Saturday, June 28, 2014

Banana Potatoes and Volunteer Pansies

Another hot, dry day.  The thermometer says 22 degrees, but it feels hotter!

The first pea flowers.

My second winter squash seed (Red Kuri, the first is Sweet Meat) sprouted - finally!  Two down, one to go...

In the main potato patch, R planted russetts.  Planted at the back of the house are four banana potatoes, which we got from someone who was giving away extra seed potatoes.

Another first: radish.  I have planted radish two or three summers.  The tops grew beautifully, but quickly went to seed, and no actual radishes ever developed.  These are from a package of pelleted radish seeds R bought earlier this Spring.

Lacinato ("dinosaur") kale in the foreground, Red Swiss Chard in the background.

Volunteer pansies in with the spinach and Swiss Chard.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First Strawberry of the Season

The first ripe strawberry of the season.  :-)

Our rogue chives along the fence.  The bunch on our neighbour's side is even larger.

Borage.  I think I should have planted these in a larger container.  They look like squash plants, which makes me think they are going to be huge.

The first of four Snowcap pole beans sprouted today!

An unfocused picture, but this is the young crow who likes to harrass Butters and Saj when they are outside and make rude sounds at me as I work.

The potato patch is doing well.  The raspberry patch (closer to the street) desperately needs to be weeded, a task we are both avoiding.  No whipper-snippering for that job.  It requires gloves, lots of bug spray, sometimes clippers, and being on hands and knees for hours.  Best done late at night or early in the morning so one doesn't get sunstroke.  Fun...


I don't know what's up with my carrots this year.  Over the past weeks, I've sown three different varieties, three times, and this is what I have to show for it!  Perhaps the shelf-life of carrot seed is shorter than I thought?  The oldest variety I planted is three years old.

Hmm...just looked it up online.  Shelf-life of most properly stored carrot seeds: 3 years.

Strawberry and my little cup of Johnny-Jump-Ups.  :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ants In My Pants

...or rather, my T-shirt.

In addition to the small, black ants we usually have around the property, this summer we have been dealing with red ants.  They are larger and more aggressive.  My first encounter with one was when I was weeding the raised beds along the driveway wearing flip-flops.  I felt a pinching, stinging sensation on the top of my big toe.  When I looked down, I spotted a red ant.  When I tried to fling it off, it stuck.  I had to pick it off by hand.  

This afternoon, I was out and about, securing some tomato plants, replanting squash (again), digging out a dahlia dying of mysterious causes (water-logged?  Frost-bitten?), and hoeing the peas.  I came inside to have a drink and felt what I thought was my bra pinching.  I ignored it, until "it" pinched harder, in a different place, and then pinched again.  Off came the T-shirt and I started batting at the area where I felt the pinching.  Some kind of bug fell to the floor.  I thought that was it, until I felt another pinch.  Off came the bra, and I had to really whack the second critter because it had a good hold on me.  Onto the bathroom counter fell a big ant.

How are these things are getting under my top and into my unmentionables?  Crawling all the way up my leg and then my shirt sleeve?!  *shudder*   I have red marks under my arm and along my ribs where they got me.

These menaces have also taken over one of our compost bins.  Open the side hatch, and out falls dozens and dozens of them, along with their pupae.  Delightful.  The way a horror movie is delightful.  That is to say, NOT AT ALL.  We have been using copious amounts of diatomaceous earth to try to keep their numbers down.  I'm not sure it's working.  We could use poison, but then we wouldn't be able to use that compost and would have to dispose of it.  I hope they stay confined to that bin until mid winter, when we can drag the contents out in -35 degree weather.  Hoping to high heaven they don't/won't hibernate in there.

Time to do some online research.

Butters, my assistant for the afternoon:

Here are some pictures I took just before 4am this morning.  I should have waited until 4:30am, when the sun was up and shining brightly!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Treasures In The Cabbage Patch

The first dreaded cabbage moths of the season were spotted this morning, so out I went with my trusty mister bottle filled with BTK mixture.  I've tried sprinkling eggshells in the garden and using various herbs and marigolds to ward off the moths in the last few years, but have never used anything on my plants to deal with pests.  After losing most of my kale and a few cabbage last summer, I decided to relent this year and use a biological insecticide.  To my surprise, I found the little buggers had already been busy depositing eggs on my broccoli and cauliflower.  I dosed those as well as the kale seedlings and turnip greens...holding my breath the whole time so I didn't inhale the mist!

