Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Flying the Pacific Northwest" on November 2

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about flying in Washington and Oregon.

Click Here on November 2

for a FREE copy of

Description: Airports of Western Washington and Oregon form the backdrop for adventures in the Pacific Northwest. Take the controls of a Piper Arrow, as your personal flight instructor leads you to out-of-the-way spots where recreational aircraft give us the freedom to pursue personal goals. Hints for cross-county and local flying, as presented by a 7000-hour FAA certified flight instructor. For armchair pilots and experienced pros, this book is an escape so realistic you’ll swear you’re airborne.

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at

Happy reading! - Wayne

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Pinedrop Sprout

P is for Pinedrop

The Woodland Pinedrop (Pterospora andromedea) is considered an oddball plant that lacks chlorophyll. It's perennial growing from a tight root ball and is parasitic of fungi that occur near trees.

I found this sprout emerging from the ground in late July at Misty Beach on verge of Haslam Lake near Powell River, BC.

The plant grows in a single stalk from 30 cm to 1 metre tall (11-39 inches).  It has scale-like leaves at the bottom and flowers bending down at the top. Dispersal is by seed.

Source: E-flora BC
There are two guides I use frequently for Coastal BC plant identification. Online I first consult E-Fora BC. It has a great search engine, common and scientific name listings, diagrams, full colour images, and links to other resources. This image for the Pinedrop is an example. The original image came from The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia.

For plant identification I like to use Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon. It includes trees, shrubs, wildflowers, aquatics, grasses, ferns, mosses, lichens and, of course, some oddball plants like the Pinedrop. ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the fifteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chippewa Bay Road Work

Our next barge and quad ride was a day trip. We met our good friend John (and his dog Bro of course) for road work. John wants to reopen a logging road that's been reclaimed by nature. 

We left our barge at the Chippewa Bay ramp, but just in case, we landed off to the side in the dry, sandy stream bed.

We rode up the maze of logging roads to Heather Main. That part was familiar to us, but getting to the old section of road that John calls "The Donkey Trail" was new to us. Just as we looking around, trying likely spurs, there came John and Bro to save the day.

John and his friends have been working on reopening the old road that will connect Heather Main up above to Museum Main down below. This reopened section will save several klicks to reach the Chippewa Bay swimming hole (John swears it's the warmest on Powell Lake) and our cabins in Hole in the Wall.

One of the ways nature reclaims roads is by growing alders across the path. The easiest way to keep a road open is to annually trim back the alder shoots. These alders were bigger than shoots, but small enough to remove with clippers.

Fallen trees had to be moved.  Gullies formed by winter runoff had to be filled with rocks and dirt. Large exposed rocks had to be pried out and rolled off to the side.

John went ahead for the heaviest trimming, Wayne followed with the medium sized clippers, and I brought up the rear (with Bro) clearing the trail of fallen debris. I called myself the detail crew member.

It was interesting, some sections of the road were in excellent shape, while others had been damaged or reclaimed by the forest.

It felt good to give back something to fellow quad riders. Keeping roads open and useable allows everyone access to the beautiful back country in and around Powell River. -- Margy

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Harvesting and Preserving Quinoa

After growing quinoa in my cliff-side garden for six months, it was time to harvest the seeds. I planted in April and removed the seed heads in early September. They recommend not leaving the seeds on the plants once the fall rains begin. That can cause molding before they dry.

Unfortunately, only one plant survived due to small critter attacks. I don't begrudge the squirrels, mice, and woodrats a fresh summer salad, but I wish they'd remember to share.

I cut the stem below the seed cluster and put it in a basket to finish drying indoors on a windowsill. If you get a larger crop, you can cut the stems longer and dry them hanging upside down.

Once the seeds were thoroughly dry, I placed them on a plate. I used my fingers to rub the sees from the stems. I kept removing bits of stem and seed cover remnants until all that remained were the quinoa seeds themselves. 

I stored the results in a glass canning jar with a tight lid. There really isn't enough for a meal, but I'll cook what I have and mix it with some of my home grown kale for a side dish. I'll let you know how it turns out. -- Margy

Friday, October 24, 2014

Growing Quinoa

One of my garden experiments this year was growing quinoa. It's an ancient grain with recent popularity because it's high-protein and gluten-free. I've eaten it and like the flavour and consistency, so I figured it was worth a try.

I wasn't sure it would grow in my small cliffside garden plot. After some research online, I found locally produced seeds at Salt Spring Seeds.

If it grows on Salt Spring Island, it might grow on Powell Lake.

Quinoa grows in all kinds of soil, but prefers well composted and well drained conditions. The plants grow from four to six feet in height. They prefer full sun.

I planted my quinoa seeds directly in the soil in April.  Spring rains kept them watered through June. After that I watered every week or two.

To space the seeds evenly, I planted them in toilet paper tube rings.

Each ring got three or four seeds. Since I've never grown quinoa before, I figured it would help me distinguish my new plants from volunteer weeds.

Quinoa is a slow starting plant. In addition to the seeds being edible, the leaves make good additions to salads and cooked, much like spinach. Thinnings can be used in this manner rather than relegating them to the compost pile. Or you can pick young leaves as the plant grows.

Quinoa is a very low maintenance, drought resistant plant. Keeping weeds away allows them to grow larger. My problem was keeping the hungry land critters away. They enjoyed the tender leaves and stems so much, I ended up with only one plant reaching maturity.

Even with my critter problem, I consider my experiment a success. I didn't get enough seed to even make a meal, but I did prove that quinoa can be grown on Powell Lake. Next year I'll try again and see if I can get more plants to survive. -- Margy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Oceanspray


On the granite cliff next to our cabin, there's a section where soil clings to the rocky surface. On a narrow ledge, an Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) plant grows.

Oceanspray grows from 1-4 metres tall. Mine is in the two metre range. In addition to rocky slopes, it can be found in clearings, thickets and forest edges. In summer, the plant is covered with drooping cream-coloured flower clusters.  It attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects, and provides a good hiding place for birds. Oceanspray is a drought tolerant plant, and makes a good addition to northwest gardens if planted in a rock garden or container with good drainage. -- Margy