Thursday, May 30, 2013

When It Rains...

For the record, I was running around the house last night in a floor-length flannel nightie with the thermostat turned up.  At the end of May.  BRRR!  

It started sprinkling the afternoon of the Great Tomato Transplant, and has been raining - often times, pouring - since.  Every available rain barrel, bucket, and large container we have is filled at this point, and it's still raining.  My bucket-tomatoes are drenched, but still alive. Now we need some sunshine, heat, and a light breeze so things can start growing in earnest.

When it does dry out, I have hours of weeding ahead of me...

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Great Tomato Transplant

Yesterday, I planted my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in pots and raised beds outdoors.  As carefully as one tries to plan, unexpected things happen and when it comes to what actually gets put in the garden, there are always a few surprises at the last minute.  I planted...

- Doe Hill peppers (2 or 3) and jalapeno peppers (2 or 3).  Possibly 1 King of the North Pepper.  Time will tell.
- Casper, Ping Tung, and Vittoria Eggplants (4 total).  This blog might be called, I Will Grow Eggplants but judging by the looks of the poor little ones I have, maybe I should change the title to the less-ambitious-yet-still-optimistic, I Will Plant Eggplants.
- Marigolds
- Tomatoes.  LOTS of tomatoes.  

The King of the North pepper seeds I received in a trade earlier this year and started in April turned out to be tomatoes instead.  I was extremely careful about labeling my seedlings, so whoever I did the trade with either got things mixed up, or has a sick sense of humor. *L*  As a result, I have far fewer peppers than I wanted, and ended up with 33 tomato plants!   

Realizing we didn't have enough space for all of them, I prioritized by the varieties I most wanted to grow and the health of the plants, and went to work planting those.  I was left with 13 plants, which I decided I'd try to give away.  Instead, R pulled out a bunch of the buckets we use for rainwater, placed them along the fence by the potato patch, bought several large bags of soil, and I planted the extras in those yesterday afternoon.

If they all do well, we are going to have plenty to eat fresh, dice and freeze, and share with friends and family.  

The timing was good, as it started to sprinkle late yesterday afternoon.  Today, we have had heavy showers with hail, thunder, and lightning.  The rain barrels are almost full now, and there are puddles in the driveway and south garden.  The bucket-tomatoes, which have no drainage, are soaked but don't appear to be waterlogged.  I'd be mighty ticked if they croaked within 24 hours of my backbreaking (not sure I mean that figuritively...) work planting them yesterday!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

You Can't Hide the 'Nip

After several days of clouds, drizzle (no real rainfall, darn it), and very cool temps, I awoke this morning to bright sunshine and warm weather.  Last night was the first all-night sleepover on the front step for my plants.  The tomatoes seemed to fare well, as did the peppers.  R. made a shade tent for them this morning, as it is shaping up to be a hot day.

I think my melon plants got zapped.  :(  

To replace them, this morning I planted Cream of Saskatchewan melon seeds and Sugar Pie Pumpkin seeds in the containers where the Sweet Siberian melons were intended to grow.  Fingers crossed they do well.  If the Sweet Siberians snap back to life, I will do my best to find a place for them in the South garden.

After planting the melon and pumpkin seeds, I rounded the corner of the house to find Karl indulging in the catnip.  The catnip we had deliberately placed off the round, on a plank of wood across layed the top of a rain barrel so the poor thing's roots would have a chance to establish themselves.  Karl has the transplant gnawed pretty much down to the soil.  I think we're going to have to buy another transplant.    

R's brother just dropped by for a quick visit and gave us two Butternut squash plants!  Love Butternut squash.  Have no idea where we are going to put them, but I will find a place!

Update - We took a trip to the nursery late this morning to get some transplants (including catnip!).  I prefer being able to grow and then harvest my vegetables from seeds.  Strangely, I don't feel like I've grown them/that they're really mine if I use transplants.   I also am not thrilled about growing hybrids.  Sometimes things don't go according to plan and my seedlings croak, so Plan B is the nursery!  

We bought broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, green cabbage, and more corn and strawberries (half of the last batches of corn and strawberries we recently bought and planted got wiped out by a wind storm).  We planted those this afternoon, mostly in the South garden, and I filled in any extra space with green onion seeds and nasturtiums.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Ancient Ones

More planting this morning.  This is the first May holiday weekend in years that we haven't seen rain, cool weather, and/or snow.  On the contrary, it has been a sunny, warm day thus far.   It's 12:35pm and counting, so the day is young. A little rain, I would welcome.  But please, Lord, no snow!

