Sunday, October 28, 2012

Planning for next year

With a rather dreary winter day ahead of us, we decided to take some time to plan next year's garden. I've been doing some of that in my head as I dug the beds and thought about crop rotation and what would work well where.

On the east side of the property (behind the garage) we have five raised beds. These are mostly in the alley and, to my surprise, most of the onions I planted and a lot of the beans walked off this summer. So think low-value root vegetables are the ticket here. So we're going to do three beds of carrots (so about 450 plants), some zucchini (help yourself!), green beans and beans for drying as well as swiss chard and basil.

In the backyard, some of the beds we recovered will have potatoes and the rest will have squash (not sure on the type yet--I like butternut but never seem to get any fruit). This year's potato bed will host sunflowers, beans, onions and garlic and then some yellow/purple beans and peas.

The "bad" beds out front will have more yellow and purple beans (as I work on improving the soil) and peas. The raised beds on the side will see tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers and more beans. We'll do lettuce and spinach under new cold frames.

We also carved the pumpkin today. The seeds are washed and drying. If I get ambitious, I will roast them tonight since the oven will already be hot from the potatoes. A quick review of the cold room sees us with lots of potatoes and no obvious signs of rot.  Now off to sweep the walks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


We dug out the last of the carrots this weekend and brought hem in. Some were eaten, 8 litres were blanches and frozen, and Jennifer made carrot cake and carrot soup. And the fridge is full of little ones for snacking.

We tried a bunch of varieties this year. The Yellowstone carrots did well along with the Nantes. I tried a short variety (above) did okay but our soil is deep enough we don't need a shorter carrot so I will try something more exotic next year. I'm also going to try careful spacing (akin to square-foot gardening) to maximize our yield.

I've almost got the vegetable beds dug, improved and ready for next year; there are two more beds out back to fiddle with and then some work to do out front (although that can wait until spring). I'd also like to get some garlic in the ground for next year.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Late season fruit

With winter approaching, we've been trying to tidy up the yard: emptying the water barrels, amending the beds for next spring and putting up the rest of the Christmas lights. As I've been tramping about, there have been a couple of late surprises.

The strawberry plants responded to late watering and have been flowering and fruiting despite the frost. These fellows are up about 12 inches off the ground and near a stone wall, so they may get some heat and wind shelter. A fun late-season treat.

Out front, the thornless blackberries once again almost got to ripeness. The one berry I atet his year was tasty but again a hard frost has ruined the immature berries. I think these plants, while cold hardy, just requires too many days to mature.

We still have some carrots to pull from a raised bed, a couple of beds to dig and amend, and some general tidying. But I think we're basically ready for winter. Inside, we're happily cooking up the summer's harvest and I have a pumpkin from the market to process this weekend for muffins all winter long. But now I'm off to rake the rest of the leaves up onto the perennials for the winter and maybe get a bike ride in.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First frost

We had the first frost of the season last night, so after supper we rushed out to bring in any of the remaining tender vegetables (left the carrots in the ground). It was a bit brisk (or so Jess thought) as we harvested a large bowl of tomatoes, a couple of cucumbers and some beans. The window sill is covered in tomatoes.

We also cut the celery we'd been growing and brought it in. I gave it a quick cleaning and put it in the fridge for soup making (perhaps later tonight). We had relatively few slug problems in the celery this year, I think because I put the seedings inside a little "fence" I made by cutting the bottom out of yogurt containers. there were a few slugs in one of the plants but nothing like the slugfest we had last year when there was no protection.

I can now finish digging the back beds this weekend and prepping them for next year. I may also start on improving the front beds (depends on how much juice I have). I'd also like to construct a couple of trellis' for next year out of electrical conduit.