this photo of a field of Gaillardia growing on a hillside on the Leslie Spit back in July before The Worst Drought in Fifty Years took a hold and sent lots of plants into hiatus on a short term or permanent basis. On a return visit in late August I found only a few blanket flowers blooming and many of the plants looking half baked. Gaillardia are an excellent drought tolerant flower but even the heavy hitters have their limit.
We went back to this spot yesterday afternoon on what is reported to be the warmest Canadian Thanksgiving on record reaching over 30 degrees C here in Toronto. In fact we’ve had an amazing Fall overall with plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures, and enough rain to bring our gardens out of the late summer’s drought-induced coma. Evidence of this turnaround is everywhere. The Gaillardia, among other flowers at The Leslie Street Spit have made a turnaround with a second coming of colourful blooms and lots of fresh new growth.
I’ve still got basil and other tender plants in-ground and producing new growth in both my community garden plot and out on the roof. Amazingly, I haven’t even brought my citrus trees indoors to overwinter and they are both still producing tiny fruit.
While I am enjoying a delay in putting my summer gear away I have to admit that I do find the warm temperatures a little bit disturbing since it is a continuation of a trend we saw last year with winter staying mild and rather un-winter-like until well into January. From another vantage point I am fascinated by the way the plants are adapting (or not) to a warmer Fall — instead of going dormant as many of them would at this time of year, plenty of plants just keep keeping on. And some, like the tomatoes and curcubits have either prematurely succumbed to poor conditions early on or are experiencing a second wind after a short break. The sole surviving zucchini plant living in a pot on my rooftop deck has started making flowers again. I have never had a zucchini plant shut down for a while and then come back with a brand new set of leaves and another harvest! As bad as this warm weather may be for the long term, I am learning a lot from really getting first-hand experience of how an extended growing season works in warmer climates. While I have done my homework and know what to expect and I have even experienced second harvests from some early-producing plants in the past, this whole experience is quite different and has been really educational.
This shifting nature of… well… nature is one of those things that makes gardening so interesting and challenging — no matter how much you know you can never know everything. And just when you think you’ve working things out and have got the perfect system in place, nature throws in a curveball or two. Gardening from year-to-year is never, ever the same. As intimidating as that can be, knowing perfection is unattainable is also very freeing and the unpredictability is certainly never boring.