Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer flowers

The latter part of June has been quite rainy (almost every night this week). This has made for a nice break in the watering schedule as well as bumper crop of mosquitoes.

June is a nice lull in the gardening schedule; everything is in, the elm seedlings have been mostly eradicated, and nothing requires processing.

The strawberry u-pick we've been going to is set to open Monday so I hope to have a visit in the first week. I see that we have some berries ready in our backyard as well.

I also plan to start some rhubarb wine this weekend. Hopefully Saturday will be the day as it looks rainy. There are signs of a good harvest of raspberries. And if I can coax a few more gooseberries from the front plants, there are enough for a small batch of jam.

Jess's new patch of strawberries appears to be taking off and the rain has helped some of the transplanted irises. I also spent an hour deadheading the blooms in the front (and slapping mosquitoes).

We're coming to the end of the irises (although the remain beautiful) but I see the potatoes are just now blooming. We also have the beginnings of garlic scapes out front (I may make pesto this weekend).

The peas are starting to bear some fruit. I picked up some new seed and that seems to have reoslved last year's poor crop issues.

Given the weather, I suspect we'll see a quick succession of berries in early July so I will need to hunt up my jamming gear. We ran out of raspberry jam this year so that is the top priority once the canes start to bear.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Chive vinegar, rhubarb, berries and apples

Spring turns to summer and the garden is keeping us busy. I bottled the chive vinegar we started last week; it always makes such a pretty gift.

Jess and I have been cutting the rhubarb back. Some we're freezing for the winter while the rest is going into apple-rhubarb crisps. Some of the leaves are huge!

We're starting to see some progress on the berries. The strawberries are setting fruit. This weekend we'll be carving a new strawberry bed out of the chaotic iris mess under Jessica's window.

The goose berries are also thick this year. Not enough to make a jam or jelly with but enough to pick and freeze for smoothies next winter

Our own Saskatoons are still a few weeks away from being ready but anything in the valley that gets a southern exposure is almost ready to pick.

The apples are also growing really well. I think we'll get a bumper crop this year.

We're just about at the end of the spring flowers.

The daisies are pretty and the mock orange is just coming into bloom.

We also have a tonne of peonies this year.

And the bees are all over the Persian cone flowers. 

We have a few holes to fill in this weekend with some last minute seeding and quite a bit of weeding to do. Jessica is quite looking forward to strawberry season!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chive vinegar and pickled radishes

Work took me out of town last week so I turned the garden over to Jessica. Everything survived and I arrived home to flowers.

We stopped in at the farmer's market last weekend to pick up some asparagus to blanch and freeze for winter pizzas. As much as frozen asparagus is terrible when compared to fresh, in the dark days of winter, it gives pizza a very summery taste.

I left the radishes about five days too long (overlap with travel) but harvested them and planted a second crop.

They were quite big (see below) so I decided to pickle them in case any were a bit woody.

The colours were beautiful. Put in a jar with the last of the chive vinegar and the resulting colour was amazing.

Jess and I also made some more chive vinegar (blossoms plus white vinegar).

After a day of sitting, the colours of both were crazy bright. We'll strain the chive vinegar this weekend and bottle it. The radishes will need awhile to pickle in the fridge.

In the yard I am doing battle with the elm seeds. I do love the boulevard trees. But the thousands of seeds each year are a complete pain to weed. Below is a picture of a bean plant with lots of tiny elm trees all around it. Even with a hoe, it is a lot of work to knock these proto-trees down before the get a tap root in and you need pliers to remove them.

While we're about reaching the peak of the perennial blossoms (with the peonies just starting), we still have the irises to look forward to. They just started this morning and the front yard border is once again amazing.

I will need to get out wit the camera to catch the blooms. This week also means doing some thinning in the carrots and beets and maybe a last sowing of beans.

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).