In the raised beds along the driveway,  I planted carrots ("Nantes" and "Jaune du Doubs") and Purple Vienna Kohlrabi (something new to try this year).  Along the edge of the potato patch (North garden), I planted Algonquin Speckled beans, which are a rare heirloom dry bush bean.

In the South garden, I planted yellow wax beans ("Beurre de Rocquencourt").  I only planted a few of these last year, and they were so sweet and delicious when cooked that I promised myself I would plant more this year and freeze a bunch for the winter.  I also planted a few cucumber seeds ("Beit Alpha"), and three rows of Anasazi beans (another new one for me this year).

The Anasazi beans are an heirloom variety sent to me by an online friend, Mike, who is from Arkansas.  Mike has been kind enough to send me all sorts of heirloom vegetables to try, some obtained from his friends in the Mennonite community there, some from American heirloom seed companies, and others that he has saved from his own crops.  He is fortunate enough to be able to garden much of the year (9 months!) and last year started a large community garden for his church.  It was very successful, providing food for many families.  He enjoys what he does, and is hoping to have more people participate in the upkeep of the garden this year.

Anasazi beans are supposed to have a smooth texture and meaty, sweet taste.  They are an old variety and were first planted by the native people of the Four Corners region of the United States.  I am told that "Anasazi" is a Navajo word best translated as, "the ancient ones".

More history from

"Native to the North American Southwest region, the Anasazi bean was named after the cliff-dwelling Native American people that inhabited the area now known as the four corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The Anasazi bean is thought to have been a staple in the diet of the native people who lived in this region. While not much is known about the specific origins of the bean, evidence suggests that native people have been cultivating and consuming them for more than 1,500 years."

Very cool, n'est-ce pas?   I am looking forward to seeing how they grow.  From what I understand, they are a "half runner" bean...not a vine, not a bush, but something in between.  I haven't used supports or a trellis, as Mike said that the plants tend to support each other.  Fingers crossed! *L*

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tomato Boot Camp

For the last week, I have been gradually hardening off our plants for the garden.  The peppers and melons are adapting quickly, but the tomatoes seem more fragile.  They go out for 2 hours/day.  Hoping to increase that amount of time over the coming week.


The tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplants... 

Pansies, marigolds, and herbs (thyme, Genovese basil, opal basil, and summer savory) getting some sun on the cat tree...

This evening, I planted parsnips ("Hollow Crown"), beets ("Detroit Dark Red"), and dry bush beans ("Tene's Beans") in one of the raised beds along the driveway.  Tene's is a variety that is apparently similar to marrowfat beans, which are described as having a creamy, bacon-like flavour.  (See the  Ark of Taste )  

I also planted a few nasturtium seeds ("Dwarf Cherry Rose") in the bed where I've already planted kale, chard, and endive.  Nasturtiums are supposed to protect kale and cabbage (and lots of other vegetables!) from pesky insects.  They are also supposed to thrive in awful soil.  That is great news, as the soil in the kale bed contains a lot of clay.  What a crispy, cracked surface.  We'll see what grows!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My First Casualty


One of my tallest, strongest, healthiest tomato plants snapped in the wind when I had everything outside this morning.  Early days of hardening them off.  I hope that's the only one that's ruined in the process.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Eat Your Greens

Here is what I planted today in raised beds.  The pictures are from the internet.  I hope my greens turn out looking this good!

Red Oak Leaf lettuce

Mesclun Mix

Lacinato kale

Lucullus Swiss chard

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce

 (and new this year...)  

Green pac choi

Perpetual spinach

Green Curled Ruffec endive


Red Russian kale

Bloomdale spinach

Friday, May 10, 2013

Oh, My Aching Back

The pea patch has been raked, picked of rocks, staked, and planted.  My poor back. We won't even talk about my hamstrings.  It's worth it in the winter, though, when it's -35 degrees outside and I'm adding garden peas to my soup.

Afterwards, we made a quick jaunt to the nursery and bought strawberries, sweet corn, catnip (last year's made it through the winter inside, but then got zapped by cold temps after I put the pot outside again in April), and chocolate mint (last year's was zapped during the winter).

Sweet corn.  No doubt it will look more impressive in a few months!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ready For Planting

This past week's tasks...

R had a large load of soil delivered and dumped on the shed garden.  From there, we moved wheelbarrows full to the containers lining the driveway and those along the side of the house, topping them up to they would be ready to plant at the end of May.  I say "we", though R does the brunt of the heavy work.  I do what I can, it just takes a lot longer to do a fraction of the work!

