Wednesday, June 29, 2016

First Dahlia, Tomato, and Lettuce Harvest

First dahlia of the summer

Kahnawake Mohawk beans

R.'s potato experiement...going much better than expected!

Lettuce and (harder to see) assorted carrots.  Growing even in this bed's dreadful soil.

Begonia - gorgeous colour!

First tomato of the summer - Mazarini (heart-shaped paste)

Fresh lettuce  :-)

Pesky Magpies

A family of magpies has been sticking close this summer, flying between our property and the properties of our neighbours.  There are two adults and four young ones, as far as I can tell (a fifth young one died about three weeks ago during the cool, rainy spell, when it still could not fly).  Despite their incessant chatter, bad reputation, and brazen attitude (hopping up on the front step to eat cat food we leave out for a stray), I have always kind of liked magpies.  I'd never seen one before moving to this area in 1999.

Two weeks ago, however, I started noticing marigold petals strewn in the garden, having been pulled out of the flowers.  I caught one of the young magpies in the act soon after.  Little bugger.  They don't seem to eat the petals, but just pull them out for the fun of it.  I looked online for information about this, and found several other blog articles written by gardeners who had experienced the same thing.  (Apparently, magpies like to pick apart calendula, too).  The irony is that we plant marigolds, with their strong smell, to keep away pests!

I was willing to deal with losing a few marigolds, but two nights ago, R. caught a magpie picking at the center of a red cabbage in the north garden.  He shooed him away and put up two stakes with tin foil sheets, hopeful that this would deter the birds.  When I went out to water and check the garden today, I discovered that they had done this to almost all of the red cabbage - pecked the center down to nothing - but had, for the most part, left the green cabbage alone.  I don't think the red cabbage will be able to form heads now.  Only two in the north garden look like they have a chance of developing heads.  

We have never had birds do this kind of damage before.  Are they bored?  Attracted to bright colours?  Demanding more cat food?  I don't know.  The only pests we've had to deal with have been insects (and once a rabbit on the loose chewed off my sunflower seedlings).  R. has installed more poles in north garden, rock bed (cabbage and beets), and the strawberry patch with old CDs hanging from them. We'll see if this keeps the magpies out of our garden.


Update - June 30th - went out this afternoon to discover a zucchini seedling uprooted from it's container and flipped on it's side.  Cut cleanly off from it's stem.  Arhg!

Update - July 1st - this morning, I discovered that the first two Hutterite Soup beans that germinated yesterday have been cleanly snapped off along their stems.  You guessed it: magpies.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Some of our garlic has put out scapes.  I love how they curl!  I have read that cutting them off the plant encourages the bulb to grow larger and that the scapes can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic.  I wish I had a few more scapes...garlic hummus....garlic mouth is watering!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Stalled Low Pressure System

Rain, rain, rain.

It has been raining steadily since early yesterday evening.  The sump pump in the basement has been coming on at alarmingly regular intervals, and pools of water are accumulating around the house's foundation (such as it is).  Not to mention the pools of water in the crawlspace beneath the house.  Big puddles in the gardens, the driveway, and along the fence line.  Every bucket and rain barrel we own is full to overflowing.  

Some of the beans I am trying to grow out are now swimming in a slurry of potting soil and water because the drainage holes aren't adequate.  I am pretty sure I saw a snorkel pop out of the Hutterite Soup Bean container.  One of my dahlias is almost floating in it's container as well.  If I had a Sou'Wester, I'd put it on the poor thing.  We have moved the waterlogged containers in as close to the side of the house as we can.   

Low-lying areas of town are flooding, Tumbler Ridge is getting snow, and Chetwynd is at risk of having one of it's bridges wash out.  The rain is supposed to continue on into Thursday.

(3:00pm,  9 degrees C., "feels like" 5 degrees C.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wet, Windy June

The last two week have been filled with cool, overcast days, strong winds, and rain.   Many of the tomato plants are wind-whipped and looking rough – one broke in the wind – but I think they’ll pull through.  Several squash and sunflower seeds rotted in the ground because of the wet, cool dirt, so I replanted those today. 

On the up side, this weather has been perfect for carrot seed germination, and it looks like I have lots coming up.  

