Lessons From My Canola Kitchen

When planting fails

Sometimes success is not what you grow or do, success comes from the lessons you learn along the way.

Last month I joined a mini challenge to grow a canola plant on my kitchen counter. I turned to my community (both online and in person) for canola plant growing advice and set a plan to grow the best canola plant that I could.

It turns out that my idea of growing the best plant was much different than reality.

So I paused.

Lessons from my Canola Kitchen

  1. Try, Try Again – Do Not Allow Failure to Hold You Back

    When my first attempt at growing a canola plant failed miserably. I took all of my remaining seeds and tried again. Guess what?! I ended up with one germinated seed that has become my seedling.

  2. Even Slow Change is Growth

    A colleague shared this quote with me:
    “Slowly, slowly the egg will walk!” ~Ethiopian Proverb

    Sometimes change is so slow you think it’s not moving, until one day, it is! The lesson in this is to enjoy the journey, no matter how slow or fast it might seem.

  3. Community is: Knowledge, Support & Kindness

    There was a time when your community was restricted by your physical geographical location – think your community centre, local club, church or coffee shop.

    Today with the advancement of technology we can extend our community outside our geographical neighbourhoods and all the way around the world.
    Summer Sunset with Heart Hands | www.jenniferdyck.com
    With technology (mostly Twitter this time):
    Knowledge was accessed from farmers across Manitoba and all the way to Alberta, Canada!
    Support, encouragement and questions arrived from peers near and far.
    Kindness came as tips for best success, offers to send supplies and humour to help me through the failures.

The lesson for me was far greater than how to grow a canola plant. It was a lesson in community building, a lesson that included; humility, patience, asking for help, sharing stories and best of all contributing the the #FarmToFood conversation.

Where will your curiosity and passion for learning take you next?!

Always…Jenn

Nuts + Bolts

Nuts + Bolts: the party snack of holiday gatherings near and far.

As a child both my mother and my grandma made ice cream pails and Tupperware containers full of the stuff! You couldn’t walk past the counter without grabbing a taste.

We snacked on bowls in the weeks leading up to Christmas break, while we decorated the tree and it became the snack of choice while watching CBC Christmas family night movies.

Every family seems to have a slight spin on what dry cereals to include or which combo of seasonings make the cut. I’m open to seasoning switch ups but you better not mess with the Shreddies, Bugles, Cheese Crackers or Chex!

Nuts + Bolts

Nuts + Bolts | www.jenniferdyck.com

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Cheerios
  • 6 cups Chex or Crispex cereal (or a mixture of both)
  • 6 cups Shreddies
  • 300 g unsalted peanuts or mixed nuts (1 small can)
  • 213 g Bugles (1 bag)
  • 200 g cheese crackers, square, fish or stick shaped (one box)
  • 200 g pretzel sticks (1 small bag)
  • 1 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 225°F.
  2. In an extra large roasting pan with a lid; combine cereals, nuts, Bugles, cheese crackers and pretzels.
  3. In a 2 cup glass measure; whisk together the canola oil, Worcestershire and seasonings.
  4. Keep whisking the liquid mixture while slowing pouring half of the mixture evenly over the dry mixture that is in the roasting pan. Stir gently with large spoon being careful not to break or crush your dry ingredients.
  5. Whisk back together the remaining canola oil mixture and evenly pour over the dry mixture. Stir gently to fully combine.
  6. Put the lid on the roaster and bake for 1 hour, stir gently every 20 minutes. After 1 hour, remove the lid and continue to bake for an additional 1 hour and stir every 20 minutes. Your mixture will bake for a total of 2 hours.
  7. Remove from oven and allow mixture to completely cool before storing in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks.

Planting with Science

Food for Thought

What if your garden failed and you couldn’t replace your ‘lost’ produce by going to the store or market? What if the success of your garden determined not only what you’d eat but also how you’d live? How would you ensure you are making the best decisions for growing year after year after year?

Planting Seeds With Hope

Each spring, many of us anticipate the excitement of growing our own food.

Oregano in Garden | www.jenniferdyck.com

We might put some seeds in the ground or in a pot. Maybe we splurged and bought small garden plants, stuffed them into something bigger and said “Voila, my garden!

We plant seeds with hope. We hope they will grow.

We water, we might fertilize, we weed (for a little while), we might choose to fight off insects or disease and we watch them grow, until sometimes they don’t. Not everything we plant will grow to its fullest potential and maybe it doesn’t grow at all and that’s ok.

When Gardens Don’t Grow

What happens when you have a garden failure? What happens when your garden plants don’t grow? This has happened to me and it for lack of a better word it “sucks”. Yes, it sucks. I put time, money and effort into growing something to eat and it failed.

What happens next is where (I think) there is a disconnect taking place and a large opportunity for learning.

