Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Renovations and carrots

I spent much of the weekend completing some much needed changes in the back garden. The pathway from the lawn to the garage had become overgrown with crab grass and purple bellflower so I pulled everything out. Some of the perennials were transplanted around front. Still early days but I seem to winning the war against the bell flower.

The rest of the mess was sifted and the soil put back, extending the old garden bed (on the left of the path) by about 5 square feet) and the new garden bed (on the right) by about 25 square feet. I banged in some extra onions abutting the path, figuring those would be easiest to weed around this summer.

Jess and I then went out and planted what should turn into about 400 carrots by the end of the summer. That sounds like a lot but (with give-aways) that nets us only about one carrot per day.  That helps frame some of the production limits to growing your own food on a city lot.

We mixed it up a bit this year while seeding the carrots. Instead of seeding rows, I worked out a final spacing system and we seeded individual depressions. Should be slightly less weeding involved and we used way less seed! We put in a mixture of nantes and yellowstone.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beets, onions and potatoes

Spring is, more or less, in the air. Although I see a few flakes swirling in the wind as I type this. And the daffodils and other bulbs are up and starting to put on a show.

The beet seeds we put in are also starting to germinate, which is exciting--we may get two crops off this year! I have been watering on warm days to keep the beds moist. We also planted a bunch more kale and chard over the week in the beds behind the garage. The old guy who steals from the alley beds is welcomed to all the swiss chard he can stomach!

The yellow storage onions (below) are also poking up in the back yard. They are not as far along as the garlic in the front (which is four or more inches high).

I was in the basement and noticed the seed potatoes were also getting pretty leggy. so we went out tonight and put 43 in the ground. There was a mixture of caribe blue, Russian blue, Pontiac red, Yukon gold, russet and a few yellow banana potatoes. The latter wouldn't have been my choice (lots of handling to process because they are so small and modest production) but I sent Jess back in for an extra dozen or so and that is what she selected.

Some of the legs are quite colourful. Above is a caribe blue. The overcast skies dimmed the colour some but they are quite luminescent. I also decided we're going to try gardening against the north side of the house. It is dark there, but there is some direct sun in the morning and evening. And it gets a heck of a bounce off the neighbour's house all day long. If it is a bust no great loss--the seed was excess anyhow. And it will give me a reason to go there and weed more.

Out back the oregano is starting to grow. And I'm undertaking a bit of a recover project (battle crab grass and chives ("chives! why did it have to be chives?")) to extend one of the beds. I need to move some thyme into the front. And the city crews were through to prep for new sod on the boulevard (yay!).

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.