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Big City, Little Homestead | Living rural in the city is great – you can do it, too.

Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is great – you can do it, too.

Resources to help you design your garden – Newly updated for 2024!

Well, here we are, late, late March! Are you ready to design the layout of your garden and get your seeds started?

For those who have space and haven’t planted a garden before, or for those who planning it anew this year, you always start with a rough plan: what to place where, and how much space and sun it will get. This will give you an idea how many seedlings you should start or have on hand of each kind of plant.

I don’t always start seeds every year, and when I do, I’m almost always late at it. We gardeners always get a little overzealous and end up tending tonnes of seedlings we have to sell or give away. But of course, you start by planting many seeds, because some never germinate, or else germinate and start, but then fail. If you have the space to add a few more good planters, extra seedlings can come in quite handy.

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Just in time for World Rewilding Day, a message for the local neighbourhood

Vous avez peut-être remarqué qu’avec les travaux aux égouts la semaine dernière, les rats ont évacué les égouts et ont trouvé refuge dans nos cours.

Veuillez retirer tout poison que vous avez utilisé pour essayer de les tuer. Il cible d’autres espèces, comme les écureuils, et je ne veux pas que nos (« mes », je les appelle, bien qu’ils soient des animaux sauvages) écureuils subissent la mort horrible que procure le poison. Il est illégal de piéger et de tuer des animaux sauvages, et j’ai eu le cœur brisé de voir quelqu’un dans ce quartier le faire en toute ignorance, car cela ne résout aucun problème qui ne pourrait être résolu autrement. (Il y a un écureuil noir avec une tache blanche sur la queue qui me manque particulièrement, et ses enfants aussi. Elle s’appelait Gladys.)

Les travaux sur les égouts sont presque terminés et les rats peuvent désormais regagner leur habitat habituel. Vous pouvez les aider à y retourner en leur rendant leurs nouveaux emplacements hostiles, en les piégeant dans des pièges vivants Hav-A-Hart et en les ramenant à l’égout. C’est ce que je vais faire.

Gladys, a very sociable but polite mamma of two, with a white tip on her tail, and a penchant for stealing plums and chocolate (OK so it’s not polite to steal, but don’t leave them out on the counter to tempt her!)
Gladys, une maman de deux enfants, très sociable mais polie, avec un bout blanc sur la queue, et un penchant pour voler des prunes et du chocolat (OK donc ce n’est pas poli de voler, mais ne les laissez pas sur le comptoir pour la tenter ! )

You may have noticed that with the work on the sewers last week, the rats have evacuated the sewers and sought refuge in our yards.

Please remove any poison that you have put out to try to kill them. It targets other species, like squirrels, and I do not want our (“my,” I call them, though they are wildlife) squirrels to suffer the horrible death that poison provides. It’s illegal to trap and kill wildlife, and I have been heartbroken by someone in this neighbourhood doing so in all ignorance that it solves no problem that couldn’t be solved another way. (There is one black squirrel with a white spot on her tail, and her progeny, that I will forever miss. Her name was Gladys.)

The work on the sewers is almost done, and the rats can now return to their usual habitat. You can help them return there by making their new locations hostile to them, and by trapping them in live Hav-A-Hart traps and returning them to the sewer. This is what I will be doing.

The Big Backyard BioBlitz is On! August 3–7, 2023

This year I decided to take the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s challenge and do a biological census of my front and back yards. It’s an event where you use the iNaturalist app to record as many species as you can find-and-identify in your own back (front) yard. The site to sign up and get your instructions on is here.

If you happen to be in my area (Little Burgundy, le Sud-Ouest, Montreal), then you are welcome to come by and discover even more, because I’m expecting to have no shortage of plants and insects to identify. Seek, an ID app by iNaturalist, will be useful for this, and I have some ID books on hand as well. Just send me a message or knock on my door, if you know where I am/can find me (I’ll be writing #NCCBioblitz on the sidewalk outside, and using the hashtag and location on my Instagram posts. I may even be outside doing it.

Spring 2021: a long-ish update

Sorry about my over-long absence – it’s been so long that the interface WordPress shows me is unfamiliar, and I’m distracted by its novelty and the maintenance backlog —and more ideas of things to do on this blog.

In both 2019 and 2020 I had the intention to write much more, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I’d log in, do the routine maintenance, and then a strong bout of snooziness would overtake me. And the longer I failed to do something new and different here, the more I felt guilty. Not posting when-I-could-have is a lost opportunity to show at least several hundred people the beneficial things I’d learned that they might try, or some of the fun stuff I’d been up to.

The fact is, I’ve already set up my home with bird strike-proofing. I have a garden that grows food (or…not; last summer I got a grand total of 6 apple-sized tomatoes and maybe a pint basket of autumn-green, kitchen-ripened cherry tomatoes), flowers, and native plants. These activities may not be common, but they’re as quotidian to me as going through the motions of private daily life. So writing about them isn’t a constant source of inspiration like they were when I was adopting new, green practices. They feel more like empty bragging: look what I have; hope you can do the same!

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