Most of my beans have come up, though quite a number of them had their leaves gnawed off by something before they broke the surface of the ground.  Rather annoying.  Some varieties (like Painted Pony, Soldier, Ireland Creek Annie, Tiger Eye, Cattle, and Kahnawake Mohawk) came up looking robust and healthy, while others (Butterscotch, Flagg, Buerre de Rocquencourt, and Derby) are looking feeble.    Only three of the Grey Speckled Palapye cowpeas either didn’t come up or came up misshapen, which is good, as there were only about 25 of them in the package (they are a rare variety).

This week, the parsnips finally poked through, as did the Whirligig zinnias.  I attacked the potato patch (hoeing and hilling in that clay pile…arhg), and transplanted the marigolds into the north garden and raised beds.

One of the pleasant surprises of the season so far has been the Flashy Butter Oak lettuce.  It has had the best germination rate of any variety I’ve planted this summer, and it looks beautiful in the garden.

Yesterday was sunny and cool, and we hoped the sunshine was a sign of good things to come.  However, there is a rainfall advisory for the next two days (60-80mm forecast to fall with warnings of potential flooding in the area).   Rain is forecast to continue to a lesser degree for the remainder of the week as well.  I guess it could be worse – some areas within an hour’s drive of here are expected to get up to 100mm of rain or 10cm of snow, due to their elevation and proximity to the Rocky Mountains. 

When we do finally get a stretch of sunshine and heat, I expect I will literally hear the garden rejoicing.

Early days, but here is how things are doing so far...

South side of the house:

Oh, yes, that is a bathtub.  At first, I was not amused.  I finally acquiesced, as I had neither the means nor the strength to get it off my lawn and to a dump myself, and R. didn't seem keen on doing it.  We almost had the toilet right there along with it.  The fact that we don't fills me with more than a little relief.  I have adapted a great deal since moving here, but I do have my limits!

Once the parsley and basil are nice and bushy, I'll wash the outside of the tub and take another picture.  I might even buy a rubber ducky to place among the green "bubbles".

That is orange mint in the front, rainbow chard along the back, and there are two small rosemary plants in there as well that are too small to be seen in this picture.

The pansies are thriving at the back of the house.  All of the pansies I have this year came up as 'volunteers' this Spring in one of the raised beds along the driveway.  

Tiger Eye beans (they will have runners).  In the next week or two, we will wrap plastic mesh around the outside of the bed to help support the beans and to keep the cats out (they love to play among the stakes!)

Two beds with two North Georgia Candy Roaster plants in each.  If all goes well and September is warm, we'll have a lot of squash.  I gather these have "vigorous vines".  I wonder if they'll take over the apple tree that is between the beds?

Apple mint in the middle, "Patio Snacker" cucumbers on the right, and (soon, hopefully) a Sunspot sunflower on the left.

Broad Windsor beans (broad/fava) with peas in the background.

Broad Windsor beans on the left, small container of "Painted Pony" beans in the middle, start of the pea patch on the right.

Epazote (a Mexican herb)

North garden - broccoli, green and red cabbage, and cauliflower from the local greenhouse.  Flashy Butter Oak lettuce, garlic, Flagg beans, Butterscotch beans, Calima beans, Derby beans, Ireland Creek Annie beans, marigolds, Ping Tung eggplants, Early Annie tomato, Amana Orange tomato, Mexican Torch sunflower, Cupcake Zinnia, and Russian Giant sunflower.

Canadian Wild Goose beans (in very dry soil!).

The leeks are doing well.  The corn (to the left) is not, due to the rainy, cool, very windy weather we've been having.

Little bunch of parsley.

Mary Ison's Little Brown Bunch Beans (will have runners).  Kahnawake Mohawk pole beans in the lower left-hand corner.

Flashy Butter Oak Lettuce

One of my peppers!

Potato patch

Grey Speckled Palapye Cowpeas

Green and red cabbage I started in milk jug greenhouses.  A mix of Early Jersey Wakefield, Golden Acre, and Mammoth Red.

Garlic, planted last Fall.  I'll have to look back at the blog entry to remember what kind. 

Peppermint, Chocolate mint, and ginger mint (the paler, variegated mint).  Two dahlias in the brown containers.

R.'s experiment - we had some seed potatoes with very long roots left over, so R. tossed 1 in each (clean!) garbage can...

The pea patch