Goodbye 2021

2020 was a challenging year for many. Kurt and I were able to make the best of it and carried that mentality on into 2021. Despite all the challenges that the pandemic continued to provide, along with 3 major climate disasters in our area, we have been able to make the year another good one in our books. We were able to see more family which was a huge bonus for us this year. Kurt took a huge leap and changed careers after 16 years with the same company. He now works at the city and couldn’t be happier or proud of what he does. We finally got to grow in our permanent terraced garden beds and were blown away at the progress of our garden. We made sure to spend as much time outdoors as possible by going fishing, camping, and having dinners at lakes. We also took a few amazing vacations and took advantage of some of the beautiful areas we are lucky to call our home.

We have once again made some amazing progress around the yard and house. Although we had planned to finish our walls this year, it was not meant to be. As we look forward to the new year, the first task once winter ends is to finish our walls. A few solid weeks of work, and we should be able to get the last three completed. Who knows, we may even get to plant some crops in there this year. That would be the best case scenario.

The fence from last year domino’d into our back yard neighbour wanting to replace the back fence. Because of that, we made the decision to do the other side of our yard as well. Might as well get it all done at once. It has been a complete change in our yard. We have enjoyed a wonderful privacy that we have not had to date. Though we like our neighbours, it is nice to be able to just chill in the yard privately. Our yard also looks completely different with the walls finished on one side and the fence wrapping all the way around. you will see the changes directly in an upcoming post.

We ran all the irrigation needed to the new garden beds, making sure that the plants had plenty of water to keep them happy. It was good that we did as we hit records with heat this summer that would have easily ruined our garden had we been hand-watering. We still have 1 channel free on our controller, which we may turn into a line for a spigot at the bottom of the yard. It would be nice to have a hook-up for a hose at the back of the yard. Especially when we eventually have a nice grassy area and gazebo. The lines from our old raised beds will become the in-ground sprinkler lines for our grassy area eventually.

There were a few house upgrades that we did as well. Some of it we did intentionally, others were bi-products of issues we had with some of the upgrades. We now have a new furnace and AC. We have noticed a big difference with the upgrade in how the house is cooled or heated. Due to this upgrade however, we did have to have the flooring in our boot room re-done as the pump had flooded the area due to incorrect connections. We went with a vinyl, waterproof flooring that will be much easier to up-keep in an area that sees a lot of wet boots.

We also re-did our bedroom finally. Years of talking about it and it is now done. Unfortunately, the catalyst was poor Ellie being extremely ill and ruining the carpet in the room. Luckily she recovered and the room is now so much better. Plus we got a king bed, so that was a huge bonus. Both Kurt and I noticed a change in how good our backs felt after replacing our very old bed. Both the dogs also seem to really enjoy it, but with a King, at least there is room for them now.

The garden was amazing! It is everything we had imagined and more. We have so much more learning to do with this new setup, but were blown away with what we accomplished this year. We had wonderful harvests, with very happy plants. The companion planting seemed to work really well, and now that we have the proper space for it, we will continue to do it in future years.

We were able to try growing a few vegetables that we have always wanted to grow. For the most part they turned out great. A few misses, but overall, we now know what we use lots of and plan to grow accordingly. I look forward to trying a few more different plants again this year, adding to our variety.

Once we have the other side of the yard terraced and the walls built, I will be capping all of the walls so that they have a nice solid top on them. This will also hopefully keep the spiders nests to areas that we are not putting our hands. We knew rock walls would be perfect habitats for many bugs and spiders, but the cap is necessary to avoid the funnel webs of wolf spiders right where I need to lean or rest. Ick. But they are helpful in the garden, so we leave them be. The caps will also give it a nice finished look and will likely change the look of the garden once again. I can’t wait!

