Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Season Review - Spinach & Swiss Chard


Spinach

This was my first time growing spinach and it was, without question, the crop that I had the most trouble with.

I grew three varieties of spinach – Monstrueux de Viroflay, Galilee, and Tyee - and I had problems with all of them.  These issues ran the gamut from seeds not germinating (Viroflay), to seedlings bolting before or shortly after transplanting (Galilee), to spider mites (Tyee).  And all of the varieties were decidedly sparse in their growth.

My overall favourite in terms of taste was Viroflay.
 
Monstrueux de Viroflay
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Harvest Monday - December 29, 2014


The last harvest Monday of 2014 and, wonder of wonders, I actually have an itty bitty harvest to report.

Our weather in the last couple of weeks has been downright balmy.  This past Saturday, we reached 9°C (48°F) - the typical high at this time of year should be around -2°C (28°F).  Quite the difference.

So here we were, preparing all the yummy food for Christmas dinner, and I was able to go out (without a jacket, no less!) and pick some fresh herbs from the garden.  Just heaven.
 
Parsley

Sunday, December 28, 2014

End of Season Review - Lettuce

 
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday!  We do our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  My parents usually stay over and then there is the early wake up call on Christmas morning by one of the kids.  This year it was extra early - 6am (yawn!) - because my son actually set his alarm clock.

Note To Self - Next year make sure to check that all the alarm clocks are turned off!

Presents are opened, coffee is brewed and a leisurely festive breakfast follows.  The rest of the day is spent relaxing and eating leftovers from the day before.  As both of my kids said - "This was the BEST Christmas EVER!"  Don't you just love hearing that?

It's been almost a month & my poinsettia is still alive.
I'm such a brown thumb with houseplants that it's indeed a miracle!
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

End of Season Review - Brassicas - Part 2


In Part 1 of my Brassica review, I gave the results on two crops I had grown in prior years – Chinese greens and collards.  Part 2 is all about new to me crops – those that I grew for the first time this year.


Rapini


I grew two varieties of rapini this year - Zamboni & Sorrento.  I absolutely love rapini so I'm not exactly sure why I had never grown it before.  It’s one of those “scratch your head” moments – like in my first garden when I had a spot for tomatillos (which I had never even tried before) but not for carrots.

The one lesson I learned about rapini this year is that it is a super-fast grower - from seed to harvest, it takes only 35-45 days, depending on the variety.
 
Zamboni
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

End of Season Review - Brassicas - Part 1


All season I complained about how cool and wet our summer was. But, as is so often true in gardening, when one crop is suffering because of the weather, there are usually others that are thriving. And this was definitely the case with the greens and brassicas – until the slugs got out of hand in late summer, that is.


Chinese Greens


I absolutely love bok choy and this year I grew two varieties – Joi Choi Hybrid and Mei Qing Choi.

Throughout the year I have referred to these as Chinese cabbage, which of course they are.  But since Chinese cabbage also refers to the heading napa types, which are significantly different from the choy types, I’ve decided to start using the term “Chinese greens” instead.

This is my second year growing Joi Choi Hybrid and I simply love it.  Not only is it delicious but it is very slow to bolt, so production is outstanding.  I transplanted the original seedlings on April 30th and started harvesting on June 1st.  They kept producing until almost 5 weeks later, bolting in the 1st week of July.
 
Joi Choi Hybrid
 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

End of Season Review - Peas


This year I grew 3 varieties of sugar snap pea – “Sugar Snap” (presumably this was the original sugar snap), “Super Sugar Snap” and “Cascadia”.  I gave a description of these varieties HERE.
 


Sugar Snap Peas
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

End of Season Review - Beans


This year I grew 3 bean varieties, a yellow Romano bean (Golden of Bacau), a fresh green bean (Contender) and a dried black bean (Cherokee Trail of Tears).  I have grown all of these beans in the past and loved them all.  I gave a detailed description of them HERE.


