Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Have A Bean!

   Several, in fact.  And my Gelber Englischer Custard squash, zucchini, and two of the five varieties of potatoes (Nicola and Linzer Delikatess) have poked through the soil.

   Yesterday was a drizzly day, though unfortunately, we did not get much rain.  R. finished putting the trellises up for the peas using electric fence stakes this year instead of bamboo rods to provide the structure. I planted the new mint, cucumber, and red pepper plants he bought and did some weeding.

  Things are still messy outdoors, with pots, bags of soil, and gardening tools everywhere and the transplants still appear "shocky".   I have been reassuring myself that, as things grow, the yard will gradually look a lot prettier (or at least less trailer-trashy) in the coming weeks!

Kenearly Yellow Eye beans and celery in the background.

Two Ping Tung Eggplants with some feeble looking basil.

The nicest part of the flower bed.  The rest contains a lot of intefering quack grass and space where seeds have been sown.

We're trying tomato craters this year...

Beet seedlings

Gelber Englischer Custard Squash seedling

Newly planted tomato (mine) and pepper (the nursery's) transplants.

Spiral trellises supported by two old pool cues. We'll be growing small cucumbers and Morning Glories on these.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Leek Whisperer

    We have been going flat out working on the yard and garden for the last few days.  There is still a lot to do, but most of the raised beds and in-ground gardens have been planted.  Remaining are the containers.  I'll likely fill those with peppers and tomatoes tomorrow.

    I am trying a new way of planting leeks this year.  Instead of trenching and then hilling them as the season progresses, they are planted with toilet paper roll collars (or "jigs") around their base.  This is supposed to ensure a cleaner leek when harvested, and produces leeks with longer blanched areas.  This method is more time consuming, but hopefully the effort will pay off when I pick them in the Fall.  This is one of the raised beds I filled with leeks (along the back edge is a row of garlic):

The strawberries are looking good...

    North garden - Aubervillers cabbage, Red Mammoth Cabbage, green cabbage from the local nursery (unsure of variety), broccoli (from the nursery), cauliflower (from the nursery), Derby snap beans, Calima string beans, Coco Jaune de Chine dry beans, Mrocumiere dry beans, Sunspot sunflowers, Music Box sunflowers, Cupcake Zinnias.  Jalapenos and tomatoes to be planted tomorrow.

Yarrow.  I can't wait to see what this looks like in a month or two.

    The trees are in bloom this week. They look so pretty this time of year!  I wish the blossoms would last several weeks.  The air smells sweet and is humming with bumble bees.  These are some of the trees in our front yard.  In the South garden, we planted potatoes (Russet, Alaska Sweetheart, Nicola, Caribe, and Linzer Delikatess), Top Crop snap beans, Rainbow chard, parsley, Chioggia beets, Southern Giant mustard, and Bloomsdale Spinach.

This is a (crab apple?) tree in our neighbour's yard.  Beautiful!

    At times throughout the past few days, the air has been so full of blossom petals and tree fuzz that it has looked like it was snowing.  It creates a pretty, magical atmosphere.  Until a bit of fuzz is inhaled.  The next hour spent trying to expel the wispy bits from one's lungs takes the shine off the experience, at least temporarily.

    R. went to the hardware store to pick up something for the house and came home looking pleased and a little sheepish at the same time.  He told me he should not be allowed in the greenhouse section unsupervised.  He brought home a red pepper plant (I really wanted one but didn't have one yet), and some chocolate mint (we grow it every year and use it in tea and mojitos).  He also brought home two varieties of hot pepper plants ( looks hot enough to be weaponized) and three more kinds of mint!  Orange mint, Apple mint, and Indian Savoury mint.  I'm not sure about the hot peppers, but love the mints and am eager to try them in tea and to dry some for the winter.

    Also planted in the last few days: Green Arrow peas, Kidney beans, Kenearly Yellow Eye beans, Asian Yard Long beans, Tene's Beans, Dapple Grey beans, Arikara beans, Royal Burgundy beans, Hollow Crown parsnips, French Dwarf marigolds, corn (nursery transplants), cucumbers (nursery transplants), Nutterbutter squash, and zucchini.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hurtin' Units

   The weather has been good this May long weekend.  R. and I have been working on getting the containers and in-ground gardens ready for planting.  Yesterday, R. mowed and whippersnipped the property for the first time this season.  Then we emptied the compost bins, added the compost and some new dirt to the containers, and redid the rock bed near the sheds.  "Redid" means we dismantled the flower bed, dug the weeds and grass out of the dirt, moved the dirt onto a tarp, layed down layers of cardboard and wooden boards as a base, rebuilt the rock bed, layered the bottom with leaves, and shoveled the dirt back in.

   Today,  R. tilled the three in-ground gardens and installed lawn edging and grass seed along a strip of the north garden (long story).  I raked through the three gardens, removing the weeds and stones.  Rake, bend/squat, pull, stand, rake.  Repeat sequence for several hours.  Wonder what the hell you were thinking, converting so much lawn into garden space.  Assure self it will all be worth it come August.

