Thursday, August 27, 2015

Takes a Licking, Keeps on Ticking

It is a mild, dewy morning out there.  Although the garden in general looks ratty since the early frost hit, there are still little 'jewels' and surprises to be found throughout.

The first pink dahlia opened. Really pretty!

One of the Sunspot sunflowers.  I love these.  They are only 4 feet tall, have large heads, and the bees enjoy them.  Seeds for the birds come October.

Finally!  A ripening tomato that does NOT have blossom end rot!

The Gajo de Melon cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen.  I have two planted.  They are very large, but haven't produced as many tomatoes as I expected they would.

The Kenearly Yellow Eye beans are the first to start drying out.

The borage is abundant.  It's nice to have something blue in the garden.  I'll have to pull out the plants before the seeds start dropping.  Borage grows and self-seeds very easily, I have learned.  We found a small bush of it growing outside the compost bin last week.  A seed from last year's plants must have escaped the bin!

We might get some Cosmos yet. I planted the seeds in May but they took a long time to germinate.  There are finally some blossom buds forming.  Love the foliage, very feathery.

Part of the North garden.  The tomatoes, lettuce, sunflowers, and carrots are okay.  Even the eggplant is okay, though the eggplants came to a screeching halt this month when the weather cooled off.  There are plenty of flowers on them, but only two actual eggplants growing.  The poor beans look awful.  I can't bring myself to pull them out.  I hope the few remaining "unzapped" leaves on each plant will allow the plants to keep putting out a few beans in the case of the string beans and in the case of the dry beans, will allow them to continue to mature for drying.

Cat tree photo shoots are always risky.  Bea (top kitty) likes to manhandle and biff the vegetables...!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


    Yesterday was a sunny, warm day, but it must have dipped low the night before. I went out in the morning to find a whole bunch of beans, basil, the zinnias along the side of the garden, part of a zucchini plant, a Gelber Englischer Custard Squash plant, a pepper plant, and a cucumber plant had been "zapped" by frost. The leaves were dark, wilted, and soft. Now they are dark, curled, and crispy.  I have never had to worry about covering things at night in mid-August! 

    The Calimas that were hit the hardest were full of blooms, where a big crop of beans would eventually grow. Buckets of produce lost there. The dry bean plants had only the top leaves hit, so I am hopeful they will hang on. They are not even close to being mature enough to harvest and dry.

GEC Squash

Calima beans - they were the most productive fresh beans I've grown.

The almost-invisible brown strip across the middle is zapped basil!

Dry beans, a rare variety (Coco Jaune de Chine).


Dry beans - Red Kidney

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This Is August Weather?

It is a cool, cloudy morning...9 degrees at 9:20am.  The forecast for the coming week is filled with cloudy and partly cloudy days, with daytime highs between 16-23 degrees.  Nighttime lows are forecast to range from 6-13 degrees.

Chilly.  My tomatoes are not amused.

Fingers crossed that we have a long, unusually mild, frost-free September.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Onions in a Tree

I pulled the red onions this morning.  We might set something up in the shed so that we can cure the onions and garlic in there (instead of in the house!).  In the meantime, I hung them from a tree in the shade.

The crab apples are about the only thing that is early this year!  Almost ready to pick...

Bea snoozing beneath an eggplant.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pondering Progress

I spent some time looking through last year's blog entries.  They confirmed my suspicion that most things in the garden are a little behind this season, especially the tomatoes.  Even the potato plants don't seem as large and lush as they usually are. 

The eggplants are just now putting out flowers.  The peas did not grow as abundantly as they normally do, and started dying before really putting out pods in full force.  When all is said and done, we will have harvested half the amount of peas (~ 20 lbs) this year that we normally do (~ 40 lbs).


The Calima and Derby beans seem to be making up for the peas. We have already blanched and frozen more beans this year than in the last 3 years combined.  I will definitely grow Calimas again next year, and maybe the Derbies as well.

The dry bush beans look like they will need another solid month of warm (hot?) weather in order to mature properly.  The Coco Jaune de Chine, red kidney, Kenearly Yellow Eye, and Mrocumiere are poking along, though the Mrocumiere plants look like they are going to produce a LOT of beans.  Woohoo!   The "Tene's Beans" plants are the only ones that seem right on schedule.  This is my third time growing them; they are a reliable variety.  

The Tiger Eye beans seem to be doing well, though the plants are not exactly what I expected.  I thought they were typical bush beans and sowed them accordingly.  I was away for most of July, and when I came home, I saw that R. had built a trellis of sticks and mesh to try to contain them!  Haha!  They are taller than expected and they put out runners.  They look healthy, though, so my fingers are crossed that they mature well and that I'm able to collect a nice bunch of beans in September.

This year, I have seen only one grasshopper, while last year, there were so many that it started to feel creepy (think, Biblical plague).  No aphids this summer, whereas in years past they regularly appeared on the eggplants and parsley.  