A week or two ago, I started popping random seeds into spaces where nothing was growing.  This morning, I discovered a bush bean and a nasturtium growing in the cabbage patch.  I also discovered that one of the cabbages was actually two, so I dug out one and planted it elsewhere in the bed.

Mystery bush bean


Butters helped.  (Please excuse the "gardener's toes")

Saj, senior supervisor, oversaw R's hoeing of the potato patch this morning.  I missed that photo op.

I also discovered that my Blue Curly kale sprouted (too small for a picture, at this point!), as did my Orca beans.

Meanwhile, Karl relished the pot of catnip we put out early this afternoon.

Update, June 18th -  I found another bean and a cucumber sprouting in the cabbage patch!  Mwuaa hahaha!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Flowering Thyme and Red Frilly Mustard

Pictures from earlier this afternoon.  In the last 20 minutes, the sky has clouded over and thunder is booming in the sky.  Maybe we'll get some much-needed rain.

The thyme has started to flower.  Pretty!  :)

Red Frilly Mustard.  This germinated quickly and at a rate of close to 100%.  I have transplanted a few to the main (south) garden and they seem to have tolerated the move.

Vermont Cranberry beans on the left, healthy broccoli and cauliflower plants in the middle, a short row of Topcrop beans (I think) on the right.

One more casualty of Karl's ecstatic morning rolls in the garden...

Tom Thumb lettuce in the length of gutter beneath the plant room window.  Each one apparently grows to the size of a baseball.

Marigold in with an Opalka tomato plant.

Tomatoes, etc at the back of the house.

Onions on the bottom, Bloomsdale spinach in the middle, Swiss chard at the top.  A few of the spinach plants are bolting already!  :(

Shasta Daisy.  I plant this seed last year and nothing germinated until about a month before our first snow.  The little bit that grew survived the winter and it looks like it will bloom this summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Propping Up the Peas

After last year's failed stake-and-twine pea supports, we set about constructing this year's (experimental?) pea trellises. R bought bamboo stakes, which we threaded through lengths of plastic mesh.  The ends of each row are anchored down with additional twine and wooden stakes and/or large rocks.  We'll see how it holds up.  Fingers crossed!

In the "south" garden, there is a short row of peas we had left after planting the main pea patch.  R put in two trellises and a few stakes next to those.

One of my Sweet Meat squash didn't come up, so I popped another winter squash seed (Red Kuri) in it's place.  Both are varieties I haven't grown before.  Here's hoping for a long, hot September, as they both require fairly long seasons.  (Why do I do this to myself?!)

Here is what a Sweet Meat looks like:

Image from

...and Red Kuris:

Image from

Friday, June 6, 2014

Day of the Nightshades

It was a busy day today!  I planted the tomatoes (25), peppers (7), and eggplants (9) outside.  That sentence is so short compared to the length of time I spent actually doing it.  Hours.  

Half of the tomatoes are staked with our old cages, and the other half will be "caged" tomorrow with the cages R bought today.  There are 22 tomato plants left, and hopefully, I'll be able to find good homes for them.  

On a whim, I also planted about 15 Orca (dry bush) beans, sticking them wherever there was a space between compatible plants.

My kelp meal was put to good use today.  I sprinkled it on just about everything.  Smells so good!

Pictures tomorrow.  I'm off to have a shower and a cup of tea!

Update - Pictures taken June 7, 2014

This tree is in bloom two properties over.  Gorgeous!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Zone 2a, You Say?

I can't quite believe the weather this morning.  We have been working in the garden on and off for several weeks now.  Almost everything we planted has come up and is doing well.  I am sunburned from working outside for the last few days.

This morning?  Bouncing between -1 and 2 degrees and snowing.  When it's not snowing, ice pellets are falling.   It is starting to accumulate on the ground now and the temperature is decreasing instead of getting milder.  The lower branches of the cherry tree are bowed toward the ground. 

I am hoping the weather warms up soon, or I will have lost a lot of seeds, not to mention the early start we thought we were lucky enough to have this summer.


lilac bush

Cherry tree, drooping, on the right.

A few beans, marigolds, and parsley.


My two zucchini!   Brr!


Off to make some hot chocolate, dig out my flannel nightgown, and research plans for a big geodesic dome greenhouse for the front lawn!