Cherokee Trail of Tears
Harvested as mature beans for drying
 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Last of the Chores - Done, Done & Done!


I have FINALLY finished my end of season chores & put the garden to rest for the winter.  Each year I say that I will get all of this done in a timely fashion….and each year I am rushing through the last of the cleanup while braving freezing temps.

First off, I topped the garlic bed with straw.  To keep the overflowing pile of straw in place, I lay the plastic trellis that I had used for the cucumbers on top of the straw & pinned it down along the edges.
Garlic Bed - Straw Covered & Netted

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

End of Season Review - Tomatoes - Part 3


In Part 1 & Part 2 of my end of season tomato review, I presented the harvest totals for each variety I grew, together with my opinion on their taste & whether I planned to grow that variety again next year.

In this last Part (whew!), I'll summarize the total harvest, compare this years harvest with prior years, and give my overall impressions & plans for next year.  I've also peppered this post with a few of my favourite tomato photos from this past season.

Total Tomato Harvest
 

For ease of comparison, I’ve detailed the 2014 harvest in summary table form:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

End of Season Review - Tomatoes - Part 2


In Part 1, I discussed the performance of the cherry & paste tomato varieties that I grew this year.  Now on to how the salad & slicing tomatoes performed.

Tomato Varieties & Harvest

 
Salad Tomatoes

Total # of plants – 12; Total harvested (ripe) – 33 kg (72 lbs)

·         Siberian

Siberian

o   2 plants
o   5,891 grams (12.99 lbs) – 148 tomatoes
o   2,946 grams per plant (6.49 lbs)
o   Taste – Good flavour, quite acidic, thicker skin
o   Overall – These are supposed to be early producers, but they don’t seem to bear that much earlier than other salad varieties and Bloody Butcher has it beat by a mile.  Production was ok, but it went downhill very quickly once hit by late blight.  I’ve grown these two years in a row & am not attached enough to try them again, so I will not be growing these next year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

End of Season Review - Tomatoes - Part 1


I’ve finished all of my garden cleanup now and the only thing left to do is get some straw to mulch the beds with overwintering veg.  But one of my favourite gardening tasks is actually done in the comfort of my warm and toasty house as the snow flies outside – and that is the end of season review.

All summer I take lots of notes (or at least try to) on what is going on in the garden – although usually my notes are much better in the beginning of the season than at the end.  I think that November (when the current season is still somewhat fresh in your mind) is a great time for a review.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What changes should I make next year?  It’s also at this point that I make a note of varieties that I want to keep/replace as well as draw up a preliminary plan for next year’s garden.

I’ll be doing several summary posts for all of the crops I grew over the next couple of weeks.  For the most part, I will focus on one or two veg families per post.  Tomatoes, however, are an entirely different animal.  There always seems to be so much to say when it comes to tomatoes, so I am splitting this summary into three posts.


The 2014 Tomato Season

Salad, Slicing & Paste Tomatoes Grown This Year

Monday, November 17, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 17, 2014


This is it....and by IT I mean my harvests are officially at an end for the 2014 season.

I messed up this past week…and instead of a harvest, it was more of a salvage operation.

When temperatures first went down earlier in the week, I didn’t realize that they would go quite so low or be as sustained.  I went out to the garden the other day and all of the brassicas that were left in the beds – Russian kale, pak choi & some tiny broccoli heads - had a decidedly droopy appearance.

Temperatures have been a lot colder than average.  Last year was pretty bad, but prior to that, I’m pretty sure the ground wasn’t even frozen yet by the end of November.  Our average temperatures at this time of year should be around 6°C (43°F) with lows around -1 (30°F).  In the past few days, I don’t think we got past 2°C (36°F) with lows of -4°C (25°C).

In fact, I see that we are expecting lows of -8°to -9°C (17°F) for 5 days in a row this coming week….yikes.  We don’t normally get that cold until the end of December.  I guess when they said it was going to be a bad winter this year, they also meant that it was going to be an early winter.