Cabbage moths are out in full force, as per usual!

Our cabbage seems small this year.  These ones are from transplants bought at the local nursery.

The one on the left is a variety I started from seed (Aubervillers).  Six or seven made it into the garden but the seedlings got scorched, so only two have made it this far.  The little cabbage on the right is from the nursery.

I planted the majority of the beets (Golden, Chioggia, Detroit Red, Cylindra) in the divided wood container near the cherry tree.  They started out very well, but all stopped growing at ~ 2 inches!  Thank goodness I planted some "extra" at the end of one of the raised beds along the driveway.  This small bunch ended up being the only beets I have this summer!


A new sunflower

Tomato jungle

Two Romanesco Cauliflowers

Dwarf French Marigolds

Companion planting - lettuce and carrots

Red Kidney Beans

Lemon Balm

Loulou photobombing the Tiger Eye beans.

North Garden

(L to R) Patio Princess tomatoes, Ping Tung eggplant, borage

Butters (our neighbour's cat) stopped by for a visit and some pettings.

(9:45am, 18 degrees Celsius)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Garlic Hunter

    It has been a relatively cool August so far.  Rain and overcast skies for the last few days with morning temperatures around 12 degrees.  The peas are loving the rain, but the tomatoes are missing the sun and heat.

     The zucchini and Gelber Englischer Custard Squash have been putting out flowers like mad.  I wonder if the cool temps have spurred them into their "last hurrah" of productivity?  I pollinated 4 zucchini (on two plants) and 5 GECS (on three plants) this week alone.

This mornings "pickings"...

    Yesterday, I discovered two local women who are growing hardneck garlic in large quantities to sell.  One is just outside Dawson Creek and the other is in Fort St. John.  I bought two bulbs each of Chesnok Red and Majestic from the lady in FSJ, and plan to buy 2 bulbs of Red Russian and 1 bulb of Northern Quebec from the lady outside Dawson Creek.  We are going to try our hand growing garlic this Fall, and these ladies tell me the best time to plant is the last week of September.  Some people mulch, some people don't.  From what I have read, a mix of chopped leaves and a bit of straw (not too much, or rodents will move in and munch on the cloves!) does the trick.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Early Morning Picking

    I woke up around 3:45am this morning.  My back was aching, R was snoring and I was too hot, so I decided to get up at 4:00am.  Puttered around inside for a while, and then went outside to see Butters, the neighbour’s cat, who was wide awake and poking at the screen on our front door. 

    After giving her her morning pettings, I wandered around the yard.   I thinned the beets.  Actually, there are no beets yet (the tips are still only the size of large marbles), but there are lots of greens, so I washed up a bunch and they are sitting on the stove ready to be steamed.  The beet greens look fantastic this year, as the bugs seem to have left them alone.  Hardly a mark or a chew hole on any of them.

    The Calima and Derby string beans (both green) were ready to be picked, so I grabbed a bucket and, still in my housecoat and flip-flops, hit the garden and started picking.  It was cool out and the sun hadn't yet risen (no glare in my eyes!), so it was the perfect time of day for it.  This is the first time I have grown these varieties and I’m impressed by both.  They are delicious for raw munching in the garden – sweet and crisp - and the plants are producing lots.  The Calimas are especially productive.

Later this morning, I spotted R in the pea patch, so went out to help him finish picking.  It was a small pea harvest today.  Before coming inside, we thinned the carrots.  To my surprise, the white carrots were much larger than any of the other varieties!  I scrubbed up the little carrots and boiled them for a snack.  Soooo good.  The white carrots are sweet and very mild.  They looked so much like parsnips that I had been bracing myself for a strong, maybe even bitter, taste.

     I harvested the first of our Gelber Englischer Custard squash last night.  The plants are putting out lots of squash, and they are quite compact.  Perfect for growing in large containers.  I sliced the squash and baked the slices on a cookie sheet with salt, pepper, and olive oil.   I am very happy to report that this variety lives up to the hype!  Very tasty, and dryer than zucchini.  With the exception of a small piece R agreed to try (A+ for keeping an open mind and risking his taste buds), I ate the entire thing myself.  

Bea poses with the Gelber Englischer Custard squash.

Bea then attacks the Gelber Englischer Custard squash.

GEC Squash and Calima beans

Three seconds later....PHOTOBOMB!

Just out of the oven.  Yum!

The first dahlia to open this summer:

Whirligig Zinnias

Johnny Jump-Ups

Music Box Sunflower

Dwarf Hollyhock

Orange Begonia

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers

Gelber Englischer Custard Squash

The Romanesco cauliflower is starting to develop...

Red Onion, gone to seed.

Potato flowers


Cherry tree

Black Plum tomatoes

Lacinato kale, red Swiss Chard, and nasturtiums