In the newly expanded rock flower bed, I planted orange calendula, Shasta "Crazy Daisies", gomphrena, Scarlet Flax, Rose Mallow, and Double Pink Poppy seeds.  All are new to me except the Rose Mallow, which I grew last year.  Already growing there are patches of Creeping Thyme, Wooly Thyme (love this!), and two silver mounds that I don't think are going to make it this year.  I love flowers, but don't know much about flower gardening.  It's complicated.  So many to choose from, and all growing to different heights, with different spreading habits, blooming at different times, requiring different amounts of sunlight, etc.  My approach has been to choose the flowers I like, get a general idea how tall they will grow, find out if they are annuals or perennials, plant the seeds, and see what happens...

R tilled all three gardens.

Today, I planted dahlia tubers (they look like a dwarf "Dinnerplate" variety), Sunspot Sunflowers, Morning Glories, and lemon balm in containers. Saj, Karl (neighbour's cat), and Butters (other neighbour's cat) all supervised to varying degrees.  :-)

Building a new raised bed!

What to plant here?  Decisions, decisions!

Potato patch in foreground, general garden behind.

Containers along side of house ready for peppers & tomatoes.

Newly filled strawberry-patch-to-be!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Potatoes Are In

   What a hot, sunny day!  28 degrees Celsius. The whole weekend has been beautiful.  Can we hope this is the start of an early summer...?

   We took advantage of the weather and worked outside.  Yesterday, we cut up the branches left over from pruning and tied them into bundles to dry.  Tedious, but it's finished, and the result takes up far less space than piles of branches on the lawn.  Today, R moved a small rock bed and constructed a much larger rock bed that I'll plant flowers in.  The north garden was extended a bit and R rototilled it.  I schlepped rocks from beside and behind the house to add to the small rock wall bordering the end of the north garden.  At one point, I came around the side of the house to see this:

   A grass fire out of control on the north side of town.  Sirens galore and a water bomber (actually a "flame retardant bomber") circled above our home, making loops until it finally let its contents go.  One street in our small town was lined with vehicles, a veritable traffic jam of looky-loos.  Fortunately, the fire now seems to be under control.  Unfortunately, some jerks took advantage of  the diversion/chaos and robbed the Dollar Store downtown.

   I raked the weeds out of the north garden and R planted Yukon Gold potatoes.  Usually, the potatoes are planted close to the street in the garden next to the raspberry patch.  We needed to rotate the 'taters, though, and the soil is much better in the north garden.  I have a feeling it will not look as pretty as having a variety of other vegetables in that plot, but it's a small price to pay!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Another Experiment - China Asters

In early March, on a whim, I bought Aster seeds (Milady Mix) to try to grow this summer.  My success with growing flowers from seed has been hit or miss, as we do not have grow lights or heat mats to help with germination and growth.  The instructions on the packet of seeds said that the seeds should be sown in flats, watered, and then the flats should be kept in the fridge for 8-10 weeks before being removed and put in a sunny, very warm location.

Flats of seeds in our fridge for 2 months?  Wasn't going to happen.  Instead, I tossed the packet of seeds in the fridge for 5 weeks, sowed them in pots in the plant room in the last week of April, and hoped for the best.

This morning, to my delight, I discovered they have sprouted!  I really hope they continue to do well and that they thrive outside.  They are so pretty.   :-)

God willing, this is what they'll look like in a few months...

China Aster - "Milady Mix"

One of my Pineapple tomato seeds has sprouted as well.  A good morning!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Favourite Quotes

Earth laughs in flowers.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Amen of nature is always a flower. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light. – Theodore Roethke

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. – Buddha

Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. – Heinrich Heine

If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. – Audra Foveo

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.  – Greek Proverb

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.  – Abram L. Urban

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden. – Orson Scott Card

The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God's heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth. – Dorothy Frances Gurney

To garden is to let optimism get the better of judgment. – Eleanor Perenyi

Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise. – Michael P. Garafolo

A garden is the best alternative therapy. – Germaine Greer

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Cicero

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. – Martin Luther

You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. – Saint Bernard

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. – Welsh Proverb

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. – Albert Camus

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace. – Kent Nerburn

Butterflies are self propelled flowers.  - R.H. Heinlein

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,

Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.

I envy you, drunk with flowers,

Butterflies swirling in your dreams

-Ch'ien Ch'I (translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

The violets prattle and titter, And gaze on the stars high above. – Heinrich Heine