So I went out to the garden and harvested what I could of my droopy, frost bitten veg.
 
Frozen Harvest on a Snowy Deck
Yup....winter is officially here

Monday, November 10, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 10, 2014


This week I harvested the last of the Mei Qing Choi.
 
Last of the Mei Qing Choi
 
Instead of harvesting the outer leaves, this time I cut the entire head.   Chinese cabbage would never survive our winter - although I should really never say never especially when it comes to the garden ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 3, 2014


Guess what we woke up to on Saturday?
 
Snow Covered Kale
 
Yup – the first dusting of snow.  It didn’t last long, nor did it stick around but it is nonetheless a sure sign that fall is basically done and we are swiftly heading into winter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Garlic and Shallots Planted


First and foremost - Happy Halloween!!  Normally we do our pumpkin carving about a week ahead of time but this year we were rather late - I didn't finish mine until yesterday:

Boo!
 
My garden is still such a mess - it is indeed a scary sight.  But it has been such a busy year in the garden with the expansion, that I'm going to cut myself a little slack on that front.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Stratford Garlic Festival


Back in the first weekend of September, I took my son to the Stratford Garlic Festival.

 

I had been meaning to go to this festival for several years but I was either too busy or I would completely forget about it until garlic planting time was just around the corner and, of course, the festival was long over by that point.  Well, this year I finally made it out…and it was well worth it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Harvest Monday - October 27, 2014


Green, green and green – well, purplish green actually.  Not exactly that much variety in colour.  But pretty soon the fresh produce will be all done and so I am savoring every bit of green that comes out of the garden right now.

First up this week is the Mei Qing choi.
 
Mei Qing Choi
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Harvest Monday - October 20, 2014


We had some wonderful weather in the past week.  Well, kind of wonderful.  The temps were fantastic – one day even got to 21°C (70°F) and it was 27° (80°F) with the humidity!  But we also had a lot of rain so my garden chores kept being put off.

But now we are back to more seasonal low teens & single digit weather (around 46°F +/- 10 degrees).
I finally got around to putting away all the hoses and blowing out the drip irrigation lines – of course, I picked one of the chilliest and windiest days to do that.  Hopefully one of these years I will get my act together and do my garden cleanup before jacket and glove weather kicks in.

So on to Harvest Monday.  This week I harvested the last of the lettuce.

Sierra MI - Last of the Lettuce
 
These are still from plants that I sowed WAY back in July, believe it or not.  The Pinares and Simpson Elite have long since bolted but the Sierra MI just kept chugging along.  Good thing too as I never did get around to that fall sowing I was planning to do in late August.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Soil and My Weed Nemesis


In a prior post, I mentioned how I had yet to move a large chunk of soil off my driveway.  After I filled my new beds earlier in the summer, the leftover triple mix basically sat undisturbed under a tarp.
 
I had been meaning to move it to the top of the hill all summer (which is where I am planning on building 4 new beds for next year) but just never got around to it.  I barely gave that blue tarp in the driveway a second thought, although it did seem to be looking a bit “lumpy”.  Well, a couple of weeks ago I took off the tarp and this is what it looked like:
 
Where's the Soil?
 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvest Monday - October 13, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving!  If you’re Canadian, that is - if you're in the United States, Happy Columbus Day!

So today is the Thanksgiving holiday here in Canada.  Our family celebrated last night as we find it much more convenient to have our get-together the day BEFORE the actual holiday.  There is plenty of time for preparations on Saturday and Sunday morning, we have a wonderful, leisurely family dinner on Sunday evening and then Monday is a day of relaxation and preparing for the week ahead.

And since the shops are open on Sunday but not on Monday, having dinner on Sunday evening means less stress for me because I will inevitably realize that I am missing a key ingredient, just as I start to cook - my husband is always on standby ;)

So on to the harvest.

Broccoli.  That’s it.  Really.