Many of us, me included will do the following:

“Oh well,” I shrug, pull up the plant(s), clean up my failure and head to the nearest grocery store or market and buy what I tried to grow at home. I carry on. We carry on.

My Garden is a Hobby

I grow food as a hobby. For most people, growing a garden is a hobby. I do it because I enjoy it, it brings me pleasure and I do it outside of my regular occupation.

Rhubarb Crisp | www.jenniferdyck.com

The success or failure of my garden and patio pots do not determine whether my family and I will eat. Failure of growth does not determine if we will have the resources to pay our bills, put food on the table and function in our day-to-day lives.

We have the ability to replace our loss, we can go buy what we need and carry on.

When Science and Gardening Meet

My friends with the most successful gardens have one thing in common – They turn to science. They read the seed packages, they know their soil type, they know what growing zone they live in, they read about AND practice science in their garden.

CSA Veggies week 4 of 2016 | www.jenniferdyck.com

A garden can be super rewarding and very successful. It can allow us to play, to learn, to have fun and it can feed many mouths even when it is a hobby.

Successfully growing food relies on science with a dash of hope.

Farming Requires Science

A farmer growing food is growing food for a living. It’s their job, it’s their lifestyle and it’s their way of life.

Canola Heart Hands | www.jenniferdyck.com

When a crop fails, there is no store around the corner to replace what is lost. It is a failed crop. It might mean learning to do with less the coming year, it might mean bills going unpaid, it definitely means more than a failed hobby garden.

Farming relies upon science and the advancement of technology to be successful but science alone is not going to win over the hearts and minds of eaters. We will always have science to back us up but the greater connection, understanding and support will come from meeting one another around a table of compassion, emotional connection, critical thinking, a deep interest in learning and finding common ground.

Let’s Get Planting with Science

Growing my canola plant made me realize that if it fails, there is no store around the corner to buy a new one. This is up to me and science is going to be my best chance for a successful canola plant.

Here is what I decided to consider:

  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Seed depth

Soil

My cup contains:

  • New potting soil 75%: it will contain unused nutrients. It was also recommended by a farmer.
  • Black earth provided 25%: it looked rich, contained moisture, contained small bits of clay and it grew plants this past season which indicated fertility.
  • 1 Tbsp of canola meal: this is my science experiment. My sister-in-law who is a Canola Meal expert used 2/3 of a cup so I’m the ‘low dose’ portion of our mini experiment.

Fertilizer

  • Inserted one fertilizer spike 13-4-5. This was also on recommendation of a farmer with an agronomy degree.

Seed Depth

  • Research has been done and is shared through the Canola Council of Canada agronomy team that ideal seed depth is 1/2 to 1 inch. I aimed for the 1/2 inch mark as I’d like to have early emergence from the soil.

  • I planted 4 seeds in my cup that are evenly spaced between the cup edge and the fertilizer spike in the center.
  • I was also advised to ensure I pack my soil down enough to ensure good soil contact to my seed.

The soil is mixed, the seeds are planted, the fertilizer spike is in, I’ve watered and now I wait…until I get this tweet:

Thanks Curtis! My cup is now in the bag provided and on the South facing window sill. It will stay in the bag 24hrs a day until day 5.

Follow #FarmToFoodFamily on twitter for more frequent updates.

Always…Jenn

Let’s Grow Together

The Canola Plant Challenge

It sounded simple, plant a canola seed and grow it the best you can for 21 days. That’s the short version of an email that arrived this week. I paused. Then the ideas all started sprouting, in typical Jenn fashion, sprouting all at once!

So, here I go. Off on my next #FarmToFoodFamily learning adventure. I hope you’ll follow along for when we learn together, we get to grow together!

Plant it and it will grow…or will it!

The Parameters:

  • Plant your canola seed in the cup provided.
  • Pick your own soil or use the soil provided.
  • Use any inputs you want.
  • Keep a record book.
  • Bring your plant to be judged on November 25.

The plant will be judged on overall appearance:

  • colour
  • height
  • biomass
  • leaf surface area – you should be at 2 leaf stage

Let’s Get Planting

Container: pre-determined. Check!
Canola seeds: provided. Check!
Soil: provided. Can I do better?
Inputs: up to me. I better get help!

My first thought: I’ll mix compost in with the soil given to me, add a Tbsp of coffee grounds, dilute some plant fertilizer for watering, give it a splash of coffee every morning and we’ll be good to go. And for some reason I considered the idea of adding some ground flax to the soil mix too. Wait, what!?!

Then I realized I can do better. I can use this opportunity to connect, to learn and to grow. I can stand on my educational roots, I can stand on science. I can ask a farmer!

Follow me over the next few weeks on twitter using #FarmToFoodFamily. Join me as I expand my Farm to Food learning and have a little fun along the way.

Always…Jenn