What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

Wednesday night I got a call from a local historic site asking if I’d like some of the rye from their kitchen garden to take home and make flour out of. After “Would you like to play with this car sized pile of kittens?” there is no other question I’d be quicker to say yes to. Thursday morning I hopped in my wagon (car) and drove  directly into Little House on the Prairie. 

If Little House on the Prairie were actually a modestly sized castle with a kitchen garden that spans 1 and a half acres.

I think the Dundurn Castle Historic site’s kitchen garden is one of my favourite places in the world. And I’ve been to Etobicoke! (that’s only funny to people around Southern Ontario) With coronavirus crawling its way into Canada this spring, my community garden wasn’t the only thing on lock down. So was this magnificent historic garden.

Because of the lock down no one could get in and tend to the garden, which means their cover crop of rye that was only meant to get a couple of feet high before tilling it in, got to be full sized.

A few permaculture teams were brought in over the weekend along with a brewer who was going to use it for making some hooch. Or beer. Or – maybe rye whiskey.

I spent an hour wandering through the garden that they’re getting back into shape and then cutting down a couple of beds of rye to take home which seemed completely reasonable at the time.

Now I’m the proud owner of enough rye to get an entire pirate ship drunk.

And now I don’t want to thresh it. I don’t want to do anything with it. It’s beautiful. It’s all swishy and drapey and gorgeous.

But so is bread. 

I’ll be forcing myself to thresh it this weekend and then I’ll eventually grind it into flour for making Rye bread which all my Danish ancestors will be happy about. 

In keeping with the “If they only had hair dryers and Netflix I’d want to live in that time” theme, I’ll also direct your attention to this bit of a set from the show Anne with an E. I now want a blue room with a blue ceiling and gold trim and Restoration Hardware can suck it.


Do you remember the marigold that tastes like black licorice that I told you about? This is it. I have 10 more plants in the garden like it.  Dropshot marigold tastes EXACTLY like sweet black licorice and there are now super secret plans in the works about a really fun way to use this. Which I can’t tell you about. Because it’s super secret. 


Seriously gross and horrifying Colorado potato beetles are heading your way.  I’ve only ever had a real infestation once and I caught it right away. But this week after I had ALREADY left the garden, I came back because I had forgotten my clippers.

Actually it wasn’t my clippers, it was my phone, but saying I forgot my phone at the garden makes me sound stupid.

Actually it wasn’t my phone, it was my entire purse.  Same reasoning as before for lying to you.

When I went back in to grab it I thought I’d check on my squash plants to make sure I didn’t have any vine borer damage.  I didn’t.

But when I turned around and took a look at my potato plants I noticed I didn’t have any potato plants anymore.

This is the almost mature larvae of a Colorado potato beetle and they can do DAMAGE.  They’ll not only eat an entire plant, they’ll eat an entire crop. 

This plant  used to be full of leaves. It is now a scrabble of green stems. I’d say around 5 of my potato plants look like this now, but I caught the beetles before they destroyed every single leaf on them so I’m unreasonably hoping that they’ll still survive.  With the – you know – 4 leaves they have left in total.

Last Saturday was my sister Fish Pedicure’s birthday so we went to my niece’s house for a very small birthday party and I brought this salad from garden pickings.

Radishes, Simpson lettuce, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, nasturtium leaves and flowers all with a classic homemade French dressing. Those cubes are chunks of aged cheddar.

I did not grow the cheese in my garden because even though I wasted 15 consecutive birthday cake wishes on “Let me be able to plant and grow cheese” it has never come true.


What I've Been Doing This Week.

That was my week.  How about you?!

Have a good remainder of your weekend!

p.s. I randomly bought a Robot vacuum at 1a.m. while researching vacuums for Betty.  I do not need a vacuum, I have central vac.  Yet here we are.  This is the one I got … a Eufy … because a couple of readers said they had it and loved it and it’s rated #1 by Consumers Report PLUS it’s one of the least expensive ones there are.


  1. Alena says:

    Your hair is the colour of the rye now, is it on purpose for this post or did you stop having it dyed platinum because of Covid? I had a meltdown one and I put the 1″ attachment on my trimmer and I did my entire head. It looks accordingly but I actually like it and I am thinking repeating it again once it grows back because I won’t returning to the office until October.

  2. Heather says:

    Thanks for the heads up about the potato beetle. I think of you sometimes when I am out in my garden, because your blog turned me on to the magic of edible gardening. I thought about building a vegetable garden for long time, and this year I finally took the plunge. Among lots of other delicious produce, I have five varieties of potatoes. Right now, they are growing beautifully but I’ve learned how a single day in the garden can turn things upside down. Thankfully, there’s nothing I love more than taking my cup of tea out in the morning and wandering around the plants just looking at them. That daily stroll is when I look for weeds, which I pull out when they’re tiny, so weeding hasn’t been a chore, and pick off leaf eating creatures. I was squeamish about the bugs in the beginning but now I am ruthless. Thanks, Karen! Your blog is a lot of fun and your enthusiasm is infectious. Good gardening!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Heather. Congratulations on starting your vegetable garden! I’m very proud to have influenced that decision. It sounds like you should have been vegetable gardening fora long time. :) ~ karen!

  3. Doreen says:

    I love reading about your diy adventures and enjoy your sense of humour. I am very interested in the Dropshot marigolds since my husband and I are both black licorice fans. Could you let your readers know a Canadian source for the seeds. I have searched all over the internet without success,

  4. Vikki says:

    I’m with you on the blue and gold room, but could I have the maid too? Those are really nasty looking Frankenstein beetle-things!!! Hope you were in time to save some potatoes. Thanks for all the great posts!