   After a long winter of us both spending far too much time on our (_I_) 's, the garden prep has been a reality check. Suffice to say, we are tired, aching, and stiff this evening.  Bring on the Icy Hot lotion and magnesium powder!

Before tilling and weeding...

...and after.

The bed with the screen on top has been planted with beets.

Red onions planted around the edges, carrots in the middle.

Containers ready for seeds and transplants.

A visit from a neighbour's cat, in dire need of grooming, poor kitty. We don't know what her real name is. We call her Loreal.

Some of the garlic has poked up.

A much-thinned raspberry patch.  Boy, am I glad I did this in the early Spring.  Once mulched, it should be much easier to navigate this summer than last summer.

The new and improved rock bed.

The first Swiss Giant Pansies of the season!

Transplants in the plant room.  ("Seedling Supervisors" having a snooze on the top shelf in the corner...)

Tomorrow, we plant!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tomato Down

   Our new kitties are fascinated by plants.  Bea, in particular, has a penchant for sleeping in jades, while Loulou has a history of munching tomato seedlings.  Though we have extra shelving units set up this year, and have left several of the shelves empty, they have still been most attracted to the shelves full of pots, tools, and seedlings.  Both have repeatedly trooped through my herbs and leeks in an attempt to bird watch or more closely observe random bugs that catch their eye.

   They are adorable.  Still, I do hope that seed starting will be less eventful and trying next year!

   Click on pictures to view the mayhem in more detail.

Bird watching and general mischief.

Tomato down!  Bea attempted to hop up to see me when I was moving around transplants.  Opps.

Recovering from the excitement. Watching humans clean up is exhausting.

Monday, May 11, 2015

At The Root Of It All

    It is 20 degrees and sunny this afternoon.  This morning, it was so nice out that I decided to weed the two segmented lettuce beds on the front lawn near the cherry tree. That location seems to be too hot for radishes and lettuce (they bolt quickly), so I am going to try growing beets there this year. I planted Detroit Red beets, Chioggia beets, Golden beets, and Cylindra Beets.

    Butters came over several times to socialize and help. She is so happy to have company outside!  She chased the birds, watched me dig, rested under the crab apple tree, rubbed by elbow and gave me head butts.  It's nice to have a feline assistant while I'm puttering in the garden.

    Some garlic and kale have sprouted in the raised bed by the currant bush.  I found the plastic mesh and covered that bed to keep the cats out, and covered the beet bed with an old section from a wood screen door that was in the shed. Fit perfectly. 

    This afternoon, I planted carrots and a few garlic chives in one of the raised beds along the driveway.  There are already a few red onions sprouting around the perimeter of that bed. For carrots, I planted Berlicummer from Salt Spring Seeds (long, coreless, orange), Scarlet Nantes (traditional orange), Jaune Obtuse du Doubs from Baker Creek Seeds (pale yellow), and a mix of purple, white, yellow, and red carrots from The Cottage Gardener (the varieties are not specified on package).  I covered the bed with burlap and floating row cover, watered the heck out it, and hope to see some carrot sproutlings in a week or two.

    I was happy to find the order of seed potatoes I placed with Eagle Creek Farms a few months ago in today's mail.  I ordered a foursome of Caribe, Linzer Delikatess, Alaska Sweetheart, and Nicola potatoes.  We'll fill in the rest of the potato patch with the same potatoes (Russets, mainly) we grew last year.  For now, they are in my closet, where it's nice and cool!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Canadian Seed Libraries

Below is a small list of Canadian seed lending libraries.  
For seed swaps and exchanges, check out this link

Dunedin Public Library Seed Library - pic from the Tampa Bay Times

Seeds of Diversity Canadian Seed Library

Salt Springs Seed Sanctuary - Lots of good information here.  A one-time membership fee of $20 is required to borrow seed. Based in Salt Spring Island, BC.

The Halifax Heritage Seed Library - Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Here is a nice article about the HHSL.  A location is soon coming to Dartmouth, too.

Populuxe seed bank - Based in Edmonton, Alberta.  They also have a current Twitter account.

Dalhousie University's Seed Library - The first university-funded seed library in Canada.  Located in the Macrae library on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Nova Scotia.  They have a Facebook page, and here is a nice article about the library.

Toronto Seed Library - Based in Toronto, Ontario.  There are currently 16 on-location branches of the Toronto Seed Library, as well as 3 traveling branches.  They also have a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Victoria Seed Library - Affiliated with the Greater Victoria Public Library in Victoria, BC. 

Find More Seed Libraries HERE  - Scroll down the page to find additional Canadian seed libraries (some formal, some grass-roots).

Seed Library Locator Map

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bea in the Peace Lily

Our cats - especially Bea - love to sit in the middle of our Peace Lily, especially when the fan is going.  That poor plant!