I made a wonderful room temperature broccoli with roasted garlic oil from one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks and it was served as part of our Thanksgiving dinner.  There were only enough mature heads to allow for a good spoonful per person and I cooked it a bit too long - I keep forgetting that homegrown produce is so much more tender than store bought - but everyone loved it nonetheless.

Broccoli with Roasted Garlic Oil
 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Harvest Monday - October 6, 2014


Not a whole lot to report this week – I have a feeling that this will be the standard theme until winter sets in.

One notable exception to the same ol’ same ol’…another first for me.  Broccoli.
First Head of Packman Broccoli

Friday, October 3, 2014

Onions 2014 - The Results


Back in mid-to-late August I pulled the onions from the ground.  I left them as they were, removing only large clods of soil, and placed them on the drying rack to cure.  About two weeks ago I started to clean them up and, as I was doing so, I started to notice damage like this:

Damage on Copra Onion

This was the same type of damage that was evident on the golden shallots a couple of months ago.  And, just as with the shallots, I didn’t recall seeing any damage when I had pulled the onions.  Mind you, the soil that still clung to them likely concealed some of it and I wasn’t actively looking for damage – after all, alliums are one of the most carefree crops to grow & are rarely bothered by pests, right?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 29, 2014


Yesterday we harvested these:

Freshly Picked Apples
 
To bad they didn't come from my own garden.  That was a bit of tease, wasn't it ;)  My family and I visited a local apple orchard and had a wonderful time picking a load of apples, primarily Empire.  We will likely go back in a couple of weeks when the Ida Reds are available.  Apparently, these can last in cold storage until late spring.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 22, 2014


The harvests this week were meagre but the tally was large.  The onions were originally harvested back in August and have been curing in the garage.  A good chunk of them were included last Harvest Monday.  This past week, I got around to cleaning up & tallying the remaining onions.

Onions - All Cleaned Up
Most of the onions seem to have some leek moth* damage although the damage to each individual onion seems to be relatively small.  I’ll dish out all the details when I do a post on the onion harvest later this week.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What's Happening in the Garden - Mid-September - Part 2


In Part 1, I talked about the 4 beds in the small veg area.  Now on to the 9 beds in the main veg area, 5 of which were new this year.
 
The tomatoes are done, done and done – I have cut down a lot of the vines but many still need to be removed.
 
Tomato Bed
Harvest is finished & only the final cleanup is left
 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What's Happening in the Garden - Mid-September - Part 1

The garden has been winding down – REALLY winding down – in the last week.  Our days have been cool & our nights have been cooler – many in the mid-single digits (less than 50°F).  As the weather channel put it – it's September but it feels like October.  I guess that’s about right, considering we had September weather since early July.  We have not had a frost yet, but I’m sure it is just around the corner even though our official last frost date isn’t until October 3rd.

Many of my beds are either done or almost done.  I originally thought that I would be planting more fall crops, overwintering spinach, etc., but I have decided to let those ideas go for this year.  I still have a ton of general maintenance work to do in the garden - things that I have been meaning to do all summer but never got around to - like moving the rest of the triple mix & mulch from our driveway onto the hill area (where I plan to place a few more raised beds next year).

So on to the garden tour.  Firstly there is the small vegetable bed section with 4 raised beds – all new this year.  This is where the onions, beans, cucumbers and most of the squash were placed.
The two onion beds are pretty much empty now that the storage onions have been pulled.

Onion Bed
All that green is bindweed – my weed nemesis - which requires a whole other discussion, including the reason why I haven't pulled it out yet.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 14, 2014


Our weather this month has been cooler than usual – what’s new? – and the garden is really starting to show it.  Most of the tomato plants are on their last legs & I have ripped out three quarters of the vines.  The only plant that is still doing relatively well is Mountain Magic – a blight resistant hybrid.

Before I ripped out each vine, the last of the ripening tomatoes were picked:
Tomato Season is Almost Over :(

Monday, September 8, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 8, 2014


This past week was all about tomatoes.
 
