What’s Going On In My Life… (Plus A Free Download)

Friends’ cottage overlooking Lake Huron.

Hey guys, I have a free article for you to download today about organic fertilizing with biostimulants!

Ongoing fertilizing throughout the summer can really help boost plant health/nutrition/yields.

But first, I haven’t posted here for 4 weeks, and I thought I’d catch you up on what’s been going on.

I’ve moved to Toronto!

As many of you know, Heather and I split up a few months ago.

Not long after that, I announced I was going to try to spend a month or two in Toronto this summer, to take a bit of a break from work and try to find a little more balance in my life, spending time on some hobbies and such.

I even asked for a little help from you guys and you came through, so I knew I had to go for it!

I’m living in a cozy little bachelor apartment for the month of July and am currently hunting for something longer term – actually I may sign a lease in the next couple of days to stay here for a year.

So I’ve been a little less focused on work for the first time in YEARS (even in Peru we worked quite a bit), which has given me time to do all kinds of fun stuff.

This blog is just to tell you about it. I don’t normally write blog posts just about me, but I really wanted to because your support helped get me here.

You can always skip to the bottom for your free download.

So here are a few things I’ve been getting into…



I’m playing soccer/squash and otherwise exercising at the YMCA.

Well in THIS photo I’m playing with my sister and I’m pretending to be lining up for a big (excessively so) kick in order to get the photo.

But in real life, I’m playing mostly indoor soccer, with people who are mostly better than me, which is fun.

I banged my toe pretty hard during my first game (i.e. blood), but I can still play as long as I don’t kick the ball too hard.



I’m getting into yoga 3-5 times per week, trying different kinds of classes.

I’ve learned to bring a towel to ‘hot’ yoga – otherwise my mat gets too slippery from the sweat and I can hardly do downward dog anymore.

I thought ‘yin’ was going to be the easiest class, but I find it harder than a ‘flow’ because I don’t have the flexibility to hold some of those stretches for 5 minutes at a time.



I’m writing and recording music – lots of inspiration these days for that.

I don’t have a song for you yet but hopefully at some point.

I went to a songwriting meetup last week and met some cool people, and I may get to perform at a songwriting roundtable next week, where we critique each others songs.

Need a finished song first though.



I’m meeting interesting people through awesome organizations like Meetup.com and Couchsurfing.org.

With meetup.com, there are groups on just about anything – for me it’s personal development, entrepreneurship, soccer, yoga, songwriting and more.

I definitely encourage you to check it out in your city.



I’m going to organic farmer’s markets and testing the brix of produce to try to find the most nutritious food.

Plus there’s an awesome organic co-op that’s about a 3 minute walk from my current place. I’m actually planning my next apartment/house search based on trying not to get too far from this place!

And then there are all kinds of restaurants here for organic/local/veg food, and I’m surprised how affordable it is.

And back in June…



I spent the first 3 weeks in Amsterdam with my sis.

Many of you followed along with our organic container gardening series there.

She’s now back in the U.S. and we’ll hopefully get together in August.



I went golfing with my new Aussie buddies Sarah and Daniel.

Sarah and I are starting a website together.

She has celiac disease, so she has to eat a 100% gluten free diet. We want to help other people who get diagnosed with this disease.

She has a nice golf swing, too.


Nut Butter

I made my own almond butter, so I wouldn’t have to pay $11/jar.

I might as well give you the recipe:

  1. Get some almonds.
  2. Buzz ’em around in a food processor for 15+ minutes, stirring occasionally (turn the processor off when stirring, naturally).
  3. Optionally add oil, organic sugar, salt, but you don’t have to.
  4. The almonds will very quickly turn into a flour, but then it takes a long time to finally turn into a butter. It may not be worth the time in the long run, but it’s pretty neat to do once.

Hmmm, I guess this list is getting kind of trivial – truthfully it’s because I’m not clever enough to photograph most of the fun things I do and I just happened to have photos for these things, so that’s what you get. 🙂

What About Organic Gardening?

My garden July 2013

Oh ya, back to the garden.

I haven’t seen mine since June. When I left, it was starting to come on strong after a cold/wet spring.

My parents sent me this photo of (left to right):

Garlic (you can see the flowers), potatoes, beans (nice to see them climbing happily up the trellis, as they hadn’t started when I left), and squash, plus corn in the background at left.

I’ll go back and check things out in August.

By the way, the other reason I haven’t posted anything lately is because I noticed the readership of my blog really drifts off in June, once the spring gardening excitement gives way to summer fun time.

I get many more readers in March/April/May, so that’s when I think I’ll begin to post more heavily, slowing down for the rest of the year.