Our flower planters once again did great. We really love the wave petunias, which are quite a simple flower to grow. They provide such a variety of colour and do a great job of overflowing the planters. The addition of the canna lilies at the back of the barrels, offer a great dimension of height and width. We will aim to have a mix of colours in our canna lilies each year. This year we had alternating yellow and red.

To the back yard we added snap dragons and marigolds to the pots by the hot tub. It was a nice addition and provided some colour against the concrete pad and wooden exterior of the hot tub. We also did marigolds throughout the garden, which really did seem to help a lot with some of the pests we often have to deal with. Plus, the bees seemed to love all the flowers we had in the back, as well as lots of vegetable pollen. Always a positive site to see them buzzing around. Especially the bumble bees with their large fuzzy bums.

The front planters turned out great. We added a few extra wave petunias to each one this year, which helped them fill out properly this year. Even our large end planter was able to overflow. We will see how our vines do over the winter. They had a rough go of it with the heat dome, but were still alive and thriving in the fall. Even the ones to the right of the doors, which we were sure completely died, had started coming back in the fall. Those might have a bit of an issue because our dryer vent is right behind them, so we may have issues in general getting vines to grow there. Worst case scenario, I am going to dig up some of the vines that grow like weeds in our backyard. They are impossible to kill, so I will add them to the planter to blanket the trellis.

We will also be getting a new manifold for our in-ground sprinkler system that feeds the front yard and top area of the back yard. It called it quits last year, and after trying unsuccessfully to get a quote from anyone in town, we decided to just hand-water for the summer. I think everything will thrive much better when they have consistent watering during the dead of night when more of the water can absorb into the soil. We have a company already lined up to come in very early spring to do a quote and then hopefully get everything done for us in time for mid-spring.

The harvests were great this year. We were able to enjoy so many vegetables throughout the summer, and store a lot for the winter months. I still have carrots in our mini-fridge downstairs that are crisp and as tasty as when I pulled them. We have a variety of peppers sliced, frozen and ready to be added to soups or dinner dishes. We saved a bunch of our celery and froze it to be used in stir-fry’s, soup stocks or sauces. I made a huge amount of sun-dried tomatoes which are frozen and ready to go whenever we need them. I also used a bunch of them with all our basil to make some sundried tomato pesto. We have a lot of it frozen into meal-sized cubes. We can then pull it as we need it, which we do often.

Although happy about all of our harvest, there are a few items that we were especially proud of. Our corn was a huge hit, though I look forward to trying a different variety this year. The red cabbage made enough rotkohl to last us the winter, and is oh-so-tasty. Growing celery was also interesting as we didn’t know how much we would actually use it. ALL THE TIME. I was constantly pulling stalks off. It will now be a staple in the garden. And the peppers. Oh my goodness, the peppers. They have been my achilles heal since we started our garden. Small, sad little peppers is all I have ever managed. This year though, that all changed and I am looking forward to a future of large, plump peppers. YUM!

2022 we are going to add some more squash, a garlic patch (though that won’t be producing until 2023), more varieties of onions, and more fruit bushes (hinging on finishing the other walls).

Through all of it, we got out a lot more. 2020, we stuck close to home with a few close-to-home camping trips. This year, we did a lot more vacationing, though still within our region. We camped a lot more this year, did lots of fishing, rented a Yurt, stayed at a hotel at a lake close by, went biking, and more. During the fires, despite the smoke, we spent a fantastic weekend with friends fishing a large lake close by. We are now hooked (see what I did there?), and plan to upgrade our boat. We would like a larger fishing boat that will fit the dogs, as well as more gear so that we can do some camping trips right from the boat.

2022 will bring challenges, though hopefully less than the last 2 years. We look forward to more vacations, more landscaping, more gardening and more time enjoying life. Although we look forward to travelling internationally again in the near future, we think it will likely be 2023 before we are comfortable enough to do so. In the mean-time we will enjoy our area and tourism, and plan for when we can get back out to see more of the world.

We wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2022. Thanks again for following along with us!

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