Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sod off...

After a busy morning of spreading socialist propaganda, we spent the afternoon in the yard. Jess is keen to recover some beds around the house that are presently filled with irises and daylilies so I carved an extra 100 square feet of bed out of the lawn. When the irises finish blooming in early June, we'll move them into their new home and clean up the beds for veggies next year.

In the back I repaired one of the pea trellises and got it staked into place (barely visible below at the north end of the long bed). Jess sowed the peas and we fought the crab grass and chives that are threatening to take over.

The rhubarb is really colourful when it first emerges. I managed to get a well lit shot this morning in between intermittent hail/snow.

I think we're close to ready to plant potatoes. They take awhile to emerge and the weather looks good so I'm going to roll the dice. Assuming I can lift a shovel after today's sod cutting.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Onions, peas and garlic

Jess and I have been out each night this week, fiddling with this and that. We planted a bunch of walla-walla onions (80ish?) in various spots.

We also managed to get the pea trellis chopped out of the icy spot I left them and two are now set up in the front. We planted some peans on the front and will plant some beans on the backside for a second harvest off the same space.

The garlic continues to jump up, which is heartening and I have been watering the onions sets and beet seeds

Jess has also got the bird bath back in operation, even managing a dainty pose.

This weekend we'll put one or two more pea trellises up (needed a bit of maintenance) and maybe clean up some of the mess that is under the deck.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Garlic, beets, onions and kale

The temperature came way up this week so Jess and I started seeding the early plants. Out front, the garlic we planted last fall has started to emerge. This is helpful since I only vaguely recall (aided by some nazca-like lines I scratched in the dirt) where we planted these. 

We also put in an early crop of beets. I keep hoping for a year where we're able to do a double crop; perhaps this will be it? Nice to see Jess reading the seed packet before plunking the seeds in the dirt ("Hey, there are instructions on here..."). I will be happy when the city comes back and re-sods the boulevards.

In the back we spent one evening adding a small lift to a retaining wall on one garden bed to level out the soil and increased the plantable area. Then Jess dropped about 150 yellow storage onions in. We made it to February on stored onions this year before shifting to some that I dried. With 50 or so walla-walla to eat in the autumn, this should hold us through next winter. I'm blown away at the amount of produce we use cooking from scratch.

The one cold frame I started this year has some kale in it that has germinated. Looking back over the past four years, we're pretty much on track. The ground is a bit more frozen than previous years but the bushes and trees are a bit further along, with the lilacs and the elms starting to bud out.

One of my autumn projects (over wintering carrots and beets in damp sand so they would produce seed) was a bit of a bust. The yellow carrots were too wet and putrified. The yellow beets went the same way, although the red beets were pretty solid and, but for the rotted yellow beets, likely would have been good. We'll try this again in the autumn with only red beets. I ended up dumping both buckets in the raised bed in the back which is now giving off a ghastly "dead coyote" smell.

This weekend we're off to get some sheep manure and may plant some more beets. I have also been scoping out the carrot and tomato beds to get a handle on how much room we have. Jess has decided we need to clean up a couple of perennial beds this year so that is the summer plan (she wants to grow corn next year). I will also do battle with the thorny black raspberry canes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Garden starts to wake up

Warm weather (plus some additional moisture) means the garden is starting to wake up. With last night's snow melting, I took a quick walk around after a bike ride.

Most of the action is on the south side of the house. There are strawberry plants putting out new leaves, along with tulips, irises and daylilies up through the leaf litter. I snagged my first taste of wild onion today.

Around front, some of the tulip tarda has come up near the street. The backyard is slightly darker and snowier. The chives are up and are a nice shot of green.

I also stumbled across the first of the rhubarb, in among shells from the feeder and bunny poop.

If I get organized, we'll pick up some onions to plant this coming week. And the tomatoes in the basement are starting to come along.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wine, onions and a bird's nest

Well, between cycling and shovelling, March got away on us! We start a Merlot-Cab-Shiraz wine a few weeks back and it is now racked off for the secondary ferment. Jess was quite excited to stir in the oak chips.  

After a bike ride this morning, I was out raking the leaves up off the lawn and I noticed some onions starting on the south side of the house. These came from seeds I nicked in the river valley a few years back.

I had initially thought they were a nodding onion but the seed head (which comes in full and purple) is wrong. Maybe they are a Geyer's onion?

The snow is almost gone everywhere but in the back yard. It will be another week before I can get a spade in deep enough to turn over this fall rye. We did put some kale seeds in the cold frame and we have some tomatoes under grow lights in the basement.

The hedge yielded some interesting items this weekend, including a tiny bird's next (tea-cup sized) and a cantaloup-sized wasp's nest!

If I get ambitious tomorrow, I will wander over to Apache seeds and pick up some onion bulbs at lunch. I also see a tiny bit of outside maintenance to do before gardening season is upon us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

And the garden starts to melt out...

While there is still 18 inches of snow in many places, a few days of warm temperatures have meant the garden is starting emerge from winter. The buds on some of the bushes (like the Saskatoon below) are looking more prominent.

The backyard planter is also melting free, revealing last year's basil plants. I spent some time two weeks ago sorting out what gets planted where this year and also looking through the seeds we have on hand.

This week we'll likely set up the grow lights in the basement and look to plant some tomatoes. I think we are about 8 weeks from weather good enough to risk some early tomatoes transplants. I finished tuning up the bicycles yesterday and hope to hit the road this afternoon for few terrifying kilometres of exercise (north-south roads look good--not so much east-west roads).

Along the side of the house, the raised beds are thawed down about 2cm and the soil smells fantastic. I think I will throw a plane of glass on the right-hand bed to see if I can get the soil thawed a bit more this week and then plunk in some spinach or kale seed (is chard cold hearty?).

I also need to rack off a carboy of wine for some bulk storage and get a second kit started. Trying to get far enough ahead that I never have to drink the wine young.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winemaking and seeds

Happy New Year! Apologies for the long silence--we've been busy enjoying winter sports, making some wine and just generally ignoring everything gardening related ( a bit of burn out after apple and tomato season).

Tonight, though, Jess and I moved a batch of Malbec from the primary to a carboy and started chatting ("keep stirring!") about the garden for next year. Santa brought Jess some seeds for her stocking and she has some ideas of her own.

In the "more" category are carrots, golden beets and tomatoes. The tomato mill I got for my birthday made making pizza sauce a snap and we're almost out. We're also hopeful to get a decent crop of zucchini this year and I'm hopeful for some pumpkins out front. I'd also like to grow a few more green beans and more shell peas--although we may freshen our seed stock here.

In the "less" category, fall Russian blue potatoes, swiss chard and white onions. We'll replace them with more yellow storage onions and another batch of walla-walla onions (which were amazing while they lasted). Also, slightly fewer scarlet runner beans are the plan.

We still have a few onions, lots of garlic and a bunch of potatoes so I think we're in good shape. I also seem to have over-estinated the amount of apple sauce and crab apple jelly we're using--although we're a long we from new preserves so I guess we'll see!

I'm keen to see if I can coach a seed crop out of the carrots and beets we're over wintering in the basement. On my list of chores is hunting up the grow lights for tomato seedlings this spring. And perhaps we'll also grow our own bedding plants.