Sunday, May 29, 2016

Chives, Saskatoons, Irises and Rabbit

A few days of rain have really rejuvenated the garden. I harvested the first of the radishes this week and am letting the rest get a bit bigger before pulling them all in to make pickled radishes. I filled in the holes with some lettuce seeds.

Whether it was bees or my hand pollination, it also looks like we'll have a good crop of apples this year. You can see two have set out of this bunch of blossoms.

The dry weather is also good for the Saskatoons and we should have a tonne of berries this year (after nursing some of these plants for half a decade!). I'm very keen to pick and freeze these, although we're at least a month away from berry season.

The irises are also starting to flower--maybe three weeks ahead of schedule. Maybe two. They are always a pretty show and make a nice border at the front of the yard.

The chives are also flowering (think lovely pink chive-infused vinegar people!).

I spent this morning doing some yard work (mowing, fixing a few tools, trimming the hedge) and ran across this shy lady bug.

We lost two onions and two garlic plats our front this week (although they are regrowing from the bulb). At first I thought it was one on the any rabbits in the neighbourhood helpfully pre-seasoning himself. But it turned out to be a pair of cut worms. Until last year, I'd never seen a cut worm in our yard. Hopefully they are just passing through.

I'm leaving Jess in charge of the garden for a few days whileI go to a conference. It looks like the weather will cooperate and she shouldn't have to water too much. When I get back, she is keen to create a new strawberry bed below her window.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


It has been a dry spring and this weekend has finally brought rain (lots). All of the plants have really jumped up with the moisture.

The strawberries out back now have blossoms and the lilacs are well under way.

A few days ago we had the annual rain of elm seeds. You can see the drifts below. Not quite as many as 2007 (when there were literally drifts of seeds in the backyard) but enough that I'll be weeding my arms off this summer.

A tree I noticed had small red berries last year s in bloom. It is a big tree (this is a shot of the canopy from above on a bridge). I can't see to find this in my books. I will need to look a bit more closely at the tree when I go by. I'd wondered about a pin cherry but the leaves look wrong.

The potatoes popped up overnight (after a solid rain) so we'll need to get out as pull some soil around them. I think I'll wait until the rain stops. I did do some weeding today--grass is so much easier to pull when the soil is deeply wet.

The first sowing f peas is now several inches high and starting to grab at the string I dropped to bridge it to the trellises (top left of photo below). The second sowing of peas are just beginning to pop up and the bush beans finally germinated.

Out back I planted some melons that I early await. I'm happy for the rain but I suspect the cooling will slow germination.  In the meantime, we put in some more tomatoes as well as some soup celery. And I have a last few tomato plants and some marigolds that we'll put out next week.

We took a walk last night in the valley and th roses are vividly pink against the wet green background.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Busy spring

The weather has returned to more seasonal temperatures this week but last week's heat wave has pushed things head quite a lot. The viola are coming up everywhere, including this rather pretty specimen.

The heat has meant a lot of watering even though we spaced out the veggie seeds some in anticipation of a drier summer. Fortunately, Jess is now able to be dispatched to do watering while I supervise from my office chair.

I put a dozen tomato plants into the ground this weekend (six Fourth of July and six Manitoba). We've had some cold nights but no frost.

The spring flowers have continued to come on fast, with the tulips being on the way out and the phlox blooming like crazy. The bees are spoiled for choice. While I have seen some around the apple trees, I also went and hand pollinated a fair number of blooms to make sure we got some apples.

The rhubarb is already forming seed heads and the strawberries are flowering. I planted out some melon seeds (a type of cantaloupe) last weekend as my annual homage to stunt gardening in Edmonton. We'll see what we get!

We also put in a second seeding of beans and peas. Other than a few tomatoes and some flowers, we're basically done planting for the year. My task this weekend is is to clean up the raspberry row on the fence--killing off some suckers from the old hedge and transplanting a few raspberry suckers from the front to fill in the gaps.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spring flowers

An early spring is giving way to an early summer with a spate of +28C days. What this means is that everything is flowering at once. 

The apple tree on the south side of the house, for example, went from basic buds to full bloom in two days.

Jess and I have been trying to adjust our seeding and stay on top of the explosive weed growth. We pulled the glass off the cold frames last weekend and put up pea trellises.

The strawberries we transplanted last week are going great guns and I need to spend a few hours weeding and pruning suckers from the cherry tree.

The sun has given us some beautiful light now that we have rearranged the furniture inside the house.

