Monday, May 30, 2011

Fruit blossoms

More stuff is in bloom around the yard (although it is hard to get past the smells of the lilacs). The blueberry bushes have budded out and we may even get a handful of berries this year. Although I have not seen a whole lot of bees around the yard except two giant ground bees.

The apple trees are also in full bloom around the neighborhood. I am hopeful this display translates into a few more apples this year. Fortunately, we have a bunch of neighbors who kindly bring us bags each autumn.

And the tomato plants are starting to bloom. The pepper plants (not pictured) also have flowers although I think we a few weeks away from a serious number of tomato flowers. The hot weather is helping though.

Up next: I have a few more tomato plants to wedge into the garden somewhere (a donation from some neighbors). And, once the irises flower, I will start moving some of them around in the perennial bed to make some more room.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A morning of puttering

With Jenn out having brunch, Jess and I went to the farmer's market and then returned home to putter in the garden. We started out weeding and noticed how the phlox has really come into bloom, despite the morning shade it gets from the elm trees.

We then tackled the lawn. While a lot of the lawn has been turned into bed, we have a large piece of city land abutting the south side. I love the extra space this provides but I'm not too keen on mowing an extra 3000 square feet of lawn each week. I'd prefer to turn it into a potato field but the city gets cranky when you do stuff like that, so instead we collect the grass cutting and use them to amend the beds.

Jess is keen to help out the struggling spinach and carrots on the south side. I think the soil is likely too peaty and acidic. Perhaps a bunch of grass clippings watered down will help along with the bone meal we turned in? She was keen to try, anyhow. And, as I continued to pow, she continued to dig in the clipping for other beds and even dragged the hose out. Such initiative!

We finished planting the kitchen garden before lunch. You can see tomato and pepper plants in the background with celery in front and then some lettuce seeds just watered in.

We also interplanted some beans and squash among the corn out back. This bed has done better than I thought it would given the wind and drought during the weeks after we transplanted the seedlings. It also looks like we have managed to kill the liliac stump that I built the bed over top of.

Up next: I need to finish mowing the lawn while Jess is at a birthday party and I see a number of plants are blooming (including the tomatoes!). We're also digging some stuff into the front bed around the potato plants in anticipation of planting something a bit more demanding there next year.

Monday, May 23, 2011


We had the first good rain of the spring today, which the garden surely appreciated. I'm happy to have a day where no gardening can be done as well as the water, pictured here running down the spill way. In theory, it is supposed to hang a left when it hits the end of the stone but I see the mulch has likely slowed the flow and thus it is running down the clay/sand path.

With better weather predicted this week, I have six asparagus plants to stash in the garden somewhere plus my eternal war with the purple bell flower to prosecute. I'd also like ot get some beans in the corn bed to see if this companion planting actually works.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More flowers

With spring turning to summer, the tulips are starting to fade, aided by Jess and her scissors. I had forgotten how many varieties we had planted over the years until she went around and nipped off the heads of so many for a vase.

One of our apple trees is just starting to blossom. As it has been in only three years, I'm not expecting much beyond a handful of apples. But they do taste delicious.

Other trees are also in bloom around the neighbourhood, with MayDay and this pink one being particularly notable.

The perennials are also coming into their own. I don't recall what this fellow is but I moved him early this spring from the old (and now new) vegetable bed in the back to the front. Doesn't seem to have hurt his blooming.

And, of course, more potatoes are now showing. This is a russet potato poking up in a sunny bed on the south side. We're still waiting for russets to appear elsewhere.

We need to plant a few asparagus plants this weekend--perhaps tomorrow if the weather holds. Another sowing of lettuce would also be good and then I think we're done the hard work for awhile and it will just be weeding and watering and eating our way to the bottom of the freezer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Potatoes are up!

After only a couple of warm days, the potato plants are pushing through the soil and starting to open their leaves. This is very exciting news as fresh potatoes are such a treat. These are shepody potatoes but the russets are also up in a different bed.

The strawberry also started blooming en masse today. The fruit we got last year was a bit dodgy; I'm hopeful we'll have nicer looking berries this year. Alas, they will be too few so we'll likely hit South Windermere gardens a couple of times in the summer. If I'm on the ball, we'll also try to get out while the Saskatoons are ripe.

The flowers are putting on a lovely spring show. This is some phlox I bought years ago and have moved around some. I'm always amazed it comes back on this windswept, clay hill on the south side of the house.

We were over visiting a friend on Sunday and puttering in his garden and he offered up two plastic trays. We filled these with soil tonight and stuck in four more tomato plants on the back deck. With some extra room, we decided to try out both yellow and purple varieties. I've always preferred plain old red tomatoes (early girl, in particular) but Jess was intrigued by the different colours.

We had a bit of set-to as she was watering in the tomatoes and took the opportunity to "weed" the clay pot. And by weed, I mean pull out the marigolds she grew from seed and planted in equally spaced spots all around the tomato (just like you find weeds growing in nature...). It wasn't until one of the weeds came out with a peat pellet attached that she figured out what was going on. Fortunately, marigolds are forgiving. Unlike her father :).

The tulips on the south side are looking fantastic. I snapped this picture while swatting mosquitos and was struck by how vivid the colours were. Hopefully these last a bit longer as they are so pretty.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More bulbs!

With the good weather, I think we have almost everything in the ground and can relax a bit. I'd like to pick up two pepper plants and maybe sow another crop of lettuce in a week or so. And there are a few annuals we grew from seeds that got hardened off last night when I, ahem, forgot to bring the tray back in.