Clockwise from the top:
Aunt Ruby's Yellow Cherry, Genovese & Gypsy
 
And then there were the tomatoes.....and more tomatoes.....all 67 lbs of them – in one week.  This was my kitchen table this past weekend:
 
Boatload of Tomatoes
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Garlic & Shallots 2014 - The Results


I harvested my garlic back in mid-July and hung it in the garage to dry.  This past weekend, I finally got around to cleaning, trimming & weighing it.  The results are in and they are not overly impressive.  I planted 95 cloves of garlic & my total harvest was 2,314 grams (5 lb 2 oz).  That averages out to 24 grams (less than 1 oz) per bulb.
 
2014 Garlic Harvest
Left to Right:  Czech, Ichelium Red, Porcelain, Salt Spring Select & Persian Star
 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 1, 2014


Our internet has been down all morning so I have been back & forth between home & Tim Hortons trying to get this post done & the pictures uploaded...unsuccessfully.  The upload speed was brutally slow and I also had formatting issues.  The internet went back up for about 30 minutes during which time I was able to upload the photos.  Now it's down again and I have to upload this through my husbands phone...hopefully it works.

It’s the first Monday of September and we have yet another statutory holiday here in Canada – Labour Day.  This also normally marks the last day of summer vacation.  The kids are back to school tomorrow and I’m kind of sad and kind of happy at the same time.  It has been a wonderful summer – didn’t get as much done as we wanted to but isn’t that always the case?

Now on to this weeks harvest.  New to the harvest basket was a Gold Nugget winter squash.

Gold Nugget Squash
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tomato Troubles (aka Mid-August Update - Part 3)


So lastly in my mid (to late) August update are the tomatoes.  Back in April I described each of the varieties that I am growing this year.  I planted them in two different areas.  The first area gets a bit more sun than the second area.  The tomatoes in both sections have done very well with those in the shadier bed predictably producing less and taking longer to ripen than those in the sunnier beds.
 
Tomato Beds in the Sunnier Area
 
Tomato Bed in the Shadier Area
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-August - Part 2


Ok, so we are way past mid-August.  More like end of August.  But I did take these pictures last week and I started writing this post on Thursday so technically, it was closer to the middle of the month than the end.  And today we have our first heat alert this year with a high of 33°C (91°F) but it feels like 43°C (109°F)!! with the humidity.  Our temps have not been over 30°C (86°F) since June which is great for me but not so great for the garden, especially heat lovers like peppers.  But I think that 109° is a bit much, even for them.

I started some broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and kale transplants in July - all of which were supposed to go into the onion and garlic beds.  Well, the garlic was harvested & that bed was planted up near the end of July with the kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage and a few of the broccoli starts. This is what that bed looks like now:

From back to front:  Broccoli, Mei Qing Choi, Kohlrabi
 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Harvest Monday - August 25, 2014


This week we have onions and then we have more onions – oh yes, and tomatoes!

Rossa di Milano (left) & Copra (right)
 

Friday, August 22, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-August - Part 1


The tomatoes are finally producing loads of fruit – enough to start some canning.  Only problem is I’ve never canned tomatoes before so there is a bit of a learning curve…..and a supply issue.  My plan was to can them in 1 litre (1 quart) jars and then I realized that the pot I used for canning some jam is nowhere near tall enough to adequately cover the larger jars with water.  So I have ordered a canning pot from Amazon – and now I wait.

In the meantime, I thought it was high time to do another update on how all of the beds are doing.

First up is the squash.  To backtrack a bit, I am growing 4 types of bush squash, 2 plants of each.  Three varieties are summer squash, one is a winter squash.  So far, one of the “Sure Thing” zucchini – the largest plant – has produced the majority of the summer squash.  The other Sure Thing is about a quarter of the size and has produced exactly – zero.

"Sure Thing" Summer Squash
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Harvest Monday - August 18, 2014


I harvested about 2/3 of the Rossa di Milano onions this past week.  The stems had fallen and, even though I would have preferred to leave them in the ground for about a week or so afterwards (as I often see recommended), we were in for a couple of rainy days so I thought it best to get them out of the ground after only a few days.  I included a couple of the very small onions in the tally as I used these in the kitchen this week, but the rest will be tallied after they are cured & ready for storage.
 