So I may wait until next spring to finish the little free gardening series I’ve been doing, but I’ll still post something every month this year just because it’s fun for me and hopefully for you, too.

That will give me time for a couple of other cool projects I’m working on these days.

And I do actually have something for you today more interesting than my hobbies – an article I wrote for the most recent Canadian Organic Grower magazine!

They sent me a pdf to share with you, so you can right-click here and then select ‘Save As…’ or something to that effect. The article is on page 3.

What are you doing with your summer? Any fun new hobbies or passions? Or how’s the garden coming? Let me know below!


  1. Danielle on July 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Phil, Just curious about the organic farmer’s market you are going to in Toronto. I lived there for quite a long time, and found I had to travel a bit within the city to get any organic produce from a market. For a city like Toronto, it really depends on what neighbourhood you live in. Yes, the one thing I love about Toronto is the amount of health food stores. I assume you have eaten at Fresh?

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I’ve gone mostly to Wychwood Barns and Dufferin Grove – lots of organic stuff at both. And ya, Fresh is a great spot! Just down the street from me.

  2. jingle on July 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Here in the North Georgia Mountains life is soggy, I mean really soggy. I’m threatening to dig a pond where the water seems to stand anyway. In the garden, the squash has all but given up, most of the squash plants are dying or gone. The carrot tops turned black, the beans are beset with Mexican been things and I can’t even spray them with a Neem or home made pesticide to help them out because whatever I would spray gets washed away – like right away. However, the tomatoes seem to be thriving and the cukes seem to love it. I’m considering doing a large greenhouse for my fall winter garden though. On another note, I finally found a source for some of the amendments you’ve talked about at an organic farm about 20 minutes from home – it’s called Loganberrgy and the owner is a die-hard organic lady. Sadly, when I was at the farm yesterday picking up chicken feed and garlic, I found out that she is excluded from the county growers organization. Sadly, not everyone understands yet, but I’m hopeful. Looks like you’re having fun – that’s important. I so have appreciated your news and hints and encouragement. I’ll keep an eye out for the next blog. Thanks bunches.

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      We had an extremely wet spring and summer, too – ripe conditions for disease and I’ve heard a lot of people are having problems with that. My garden hasn’t had pest problems, but it was slow to get jumping this year. I love your pond idea – it’s a nice thing to have for many benefits it brings.

  3. Gayle S on July 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Phil: We are happy to hear you are enjoying yourself in Toronto. Visited there once and I really had a good time, it’s a great city.Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we need to step back, take a good look at the situation, find ourselves again and grow from it. I see that is exactly what you are doing! Thanks for keeping all of us informed. We care about you and really appreciate your advise and wisdom in the world of gardening.

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks Gayle, hope you guys are having some successes on your new property down there.

      • Gayle S on July 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Thanks Phil–it’s been a bit challenging trying to deal with some issues like lots and lots of rain and our rock hard clay/sand dirt. A friend dropped off 60 bags of leaves. I took your advise and have chopped them up with the lawn mover and now tilling them into the soil along with soil amendments. Hopefully the crops this fall will do better.

  4. Susan on July 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I enjoy knowing about the ‘person’ who writes the blog, so I really appreciate your openness! You are a real person, just like me, and that is great to know! I hope that your future plans since leaving your previous relationship go well for you and that you discover more about yourself in the process! I also write songs, only for myself, and they are never so profound as when I am starting or ending a relationship! Enjoy your search for just the right ‘home’, take some time to rediscover yourself, and keep in touch! We all care about you!

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Susan!

  5. Katie on July 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Scorched soil in Sweden right now. We’ve had nothing but sun and some wind for almost a month, and I am amazed at how people still greet each other with complaints about rainy weather! I’m collecting clever comebacks to dole out at anyone dumb enough to complain to me, ’cause I’m the whitest of translucent skin tones, and even I’ve got a tan now. The developing garden, on the other hand, is suffering. I worked too much in June/July, when lots of pollinator friendly plants were planted, though they’ve mostly survived. The few veggies I got going are doing okay, too, I am just really looking forward to next year when the hedge has come along (protecting from the sea breeze), and the keyhole raised beds are ready and in full use. Rolling composts are in use, if not hitched high and rolling yet. It feels good to have them semi-set up, and this week I’ll be making nettle tea to encourage the mass of microbiota in the rather new soil. Love compost, and can’t wait until I’ve got the richest soil on the coast… all in good time…Since this is located at an old fish oil factory, the ground is saturated with fish oil, which makes stuff grow. The neighbor can’t understand how the grass does so well with all the sun, salt and wind, but I swear, it’s the remains of all those herring.Also trying to plant late blooming flowers for the wild bees, bumblers and wasps, since the heat/freeze spring killed off almost all of the heather they normally rely on in the fall. Right now, enjoying the sunshine and splashing waves.

