About Grunt and Grungy ...

For those of you who don't know about us, a little history to fill you in.

Between the two of us we had over a hundred years of experience gardening. (Now that makes me feel old.) We had gardened in climates that can be described as West Coast Marine, to Sub Arctic wilderness, to flat prairie and finally settled in what we commonly refer to as our little piece of paradise, here in the Creston valley, in south eastern B.C., Canada, located about 10 km. north of the Idaho panhandle and just below Kootenay Lake.
The property lies in a small microclimate that gives us a zone 5/6 Canadian version or 6/7 US version.
We were avid gardeners for years, and about 10 years ago noticed that more and more of the old varieties of vegetables were no longer being offered. Being raised in the generation that thought "if you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem", we decided to start growing heirloom and open pollinated varieties of vegetables (especially tomatoes) and offering the seeds to other gardeners.
Well one thing lead to another and we ended up starting a private seed bank so that our and your grandchildren will be able to have the same tastes that you are having now. This past couple of years we had gone past tomatoes and started seed banking (cold and cool storage) any annual vegetable seed.
If you have questions or would like to contribute to this blog, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Also for those who wish to trade please contact me at the below e-mail address and I will get back to as soon as possible. Thank you.

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old.

Much of the final years of Dan's journey is chronicled on this blog. He was a man who made a difference to many people, and his family believe that his thoughts in the last years and months of his life, and his work in preserving heritage seeds should remain available.


What I post about ways, methods, and results is based on what I observe in my garden. Your growing conditions may achieve results that differ from mine. I am putting this blog here to offer a site to exchange gardening ideas and methods, and to exchange seeds.
I welcome questions and discussions about anything gardening. The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask. I will try to find answers for questions that I can't answer, and may post links to sites that have clearer answers than I can come up with.


I do have tomato seeds to offer. The seeds are free, but I ask you to help cover the postage and handling in one form or another.
They can be obtained through trading seeds, or paying for postage at the rate of $2.00 for the first ten varieties or seed packs, and an increase of $1.00 for every ten varieties or seed packs beyond that. Seed packs are approximately 25 seeds each (not counted, just a pinch of seeds). Germination rate usually exceeds that of commercial seed packs. If you have problems with germination, let me know, and I will replace the seeds, either with more of the same variety, or with a variety that I think will give you something similar to what the original variety would have. Please note. I am not a seed company. Iwill only offer seeds from my current trade lists and also if I have lots to spare from previous years. I don't check germination on older seeds, but my experience has been over 80% on five year old seed.

2010 FALL SEED LIST = http://tinyurl.com/4whnxy3 Some seeds from this list may be in limited supply, but I will do my best to fill your request.

Albums containing photos of most of the varieties I have, and other photos that may be of interest, can be found at:
http://www.picasaweb.google.com/tvgrunt, or

When you have made up your list, send me a copy at grungysgarden@gmail.com

Changes ...

The status here has changed substantially, as you can see above. The blog will continue, hopefully with more frequent input than recently.
Seed saving and trading/sharing will also continue. I still want to bank seeds, not just of tomatoes, but I am older than the lead photo on the blog would indicate, and have passed the seed bank on to younger hands.
In the meantime, I will continue to pay it forward, and trade/share seed to all corners of the world, as I did with Val.
This poem, which we both have known since the 1960's gave us much comfort through Val's battle with cancer.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Life comes with no guarantee of quality or quantity. It is up to you to remember to smell the flowers, watch the sunset, hear the birdsong in early morning, and the spring frogs in the evening. What ever happens in your little corner of it, it is still a beautiful world, and you do yourself a great disservice if you fail to see and celebrate what is there.

A little footnote here, that will stay at the top of the blog. I have married again, for the fourth time. Another internet marriage, as Val's and mine was, and just as good, although completely different.
I was also diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2011, and started treatment to cure it in late August 2011.
The blog will carry on, in much the same vein as it always has. I will post mostly garden related articles, but also a few comments on things and life in general.
For a while, I thought Gump had it right = sh*t happens. He's wrong = LIFE happens

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old. His family wishes his blog to remain for those who wish to read Dans' journey.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Last Pick Off

I am slowly getting a few things done around here now. All of the beans have been picked/pulled, and are spending at least their nights in the greenhouse. The larger piles of greener pods get dragged out on tarps for the day, if it’s sunny, trying to get them dried down so they can be shelled and frost treated before storage. All of the vines have been cleaned up, and the poles are stacked, waiting for me to decide next spring if they are still strong enough to use again. I will likely grow more bean varieties next year, as they are a nice trouble free crop that needs no babying through the summer. Takes me a bit longer to set up in the spring, and a year like this stretches the growing season a bit later than I like, but they are good calorie return for effort = the local church can use the extra calorie/protein input for their lunch program, and I like beans a lot myself. The only real crop producer in the squash was the Musquee/Muscade de Provence, but I have a feeling they got a few extras during the growing season.

I have dill scattered through all of the main garden beds, and it will be even more so next year = I think about 80% of the umbels shattered on me while I was in Kelowna, which means not only the beds they grew in, but the pathways have an abundance of seed in them. If I get the time to till at least the beds before freeze up, I may be able to reduce at least some of the volunteering by burying the seed. The pathways are going to be dill central, if I give them a half chance to get started. There are onions all over the place that are no where near mature enough to try and harvest, most don’t even have identifiable bulbs on them, they’re just over sized green onions. If I can get one bed tilled before freeze up, I think I’ll try direct seeding a bunch of Australian Browns this fall = if they come up YAHOO!! = if they don’t, I still have lots of seed. I think I’ll try the Amish Bottle in one end of the same bed too = if I get to do it at all. I know I am letting myself in for a lot of weeding in the spring, until I find out if the onions will do anything.