The bulbs are putting on a great show on the south side of the house. The warmth always means these are the first to flower, with the front garden being about two weeks behind.

I hate to give over such a prime vegetable spot to flowers but they do look very nice when you ride past the house on your bike. And the irises and daylilies extend the show all summer.

We've compromised a bit by putting in an apple tree. So far we've had four apples in 3 years. They taste great, which they should since they cost about $30 each... . And there are some strawberries and couple of raised vegetable planters tucked in here.

The cauliflower (above, I think--or is this broccoli?) and beets (below) seem to be taking off pretty well.

Up next: General yard work will be necessary before the family arrives next week. Some of the grass needs cutting and I'd like to edge the front. Jess also has the remaining annuals to plant. And I'd like to get another rhubarb plant or two for the back while they are still available.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Onions and Corn

With two days of lovely weather, the garden is starting to spring forth. Below is a picture of the onions we planted a few weeks ago, up through the earth. The carrots are also joining them.

We took advantage of the warmth to move the cucumber seedling out of the house and into the old vegetable garden that I'm reclaiming this year (from flowers and various construction transplants). The soil is nasty so we'll see what happens. In the fall I'll spend some time amending it.

We put the corn in last night (I think it was last night--maybe Monday) and the plants seem to be faring okay. It is cool at night, but not cold. The wind today has knocked the corn around some. I've never had much luck with corn, but I'm hopeful some good soil, some interplanting and planting it as a big block will help. I know it grows here because we go to the corn maze each year.

On the south side, the spinach is starting to put out its first true leaves and there are a few carrots just poking up. The bulbs are all ready to flower this weekend, though. Should be a good show here for awhile.

And finally, the curse of my garden: elm seedlings. I love the old elm trees. I hate their seeds. Clogging the gutters, and popping up everywhere. If you don't get them the first season, they put down such a root you need pliers to pull them. The first year we were her, I was looking for some mulch and shoveled up a wheelbarrow full of these fellows from the curb. Into the garden they went. And then I spent the next three years getting them back out. My own fault and yet still massively frustrating.

Up next: We have a few flowers left growing on the window sill that need to go out. But this weekend we'll probably plant a few more veggies; maybe another rhubarb plant now that I have some more space and perhaps a patch of asparagus. And I'd like to do the window boxes before the family arrives next weekend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring flowers

Vegetable gardening continues in earnest as we try to get everything sown to take advantage of the extra two weeks it looks like we're going to get on the front end of the growing season. While I'm more excited about vegetables, Jess is keen on flowers.

We've planted a lot of bulbs over the years. The tulips almost always work. And the daffodils almost never do. But this year we had some lovely daffodils come up on the south side of the house. These should get overtaken by the irises they are planted among for a bit of purple in a month of so.

Also on the south side, we've had some flowers volunteer. I have no idea what these are but I'm pretty sure we didn't put them there. There was so much disturbance with construction three years ago that I'm still discovering plants in strange places

A particularly horrible part of the old vegetable garden has bloomed with tulipa tarda this year. Given their placement, I'm guessing Jess and her mom planted these. About the only other thing that grows here is a God-awful purple bell flower. It is pretty enough but it is horrifically invasive. I'm in year three of a hand eradication and it came up this spring like the past two years of weeding had never happened.

And finally we have some pansies. These were planted out front in a barrel the first nice weekend in April and have survived the chill just fine.

Up next: Corn seedling are going into the ground to join the potatoes. I also see some onions are up behind the garage. We've also just butchered the north hedge back and revealed a huge swath of the old vegetable garden so I'm busy digging. Perhaps we'll plant cucumber here along with zucchini and pumpkin?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Plants in!

With spring clearly here and no frost forecast through the next two weeks, we took the plunge today and put in some vegetables. We've been seeding in hearty veggies (onions, carrots, spinach, beets, lettuce) for a couple of weeks as each bed has been cleaned up but we decided to risk the seedling this afternoon.

I bought a few seedling this year, mostly plants I only want a few of. I've never tried celery, for instance. So we bought a pack of four and Jess put them in the east-facing bed below the garden. We also put in four tomato plants (two beef steak and two early girls). We've already seeded in sweet pea, onions and something leafy (exactly what eludes me--lettuce of some sort).

On the south side of the house we found the spinach was up and tucked in two cherry tomato plants. There is room for a third plant there so I'll have to see what jumps out at me the next time we go shopping. I'd say we're a ways away from any spinach salads! Next year I'm going to try a cold frame here. We also planted a row of carrots which have just poked through the ground.

Out back on the berm by the garage we've sown about 8 square feet of beets in two raised beds. We added in four broccoli and four cauliflower seedings which I've put under a bit of plastic to keep the heat in (it can be windy there).

After planting 24 shepody potatoes out front (probably to the horror of our neighbors!), Jess and I decided to try eating dandelions (looking for some fresh greens). I thought they were too bitter for salad (I'm blanching a couple in the garden to see if that helps) so we boiled them and then sautéed them with garlic and chives. Much like spinach, I thought. These might be good in risotto. We'll also be putting in some russet potatoes once I get the main garden dug--assuming my back hold out.

Up next: We've been patiently shepherding corn seedlings along for a big box behind the garage. We even did three separate sowings so we'd have the right heights so the front wouldn't shade the back. I'll probably put these in tomorrow and the interplant from squash and pole beans among the taller back plants.