Rossa di Milano Storage Onions
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peppers Don't Like Beans - Fact or Fiction?


My son’s birthday is in the beginning of August so it is always a super busy time for us.  We usually have a family get-together on one weekend and a party with his school friends on the next.  One year we tried to combine them and it was just a bit much for me.  I much prefer two smaller gatherings to one big one.  Yesterday was the friends party and we are done!  My focus can now go back to gardening - and the 100 other things that have taken a back seat over the past couple of weeks.

So now I arrive at my pepper observations.  In the last little while I have noticed that the peppers planted next to the beans are doing significantly better than those I planted with the tomatoes.

Pepper Plants in Tomato Bed
 
Pepper Plants in Bean Bed
 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Harvest Monday - August 11, 2014


My first harvest of onions is in – well, technically they’re shallots.  ‘Camelot’ shallots grown from seed to be precise.  But does this look like a shallot to you?
 
Camelot Shallot
 
Me neither.  These have got to be the biggest “shallots” I have ever seen.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


This past week was my son’s 9th birthday and usually this means we (I) are busier than usual.  But I thought I would squeeze in one tiny post (well, not so tiny as it turns out).

About a week or so ago, I made zucchini bread.  I had never tasted zucchini bread in my life.  Zucchini has never been a big performer in my garden (yet!), so the avalanche of summer squash that others experience has yet to materialize at our house.  Far from having too many zucchini and having to devise new ways of using them up, I have the opposite problem….dozens of recipes to try and too few zucchini to make them.

After reading one of Rachel’s posts at Grow a Good Life on zucchini bread, I thought I would give it a go.  I had been having a bit of a brownie craving for the last little while, so of course, I chose to make the chocolate zucchini bread.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Harvest Monday - August 4, 2014


Carrots were the big harvest this past week.  The total harvest was not too bad, but I think they really should have stayed in the ground for another week or two.  I didn’t want to delay any longer however, as my fall carrots are going into the same bed and I am already pushing the limit on sowing them this late.
 
I’ve only grown Scarlet Nantes carrots (successfully) once before and I vaguely recalled them being quite a bit larger.   When I looked back over my records, I was right – back in 2012, the average weight of a typical Scarlet Nantes was 71 grams, while this year it was 31 – almost ½ the size.  Next year I really do have to get them into the ground earlier – not only would they be larger, but then I could also get my fall planting in the ground sooner which would give them a better chance of reaching full size.
 
"Little Finger" Carrots
 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Carrot Scare


My carrots have taken a long time to size up - or so it seems.  As is often the case when waiting for things to mature in the garden, a few days seems more like a few weeks – the first ripe tomato, the first juicy strawberry….and the carrot harvest.

That’s why I love keeping records of when I do things.  I could have sworn that the carrots should have been done long before now.  But then I look back and see that I actually sowed them on May 13 and they didn’t start germinating until May 25th.  All of the varieties I am growing should mature in 60-70 days.  So moving forward from the date of germination, they were not due to reach maturity until July 24th at the earliest.  And taking into account that they are located in a bed that receives a bit more shade, the end of July is, in fact, on the early side of the harvesting window.

So now I want to backtrack to last week when I had a bit of a scare with the carrots.  As I was doing my daily stroll around the garden, I noticed this:

Bolting Carrot??
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Harvest Monday - July 28, 2014


The good news is we harvested our first green beans this week – Yeah!

Contender Bush Beans
 
The bad news is my hunch about the browning leaves on the Golden of Bacau climbers turns out to be right.  They are infected with Bacterial Brown Spot – just like last year – Boo!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Planting Fall Crops & Hardening Off


I started some transplants for fall a few weeks ago.  The plan was to transplant them into the garlic and onion beds once they were empty.