Around the front the phlox has bloomed... have the Saskatoon bushes. I am hopeful we'll get a decent haul of berries this year. A touch of rain would be helpful.

The bulbs are also blooming (and quickly finishing). No sign of the potatoes yet but we planted a second sowing of beets and carrots and swiss chard. Jess was also supposed to have put in some basil seed, but I think this remains to be done.

We also have these yellow flowers in bloom which offers some colour in the front yard as the onions and carrots and beets are all just pushed through the soil.

Other than the tender plants, some late sowings of lettuce, and some beans, we're basically done seeding already. I'll likely put some melon seeds in the ground this weekend and I need to harden off the tomatoes (slightly burned them in the sun on the weekend).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bulbs, beets and asparagus

The past week has included temperatures in the 20s which means the plants are growing quickly!

Most of the trees and shrubs are leafing out and the lawn is starting to look quite green. Around the south side of the house, the oregano is back again this year.

In the back we put in the potatoes (blue caribe), carefully digging around the patches of violet and the few stray bulbs.

A few of the seed potatoes were big enough to cut so Jess was tasked with this. Apparently my knife-use supervisor was a bit too aggressive ("I know how to cut a potato, dad.").

In the front yard, the garlic is up about six inches, the onions are starting to poke through the soil and the first of the beets are germinating. No sign of the carrots yet but they are always slower.

The last of the tulipe tarda are flowering and the rest of the bulbs are getting big enough that the should flower in the ext three weeks.

We got off our bikes on Thursday night to look for wild asparagus. Jess spotted last year's seed heads and the shoots were up 8 to 10 inches. This is about two weeks ahead of schedule--which would be about where I think we are elsewhere in the garden.

The peas and rocket I planted in the cold frames are doing well. Looking at the forecast, I may pull the glass off this week as I will need to set a trellis in place for the peas to climb (they are about 3 inches high and will need some support soon). I think we'll wait another two weeks before planting the beans but we might drop in some leaf lettuce seed this week.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring flowers

April is fast slipping away and we've made a fair bit of progress in the yard. Many of the perennials are up early, like these violets. I've also moved a bunch of daylilies around and fiddled with the soil in a new bed.

Since quite a lot of stuff just kind of has to wait a few more weeks, I've been cleaning up a bunch of winter debris and tonight we'll have a fire to burn a bunch of twigs and branches.

Last weekend we did a bunch more seeding, including peas, rocket and radishes. The stuff in the cold frames has already germinated. The trees in the valley are also starting to leaf out.

Around the front we got the onions in as well as the carrot seeds. The garlic has also been growing and I suspect we'll have an early harvest.

There is a bit more shade in the back. I've been weeding (mostly crab grass and purple bell flower) and the rhubarb is just coming up. We have some strawberries to move this weekend.

I'm also hopeful that we can get some seed potatoes this weekend. I'd like to put in caribe blue as those did really week last time.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Beets, peas and Jerusalem artichokes

Early spring continued this week with temperatures as high as 20C. The bulbs are coming up in the garden which will add some nice colour soon.

I got ambitious this weekend and dug up the Jerusalem artichokes on the side of the house. Five plants yielded about 35 artichokes. We plunked 29 back in the ground (in a slightly sunnier place in the hope that they would flower this year) and roasted the other six. They have a turnip-like texture (fibrous!) and taste a bit nutty or earthy. Maybe halfway between a turnip and a potato? Interesting enough and fun to have an early harvest.

Jess and I also finished prepping the front bed and put up the bean trellis. This involved work with the sledgehammer. She looks pretty cock-sure here but the process of driving the stakes was a bit stressful. Controlling a ten-pound sledge requires me to pay a lot of attention and I'm twice Jessica's size. The trellis itself is vastly more plumb than the picture suggests (I must have had the camera on an angle).

We then planted some early beets because the soil was warm. Around back we also planted some peas and arugula in a cold frame and did some more work on the beds.

Lots of early plants are up including this violet (that has infested the garden).

After a long bike ride yesterday I went back to work on the south side of the house and pulled out a bunch of orange daylilies to make room for a bean-bed. This was hard work! I ran across lots of worms and bugs in the leaf litter, including this ladybug.

We have a tiny bit more early seeding to do (peas, make some kale) and quite a bit of weeding and general clean-up. I'd also like to get some onions in the ground but it looks like we missed the early shipment of onion sets so that sounds like a next week project.