  5. whitequeen96 says:

    OMG, just READING about all you did this week makes me tired. I’ve been very lazy, so didn’t do much other than growing my leg hair. But at least that’s something!

  6. Jane says:

    Karen, I have a question about growing potatoes: how do you keep earthworms from tunneling through the potatoes? Unless I grow them in a box, I can’t seem to get a half decent potato at all.

    Another thing: your post on “reviving wilted flowers”, the “newer comments” link doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane! I’ve actually never had a problem with worms in my potatoes but it sounds horrifying! It’s possibly wireworms? In which case you can read this article that seems to describe a few good possibilities for you. ~ karen!

  7. Robert Kellner says:

    Hi Karen let us know how the Eufy works. So many people my wife has talked to raved about their vac but down the road stopped using it because something went wrong. Eg. stuck in corner all day, won’t transition from floor to carpet, have to be reprogrammed etc. Cheers Rob

  8. I trust you with all the BIG items I want but don’t need … like that big, round clock that simulates the rising sun along with playing classical music (my choice) to wake up to…any how…you’ve come to my aid again…oh hero of mine!

    My 14 lb. wonderful, loving pup had to be put to sleep in January, so I adopted one from a shelter. At 19 lbs., he was only 5 lbs. heavier. How big could he get? Mistake one. Mistake two, I really never realized that my first pup did not shed.

    OMG. OMG. OMG. How this new, 4-year-old pup (now 35 lbs. of muscle) has any hair left on his body is a mystery because he must shed a bushel of short, black hair every day, every, single day, even when brushed. I was and still am astonished…and slightly horrified at finding hair EVERYWHERE!

    I vacuum A LOT. And sometimes I’m tired and I don’t. I just ordered the robo vacuum (because, remember, I trust you implicitly) and will receive it Tuesday. Why I never thought of it..who knows. But, thank you my friend!

    And thank you for your lovely, crazy, wonderful column!

    Hugs (virtual, of course) from me and Shodan (he is a love, from a kill shelter, raised in a garage his entire life). That vacuum will be running every night, and when my alarm clock wakes me up with a gently rising sun, I will be sending good thoughts your way.

    • Karen says:

      This is one of the products I probably did the least research into. I would love to have bought a Miele robot vacuum but at $1,200 it wasn’t going to happen. You have to follow the vacuum around for the first couple of times that it does its work so you can see what it has trouble with. For instance mine couldn’t quite make it from my dining room into the kitchen because there’s a 1.5″ transition. So I put down a small piece of wood to ease the transition and it was fine. I’ll be doing an entire post on it, what trouble you might have and how to fix it. You know, once I actually figure the thing out, lol. ~ karen!

      • BTW…Amazon had a $30 coupon available, for the model you linked to, with only one click.

        It was fate! I can’t wait for it to be delivered (Tuesday) and look forward to your next instructional post on it.

        Thanks, again!

  9. Cindy says:

    Colorado potato beetle solution……maybe too late for you for this year, but for next year, a very easy solution:
    Save onion skins all winter long. (Make a note somewhere to remind yourself to do this).
    At planting time, place a few of the papery skins under each potato in the bed.
    Since doing this every year for 5 or 6 years now, we have not had any more infestations. Is it magic or wishful thinking? We don’t know, but it works!
    And no, the potatoes do not taste like onions!

    • Karen says:

      I think it’s probably wishful thinking, lol. But you might as well keep on doing it! I haven’t had potato beetles for about 5 or 6 years so maybe they’re on a cycle. ~ karen!

  10. Cathy Reeves says:

    Other than hunkering down during Arizona’s spike in Covid-19 case I’m looking for a wild life camera for my Fella’s 70 th B-day in a coupla weeks. I’m also
    trying to grow my short hair out as well. How stupid is that in 103° heat?

  11. Laurie says:

    My friend has started making her own cheese. It sounds very doable——unless one felt they needed to start by milking their cow or goat or yak! Could put a whole new twist on ‘I made you a pizza’!

  12. Grammy says:

    That picture of you “Comin’ through the rye” makes me happy.

  13. Olga says:

    Can we go back to the part about Colorado potato beetle? The other day I saw this exact same looking orange larvae on my milkweed. After a quick google session I have concluded it to be milkweed beetle which according to said google was a “cute, harmless creature that makes singing noise if you put it in a cup”. But now after reading your post I am sitting here in cold sweat wondering if I should be running to my plant to save it from colorado beetle and if so how ??? It is 2am and I am nursing my newborn son so I am leaning towards not going. But still – what do you do about those?

    • Karen says:

      I’d say go out and check today. In the light. The Colorado potato beetle are easy to manage. You can just pick them off. They don’t fly away or scramble or swear at you or anything. ~ karen!

  14. LOIS M BARON says:

    I have no idea why the photo of you taking the door off an oven terrifies me, but it does. Not sure I’ll ever be brave enough to do it, even for the reward of being able to see inside my oven again. But, by all means, carry on! I love your boldness.

  15. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Yay am I #1? As in first to post a reply? That’s because I stayed up watching stuff on our 1 month free amazon prime and because it’s Saturday night and I can if I want to. Haven’t been to Dundurn Castle in years and now that it’s free to library card holders, I should get my butt down there and check it out again. Thanks for bringing it up. And speaking of butts, that’s a nice shot of yours going through the gate 👍

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