The garlic & shallots were harvested last week so that bed was ready to go.  I aerated it & amended the soil with sheep manure, chicken manure, soybean meal, kelp meal and greensand.


Adding Soil Amendments to the Bed
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-July - Part 2


For the next couple of years, I am concentrating primarily on edibles when it comes to starting seeds in the spring.  Once I gain confidence and am better organized in the vegetable garden, I can start giving the ornamental side of things more attention.  When Thomas at Seeding the Good Life wrote about starting over 2,000 plants from seed this past spring, most of which were perennials, I was pretty awestruck.  My grand total for ornamental starts this year?  Less than 20 plants and only 3 varieties.  Well, it’s a start I guess…maybe next year I’ll go up to a whopping 6 or 7 ornamental varieties ;)

The marigolds that I planted in the tomato beds are awesome.  This was the biggest surprise – I always thought marigolds were pretty boring – until now.  I think that growing them from seed & watching them develop into these colourful bundles with dozens of blooms has changed my perspective.
 
Marigold - Janie Series
 

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-July - Part 1


It’s been a month since my last garden tour and everything has grown by leaps and bounds.  The weather has been really nice during the day – not too much heat or humidity in the last week or so – just comfortably in the low to mid 20’s (mid-70’s F).  The nights have been unseasonably cool – down to 9°-10°C (48°-50°F). July started off pretty normally – hot with a ton of humidity.  But in the last few days I’m donning a sweater if I’m out in the evening…very strange.

Let’s start the tour with the herb bed.  On my last post, I talked about having to pull all of my basil plants as they had become infected with Basil Downy Mildew.  I am fairly limited in what I can grow in the now vacant spot that the basil had occupied since we are already half way through the season, so I decided to simply scatter some more dill and cilantro seed.

The dill and cilantro I sowed just over a month ago have really started growing well now.
 
Cilantro & Dill
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Saying Goodbye To Basil...For This Year Anyhow


A couple of weeks ago I started to notice some bronze type patches on my basil:

Bronze Patches on Sweet Basil Leaves
 
I didn't think too much of it at first.  I assumed it was a bit of sunburn.  And even though basil is a sun loving plant, I had read that they can become sunburned if they get too little water and too much sun.  I'm not the most conscientious when it comes to standing their, spraying a bed, so I bumped up the watering a bit.

But the basil didn't get better.  In fact it got worse with each passing day and dark brown patches began to appear.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harvest Monday - July 14, 2014


What’s new this week on Harvest Monday?  Peppers!

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
 
My husband and I love pickled hot banana peppers and that is what these are destined for.  It will be my first time making them so I’m really looking forward it.  I'm harvesting the peppers at the yellow stage so that they keep producing well over the entire summer.  If I let them hang on until they turn red, I’ll end up getting fewer peppers overall.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Leaning Tower of Peas

When it comes to growing vegetables that require a trellis for support, everyone seems to have a favourite method for each crop.  As a relatively new gardener, I am still in the experimental stage of trying to find the method(s) that work best for me.

The first year I grew beans and peas, I used sturdy plastic netting that had large, 5” gaps.  It worked really well at supporting the legumes, but then came the end of the season.  Of course, I didn’t want to throw out the netting as it was still perfectly good, with years of use ahead of it, so I spent a few hours (that’s right – hours!) untangling & cutting the vines from the netting.

When I set up the trellis for my peas a couple of months ago, I had a different plan.  Jute.  Since jute is a natural fibre, I figured that I could simply cut it off the trellis and throw everything into the compost pile at the end of the season.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Harvest Monday - July 07, 2014

This past week we FINALLY started to harvest some sugar snaps.  A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering why everyone, even those in my zone, seemed to be harvesting their peas and mine had just started to flower.  Then I realized that I had planted them late this year – May 2nd instead of mid-April - because I was pre-occupied with finishing up the beds & fencing for that area.  So hurray for sugar snaps – my favourite pea!

Sugar Snap Peas