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for sharing Katie – that’s an interesting site you have there and it sounds like you’re coming at it from all angles. Look forward to hearing about the site over the next couple of years.

  6. diana on July 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Phil ! Sounds like life is good! Here in Oklahoma it’s actually been quite rainy & cool. Love it!! Tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, okra, basil & corn doing good so far!! I love gardening, it’s my getaway. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, it’s been very helpful!

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Cool, sounds like you got the perfect mix of the crazy weather a lot of us have been having.

  7. Ramani on July 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    So glad to hear from you, Phil. Was getting a little worried about you since you hadn’t mailed a new post for a month. But delighted to hear that you are doing fine, busy with so many activities. It is a year at least since I first followed your 15 lessons and went organic. I spent a lot of time this weekend in the garden. Was pleased to see that almost every shovel-full of soil I dug out to put in my new plants came up with at least two or three earthworms. I hardly had any before I started following your advice. Yoga is really great. I follow classes from this superb internet studio. http://www.ekhartyoga.com/ Lots of Yin Yoga classes – the beginner’s classes hold each posture for only three minutes. All the very best, enjoy yourself, and looking forward to hearing your musical compositions. Warm regards.

    • Phil on August 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Sorry for the late reply Ramani – my comment system put this in spam because of the link. Glad to hear about the earthworm increase.

  8. Monique on July 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I really liked this post! Sounds like many blessings for you! I have shared your gardening tips on my facebook…I’m a Holistic Health Practitioner. Had my first organic garden this year and your tips and videos really helped me. Thank You!

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Monique, I’m definitely into the holistic health approach.

  9. Elaine, GI NE on July 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks, Phil, for sharing your personal life w/others who enjoy gardening as much as you. It sounds like you are experiencing some wonderful opportunities, so make the most of this time. Here in Nebraska, we’ve had some moisture that has helped the topsoil, but the deep-down drought continues and crops are suffering. My gardens looks pretty good, except for the potatoes, and I think that’s because I didn’t water them as often as I should have. They are still somewhat green so may come out of it, but the forecast continues for relentless heat. Enjoy Toronto, and thanks for all you do. If your plan is to scale back on your posts for the better part of the year, I will certainly miss them. You are so very personable through an intangible media, and I enjoy the bits of news from your private life as much as I do the garden pointers. Again, thanks for all you do!

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks Elaine, sounds like you maybe haven’t had quite as much rain as a lot of other areas. Ya, I’m gonna scale back for a little while, but I’m still here. And it’ll give me time to do some other interesting web projects that hopefully help some other people out.

  10. Cori on July 22, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Hi Phil,So happy for you! I hope you find a permanent place to live in that’s inspiring! Good luck with the songwriting!BTW, I checked out your folks’ vocal quartet, After Four, and they are FABULOUS!!!!! Thanks for telling us about them. And thanks for the free download! 🙂

    • Phil on July 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Cori!

  11. Ellen Greenlaw on July 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    HI Phil,My coop has a machine that grinds organic almonds into almond butter.Heaven on earth. See if your coop has the same service.

    • Phil on July 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Cool, I’ll ask today!

  12. karen on July 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    It would be really nice to see the organic gardeners with produce for sale and what city they sell from?

    • Phil on July 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      That would be awesome.

  13. Deborah Edenfield Mclean on July 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Hi, I’m having trouble with small snails that are infesting my potted plants and some plants in the ground. I’ve tried crushed egg shells all around the base and on the soil further out from the plants, but that was a failure. They’re still killing my beautiful plants. Help me Phil, please.

    • BethanyS on July 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Beer traps work well! Just put an inch or so in the bottom of a container. You can also bury them so the oppening is at ground level

      • Phil on July 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        Yep, beer works. Improving plant health is the main long term trick. Spraying ‘Effective Microorganisms’ with molasses and ocean water all over my plants and garden has helped me in the past. Fresh seaweed as a mulch can really help.

  14. BethanyS on July 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Sounds like your having lots of fun! Glad you have healthy food options close by. I just closed on 2aces of property i have been renting a small mobile home and gardening on for years.Im exited to make it home plant fruit trees and turn the overgrown acre into a clover pasture for our future bees!!! Any ideas on turning weedy feild into lush pasture?

    • Phil on July 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Cool! That’s a little beyond the scale I’m used to working at. Perhaps a local farmer will have some kind of plow with which to prepare the land for you.

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