Carrots and spuds are going to have to be pulled/dug very soon, and stuck into the spud pit. I’m going to try putting some leeks in a bucket or two as well, just to see if it will work. Next summer I may dig another pit, and use it for fruit storage = apples and pears. I know the regular pears won’t hold long, but some of the Asian pears will hold several months.

There are going to be a lot of tomatoes going into the compost bins this year = likely over a ton. Nobody came around to pick any = I guess they thought it wasn’t worth the labor, and I’m just too lazy to feel like picking them so they’ll come take them away. Frost has put an end to pickability now, so it’s just a matter of taking the wheelbarrow around and filing it up for the compost bins. Ah well.

I did find out this year that I have not been watering enough in the past = Shaoling misunderstood my watering directions while I was in Kelowna, and was watering every other day while I was gone = the plants showed the effects very quickly, and I ended up with an almost normal production from most of the plants, despite the extremely off year, weather wise.

So next year, everything gets much more water than last year, unless it turns out to be an extremely wet year. This year was a bit wetter than usual, and for the most part, much cooler.

Still not much stamina yet = I sleep well and long, and have to kick start myself to get out the door and get going, and don’t last very long yet, but keep plugging at it. The radiation oncologist warned me it would be like this for several weeks, and would then get gradually better = the chemo doctor gets to hit me for one more series of three treatments, which will likely make me stumble a bit again = that will happen the first week of November. After that, things should start getting steadily better. They will do another CT scan in early January, and let me know how successful they have been = they can’t do it sooner, because the radiation has everything inside inflamed, so nothing will show clearly. I am expecting to hear that all is as they wanted it to be, and the cancer is completely gone.

This week has had frost every night, starting with just enough to bother the tomato plants, but not the fruit, getting slightly colder every night, until it has reached the point that there are no longer salvageable tomatoes left, or anything else aside from spuds, carrots and leeks. The leeks don’t even realise it’s getting cold, and the carrot tops are only just starting to show the effects. Spud tops were still growing until the first frost hit them.

We have been watching skeins of geese build up in a couple of fields alongside the road we do our morning walks on = probably close to 1000 birds gathering in one field over the past few days. Wednesday morning was one of those fog bowl events, where the fog gradually tips its way off the fields, and exposes the mountainsides across them. The geese started lifting off when we were still about a half mile from our closest to them, wheeling under the fog, and clamouring as only they can when they are about to leave. I wanted to sprout feathers and follow them, a feeling that I have had every time I hear that sound, spring and fall, since I was twelve years old.

I can remember the first time I ever heard geese heading south. I was sitting outside on the back porch,with my grandfather, watching the skeins of geese stream across the face of the moon, singing, = both of us shivering and shaking, and unwilling to leave long enough to get a coat or blanket to keep warm with. It was probably about 1948, in the south Okanogan, just north of Oliver. A magical time in a magical place that is no longer there.

The radiation oncologist has had his final statement verified = I am having more trouble swallowing, I am very aware of my chest, and have less energy and endurance = even a mild Tai Chi session is more than I can comfortably handle. I’m managing to keep my weight up, which is difficult when every swallow causes a twinge, even with just liquids. The saving grace to all of this, is that it should start to get better in about another ten days. I believe I have hit what he would describe as the lowest or worst point now, where I will sit for a few more days, then progress upwards.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself here = I bought this ride with 56 years of smoking, and knew it was possible for most of those years. I am talking to myself here, as much as to the followers of the blog.

I will give a plug here for a stop smoking drug, because for me it worked extremely well, when nothing else has. If you really want to quit smoking, give Champix (Chantix in the USA) a try. I understand that it can have some bad side effects, but had none myself. If you get through the trial dosage with no problems, but have side effects with the full dosage, try doing the trial dosage for the whole treatment. For me the whole experience was stress free = no physical withdrawal symptoms at any point, no feeling like I was going to crawl out of my skin, no loss of sleep, or lethargy. I did fall off the wagon four times while using the drug, but after that, no problem. I eventually started forgetting to take the medication for a day or two at a time, then just quit taking it altogether.

Got out in the garden for the final go around of picking tomatoes = got about 70 lbs of greens and maybe 5 lbs of ripe, or close to ripe tomatoes, that were protected to some degree by foliage. Now I can go around, and pull all of the sidelines and Florida weave from what is left. That will make it much easier to pull what I can and put it in the compost bins. I think I’m going to be seeing a lot of volunteers for the next few years.

I am finding a bit more energy, and eating just a bit easier the last two days. I have about four pounds to regain by November 1, and I feel like it will be possible to do it. If I don’t, they may hold off on the chemo then, and I’d just sooner get it over and done with. I do believe I have passed the low point now, and should be starting up the other side. What the last chemo does to me, I don’t yet know, but don’t think it’s going to be that large a problem. So far, except for the 70+% hair loss, there is nothing that I can attribute directly to the chemo. I would imagine that part of the debilitation i feel is due to the chemo, but I can’t tell how much.

My last chemo is next week.

And the adventure continues.

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